Author: Richard Telling

Volvo Ocean Race

The event is divided into 9 legs. It is not uncommon for the competitors to battle against 100 foot waves and winds that reach 60 knots during the event. Which is why the race is renowned for testing each participants level of courage, will, and skill against the worst Mother Nature has to offer.

Each leg takes weeks to get through. During each leg participants on every boat sail 24 hours a day. Each person involved sacrifices sleep, warm showers, fresh food, privacy, and just plain comfort to accomplish this feat. After each leg the exhausted racers are given a breather. This time is used to rest up a bit before the next leg. Sailors indulge in the creature comforts that most of us take for granted such as, devouring all the fresh food they can, taking a hot shower, and catching up on sleep.

Time between each leg can last up to two and a half weeks. This gives the participants enough time to be away from the boat, and rest up before they have to endure the next leg. This does not mean they don’t keep working out. They train on land between legs to upkeep their strength and stamina. A week before the next leg begins participants prepare by stocking food, and tracking the most efficient routes.

Historic Lamu Town Mombasa

Because of Lamu’s narrow streets and compact layout, riding a bicycle or donkey is the most practical and fun way of exploring the town. Walking around Lamu’s old settlement, whose history goes all the way back to the 12th century, is like walking into the past. You will see narrow streets with labyrinth-like layout, where donkeys still dominate the scene, and you will appreciate structural masterpieces that are inspired by Arab, Indian and European architecture. And yet, Lamu Old Town exudes that distinct Swahili design with its charming courtyards, rooftop patios, and coral stone buildings.

The Lamu Museum is one of the main attractions in town. Visiting the museum offers a great insight to the Swahili culture and to the region’s marine history. Head out to the Lamu Fort for another date with history. This two-story World Heritage Site was built in the early 10th century and features exquisite Swahili architecture. These days, the fort assumes the role of a public library and environmental museum.

After immersing yourself with the past, it is worthwhile to spend time with adorable and hardworking creatures in the Donkey Sanctuary. This facility was built with the intention to take care and maintain the donkey population in Lamu as they are the only means of transport on an island that has barely any motorized transport.

Lamu is a Muslim populated town, and visiting here promises to be a rich cultural experience, especially when most inhabitants still wear traditional attire. A strong representative of the religious culture reigning in Lamu is the Riyadha Mosque, which is the centerpiece of the annual Maulidi Festival, held to celebrate the birth of Prophet Mohammed.

Another great festival you may want to experience in town is the Lamu Cultural Festival. It is a four day celebration held every November and highlights grand artistic exhibits and cultural events. People in Lamu are known for their warmth and friendliness and many locals can converse in English. So don’t be afraid to engage them in conversations especially when you are in a traditional café trying out an authentic Arabian coffee.

The best way to reach Lamu Town is by air. There are regular direct flights coming from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, and the Moi International Airport in Mombasa. Once you land at the airport on Lamu Island, you will need to take a short boat or ferry ride to the opposite side where the town is situated. An alternative albeit less convenient option is to take a bus or hire a car to drive to Lamu from Mombasa.

About Charming Siena Italy

One of the town’s best features is its stunning architecture that has been impressively preserved for the younger generation to admire. During your visit, don’t miss the chance to explore its historic center, which depicts Siena’s success and wealth during the middle Ages. Fortunately the historic center of Siena is for pedestrians only, which makes sightseeing even more wonderful. This area is where you will find what is considered to be one of Europe’s finest medieval squares – the Piazza del Campo. Adorned with architectural gems, like the Mangia Tower (Torre de Manhia), the Palazzio Pubblico and the Fountain of Joy, this fan-shaped square is a hit among tourists and adored by locals.

The Duomo or main cathedral in the city also stands proudly at the square. While on the square, don’t just stay outdoors and admire this domineering black and white Italian Romanesque structure from a distance. Go inside and you will definitely be mesmerized by Duomo’s stained glass, paintings, sculptures and marble flooring! Attached to it is the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, which highlights the famous Maestà by Duccio.

Piazza del Campo is also loaded with restaurants, cafes and shops, so it is so easy to spend hours here just relaxing, people-watching and enjoying your favorite snack or drink. The tower bell called Torre Del Mangia is a highly regarded spot to climb because of its incredible panoramas which feature the city and its surroundings. But you can only enjoy this beautiful vista if you climb more than 300 steps, which is not that bad if you are in good physical condition.

