Back again to the welcoming capsules of Myanmar Backpackers, Yangon, and we were fast asleep from a very bumpy bus journey from Bagan. After a couple of hours, we were washed and into the streets to see some new sites and revisit a couple of others. First up, was revisiting that lovely lady who sold the incredible, samosa soup, before heading back to Bogyoke Market. We wanted to see if there was still the beautiful, non-working clock that we just had to buy – we would make it work, we are sure. Unfortunately, it was still there, so we bought it. We also stumbled across an art store that wasn’t just reprints like everything else, and actually contained a great artist, so decided to purchase a couple of pieces. After all, we had budgeted our trip off a well know tour company’s price and so far, had only paid a third of that.
After three hours of shopping we thought it best to stop for the day, and revisit The Phayre’s to utilise their good Internet, and cold, cheap beer. Another successful day, in a beautiful country.
It is funny that the countries you love the most, are those where you don’t feel you have to run around all day like a headless chicken, but instead, wander slowly amongst the activity with a smile on your face, without a care in a world. Maybe it just contentment that you are there, or maybe it’s the underlying feeling that you know, deep down, you are likely to return.
We had one more day in Yangon. We told Simon, the owner of the hostel, that we would spend it by crossing the river to Dala, the smaller, and poorer younger brother to Yangon. He gave us a look of fear before a look of trust and a proud glance that we would endeavour such things. Unsure, of what this all meant, we wandered on our merry way.
We made it to the ferry terminal, walked the wrong way to a slight militarized zone, before being ushered the correct way to the ticket booth by a heavily pregnant young girl. We were placed in a separate office to pay the extra fee for being a foreigner (the equivalent of about $2USD) and waited for the ferry to arrive.
We waited in line amongst the monks, the children, the hawkers, the commuters, the bicycles, the chickens, the chickens attached to bicycles and the one other tourist. Eventually, a man began taking to us in accent not to dissimilar to that of an Oxford Educated Scholar. He asked how we liked the country, a question we encountered quite a few times, and had a genuine interest in how we enjoyed our time, where we lived what we had done. Half way through his voice softened, and began to describe his fear for the future of Burma, the upcoming election, and the pretty adamant truth that the leader they want and need, Aung San Suu Kyi, would not win, if allowed to run, due to the prevalent corruption. This was a sentiment we felt from many people during our time here, and we now feel the same way as they do. All we can do is wait and see.
When on-board the boat we sat as the hawkers sold their snacks and wares, while we waited for the inevitable hustler to make our acquaintance to try and sell his services as a rickshaw driver. When our man arrived, we ignored him for a bit, but soon came to realise, he was not a bad bloke, he didn’t really try to push his cycle. Just if we wanted it. We eventually said yes onshore, as we were hassled by many other touts that we didn’t really trust. We rode for an hour and a half around the village, through the countryside, stopping finally at the market. Yangon isn’t the richest place in the world, but it is chalk and cheese just across the river. Ideally we would have liked to spend the whole day wandering around ourselves, but at least we saw a bit of the other side and at least a local got some money out if it.
We headed back to eager Simon, wanting to hear if we were harassed, but when we said it was fine, he seemed happy. We headed to bed before checking out the following morning for a quick flight to Chiang Mai. And that would normally be it, but we had one last surprise in what is, now, our favourite country –unintentionally, we privately charted an international commercial flight. Okay, so we are making it sound a lot more fancy, but it is the closest we have come to, and probably ever will be, given an upgrade. It was Bangkok Airways inaugural flight between Yangon and Chiang Mai, and we were the only two people on it. This meant, we were ushered to the side to wait while the eight staff members prepared the computer system for two people, before being escorted to the first class lounge.
It was at this point we realised why we are never upgraded and never will be, so continued on in the same fashion.
At least it was close to the hostess who continuously poured us wine and kindly escorted us to the cockpit (after landing for safety reasons, of course). We mentioned to the pilot that he had the sweet stuff as well. He took this to mean gadgets, but we meant the sweets we were given as a treat, which received a blank look. We watched our, the only, bags being taken off the plane and disembarked. The ground crew in Thailand were completely shocked that we remained in our seats.