My stay in Nyaung Schwe was in the Teakwood Guest House, in, what lovingly became known as The Cave (and not just because a Neanderthal lived in it). With the one window of the room receiving no outside light at all, the room was permanently shroud in darkness, and during the many power outages this would mean showering, shaving and the last remaining S in the light of a little bear-shaped rechargeable lamp. Much to my bemusement, when recharging the lamp, the rabied little bear's eyes would light up red. Still, not bad for just 7 dollars one would think, until you meet Croatian gorgeous Danijela, who's staying in a spacious and light room at the same hotel with a full 3 windows and is paying the mere sum of 6 dollars. So much for my haggling skills (and no more falling for a boss lady who starts by compliments you on your "L ovely teeth").
Markets are highly photogenic events, and the revolving 5-day floating market in Nyaungschwe doubly so. Trouble is that the market people have caught on that the tourists flock to a market like flies to the proverbial last S, and tourist junk salespeoples outnumber the veggie and flower sellers here two to one. As you approach, at first you think your boat is going to crash into the poor locals' boat, until you suddenly realise you're being entered like in a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean, with cries of "H ow much you give? How much you give?????". In Buddha's name, how many buddhist statuettes, necklaces and bracelets can you buy? Luckily we arrived fairly early thanks to Greg's excellent planning (and I won't mention here that he overslept), and as the novelty of the first series of tourists wore off, and f resh meat started arriving, we were left alone to have a pleasant cuppa onshore.
In Nyaungschwe, I said goodbye to week-long travelbuddy and partner in crime Gregor, to take the bus to Mandalay. Luckily, Croatian beauty Danijela took over the baton, to ensure a happy end, and the 8-12 hour bus trip to Mandalay took just 10.5 hours. Thankfully, the Burmese guy in front of us started vomitting five minutes after we'd left, otherwise we wouldn't have had any other onboard entertainment than the Burmese interpretation of the complete works of Celine Dion.