Access to the tower requires a minimal entrance fee, and Torre Del Mangia can only facilitate 25 people at the same time, so expect to do some waiting. Nearby, the Civic Museum looms, and boasts the best Sienese paintings. In addition to learning more about that arts of Sienese masters, visit Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena, which is a renowned for its picture gallery.

Spread on three steep hills, Siena is not easy to get to mainly due to the bad road. Thus, it does have that frontier appeal but is not void of the cookie-cutter approach to tourism. And just when you think that it is time for bed, Siena will surprise you again. In town, you will quickly find clubs and bars to hang out in. You can also opt for a walk through towns, meet locals and do the nightly walk called Passeggio, which is usually accompanied with eating favorite Siena sweets like gelato and Macedonia.

Lakes of Mount Fuji

Lake Kawaguchiko, Lake Yamanakako, Lake Saiko, Lake Shojiko and Lake Motosuko are situated at the northern base of Mount Fuji and they are collectively called the Fuji Five Lake region. Regardless of which lake you choose to stay near, you will be privileged with beautiful panoramic views of Mount Fuji and the surrounding countryside. This region also makes an excellent base for climbing the mountain.

Of the five lakes, Kawaguchiko tends to be the busiest because it serves as the primary transport hub in the region. Aside from its accessibility to the mountain, it is also known to be an outstanding hot spring resort town, which also has its fair share of attractions. Kawaguchiko is also particularly popular during the cherry blossom season, which is from mid-April until November. During this time, the seaside promenade is a picturesque spot to marvel at the cherry blossoms.

Lake Yamanakako is the largest among the five lakes. It is also the second most developed lake just behind Kawaguchiko. This lake’s eastern and western ends are occupied by small charming towns with various accommodation facilities. There are also restaurants and camping grounds all around Yamanakako. If you happen to have a 1000 yen bill, you can try to capture the very same picture that is printed on this Japanese bill. And after capturing the incredible scenery of Mt. Fuji, why not try to relax at one of the public hot springs baths around Yamanakako. One of these establishments, Benifuji no Yu even offers great views of Fuji from its baths.

Lake Saiko is the next door neighbour to Lake Kawaguchiko. You will get views of Mt. Fuji from this lake by heading out to its western end. Saiko is surrounded by wooded mountains, which adds to its appealing scenery. It is also home to a few campsites. These are just some of the reasons why the lake has become a favoured spot for outdoor activities like boating, camping, fishing and hiking. Saiko also maintains a hiking trail network, which leads to the hills, mountains and to the extensive forested area called Aokigahara Jukai.

Bayan Olgii Mongolia

Olgii City (Ulgii) is the proud capital of the province, and this is usually the home base for travelers exploring Bayan Olgii province and western Mongolia in general. The city has approximately 30,000 people, and is still experiencing changes, albeit, not too rapidly. You can reach Olgii by taking a plane, bus or jeep. If you choose to travel by land, it takes about three days to get here from the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar. The two domestic airlines that fly to Olgii every week are AeroMongolia and Eznis.

Olgii has some of the basic tourist amenities like supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, ATMs and internet cafes. But it is not only a place to stock up some supplies; it’s also a great starting place to get to know the Kazakh’s unique culture of nomadic herding, their lively music and art, as well as their close family ties. Even in the city itself, the traditional white-felt round house called ger is set up in people’s yards. But if you want to see the gers in a more traditional setting, all you need to do is go outside town. Whichever you choose, you will soon encounter Kazakh’s hospitality and it will pleasantly astonish you.

The city is small enough to get around on foot. Take the time to visit the outdoor market or bazaar and check out the famous Olgii crafts. There is a museum on the way to the bazaar, just northeast of the main square. This three-story museum provides insights to the history, culture and lives of the various tribes inhabiting Bayan Ulgii. These tribes include the majority Kazakh population and the minorities like Dörvöd, Uriankhai, Khoshuud and Tuva. Other points of interest in the city include the social space called Green Garden, and the Kazakh National Theater, which regularly hosts cultural shows and concerts.

Olgii has served as jumping off point for visitors who wish to head to Tsambagarav National Park and Altai Tavan Bogd National Park.The Altai Mountains surround the city of Olgii stretching to the south and west. Thus, hiking is one of the main activities to do in the area. If you wish to conquer the peaks of the Altai Mountains, you may want to engagethe services of an experienced local mountain guide. You can also sign up for a more organized tour. Despite the growing tourism, the road infrastructure around Bayan Olgii is still not well-developed. The best way to explore the natural attractions is to go for organized tours, with established outfitters who provide transportation, food, camping equipment and guides.

