Trip Start May 30, 2005
130Trip End Sep 30, 2006
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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.
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.