Thursday, April 6, 2006


Hoping to make this the last monster post to be all caught up to the present day, fingers crossed! Writing out the better part of 3 weeks travel is horrendous! I could have just not written but I like talking....
OK so we left Bagan on the bus at 3pm (well, that's when we were supposed to leave, we left closer to 4pm, just late enough to get me a bit stressed out about there being no bus as it was our last chance to get to Yangon in time for our flight).
Things of note about the bus were a French guy vomiting up bad eggs from lunch (he said he knew they were bad, which makes me wonder why he ate them? ) and the FIRST Australians we had met the whole entire time in Burma, we were their first too. We hit it off right away as they were our sort of Aussies (ie conscious, aware sort of travellers) and spent the night chatting on and off. I have a theory that hardly any Australians make it to Burma (politics aside) because you have to fly in and out and as a group we tend to not have so much money as Europeans. For the record, Dylan and I were probably the youngest travellers we met too not travelling with parents. We were quite the odd ones out most of the time.
Reaching the bus station in Yangon we squeezed into a taxi with the Australians, the unwell French guy (now much better) and a German we'd met back in our guesthouse (only making 7 people in one small car, positively comfortable), I sat on Dylan's lap.
We'd booked a room back at the Motherland Guesthouse where we'd stayed at the beginning of the trip on the basis of it being spotless (and we all know how much I like a clean room, I don't think I'm being unreasonable here, maybe just a little obsessive), fantastic staff including a slightly loopy waiter, complimentary breakfast that included a piece of cake (my idea of a good breakfast!) and of course, The Duck. They also let us have a free ride to the airport with Monyay, the boy who'd convinced me to stay there in the first place all those weeks ago. Pretty good value for $9 a night!
This was also the place where Dylan finally joined the dark side and consented to have tea for breakfast, it being so much better than the coffee (as was the case all over the country but he's an optimist).
In Yangon we only really had one afternoon which we spent sleeping off the 12 hours or so we'd spent on the bus, and then going on a walking tour of the shops of Yangon in search of a black lacquer monks alms bowl. It took all afternoon until we were finally directed to a street where there were half a dozen shops selling monks equipment. I was fascinated!
Here was I, thinking that when young boy or man went off to be a good Buddhist and join a monastery for a while the temple itself would set him up with all the bits and pieces required but it is not so!
Instead there are Monks' Good shops, shelves of robes organised into colours (bright red for young monks, oranges and yellows for the older ones) and sizes, other shelves with the tunics they wear underneath, boxes full of assorted umbrellas, packets of fans, shoes, bags and of course, black alms bowls (available in plastic or lacquer, both suitably austere and long wearing). Best of all were the gift baskets, just like the ones we'd buy for people for Christmas, again containing a small umbrella, fan, bowl and so on all wrapped up in plastic with a bow. Wonderful!
We got our bowl, a stand and lid for $3. It's a bit wonky but I'm happy with it, it's the real deal from a real monk's shop after all!
In a souvenir shop we also bought two small lacquer owls for an exorbitant price (if I have anything to complain about with Burmese people it's that the buggers don't bargain much!). We saw pairs of owls all over Burma, lacquer, gold, wood, paper mache. They're supposed to be lucky although I had a bit of a hard time getting someone to explain this to me. Good fortune I think.
The next morning we were at the airport early and had to wait for hours for the booth to open, once finally through we waited the obligatory two hours, then almost two MORE hours for the flight to finally arrive late. The actual flight didn't take too long but in BKK airport it took forever to get through immigration as we managed to pick the world's slowest immigration officer. Still with 10 people to go I swapped lines and was whizzed through in a matter of minutes. On the other side I waited another 20 minutes for Dylan who was stubborn and refused to swap lines. The line I was in put 3 people through in the time D's line did one. It was funny for the first ten minutes waiting, after that just irritating.
Outside we waited another age in a queue for a taxi before finally making it back to Banglamphu only 12 hours after we'd first got up.
The last few days the only adventures we've had have involved getting haircuts, an experience I'd recommend to anyone in BKK if only because you don't know what you'll end up with until the very end, the suspense is better than a horror movie.
Me being me, I managed to pick a hairdresser with more lady-boy staff than biological women. I picked out a hair colour (dark) and hoped for the best. Gotta say, they were fantastically gentle! Hairdressers in Aus tend to be rough. She did blob a big bit of hair dye on my skirt, and then tried to wipe it off with  tissue which merely smeared it to a stain twice as large (eventually), I wiped it off myself more thoroughly with a wet one from my own bag and I don't think it did too much damage. I had one girl wash my hair, another dry it off, another did the colour and then a man cut it (an actual man, wearing pants, although his fingernails and pretty face made me wonder if he was just a man for the day). The guy who cut my hair was so careful! bit by bit he snipped, doing wonders with clippers all over it (I didn't know you could cut hair like this with clippers) but rather disturbingly, instead of using a big fluffy brush to get the hair off my neck he simply blew vigorously on me. But despite odd methods, he did a good job although naturally a couple of days later in my incompetent hands it looks nothing like it did when it was new. I like the new colour though, very different!Dylan's haircut was an experience too, he had his back half saturated in the washing, and then the woman (an actual biological woman, different salon!) set to with a pair of clippers and a comb and hilariously, he ended up with a hair cut to rival any US marine (very short back and sides, longer on top). It's not quite what he had in mind I think and I'm a horrible wife and got the giggles halfway through which continued on and off all evening. It looks better waxed into a Mohawk .Even funnier... after she'd just trimmed off a little, he asked for it shorter on the sides and she went very short on one side with the clippers in about 2 seconds, and then gave it a long look, one side long and one side short and said quite cheerfully 'I liked it better long!' Too bloody late now!
So that brings us to the end of our Burmese Adventure and now we are on the next leg to visit Susan and the monkeys in Thaton, Northern Thailand where I'm a little concerned it's going to be cold. Looking forward to this bit
Next post: Politics, opinions, ranting and raving. You didn't think Ms Opinionated would go to Burma/Myanmar and come away empty-headed? It gave me lots to think about, not all of it is nice but needs to be said. That's the deal, isn't it? Go to Burma, then come away and tell the world all about it. The world is listening in; nothing goes unnoticed.

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