If you have an adventurous palate, don’t miss the chance to try sampling the traditional Kazakh delicacies while in Bayan Olgii. Some of these delicacies include fermented mare’s milk called ‘koumiss’, horse sausage named ‘kaz’, and the meat plate with root vegetable and steamed flour called ‘beshbarmak’, also regarded as the national dish.

Online Shopping for Cruise Deals

When shopping for vacation packages or cruise and travel vacations, many people are reluctant to deal with online merchants or even offer their email address for price quotes. Let’s look at this last item.

You search online for a specific cruise or vacation. You find a link that looks interesting. Clicking on the link takes you to a merchant. You plug in the parameters of your preferred travel vacation. Then the unthinkable happens. You’re asked to provide your e-mail address! Oh no!

Relax. What’s the worst case scenario? You will perhaps receive an e-mail requesting a little more information regarding your preferred cruise or vacation. After having given the answers requested, you will receive a quotation for your cruise or travel vacation package. You may even receive specials and updates from the merchant to keep you up to date with special cruise and travel deals. Is this so bad? If you do receive subsequent special offers, you may just find your preferred vacation on sale! What’s wrong with that?

Now let’s deal with the first item. You have received your quote for the cruise or vacation of choice. Again, let’s look at the worst case scenario. You still do not want to deal online (although why, I can’t imagine). You can then go to your “brick and mortar” cruise or travel agency armed with information and a very tight budget (remember, you already have a quote for your cruise vacation). This places you in an excellent bargaining position. You have received a couple of quotes online, and know what the best deal online is. Now you can “work over” the “brick and mortar” cruise agent. If you don’t get a better or equal quotation for your cruise or vacation you still have the opportunity to purchase online. Not bad, eh?

Another definite advantage to at least pricing cruises and vacations online is that you get to do it on your time, in your own home or office without the sales pressure sometimes inflicted by face to face quotations. You also have all the time you need to browse through the myriad of cruise and vacation opportunities to get the travel getaway the best suits your needs and desires.

We have all heard of the nightmares that some vacationers have had with travel agents and agencies. There are “scam artists” in virtually every business. You are no more guaranteed that a travel agency from the paper – or even – the yellow pages – is any more reputable than an online merchant. Many frequent travelers deal online because they feel that they can get the best deals on cruises and vacations. And they can get them in “real time” directly from the cruiselines, vacation package companies, and airlines.

Pindaya Village

Pindaya is a small, beautiful and tranquil mountain village in Shan State, Burma, located about 25 miles/40 km north of the Inlay Lake. Its centre is the Botoloke Lake also called Nattamie Kan what means Angles Lake and its attraction more than 8.000 Buddha statues in a cave.

After an interesting 2.5 hours early morning couch ride through a highly scenic landscape called ‘Burma’s Switzerland’ with many small Danu, Pa-O and Taung Yo people settlements on the mountainsides along the road we arrive in Pindaya.

The tribal people are earning their living with the growing of all kinds of vegetable and crops. They are relatively poor, conduct simple lives but are very happy. They are living witnesses to the phrase that money (at least not alone) does not make happy. We should remember that back home looking at the pictures we have made of them. Life is more than making money.

Pindaya village is predominantly populated by people of the ‘Taungyo tribe’ and is surrounded by magnificent often very old banyan trees. It is famous first and foremost for its ‘Pindaya Caves’ and the ‘Shwe Ohn Hmin Pagoda’ (Golden Cave Pagoda). Secondly, it is renowned for the beautiful Shan paper and parasols that are made here since generations.

The Pindaya caves are situated uphill Pindaya’s small lake from which the stairway leads up to the limestone cave’s mouth behind the pagoda. It is quite a long walk up there, which is one of the reasons why one should not try to take Pindaya in a rush. Of course, you can also go by car all the way up to a platform directly below the cave’s entrance or by elevator. But then this ‘Pindaya Cave Exploration’ experience would as I believe be somehow like soup without salt. That is why I am going to walk and climb the stairs

Actually, there a three caves in Pindaya but only one (the southernmost) is open to the public. As far as I know nothing is known about the other caves; not publicly, at least.

