Getting Drunk and Lost Part 4 : Myanmar
From the capital city Yangon, Inle Lake, Mandalay, Bagan and back…
After being with a group of kids for over a week and having all the logistics taken care of for us. We were back on our own and heading to one of our hardest challenges to date Myanmar.
Only having it borders open for a couple of years it wasn’t going to be easy to get around.
Travel day started with flights back to Bangkok and then on to the capital city Yangon. This started a little ropy when a women freaked us out by asking to carry her bags through security. Well in hindsight I think she needed help but it still felt very suspicious.
We arrived at the airport to find that none of the ATM’s were working! Great how can we get anywhere now?? We started talking to some other obvious back packers and jumped into a taxi we one who was going to our hostel and had currency. Result!
We swapped him the fare for dollars and checked into a standard hostel, questionably clean beds, no hot water and zero privacy.
The city instantly felt cramped and dirty but some surprised where in store.
The first being a mistake I made when searching trip advisor for restaurants near me. Just around the corner and number one in the city result again!
We headed straight out no shower and looking horrible.
Hiding behind big wooden doors the blind tiger seemed closed. I pushed them open to discover a restaurant that would sit well anywhere in the west end of London. Based on an American speak easy it had Asian fusion tapas and range of cocktails some of which neither of us never heard before. Including a coriander infused tequila. Also the prices could of been London pricing too, so we chose carefully and the food was fantastic.
Next to us however was a young Asian lady with tattoos who took a keen interest in us both. Afterwards Carla informed me she had read that prostitution was rife around the city and she was convinced she was a lady of the night. My comment of “it could of been an interesting first night” didn’t go down very well.
With limited time in Yangon we wanted to make the most and see some sights, one of which was the golden pagodas (need the name!!!!) heading off in a cheap taxi we were surprised to realize the drivers son playing in the boot of the car. Me and Carla exchanged looks but neither of us said anything. Of course we got ripped off again by the driver, despite having altercations and words it wasn’t worth the pound I was trying to save.
As we walked the long street towards the temple we got approached by everybody trying to literally everything they could and saying no thank you becomes less and less polite and harder and harder to be sincere. The Pagoda itself was incredible! So much bling goes into building it its breath taking. As walked around we debated and tried to understand why a religion and a country would put so much money into a place of worship and leave its people struggling. Very difficult to understand but amazing none the less.
Speaking of money as we left I spotted a monk buying some beads from a local seller. I whispered to Carla “I bet he gets discount”. I asked him as he passed how much he’d paid and immediately wanted the same beads for the same price.
Master of cunning!
After escaping death from the worlds worst taxi driver, I won’t go into detail but we narrowly dodged a lorry by screaming at him to watch out while our sleeping Spanish can sharer barely woke up.
An over night coach then took us out of the capital and up to Inle lake, north east of the country.
Not learning from our arse ache in Kratie, we once again hired rickety bikes and headed towards some hot springs. Only we can imagine going into scolding water while it’s in the mid 30c, obviously Carla was in her element and I was cooking alive.
This was coupled with the afternoon tannoy prayers screamed at us while trying to relax. I did take amusement in the fact he kept fucking up his performance and the sadistic little shit in me definitely giggled.
The day after was the day we were waiting for. We spent the entire day in a motor boat traveling around the lake its self.
To put in perspective the size, we essentially spent 5 hours inside the boat while 2 was walking around various floating tailors and jewellery makers.
We did however stop on a small island which houses some of the villages main temples and Pagodas. Our guide/ boat driver then took us in to a large crowd of locals who at first we thought were celebrating a religious day. Turns out it was a wedding and we just gate crashed it. Incredibly fascinating but tough to feel comfortable and welcomed when being stared at like alien creatures.
We made our escape and continued our tour watching fisherman dancing on their boats and through floating gardens.
The whole place was spectacular and we got a real sense of the true untouched Myanmar.
The reality of how rural the place was when we arrived back on land to see a horse to trotting down the road by its self loving life.
The day was finished off by 2 firsts for me.
1. All veggie tapas which was actually awesome
2. Playing the first word game.
So this is essentially the first word that pops into your head in association with the previous. Very funny while hammered and even more funny when your partner doesn’t get it and keeps screaming out yogurt!
Mandalay up next and yep you guessed it another bus! Woop woop!
Not the best of starts with a young mum and her child being sick next to us and it stinking the place out.
Then the first night getting completely lost and having to walk on essentially a building site in the pitch black – as you can imagine Carla was not a happy bunny.
The next day didn’t start well either with a 2 hour walk around the palace walls because we couldn’t find the entrance and a snake attack in the middle of the road we needed a beer.
After that things picked up and We started to have a lot of fun. There is a beautiful Pagoda called Mandalay Hill and we had under 45 minutes to climb the hundreds of steps to reach the summit by sunset. Having to be barefoot, watch for dogs / dog shit and get lost 3 times, it is well worth the trip and one of the best views.
After a couple of days in Mandalay we again got into our mini bus and headed next to Bagan.
A quick run down of this trip without to much detail or else I will be here for ever.
First it must of been made in the 70’s and stunk of smoke.
Next we picked up some elderly women half way through, one of which sat ever close to me and I was convinced was giving me the eye.
Third the service station we had was blocked by daisy the cow, who refused to move to let us park up.
Forth all our blinds were closed as we suspiciously rolled into the national park which Carla had read we have to pay for.
Fifth when we arrived and collected our bags from the boot they were piss wet through and stunk of something ungodly.
The next couple of days however were a breeze, well let me get through them.
So Bagan is basically a massive national park temples all over the place. The easiest way to visit is to hire an electric scooter and off road it.
We did and I got us lost and drove into some hedges on a few occasions. Carla even had her first lesson and loved it.
The temples were unbelievable and mostly quiet so we got to explore them in peace.
The freedom was short lived unfortunately on the second day as we drove way too far off the beaten path and ended up covered in thick mud. I also suddenly had a serious attack of the shits and was forced to go in a field surrounded by cows. Carla’s laughter didn’t stop for about half an hour after she realized I only had three wet wipes to wipe my arse with!
As the sun was setting we ran into our third problem of the day as the battery gave in and left us stranded. That was until a local helped us contact the hire company and get a replacement out to us.
Several beers were needed that night!
Despite all the shitty problems us Muppets were destined to run into, Bagan is an amazing place to visit. In hindsight we should of punted for a balloon ride but we definitely got the full experience.
Next stop back to Yangon, flight to Bangkok and train to Malaysia. Best load up the phone with podcasts.