Just one last sunrise

Trip Start Sep 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 04, 2006

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Flag of Myanmar  ,
Tuesday, November 7, 2006

The maps had proven to be inaccurate and our cycling too steadfast as we again passed our destination and ended up at various pagodas that were not on the day's itinerary. For a split second we thought it wasn't meant to be as the pagodas that we had planned to climb to the upper reaches were banned from doing so and the sun was rising too quickly. Steve and I passed a solo German runner who too was enjoying the view of the hot air balloons take their passengers up for the sunrise over the temples. It wasn't until 9am until we stumbled on to one which you were allowed to climb to the top and it was worth the wait. The 360 degree view of the area revealed the vastness of the pagodas and stupas in the archaeological site, countless were dotted out through the lush green flat lands unobstructed by trees or jungles as like in Angkor Wat. The observation tower constructed and erected by the military junta stuck out like a sore 60 metre steel thumb in the middle of the beautiful landscape.

We were back with plenty of time for lunch and set off at 2pm towards Yangon. It was going to be a long taxi ride back, buses were booked again, in fact for our entire stay here we were unable to book a direct bus to go anywhere except for the very first one! Even then we wanted to go to Inle Lake first and not Mandalay! Anyway we were lucky to get the minivan for a steal at $60 as oppose to the $200 that everyone else was asking for but on the way back we encountered a flooded river and had to be pulled across by the entrepreneurial tractor driver taking advantage of the situation. Happily we forked over the charge and we crossed the 50 metre wide river slowly dragged by the tractor with the water gushing downstream from left to right and into the van. The water churned and the wheels turned, they were useless and at the deepest point filled the inside step of the van next to the door. Thankfully we were only subject to the scare for a short time as the tractor maneuvered us back to safety on the mainland. A quick check up and we went on our way to the dinner stop where the driver and his companion ordered a bottle of Myanmar Rum to accompany their dinner. It didn't last long and the bottle was empty by the time they finished their meal. Concerned but not alarmed as we noticed that most of that was stored in a plastic bottle for later and also it was mainly the second driver who was drinking the rum so we were safe for the time being.

The following stops became more frequent and longer as the first driver became more and more tired. We were happy to stop and rest as it would have been far more dangerous for the second driver to continue on (he was far too wasted) so we sat at a street stall and enjoyed our Myanmar coffee (Nescafe 3in1 Satchel) whilst watching a Korean soap opera dubbed in English and subtitled in Myanmar language at 4am in the morning.

The second driver got his chance at driving and lasted for less than an hour before the original driver got back in the wheel. That hour was probably one of the scariest hours of my life as I had my eyes on his rear view mirror ready to catch him napping so that I would shout and help him recover his consciousness. The car finally arrived in one piece but not unscathed as the first gear had given way about 8am in the final hour of the ride.
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