Love Me Tenderbum

Trip Start Dec 28, 2011
Trip End Jan 19, 2012

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Flag of Myanmar  ,
Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sakura Tower
I was not 100% certain if I wanted to stay in Yangon for another day. After breakfast I headed straight to the bus ticketing booth to enquire about an overnight bus to Nyaungshwe-Inle Lake and snapped up a ticket for a 3pm departure. Apparently many guesthouses in Nyaungshwe were full but I managed to reserve a US$10 room at Joy hotel via the ticket agent. Feeling quite happy, I spent the next hour at Sakura Tower Sky Bistro sipping an 'immunity boosting juice' and enjoying the splendid view of Yangon in the morning.

With a little bit of time spare before I checked out of Chan Myae guesthouse, decided to check out Yangon train stationacross the main road. Apparently a Yangon loop service can take you out on a 3 hours ride rumbling along outskirts of the city. Swiftly checked out Chan Myae at 12pm and tried my luck at a local burmese eatery for lunch. With the help of a local customer, I had this fried chicken noodle dish in a slurpy gravied sauce.

Aung Mingalar bus station
My journey up north to Nyaungshwe technically started at 130pm with a 45 mins taxi ride to Aung Mingalar bus station. Yangon has two major bus stations on the outskirts servicing different regions. Being still fresh in Myanmar, I reckoned Aung Mingalar was by far the most chaotic and confusing bus station I had been to. Countless bus companies decked out in different rows of shopfronts with no clear directional signs of who, what and where. Without the help of the taxi driver, I would not have a clue of where to go.

The bus station itself is a complex (having to pay an entrance fee) with food shops and mechanic garages servicing the bus companies. There was a short wait of 30 mins before we left on the dot at 3pm. Sitting in a cluster were an elderly korean traveller, a french backpacker and myself. The rest of the passengers were locals. Both the korean and french travellers were heading to Kalaw and will trek across the mountains to Nyaungshwe over 3 days (which I thought was a good itinerary).

17 Hours On The Road
Over the next 2-3 hours on the road, the bus was playing up constantly with its overheated radiator. At some point, the driver was fetching buckets of water from the creek to cool down the radiator. Everytime we stopped for the radiator to have shower, we were sweating like hot cakes in the bus. Thankfully, the overheating problem went away as we rode into the cool night.

There was a dinner stopover break at 7pm, a meal break somewhere in Central Myanmar at 12am and a supper break at Kalaw 3pm - with every opportunity to stuff my face with food. It was by chance that I saw the bus clock at 1202am as we were getting ready to leave Central Myanmar, I wished my fellow korean passenger a Happy New Year. This will be one new year's eve that I will never get to forget. 

The bus was already half empty when I had to alight at Shwenyaung for a pickup transfer to Nyaungshwe (did you pick out the reverse names of these 2 towns?). At the crossroads, taxi drivers were already in tow, seeking for passengers in the morning fog. At 5am, I managed to share a pickup truck with 2 european travellers arriving from Mandalay, for US$7. Unfortunately they lost a luggage bag in the midst of the transfer that we had to drive back to the crossroad in search of their bag. It was gone.

After about 45mins, just before entering Nyaungshwe, there was a US$5 entrance fee for Inle Lake to the government (obviously straight to the dictatorship coffers). Apparently if you arrive before 6am, no one will be there to collect the fee. After a few turns on the dark roads, I eventually checked in at Joy Hotel and went straight to slumberland immediately. A total of 17 hours and 660 km. I thought I would never feel my bum again...
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