Singapore to Taipei

24 October, Horizon Inn,Taipei

Our 9am flight to Taiwan required a 5:15am start. Exiting Singapore was much less painful than our entry. They have introduced a thumbprint scanning system that reads your passport and matches your ID to the scan yo

u gave on entry, much the same as Australia’s face recognition entry system, except that it can be used for everybody.

We flew Scoot for the first time. It was about what we expected from a budget airline, though their food prices on board were way higher than AirAsia’s.

Countries in Asia and probably in other places, need to do something to better apply technology to immigration processes. The security issues are of course understandable, but surely this is an area where enhanced, technically-sophisticated processes would not only save money, but also alleviate some of the tension and frustrations that are building at border crossings in many countries. It took us over an hour to clear immigration into Taiwan today. Thousands of “non citizen…

Mandalay to Malacca

16 October, Royal Nyuangshwe Hotel,  Nyuangshwe

Our boatman was waiting for us, as arranged, at our hotel. We had assumed that we would be picked up in a car and taken to the boat landing. No such luck! We had to walk down to the landing, which wouldn’t have been a big issue except for the fact that we have settled into the Asian tropical shuffle to avoid becoming drenched in sweat and our boatman was in a bit of a hurry. The boat landing was crammed with longboats sporting the long driveshaft power plants common throughout South-East Asia. The traffic in the channel that leads from the town out to the lake pulsed with activity. Tourist boats are exactly the same as the normal working boats, except for the addition of wooden chairs with pillow-padded seats and life jackets.

We had been expecting a bit of a glum day, but after an hour or so on the lake the clouds burnt off, exposing a crystal clear blue sky.  The boat was fairly comfortable although, as the sun warmed up, we were a bit…

Mandalay to Nyuanyshwe

12 October, Yadanarbon Hotel, Mandalay

We had planned a fairly adventurous trip for today, catching a local pick-up/taxi then a ferry to Inwa (Ava) to visit some ruined temples by horse cart. When we pulled back the curtains this morning, that plan quickly unravelled. The street below was knee-deep in muddy water and the rain was pelting down. None of this deterred the locals though. The street turns into a mini-market in the morning, with small vegetable stalls and a couple of fish and chicken sellers. The chicken lady was happily hacking into chicken carcasses with the water lapping just below her table. Bikes and cars sent wakes rolling within inches of the stock laid out for sale. Given the obvious lack of concern we figured that this was a fairly regular event in the monsoon season. The breakfast room on the top floor of the hotel was awash when we went up, but breakfast was served as normal.

The ride in the back of the pick-up was suddenly an extremely unattractive proposition. …