Two days in the fridge

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
Trip End Feb 06, 2013

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, Mandalay,
Thursday, December 6, 2012

As we wake up very early we discover that our crappy Galaxy hotel has one perk: free sunrise! From our bedroom window we can see the sun rise above Mandalay, without getting out of bed. After breakfast at our new regular place 'Morning Star' (what a name!) we are picked up by a shared taxi to Pyin Oo Lwin, a cosy, small, colonial village in the mountains, just a 2 hours drive from Mandalay. It's on 1.000 m above sea level, a nice escape from the heat of Mandalay. In early days used by the English colonials, nowadays by the upcoming nouveau riche.

Halfway the trip we have to stop as the engine of our taxi needs to be cooled, like all other taxis: the average age of taxis is at least 30 years and we recognize a lot of asian car models from our teenage years. Along the route we see many places where people are sitting, seemingly waiting for something to happen and with one or more hoses squirting water. This is for the brakes and engines of the big trucks crawling up the hill.
Our driver gets some breakfast and after a while Esther decides to check out the toilets. Bad idea! When she comes back, taxi gone! I had been thinking about this very situation during the toilet visit: what if you get stranded here without a Kyat on you, no ID and no idea where you are. Of course, Frank wouldn't let that happen, so the taxi stands a couple of meters further down the road. Phew!!

Our hotel room at the Royal Park View is very nice. Walking around in Pyin Oo Lwin we directly recognize that this is a more upmarket spot: it's very clean, a lot of colonial buildings, nice hotels, bars and restaurants, plenty of nouveau riche villas and a lot of "royal" in the names of hotels and restaurants - strange, as they once threw the king out of the country :-).
And it has a pleasant temperature of 20 degrees celsius: nice for us, but for the locals it is just fucking cold: most of them wear winter coats and thick anoraks (they still wear flip flops, so cold feet seem not to be an issue).

It's Sinterklaas evening. Strange idea that the whole Netherlands is having their family parties with "surprises" and poems. But thanks to Corina and Guus, we have a sinterklaas present they had given to us on their last visit to Brussels: 5 dollars for a nice drink (it's also Corina's birthday today and we cannot join her famous birthday drink in Amsterdam). We are just happy, especially as there is a nice outdoor cocktail bar called Woodland just around the corner. Corina and Guus: thank you so much for the margarita and tom collin's (hick).
And it is getting colder and colder! Close to 8 pm we are also fucking freezing, even though wearing our fleeces. Our breath condensates!
But being real "bickels" we cycle to the club terrace restaurant, where we have a great Sinterklaas diner. We end the evening with a glass of nice Myanmar whiskey. Then a very cold, giggly ride back to the hotel (I laugh my head of at Frank in his skirt (longyi) on his bike: totally new experience feeling the wind between your legs!). So in the room we cuddle up nice and warm togehter under thick blankets!

The next day we spend almost the whole day in the famous Pyin Oo Lwin gardens. A great place to relax and spy on the local tourists. We especially liked the petrified forest, the swamp walk, the bamboo plot (impressive heights), the orchard with all those fruits (unfortunately it is winter, so no fruit) and the aviary with very, very big hornbills. Not to forget: the orchid garden and the lake with swans and geese on their nests.
Frank finds his new desk made from Banyan tree in the garden tea house (see picture) and we realise again how relative everything is: one country's holy tree is another country's table :-).
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