Another day another journey, or journey’s. Hsipaw to to Mandalay in a coach 4.5 hours starting at 5.00am. 4 hours on a hot day in a bus park cafe being frustrated by dial up internet speeds then 14 hours on a coach to here. Our arses are sore and are ears bleeding. The appalling Burmese operetta that lasted 3 hours followed by dreadful, screeching, purile comedy that needed a drum roll on every punch line to help the audience identify it as a punchline was played at such high volume that even with earplugs in we could still hear everything clearly. Asking to turn it down had little effect as the Burmese, it seems, like it loud and the noise levels gradually increased again. It wasn’t until 5.5 hours into the journey that it was turned off!!! Arrrghhhh! Anyway arrive at 4.00am and hire two trishaw bikes to take us to a couple of hotels (so much for a guilt trip on the previous one). The first hotel, owned by a man we had woken by pounding on his door had bulging, sleepy eyes, a saliva trail on his fat chin that was covered with wispy hair, a big belly that, along with his crotch, was frequently scratched and a noticeable body odour was rejected due to cost, décor, single room occupancy for two people being unacceptable, smell, warren like layout, dirt, mattress condition and numerous other factors. Hotel two, apart from looking like the hotel in the Shining in the corridors was
fine and we hit the sack for a few hours before breakfast. Later we climbed the small hill on which a magnificent stupor was situated and looked at the great 360 degree vista which included the Ayerwaddy river, the town, jungle and a 10 storey
high Buddha rising out of the treeline. It’s a lazy day today and Pyay provides just enough for that to happen. We sit under tarpaulin on broken down seats on the
muddy bank of the river and sup a few cups of tea, enjoy our 2nd only beer in Myanmar then a light, late lunch before getting back to our room just ahead of a tropical downpour. On way saw the tragic results of what can happen if you bolt down a banana.
And that’s it for Burma. Tomorrow a bus to Yangon then fly out to KL and off to explore Malaysia for a month or so. In conclusion. Burma is a wonderful place. We read somewhere that the amount of tourists visiting Myanmar last year was 300,000. It will have gone up this year but even so, in the three and a half weeks we have been here we have seen less than a hundred foreigners so consider ourselves so lucky to have visited whilst tourism and all its inherent effects have yet to change these delightful people. Virtually everywhere we have been well received, openly welcomed (shouted hello’s and welcomes from passing motorists, waves and greetings in the streets, smiles and struck up conversations the whole time). The idiosyncrasies of the country have charmed us. Just a few being tasselled curtains on the television in coaches and on their windows, tiny children clinging on to parents on the back of motorbikes, twigs in a can serving as a road block, no western restaurant chains, no push chairs, naked children running down the streets or groups of men in tea houses, farming everywhere they can squeeze a maize plant or banana tree between the lush vegetation, the longi worn widely by men, women and children, pigs with straight tails and the fact that a hotel will sent a boy out on a bike to follow guests to make sure they don’t get lost and tiffin box takeaways where people turn up with their little silver stack of cans that get filled with food or the plastic bags full of tea to be hung from the motorbike handlebar. We have revelled in the landscapes of rolling hills, mountains, and luminescent rice fields for as far as the eye can see. Green, so much green, that the eye is immediately drawn to anything else. I both urge our friends to visit this land and discourage them as we don’t want it to change. But if you do remember that if you do come the Road to Mandalay only leads to the one place not that worth seeing.