It was a late start for us, due to our 12 hour overnight trip, but went for a stroll nevertheless, and found a swanky hotel built in 1903. It was a beautiful colonial building where we went all English and had some tea. We visited a cool pagoda, but to get there had to cross a golf course, by running. We also had fish and chips for dinner that night, with chopsticks, which was certainly a new experience. We shopped around for a trekking day, but was unfortunately too expensive, so we decided to go on the adventure guideless. After only a couple of wrong turns we successfully made it to the viewpoint, and had some lovely Indian food at the top. We trekked through villages, passing schools and accidentally, people’s back gardens.
The swanky hotel, and Ednora dressed for the occasion…
I definitely don’t belong in a place like this.
Cool Pagoda place.
Do you think Jr’s dad knows about this?
And so the trek begins.
Ednora on the beers.
Yes, they are Ednora’s tights.
Even the best hikers can crumble.
At the viewpoint restaurant.
The restaurant drying tea.
On our way back, we stopped off at a small, quaint coffee and cake spot where we met a truly wonderful woman. She was as inspiring as she was humble, telling us of her education in Malaysia, studying food and cooking. She was extremely knowledgeable about the technology and safety of the food in a country which was not so well educated on the importance of sanitary, clean ingredients. It was interesting that she knew so much, yet her own family would not believe her, and actually tried to sabotage her food with MSG, among other crappy substances. Everything she cooked she had made fresh, including the bread. She discussed her admiration for Aung Sung Suu Chi, hoping that this new government will give her permission to build a road to her house (which she would have to build herself), so she could move her restaurant near her home to help her make even fresher food.
Prior to opening her restaurant, she was told making times she would fail. She calmly replied that this may be true, but if she didn’t try, she would never know. She said she would rather try and fail, than never try at all – a thought I will carry with me always. She also delved into the corruption in schools, describing how teachers deliberately give poor lessons in class, so to keep up, parents would pay for home schooling too, which the teachers giving rubbish classroom education, would provide. The new government is doing its best to stop this corruption, but it’s a generational thing which will be difficult to deter. The government said that they will stop this corruption by paying teachers more, and if that’s still not good enough, they will simply sack them.
The natural bark product the Burmese people use to protect themselves from the sun, and soothe their skin, called Thanaka.
The next day we headed for Bagan and ate at a restaurant called The Wether Spoons. We spoke to the owner about Wetherspoons in England, and how something can be so cheap, but so perfect at the same time. Then he went on to tell us that he got the idea from visiting the UK’s excellent drinking/poor food establishment when he lived in the UK. He lived up North for a while and said he’d go out with the boys for a curry and some beers at the Spoons, before smashing it up at the clubs. This was a Burmese guy, stained by British culture, what a lad. And his vegeburgers were better than the best possible meal at a Wetherspoons. The next day we were to tick a bucket list box. We hired some eBikes and visited the temples of Bagan. This was miles and miles of open land, smothered in woodland, and dotted about were thousands of temples, all of different sizes and shapes, poking their heads out of the trees. The landscape of forest, beaten tracks and temples, went as far as the eye could see. It was magnificent. We would climb to the top of a high temple and watch the stunning views of the relics, plotting our next route through the gigantic maze of religious epitaphs. As Myanmar has only just opened its doors, Bagan is still relatively untouched. But in a few years, I feel, this place can rival Angkor Wat.
Ready to check out the ancient city of Bagan on our eBikes.
Our final stop in Myanmar was the city of Mandalay. We checked out the city’s football stadium and spoke to a few of the players training there. I asked whether I could join, they looked me up and down and said no. Understandable. We wandered around to find ourselves in the slum area of the city, and everyone was still just as welcoming and chirpy as the more affluent areas, which was great to experience. We ended our cultural education of Myanmar by watching the Conjuring 2 at the cinema, where we had to stand for the national anthem before the horror movie. Where were we off to next? The Philippines, and there were a few family-shaped surprises in store…