With apologies to Rudyard

Well I had to occupy myself somehow on those long bus journeys ….

By the old Shwedagon Paya shining brightly in the night
There’s a lonely traveller standin’ with ‘is face a’burning bright
For the monks they are a’prayin’
And the Buddha’s head is wet
And a voice sez to the traveller:
“Ain’t you been sober yet?”
Just forgit the dodgy Chang Beer
And the shots of illegal rum
‘Cos you know you gotta journey when this night of drinkin’s done
For the driver he’s a’calling and your ticket you must pay
There’s a 24 hour journey comin’
On the road to Mandalay

And the fat man sits next to him
In a seat that’s far too thin
Though the company they told ”im
It’s enough to fit a king
Now a Burma girl sits ‘cross the aisle
Her face all painted yeller
she would’ve been sitting next to him
If it wasn’t for this fat fella
And he hawks the phlegm repeatedly
But He knows that’s just their way
For the entire bus is doing that
On the road to Mandalay

The Burmese pop star’s singing
On the TV up above
Tho’ he can’t make out the bleedin’ words he knows all about lost love…
And he thinks the girl has smiled at him – tho’ he can’t be rightly sure
Then the fat guy sitting next to him of course begins to snore
And the mountain road is twisting till they all begin to sway
And there’s another 18 hours comin’ on the road to Mandalay

He dreams of flying fishes
And, as the sun goes down ,
He remembers the light a’fading
On temples red and brown
And pagoda bells that tinkle
Where the golden Buddha sits
Where you’re asked for lucky money from hordes of hungry kids

The light is almost gone now
As the bus heads further north
And a Czech kid that he’s just met
Is starting to hold forth
On Cambodia and Laos , the Thais and Vietnam too
And he stops the kid in mid flow and asks her if its true
‘Cos he’s just an English traveller,
Who’s decided late in the day
That its really now or never
that he takes the road to Mandalay

A posh voice behind him starts to speak of Myanmar
And many other places all paid by Ma and Pa
He sits there breathing very hard and trying not to swear
For that’s the kind of traveller he really just can’t bear
But then he asks himself “who cares who pays their way?
‘Cos in the end we’re all just travellers
On the Road to Mandalay


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