The interior of the cave comprises a large net of smaller and larger and sometimes very high caves and cave chambers with different interiors. The smaller ones of them are occasionally quite difficult to reach and to explore as their accesses are low and narrow. But to wind ones way into some of them is well-worth the effort. However, there are also some caves I do not recommend to enter because this is only possible when you are crawling. I do not think that one needs to go to that extreme in order to get a good and authentic feel for the magnificence of this cave.

Many thousand – no one knows their exact number but an estimate says 8,000 plus and counting – of Buddha images of all kinds of material such as lacquer ware, jade, marble, teak, bronze, brass, etc., all sizes from small figurines to large statues in many different styles and different ‘Mudras’ (postures) from the standing ‘Varada Mudra’, depicting Gautama Buddha’s descent from Tavatimsa, to the walking ‘Abhaya Mudra’, representing Buddha’s taming of the rampaging ‘Nalagiri’ elephant, to the seating ‘Bhumisparsha Mudra’ or ‘Dhyani Mudra’ or ‘Dharma Chakra Mudra’ (the differences of which are in the varying positions of the legs, hands and fingers) to the Parinibbana position showing Gautama Buddha in reclining posture.

Provided one has an eye and the patience for details (which to have is needed to fully enjoy all this splendour) all of this will not only be just seen but also registered with awe. The so far earliest known Buddha statue in the cave dates back to 1773; but it is of course possible that there are older ones for not all of them are dated and bear a name.

As for the question of how long the cave is I did not measure it myself but was told that the total lengths of this cave is some 150 metres/490 ft.

As yet no one could tell me exactly when, by whom and why this particular cave was chosen centuries ago for pilgrims to place as sacrificial offerings their Buddha images in here.

Be that as it may, the fact remains that the Pindaya caves are sacred to Buddhists and that you will often see Pongyis and laypeople quietly sitting and meditating in the caves. It is not only that the caves form a labyrinth but also the way in which the Buddha images are arranged what gives quite a different picture than that of other caves such as e.g. the wonderful ‘Kaw Gun Cave’ in Mon state.

Exploring the Pindaya Cave with its unique atmosphere and huge collection of Buddha statues is an experience that creates an everlasting impression on everyone’s mind. By the by, it can get quite cold in the cave and it is therefore advisable to have a thin jacket with long sleeves or at least a shirt or blouse with long sleeves in the bag.

Along the ridge outside the cave is an old temple complex and situated below the ridge is the Shwe Ohn Hmin (Golden Cave) Pagoda, also spelled Shwe U Min (Golden Cave) Pagoda at the entrance to the cave. There is great uncertainty as to when the pagoda was built and by whom. But this would not be Burma if there would not be a legend, and there is one. According to this legend the cave was built by monks sent by emperor Ashoka from India. However, if we take a closer look at this we will find that the oldest known Buddha statue in this cave dates back to 1773 and that emperor Ashoka lived and reigned in the 3rd century B.C. This means that now a time gap is opening up that cannot be easily explained away.

Speaking of legends. In front of the steps leading up to the cave’s entrance are two statues or sculptures. One depicts a huge nasty looking spider and the other an archer aiming with his arrow that is ready to fly at the spider. The legend behind this is that a huge spider that once lived in the cave had kidnapped a young local princess who had been swimming in the lake and kept her hostage. This problem was once and for all solved by the young prince Kummabhaya of Yawnghwe. He put an end to the spider’s life by putting one of his arrows into the spider’s heart. Similar stories you find often in legends. One example is that of the legendary king Pyusawhti of Pagan, who reigned between 167 – 242 A.D. He freed Pagan from the terror of the five menaces with his magic bow and arrows. For his heroic deed he was rewarded by the then king Thamudarit who gave him his daughter as a wife and made him heir apparel.

The pagoda bell in front of the prayer hall is made of brass and according to the inscription it weighs 654 kg/1.442 pound and was cast in 1842.

The prayer hall is connected to the name of a very famous Burmese monk. In fact, he built this prayer hall. His name: U Khandi. U Khandi was born in 1868, as Maung Po Maung in Ywathaya village, Yamethin District, Mandalay division and became Hermit (forest dwelling monk) in 1900. He devoted his entire life to the renovation and building of temples and pagodas and the funding of these projects. In 1949 he passed away and had by then (more precisely his ‘Goodwill’ organisation) built and renovated some 50 temples and pagodas on hill sites and tops all over Burma. Amongst them prestigious structures such as the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, the Hintha Gon Paya and the Mandalay Hill.

