Our last day in Myanmar began with a shake and a shudder, the overnight train from Bagan to Yangon was hilarious, the rumours of it being bumpy were not understated. There were several times throughout the night where the ride would get particularly violent and I would wake to shoot my hand out and grab the tiny rail to see J across the carriage doing an identical movement, our eyes meeting in amused panic. When first light came we were all more than happy to abandon our beds and reassemble the in comparison, comfortable chairs. And so we sat for the next five hours, bumping merrily along, laughing at how incredibly bouncy the ride was as it changed from it’s rhythmic swaying to bone shattering bumps and back again. Arriving in Yangon was sweet relief and after a short taxi ride to our hotel we all showered for a very very long time, not together obviously, that would have been weird.
We’d had all sorts of grand plans for our last day, Yangon was the only place so far we had needed more time in. We started with a leisurely stroll to our favourite samosa salad selling stall by the Sule Pagoda which did not disappoint, the four of us now at home on the unbelievably tiny plastic stools. Then we wandered some more until we reached The Strand, the grandest of places we’d stopped at by far, for a very nice afternoon tea although I honestly preferred the street food even though the tea was very lovely.
After tea we headed to the Bogyoke market for some final shopping, Trish picking up a painting, Ma a beautiful hand loomed longyi and another pair of lightweight capri shorts for me. Sadly, all the early morning starts and poor nights sleep had taken their toll and we were all beginning to bear more than a passing resemblance to zombies so we headed back to the hotel for a little rest before a final quick dinner at the top of the Hitachi building close to our hotel with magnificent views over Yangon and the Shwe Dagon and Sule Pagodas.
Another ridiculous o’clock start saw us all heading to the airport for our separate flights and all of a sudden we were saying goodbye in the immigration line after a whirlwind and wonderful few weeks.
Myanmar has certainly left an impression, the highlights for me were our tour with Wine Wyne around Sagaing, Mingun, Ava and Amarapura and of course Bagan; it’s a magical place and the people were very welcoming. We had some great and some not so great meals, Thailand is still my favourite country to eat in. It was more expensive than the other places we’ve visited so far, the hotels all on average twice the price we would pay for the same level of accommodation elsewhere in South East Asia and the fees for entrance into the cultural zones were not insignificant. There was a great deal of in your face ‘buy this, buy this’ at most markets and makeshift shopping areas by the temples, which we all found uncomfortable but maybe this and the high prices will change when tourism increases. It is a country on the precipice of change, people are hopeful for the future and with good reason, the election of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy in Myanmar signals a time of great change for this proud nation Xx