Trekking South, Salopek Heads Towards Mandalay
Salopek’s journey through Myanmar is taking him down the Chindwin River towards Mandalay. Here, he has seen more evidence of Asia’s disappearing forests. Illegal loggers are cutting valuable teak in northern Myanmar and then floating the logs down-river towards the coast.
Another major industry in northern Myanmar is the production of ornate lacquerware. The sap is drawn from a lacquer tree combined and with bamboo and horsehair to produce a smooth, even finish. Salopek observed the process, which has remained almost unchanged since the 13th century.
He has found Myanmar to be very hospitable. At one recent stop, a roadside restaurant owner laid on a full three-course meal for the weary travellers. She refused payment for anything she had made herself, only charging for the drinks.