But it is not only the Pindaya caves and the Shwe U Min (Golden Cave) Pagoda this village is so well known for. It is also famous for Shan Paper making and parasol (umbrella) making.

With the Cave and pagoda visit behind us it was time for a rest and a quick bite. After an early box-lunch in front of the cave’s mouth during which we have enjoyed the wonderful view on the lake, the hillside dotted with pagodas and the village we went back down to Pindaya Village.

After having first visited the Pindaya market were locals offer an almost unbelievable large variety of fruits,vegetables, potatoes, rice, eggs, household wares, clothes, and so on, we are now in one of the local paper and parasol making workshops. These shops are all family businesses and the members of the family that owns this shop will now give us a step-by-step description and demonstration of how they are performing their traditional crafts of paper and umbrella making. Everything here is made by hand using very simple tools and only natural materials. This family here is in this business since many generations.

Carnival Ship Valor

Once on board things went well. The ship is less than one-year old and still seems new. Cabins were nice and I liked my stateroom with balcony.

For the entire trip the food was good. Same goes with the overall service. The crewmembers and staff were very accommodating.

Once we left Nassau the seas got rough. Matter of fact we had some seven foot seas. This ship really rocked and rolled in spite of its 900′ plus length. Wife and many others became deathly sea sick. Eating dinner was challenging. Kind of like eating during an earthquake that just won’t end.

If you want to avoid food lines at Rosie’s place go upstairs to the fish and chips place (noon only). Never a crowd as most passengers don’t know about the place.

We stayed on the 8th deck. Seemed to be a lot of kids running the passageways. Where are their parents? Alse some people like to party all night in the passageways. There are 23 bars on this ship and they chose the passageways.

Carnival has a great kids program. I don’t have kids but those who did really praised this setup.

If I was 21 again I would like Carnival just fine. Now in my dotage I like peace and quiet so I would try another line although wife says she is done cruising. Carnival does have great prices. The emabarkation procedure went about as well as could be expected. I was off the ship in about one-half hour and bags were in place with nothing lost or pilfered. If you don’t like lines try a smaller ship.

Travel to Germany

Two famous locations in the Baden-Wurttemberg region are Baden-Baden and the Brenner’s Park Hotel and Spa. Baden-Baden which is located north of the Black Forest is a great summer destination as it has various spas, hiking trails, a huge promenade, spectacular springs and pastel houses. The Brenner’s Park Hotel and Spa offers you luxury comforts including a spa treatment. The Bodensee and Lake Constance are located in this region.

The Alpine Road or Deutsche Alpenstrasse presents a very beautiful scenic view. It stretches along the Bavarian Alps. The route offers a good view of the ancient and impressive towns, castles and villages. Germany’s highest mountain Zugspitse and Lake Konignesse are also found here. A part of The Romantic Road called Romantische Strasse is in Bavaria too. A very beautiful city Bamburg is also located nearby which was at one time the Holy Roman Empire’s capital.

Munich which can also be called the financial capital of Germany has got a very deep history and many museums. The Alte Pinakothek has got a very good collection of Renaissance art from the 14th to the 18th centuries including ‘Virgin and Child’ by Da Vinci, ‘Crowning with Thorns’ by Titian and artwork by Hals, Durer, Ruben and Memling. The admission fee is 4 dollars. Then there is the Deutsches Museum which is the world’s most comprehensive technical and scientific museum. You can find lots of interesting, interactive displays and films. Besides museums, Munich has lots of world-class restaurants and drinking joints. In fact, it is very famous for its Oktoberfest, a sixteen-day beer festival every October. This festival is world famous for its fun, high spirits and attracts millions of tourists every year to Munich.

Berlin is the capital city of Germany located between central and north-east. It also has several museums like the famous Science Museum, the Dahlem and the Bode Museum that holds historical relevance pertaining to the Berlin Wall. One section of the Berlin Wall still remains which is the Brandenburg Gate. Berlin is also famous for its world famous orchestra known as The Berlin Philharmonic which attracts music lovers.

Info of Tabodwe And Htamane

Now all over the country rice is harvested and there is not much time for celebrations. Yet, Tabodwe is also a joyful time that finds it culmination in the harvesting festival, Burma’s equivalent to Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day as it is called in North America. Enough rice means that the people must not starve. So, the time of rice harvesting is not only a time of hard work but also joy.

