Like a 1970's Roy Oxford...only worse

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Golden Lily Guest House

Flag of Myanmar  ,
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

We had had a great night's sleep, we used the duvet the room was so cold. We had our free breako then booked another night bus that evening to go to Kalaw to do some more trekking, we were told this would take 12 – 14 hours and would leave at 4pm.

We were aching from the climbing the previous day but decided to persevere and climb Mandalay Hill, Mandalay’s highest point at 760ft high. There were a couple of motorbikes outside who offered to take us for 5,000 Kyat however we stuck to our guns and said unless it went down to 1,000 each we would walk. There was no agreement so we decided we would walk. After about 5 minutes the motorbikes pulled up and we agreed 1,000 Kyat per bike. It turned out to be about 10k so we were very relieved that our aching legs were spared the walk. Mandalay Hill however has a covered walkway so you never know how high you are or how far it is to go. It seemed to take forever to get up there, Erica was nearly ready to pack it in when what turned out to be 1/2 of the way up we found a road with loads of motorbikes dropping people off (apparently though this road was built with forced labour). Anyway we saw lots of shrines that had Buddha relics and things in on the way up but I for one am shrined and templed out. The views from the top were amazing stretching out to the Shan hills. Perhaps the biggest thing you can see from the top of Mandalay Hill is the Royal Palace, the next biggest is probably the prison, its huge!

By the time we descended we were knackered so we got a lift off a passerby for 3,500 Kyat but we didn’t really have too many options, we definitely weren’t walking! We got dropped off at a locals bar round the corner where they sold the draft beer for 500 Kyat per pint instead of 2,500 per bottle. We sat and watched a subtitled version of a James Bond film laughing and joking with the old boys in the boozer in our usual sign language way. We were asked by one guy if we would take his 3 month old daughter home to the UK, you do not know how to act though in those instances. Anyway with all the confusion with no English speakers in the bar we had a bit of a set too in the end as our change disappeared but we got it eventually with huge apologies still it felt a little uncomfortable but it was a point of principle as always (the actual change was probably about 20p but then again that is the cost of a pint in that bar). The other thing noticeable in the bar was that the guys order a beer and a bottle of whiskey then top up their beer with the whiskey so they drink less, it is cheaper and they get more drunk. Good skills Mandalay boys!! Oh and every table comes with a waste bin at the side so they can all spit their betel in to it after a good chew.

We got back to the hotel to wait for the bus and enquired about whether our friends were still there or if they had checked out.  Interestingly and worryingly the owner told us that Lionelle and Shilpa had gone back to Yangon (they were supposed to be doing the circuit like us) and Rodriguez had gone to the chemist as he was very ill, Andrew also hadn’t been feeling the best throughout the day so we weren’t looking forward to the long bus ride.  Whatever happened to Lionelle and Shilpa will remain a mystery.

Our pick up arrived from the hotel and we had a dinner of a bag of crisps each (added to no lunch) then sat bouncing about it the back of a van for about 30 minutes noticing that pedal power is still more popular than engines here, it is so different!

When we arrived at the bus station we were a little shocked, the air-conditioned bus with reclining seats turned out to be, well a bit like a Roy Oxford from the 70’s. We couldn’t both sit on the seat it was that narrow, the seats didn’t recline and the windows had to be wide open all the way as there was no air con. It is fair to say this was not up to the standards of the first bus (yes the journey we described as hell). The less said the better really, obviously Erica slept the whole way, I didn’t sleep. The single track road was full of hairpin bends and we were always stuck behind the timber lorries that are sickeningly just everywhere.
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