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Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

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Entries in train (5)


I am twinkling...

Mandalay to Lashio train. 16 hours of rock n' roll elevations. 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sublime.

Ride the rails click clack click clack click clack nature visions bamboo forests silver rivers feeling fresh air hanging out the door of a rock’n roll train rail alliteration.

Stars at 9 pm open the sky

A red shaped leaf fields of lilacs purple black and gold, butterflies, sense of stillness, renewal of free rolling spirit, yellow bamboo leaves at lower elevations, then green exploding higher lush gardens, fir, pine.

Fields being planted.

Women men children hoe plant water.

Say yes to everything.

The hard scrabble reality similar to Phonsavan in northern Laos, oxen, weathered fases, wood/thatch homes, small train station shops in the middle of nowhere.

Women logged in loading baskets of green vegetables, men wrestle iron timber on board, teens shuffle loads of wood into a train car door space racing long lonely whistle blasts. Here we go.

German Italian Japanese Australian senior citizens on train platforms snap Burmese people with no interaction projecting real true attitudes behavior at the T Bow exit.

Farewell my lovely.

A lone stranger enjoys the final four hours to Lashio.

Sublime beauty near and far butterflies, homes rolling hills golden rust colored labor in fields raving children urination copious food sources.

Staring at a writer sitting in market tea place morning broken lights curious faces, voices whispering is doing this being flowing “pen fountain” said the laughing boy standing on a cement slow all the men staring at this transitory process.

The expansive tradtional market is excellent. No foreigners in a chilly hilly labyrinth of morning. A source of fascination. Zen of sitting nourishment. Monks barefoot meditation an open hand holds everything. 

Burning coals. Tea.  Fractured light flowing energies.

Lashio artists

Character is action.

Tell me a story. The train stopped in TiVo where 24 nurses pulled on their acts wasted away onto shoulders descended to the platform took selfie declined images unloaded packs into tuk-tuk took off for Golden Dragon hotel. 

Lone traveler stayed on the train. It slowly rolled north. The conductor walked through the empty car. He stopped at an empty seat, collectived empty plastic water bottles, chopsticks, food wrappers, Styrofoam containers, dreams, nightmares and fantasies mixed with rising expectations, desires and needs.

He dropped everything out an open window. The train rolled through starlight.


The Commander’s Wife Buys Confectionery


In northern Shan State once upon a time there was along running insurgenc over land, freedom, natural resources, gold, rubies, star sapphires, opiates all golden triangle profit.

A shiny green army pickup truck pulled up at the New Sign Moon Bakery in Lashio.

A soldier and green jumped out and opened the cabinet door. The wife got out–longhair, white and silver dress, designer purse, serious face. Six soldiers exited the truck. They were on a mission to liberate cakes, cookies, sweets from glass shrine.

The commander got out. Short wearing a camouflage jacket like a forest with depressed green pants and black shiny shoes. Epaulets on his shoulder.

His sharp black eyes stared at a stranger scribbling at an outdoor table.

Zero expression. His eyes lay buried in his face of recessed emptiness. His commander war camo boonie hat sat a rakish angle crashed in front. Decorated with a golden military symbol of happiness compassion and love.

His life climbed steps into a new son. Her husband uttered quick syllables to number two.

Number two had war military bearing without a care in the world. He barked into a walkie-talkie.

A military policeman guarded the front of the truck. Soldiers stood around smoking as motorcycles loaded with fresh strawberries streamed goodbye.

She came out followed by a salesgirl trundling bags of roles and buns. A soldier put them in the truck. She spoke to her husband. He knew words were unnecessary. He followed her to the market. Soldiers marched behind.

Years later they return with bags of strawberries apples and bananas. They loaded everything into the truck.

Someone called the commander. He pulled a walkie-talkie from his belt. He opened his mouth. Perfect white teeth. If you knew words. He smiled. A soldier open the door for his life. She got in. Commander got in and took off his office party hat. Smoothed his hair. The military police stopped traffic and they drove into a dream come true.

Real–not true

True–not real

Elemental. You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.

Painting with light shadow sky sunset relationship based in market.  Wonder and wander free-spirited in a free world. Absorbing the energies. Innocent child-like play. See with soft eyes. Gratitude. Abracadabra.

Sitting inside sun street morning surrounded by women voices asking who is the stranger? Noodle mama. Voices of laughter. Kerry roses smell fragrance. Tea house people stare smile forget. Spiderweb sparkle diamond radiant from the center. Process Tibetan - Burma language.

I am a rainbow. I am twinkling.

old woman
deep lined face
gray hair pulled back
empty begging bowl

woman without arms
sits under umbrella
empty begging bowl

Loving their phones
Market people laugh
Selfies, games (easily amused)
Wicker basket on her back
Silver coins jingle jangle
Light passage humor
Red thread solid black background

How’s it feel this magic show

meditation caught in the quiet
absorbing diversity wandering
sitting visual symphonies
zones of cement shells
steel shutters, mercantile commerce
set it up…sell…tear it down…go home.

transition images
light shadow
adjust to eternal flow

senses whisper confident poems easy.