This festival is called ‘Htamane’ after the special food offering that is cooked and eaten at this time. This gives women the most welcome opportunity to provide proof of their cooking skills. Htamane consists of glutinous rice, coconut (shredded), peanut or cooking oil, peanuts (husk removed), ginger (sliced), sesame and salt.

There are three ways in which the htamane – or rice cooking festival as it is also called – is usually celebrated. These are in the private family circle or together with selected friends and neighbours or communally. Whatever way is chosen to celebrate htamane it always means a big, happy gathering because many hands are needed to get all the necessary work done. There are lots of things that need to be done; from the preparing of the ingredients of htamane to the cooking itself. The rice grains and the sesame seeds have to be winnowed, the rice to be properly washed and soaked, the coconut shells to be broken, the fibres removed, the water/milk poured out and the pulp to be shredded/sliced, the peanuts must be shelled and the husk removed, the ginger needs to be peeled and sliced, and so on and so forth.

Cooking htamane is hard work as the extremely sticky htamane that – if, for instance, the feast is celebrated together with a larger number of people – is cooked in huge iron bowls or pots on wood or charcoal fire and must for a period of about half an hour be permanently crashed and stirred with long wooden ladles. However, this part of the cooking process is – although monitored and supervised by the women – performed by two or three men simultaneously as it requires considerable strength.

While performing their soporific job the men are sheered on and encouraged with shouts by onlookers and occasionally the beat of dobats played by dobat troupes. When the first batch of htamane is ready and the first helping is offered to Gautama Buddha and pongyis the exhausted members of the cooking team sit down to enjoy the fruits of their hard labour and the next cooking team takes over, then the next, and so on.

In the following I will give you a more detailed description of how the cooking of htamane works; you may try yourself to do it.

The first step is to give the peanut oil into the pot and fry the ginger and coconut one after the other. Do not forget to strain the oil after each frying. Then you set aside the fried coconut and ginger slices. The next step is to take about half of the peanut oil off the pot.

Then, in comes the rice, which was about two hours before washed and then put into clear water to soak till it is put into the pot with the remaining peanut oil. Water is added and then the rice must cook. About 30 minutes later the rice is soft and after some of the fried coconut and ginger is put aside for later use, to decorate the helpings of htamane served that is, all of the ingredients – except the sesame – are added to the rice. Some people do at this stage remove the pot from the fire as the htamane can easily burn when it remains on the fire and is not stirred very, very properly. However, the taste is much better when the pot remains on the fire until the htamane is ready. Both ways have in common that now the stirring act begins. The rice is first kneaded and crashed between the wooden ladles and properly mixed with the ingredients while the mass is getting ever stickier so that at the end it takes great strength to make the htamane yield to the ladles.

The last and easiest part is the sprinkling of the sesame seeds. This – so it is said – needs great skill as the flavour of the htamane depends on the person sprinkling the seeds handful by handful in regular intervals into the htamane while the strong men do the hard work to stir and mix the very gluey mass with their ladles. When the last sesame is sprinkled in the htamane is ready and the pot removed from the fire.

By the by, ‘sprinkling sesame seeds’ is a Burmese idiom that is disparagingly used for putting the finishing touches to something after the heavy and/or dirty main work was done by others. So, when, for instance, you are adding some condiments to already cooked meal that to be prepared and cooked took your mother (or wife) hours you are ‘sprinkling sesame seeds’. This idiom can be applied to any kind of work and is not confined to cooking.

When the htamane is ready it is divided into helpings (which goes best with a spoon or knife dipped into oil so that the htamane does not stick), nicely decorated with shreds and slices of the fried coconut and ginger and with sesame seeds and served. The taste of htamane is… , well, all I can say is, “Hmmm, yummy, yummy.” And it is very rich; you do not need very much of it to have had your fill.

The traditional way to serve it is on a properly washed and with cooking oil rubbed banana leaf. Tradition matters greatly in Burma what shows in many aspects of Burmese people’s everyday-lives as it permeates and occasionally even controls them.

Especially in rural areas the rice is often still cooked in earthen pots with a humped lit. This has the effect that when the rice is ready it has a peak-shaped top (called crown). This ‘crown’ is the choicest part of the rice. It is carefully removed from the rest of the rice and according to an old tradition set aside and reserved for food offering to Gautama Buddha and pongyis. This tradition is called ‘top priority for those to whom respect is due’ and a custom still practised.

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