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.
If only I could say “stop!” while our mini-bus rode through the rolling terrain of Kalaw State at the break of dawn. I wanted to halt the mini-bus not because my legs and feet remained immobile for hours. My legs were cramped in a corner, just behind the front seats of a full, air-cooled mini-bus headed to Inle Lake, but the scenery at Kalaw state and the rest of the Shan hills vast expanse were draped in a mysterious mist billowing overland. The morning sun cast beams of light in the mist resulting to a dramatic diffusion of light and shadows over the hilly plateau. It was one of the most magnificent sights I’ve seen on the road.
I thought the train was finally moving after at least an hour of waiting, but it was just my consciousness, slipping and sliding in two worlds. My reality blurred from fatigue and lack of sleep as I lean on the side of an open train window in the cart, oblivious of the passing crowd and vendors at the station. I am going to Pyin U Lwin (pyuu-lin), a cool scenic hill town, east of Mandalay, straight from an almost 8 hour overnight bus journey from Bagan. But I was awake the full day before and the bus ride didn’t offer a chance to sleep. It was already 15 minutes past 6am when the train finally rolled on the tracks. That’s already 2 hours late from its original time of departure. But I was just relieved the 4-hour train journey had started.
I was already prepared for the worst for the 10+ hours Bus journey to Bagan from Yangon. Oh I’ve read so many horror stories of old buses breaking down, air-conditioning giving up mid-way the journey or even some bumpy roads that would shake you up awake. But, fortunate to say, it wasn’t even that close. Changes here were for the better and the journey was much more comfortable and easier than I expected. I guess it was too comfortable that I had to push my seatmate, who’s sleeping like oil, a few times as he constantly leans on my side of the seat.
There are no direct flights to Yangon, Myanmar from the Philippines so I had to make a couple of flights to get there. First step was to get Bangkok, the closest possible airport to Yangon. I was lucky to get a cheap flight there through an introductory promo fare from Seair/Tiger Airways from Clark. On the rainy morning of November 2, 2011, I made my way to Megamall which is only 15 minutes from home. The Philtranco Bus (P400) headed to Clark was ready for its 7am departure. It’s been a while since I travelled by my lonesome and that familiar feeling of fear and excitement crept in. I don’t know what to expect of Myanmar except that I would be cut-off from the rest of the world for two weeks.
“We Plan to have AirAsia in every ASEAN country” says Zaman Ahmad,the Regional Head of Customer Experience of AirAsia in Malaysia during a short talk in their office. I was sitting on a bean bag surrounded by a few stuffed angry bird dolls and some tall stools for sitting. The meeting room was definitely a ground where playful imagination and ideas can run around. Must be why AirAsia had been successful as a low-cost carrier when it started – they were having fun doing it.
It’s one of those impromptu decisions again where we booked a flight to exit on a different destination from where we started. I was hoping we would have time to explore Davao in our 6-day itinerary but Bislig occupied us so much and we don’t want to hasten it up just to see as many sights as we can. So in our 5th day, it was time to leave Bislig and head to Davao. Interestingly, it will be my first time to set foot on this beloved city of the south. With much excitement, we caught the 9am Bachelor Bus from Bislig and rode south to Davao.