Yangon

Trip Start May 30, 2005
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Trip End Sep 30, 2006


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Flag of Myanmar  ,
Friday, September 2, 2005

We left Inle at 11am to ensure we got to the junction in time for the 12 o'clock bus, we were waiting in the tea shop by 11:10! The Burmese love to get you to the bus on time. A rather fine game of cribbage we ruined near the end when some smelly french guy shouted at us, "It's the bus, the bus is here". We packed up got ready to go, then the bus went thundering past. It was a little while longer before our bus actually arrived, thankfully Mr Smelly was actually booked onto another bus as none of us wanted to sit beside him for the next 20 odd hours.

The bus was great, it was a laugh per minute, and being 20 hours long gave us 1200 laughs. We stopped at a tea shop half an hour out of Yangon, can't we just get there! From the highway bus station it's still a fair trek into town so we jumped in an overpriced taxi, we really didn't want to haggle, and off we went. Either our driver was high on something or he was just absolutely delighted to be making a killing and was in an extremely jovial mood. So much so that he wanted to engage Shane in conversation by grabbing his leg and laughing. It must have been the sleep deprivation but Shane was seriously displeased and kept asking him to stop. David kept egging the driver on by telling him that Shane liked boys, at one point the driver had his arm around Shane while we sat in the back with tears in our eyes. Shane was squeezed up against the passenger side door as far over as he could get, asking us to stop egging on the driver and threatening to just get out of the car and get another cab. After a little nap once we arrived at our hotel he started to see the funny side of it.

Yangon seemed different to me after spending the last month in Burma. Instead of the interesting variation of life and new and wonderful things, I now saw the decrepid state that the city is in, the noise and the pollution. It's a real shame as it could be so much better, if only, if only it had a decent government. I had a walk around in the afternoon and popped into Sule Paya to see if I could find Min Thu (My unofficial guide from my first time in Yangon). He was there as usual with his fishing rod out trying to hook tourists. We went off to a tea shop and had a chat about what we'd got up to in the previous month, it was really nice to see him.

Thomas the Norwegian from Hsipaw had told me about an area of town where guys play chess on the streets for money, so I headed on down with a wallet full of money intending to loose it all. When I eventually found it, I saw that Thomas was already there and in the middle of a game. It didn't take long before a local approached me and asked "Are you interesting?", yes I am, and I'd also like a game of chess. We sat down at a board an I rather embarrassingly put my King and Queen on the wrong squares. The amount of 500 Kyat (0.5 US Dollars) was set for the almightly struggle and he responded with my e4 opening move with the words "I only beginner", yep and I'm Donald Duck. As it turned out he was only a beginner and was despatched without too much difficuilty. I pondered over the morality of taking his 500 Kyat, but then, we'd bet and I'd won fair and square. He left the table only to be replaced with a new opponent, I knew this guy wouldn't be a push over. 1000 Kyat this time, and away we went. I ended up with a rather unsound king side attack which ultimately failed with loss of material before he came at me hell and leather, he actually beat me fairly soundly and I gladly handed over the cash. At least this left the score at Scotland 1 Burma 1. And that's how it finished as I had to get going. Mongolia is still the only country to have a lead over Scotland on my world tour of Chess opponents (Chinese Chess doesn't count!).

I'd arranged to meet up with Thomas later on, and so Shane, David and myself headed out to the big place in town, The Strand Hotel, to mee him. This hotel is in the same league as Raffles in Singapore, but of course because of its location doesn't charge nearly as much. We found that draft beer was only 2 dollars a pop, so that was the drink of choice. We were then delighted of course to find that we'd somehow managed to stumble into the Friday night half price happy hour, bargin. We spent a bit longer there before heading into town for a little longer, it was my leaving do, so to speak as I was heading back to Bangkok the next day while Shane and David were staying a little longer. It was sad to say goodbye to them the next day, but at the same time I'd spent long enough in Burma and was happy to be heading back to the western delights of Thailand, it's all relative afterall.
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