Myanmar, Nyaung Shwe to Mandalay
Day seven; Once again we were missing one of our party for breakfast in our favourite ray of sunshine. It’s a good thing we went out on the lake on our first day as we never would have made it as a group otherwise.
After breakfast J and Trish headed out to explore along the canal and Ma and I headed up to the market for a final stroll around. Flower sellers lined the entrance and you could barely see past the streams of people coming in and out. The Friday market is clearly a much larger local affair. The previously narrow lanes housing a variety of sellers along each side now also had a line of vendors down the middle. Barely room for a person to pass either side the jostling to pass was good natured if a little impatient. I was pushed from behind more than once as I waited patiently for someone half my size laden with bags to squeeze by. Ma and I made our way to the back and the quieter second hand clothing section where some concerted rummaging turned up a long sleeved t shirt for both of us. The one I bought yesterday was a little itchy and will be left in our hotel and at five pence each today’s buys were most definitely bargains. Ma bought a few little bronzes and we headed out of the scrum and back to our hotel to meet up woth the others.
We’ve been staying at the Golden Dream a short distance from the canal leading to Inle Lake and a five minute walk from the market. All the hotels we’ve booked in Myanmar cost double what we would pay elsewhere in South East Asia for comparable accommodation. That said the hotel was good clean, budget quality accomodation, we were kindly upgraded to a suite which wasn’t really a suite just a slightly larger room than the others. all our rooms were comfortable with little balconies and the staff incredibly helpful. There is a lot of building work and a lot of dust everywhere, I can’t see that being any different anywhere else in the area unless you stay slightly away from town. It’s been much colder than we thought it would be and the hotel provided us all with much needed extra blankets. They also arranged our lake exploration and taxi to airport at very competitive prices. With the proviso to take warm clothing we’d highly recommend both Nyaung Shwe/Inle Lake and the Golden Dream.
Having had such a hair raising journey to the bus station in Yangon we doubled the time needed to get to the airport and after an easy drive on wide roads up through the mountains we were arriving at Heho airport in plenty of time. The departure hall consists of one main room with check in and immigration and several different gate waiting areas depending which airline you are flying with, four different ones landed and took off while we were waiting for ours. A slight delay to our departure time was announced with a piece of A4 paper being taped to the wall. Our flight lasted all of twenty five minutes and we’d soon collected our bags and were on our way to Mandalay, in a shared cab. Each place we visit we become more knowledgeable, we’ve never bought a taxi voucher and been put in a shared cab before and now know to ask for a private one. Listening to other people prattle on at top volume in my ear for forty five minutes while being bounced around in a mini bus is not my idea of fun.
Our hotel is the poopiest we have stayed in so far. The manager was very nice and came to greet us and chat for a while, which may be the nicest thing about our stay. Our first room was right next to the breakfast room which is open from six am; the sound of water running from above was so loud it sounded like our taps were constantly running; and the front door only opened half way stopped by the wardrobe they’d squeezed into the room. Our second room is only marginally better, the bathroom is tiny and cramped and a wet room so a shower leaves nothing unsoaked and the bathroom door had mould on it. Clearly I’ve been spoiled thus far.
There is a free puppet show on the fourth floor each night and as we were exiting the restaurant where it is held in search of somewhere a little quieter to eat dinner we bumped into a lady from Poland in the lift who led us to a food street not far from the hotel. She’sjust started this vacation but seems to be a fairly prolific traveller who we shared a nice meal with, us encouring her to try diving, her encouraging us to try zip lining ooh er no thank you I get vertigo even thinking about that sheesh no! I’m pretty sure she will try diving though which is awesome.
Tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn, well seven forty, we’re all heading off on a food tour with Grasshopper tours that comes highly recommended, oh how I love a food tour Xx