Admittedly, it was hard to pack my stuff on the day of my leaving the country. I thought that the time I stayed there was too short but really memorable. I had my breakfast at Motherland Inn 2 and rode their free shuttle to Yangon International Airport. Checking-in, passing through the immigration was a breeze and gave me enough time at the pre-departure area. And there were no exit 10,000 kyat exit fee as I read on some old text. All that kyat I was saving went to some souvenir ref magnets for home. Sitting at the chair looking at the runway, looking at my notes. I spent 11 days in Myanmar spending a little over P23000 during the trip.
“You can take a picture on this spot. You’ll get a better view of the stupa here” a voice told me in somewhat a better Burmese-English while I was taking a photograph inside one of the pavilions in Shwedagon Paya. I looked back to see a young monk with glasses. He introduced himself as Xanther. He volunteered to take my photo. Thinking about it, I don’t have a personal photo here yet so I obliged. He seemed like a friendly guy and offered to take me around the paya if I wanted. I wasn’t sure at first but he might be one of those young monks trying to practice their English so I let myself be entertained.
I let the wind lull me to sleep inside room 205 of Motherland Inn II. I arrived early morning in Yangon from Mandalay, took a shared taxi to town, had the free buffet breakfast at the inn and headed to my room at the upper floor. Finding the wide open view at my window, I opened the glass windows and was delighted to feel the gust of wind coming in. I turned of the aircon and left the window open except for the screen and let myself drift to dreamland.
Morning of day 10 in Myanmar finds me deliberately waking up late. I made sure I’m well rested for tonight’s bus ride to Yangon. I took the day easy enjoying the comforts of the hotel and catching up to my online world. When I checked out, I left my baggage at the reception and decided to visit one of the Gold Leaf Workshops in Mandalay. A Gold leaf sheet is an essential part of the day-to-day lives of Burmese people. It’s their main offering to Buddha where they place it on layers on their images. And some even goes to eating a leaf a day and claims to give them good health.
There was still time when I got down from Sagaing Hill. I asked my motorbike driver Tubo, if we got time to visit this one temple I was eyeing. He insists it wasn’t included on what Olsen advised him so he cannot. Insisting further that it’s just a few minutes away, he stood his ground. I wasn’t in the mood to argue so I just asked his suggestion on where we could kill time before going to our sunset spot. He told me we could visit Tupayon Paya just a few yards from Ava Bridge. So off we went.
Morning of Day 9 finds me a little sad realizing my journey in Myanmar is nearing its end in a couple more days. I moved in from my stuffy hotel to my roomarama-sponsored accommodation at Mandalay View Inn. It also gave me time to do a little backpack-keeping and chores. I also realized that I’m up to my last few kyats and needed to use my emergency funds at this time. I didn’t expect the low exchange rate when I came and I was surprised how low it got just from last week (US$1 = 740 from 780 when I arrived) when I changed money. After lunch my motorbike service came. My driver this time was Tubo since Olsen had to accompany a friend who had an accident to a hospital. I hopped on the bike, put on my helmet and we rode on to Sagaing.
The travel time from Mahamuni Paya to U Bein’s Bridge in Amarapura took about 45 minutes or so. And within those minutes I saw how crazy the traffic is or the lack of it. “Anyone can just drive motorbikes here, even young ones” says Olsen, my motorbike driver. No wonder, nobody is really teaching people how to drive here. And as farther we leave the city, the road also seemed to be a blur. Sometimes we would just turn and find a road I wasn’t even sure it was. “How about license?” I asked. Most people don’t have it since its very hard to get and expensive. If people get into trouble they just pay a fee. Despite the chaotic road traffic, I’m somewhat comfortable with his driving skills since he assured me he doesn’t “Drink and Drive”