The view was stunning: From the summit at 5150 metres (16,895 feet) above sea level, snow-capped peaks could be seen in all directions, dazzling against a deep blue sky. Looking north, there were Hkakaborazi and Gamlangrazi, Southeast Asia’s highest mountains, and among the most beautiful and remote pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of Myanmar.
An unholy row has broken out between two government ministries over allegations of disrespect for Bagan’s ancient pagodas. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has hit out at the abrupt ban announced by the Ministry of Culture on the practice of climbing on the sacred buildings to catch a view of the sunset.
They sat hunched motionless in the corner or sprawled on a mattress, eyes closed or gazing dully at nothingness. The Chinese dope fiends, emaciated, listless, abandoned – mannequins in Thailand's new Hall of Opium, a Golden triangle theme park in Chiang Rai.
A pina colada in my hand, Orwell’s Burmese Days resting open on one knee, I gaze out toward the low ridge on the opposite bank of the Ayeyarwady River as the sun sets over Bagan. Birds chirp, riverboat engines hum. Curiously the scene, almost stolen from Kipling, has its own live soundtrack heartily provided by Iron Cross – a rock band.