Train to Lashio

Ride the rails sixteen hours north

click clack click clack click clack
nature visions bamboo forests
silver rivers
feeling fresh air

hanging out the door of a rock’n roll train
rail alliteration starts at 4 AM.

Stars open sky

A red shaped leaf
fields of lilacs purple black and gold, butterflies,
sense of stillness, renewal of the free rolling spirit,
yellow bamboo leaves at lower elevations, then green exploding higher lush gardens, fir, pine..

Fields being planted
Women and men and children hoeing,  watering, turning soil
Say yes to everything.

The hard scrabble reality similar to northern Laos, oxen, weathered faces,

wood homes thatch, small train station shops in the middle of nowhere,

women loading loading baskets of greens vegetables,

men timber and iron on board
teens shuffle loads of wood from dirt into a train car door
Spaces race long lonely whistle blasts.

20 German Italian Japanese Australian tourists & senior citizens – ugly idiots on train platforms snap Burmese people no interaction real true relationship
attitudes behavior selfish selfies T Bow exit. 
Farewell my lovely.

The lone stranger rides the last four hours to Lashio. 


Circle Train

The Circle Train goes around Yangon. 

$1 - three hours.

Kindness of strangers - ticket man points out track.

Wait there. The train is red. Thank you.

Slow, steady, easy smiles.

Ride the rails. Move.

Families on a Sunday picnic with straw mats and bags - food, beverages.

Wide eyed kids hang out windows watching people, places, things.

Old cement structures, time warp - long ago. 

Roll past corregated heaven, bamboo homes, rice paddies.

Shy smiles, hey it's a stranger!

Let's have an adventure.


Riding the rails

Thanks for your patience. The 2015 Lao Cai express to Ha Noi pulled in at 0430. I rested in an crammed narrow upper sleeping berth.

A boisterous group of Thailand tourists on a quick four-day "buy and see," from Elephant Town wrestled impossible suitcases and cheap Chinese appliances into the passageway. Their young leader works for Herbal Life and freelances as a tour guide. He leaned over and with unmitigated glee displayed his lapel pin with the company logo and heart. 

"Wow!" I exclaimed, "It's all natural!"

After brushing aside the Ha Noi taxi touts my dream sweeper collected dreams from the sleeping monkeys.

Sapa was magnificent, just what this little explorer needed for a peaceful, awesome, fresh aired human and nature connection. Bliss. Mountains, fog, mist, clouds, rain, sun, valleys, rivers. Beautiful people. You know you're in the zone when 10 days feels like 10 aeons. 

Armed with my trusty Moleskine, camera tools and an open heart-mind I ventured forth. I will create galleries for your visual enjoyment and share Sapa stories along the way.




Directional Capabilities

After two weeks avoiding whizzing whirling dervish motorcycle drivers, with clear intentions I ventured forth to the train station before high noon. It is your basic long cement blocked projectile with a neon sign saying "Ha Noi Train Station."

On a Friday few people were there. Wait until it's time to leave. To the left was a room with counters selling tickets. I passed a window where a red sign read, "Brigade Leaders Collect Team Tickets Here."

The counter room is narrow with plastic seating and numbered glass windows. At the end of the room next to the W.C. is a huge mirror wearing a heavy brown lacquered frame. The illusion of space. Counter #2 is where foreigners get their tickets. There are a variety of trains and options; softsleeper, soft seat, hard seat and no seat.

I'm taking the SE1 overnight train from Ha Noi to Hue. Leaves at 1930, arrives at 0809. A great city on the Perfume River known for art and architecture. Resplendent.

From Hue I travel by bus to Hoi An.

"I would like a ticket to Hue please. One way."

A woman looked through her thick glasses. "Soft sleeper." It wasn't a question, it was a statement. She knows foreigners taking the night train want to sleep, have children to take care of them when they are old, cook over open fires while admiring the natural scenery before it's gobbled up by profit oriented companies as locals try to improve their standard of living dreaming a little dream.

"Tonight?" asked the woman. Sharply. "No, Sunday please."

She pointed to a calendar on the counter. Number 19. Yes, I nodded. She punched in the numbers. She pulled out a pink ticket.

"That's 533 Dong." ($33) She showed me the number on her calculator. I paid. She handed me the ticket and dropped the crumpled extra bills on the counter like so many leaves fluttering from a tree. Boredom enveloped her.

"It leaves at 1930." "Thank you." I wandered away.

Excellent. My last train trip was from Hydarpasa in Istanbul to Ankara.

Metta. more

Hoi more