Battered and bruised on the bus

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

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Flag of Myanmar  ,
Sunday, July 18, 2010

We got up at 5.30am as we had to catch the early morning bus to Bagan, this is turning out to be one of the hardest countries to travel in and the most exhausting, we simply do not have enough time like normal but we can't consider the options of the train or boats as the funds go straight in to the hands of the dictatorship.

We got chatting to two American girls who had been guaranteed the bus would be a large air conditioned bus and would be over in 6 hours. We raised an eyebrow having had our hopes dashed on the last journey. When the bus finally arrived, if we considered the last bus a 1970’s Roy Oxford this must have been a heap of junk in 1960. It was very, very uncomfortable and took 12 hours across the bumpiest tracks you have ever seen, our arms hurt from holding on to the seats so we didn’t fall off. It did however give us some stunning views but also more timber logging and a mass scaring of the landscape as far as the eye could see in some areas. It sounds stupid but the atmosphere was a bit like S21 in Cambodia, in that we did not speak to each other and looked on almost teary eyed going through the emotions of sadness, outrage and pure anger. I vowed to myself to write to my MP at the first opportunity we can get online again and put instructions on here how best to support the Burmese people gain independence from this tyrant. Again I’ll pull my thoughts together in one place on the last day here. Erica had spent several hours playing with the little boy next to her in the aisle who was amazed by the IPod, every time she put the headphone in his ear he started screaming with delight, and as for the videos he was going nuts. When the lady he was with got off the bus she came up to the open window next to me and tugged my shirt to ensure she said goodbye to us. These people...

We got stung for the 10 Dollar each Bagan Archaeological Zone fee on the outskirts of the city, in usual style we were frog marched off the bus by officials and had to show our passports and have our details taken so our ware bouts could be plotted by the powers that be.

After about 10 hours we arrived in Bagan, we saw the place we wanted to stay at and shouted for the bus to stop. Our bags were passed through the windows but mine was covered in the shells of quails eggs, the regular bus snack over here (it seems to be either quails eggs or a whole chicken, but the chickens do not look like our growth hormone ridden things there is far less meat on them). We checked into the New Heaven guest house for $10, booked a horse and cart for the following days’ sunrise and day of temple tours and then booked our bus ticket back to Yangon for another night bus the next afternoon. Feeling generally worn out instead of heading straight for bed we found a locals bar serving the cheap draft for 20p and settled down to a few pints, purely for rehydration purposes you understand. After a few hours showing the locals photographs, trying to get rid of the hundreds of flies on our table and discussing Manchester United like usual, we decided we would get something to eat and headed off to an Indian restaurant , Aroma 2, recommended by Lonely Planet.

We were met by a really nice young guy who quickly brought us a beer and suggested the poppadums with tamarind sauce go very well with the beer. Well he wasn’t wrong we immediately felt relaxed and despite the fairly high prices, compared to what we have been paying, I ordered a mutton curry with extra spice, E had some chicken tikka massala or something. The meal was brought with two banana leaves then a huge selection or pickles, spices and sauces dolloped around your banana leaf, your curry brought in a bowl then rice and chapattis. Whenever you ran out of anything they were straight over to top them up. The guy told us about the fact he has spent over one year at the local Playstation 2 shop (remember this is Myanmar, they don’t sell them but you can rent an hour on a Playstation 2 to play an out of date copy of Fifa or Pro evolution Soccer). He had spent many hours getting the whole team up to date as they obviously haven’t been able to import new games since commencement of the sanctions. He was practically begging us to send over any updates or some 'real’ Man Utd merchandise as the fake tops over here were 100% polyester. Anyway after a really delicious meal we were asleep pretty soon.
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