Charlie and I set off on our adventure, leaving the autumnal weather of England behind. We had a long journey ahead. First stop Mumbai. With a shot of jd, shrooms on toast for me and packet of skips for Charlie we headed to our gate. Our plan was to get slightly intoxicated on the flight. It just makes for a more interesting flight.
True to our word we got battered. A few vodkas, no gin to our disbelief. The guy next to Charlie (slightly Pervy) kept us topped up with the jd he had brought at customs. Cackling for most of the flight we eventually passed out. We barely remember getting on our connecting flight to Bangkok.
The next flight was slightly less interesting, feeling slightly hungover we just willed the time away. Bangkok for a few hours, a bit of Thai food and a catch up on some well deserved sleep.
The next flight was only an hour. Bonus.
The flight into Burma was great, as we began to descend we caught out first glimpse of what this country would have to offer. The land was flat, and glistened with gold tipped pagodas. Immigration was a breeze. Changed up some cash and suddenly turned into quarter of a millionaires.
We stepped out into the Burmese air with a stifling 30 degree heat.
Our first day consisted of a lot of walking and wasted no time in getting ourselves on a bus. We obviously got lost. But that's what's it's all about isn't it? We eventually sat down for....we're not entirely sure what it was we had to eat, but it seems like a Burmese staple so we just tucked in, and it was pretty delicious. With our bellies full and £1.75 lighter we strolled back to our hostel and settled in our little pods for the night.
Our first point of call was to wonder into one of the famous Burmese tea rooms, grab some breakfast, which consisted of a rice flour pancake, a fried black bean....I want to say donut but it was so much more than that, with some delicious curried sides. All washed down with a shot of the local black tea with condensed milk. Needless to say we have a ton of energy for the day ahead.
Sight seeing and a lot of walking was the plan for the day, in a city there isn't a lot else to do. And obviously after all the walking we felt that we needed to treat ourselves to a massage. We headed down 42nd street looking for one that someone had previously told us about.
We eventually found this place, paid the woman and was lead upstairs into what can only be described as a dance studio surrounded by mirrors with two beds slap bang in the middle. We contemplated stripping off ready for our masseuse. We decided against it. Up comes our masseuse, we can hear the feet clomping up the stairs, a man is leading a woman in. This woman is as blind as bat. That's chars masseuse. The guy returns down stairs, and up comes those clompy feet again. Leading another woman up. Also as blind as a bat. Brilliant. The massage was great. Painful. But great. After 45 minutes and a few groans of agony we were done. The blind lead the blind downstairs. However one of them went off trail a touch and seemed to be walking into one of the mirrors, so, Charlie being the good samaritan she is lead her straight back on the right path down the stairs.
Later that night we hopped on a local bus again, not a clue where we were heading and somehow made it to china town. It was what we can imagine koh San road was like 20 years ago. Delicious food, great atmosphere and most importantly beer.
Our time in Yangon has come to an end with some interesting tales to tell. Yangon is what we would call your typical big city is south East Asia, with lots of people, streets are filled with waste and people seemingly have no regard for recycling or even dust bins. Having said that, every street Is packed with a plethora of edibles. From rice flour crepes filled a choice of sweet coconut (and a sauce that we don't even know what it was but it was bloody tasty) or fresh crispy veg with a salty seasoning, to the Burmese staple of a noodle broth with offal and crispy tofu. All this at less than the price of a packet of crisps back home.
China town proved to be ours, and a large quantity of the cities locals, favourite place to grab some BBQ and most importantly a few beers. We would get talking to a few of the locals, we tried some betel nut, which is the nut of the Areca Palm. It's wrapped in a leaf doused in calcium and has a very fragrant aroma. It's a mild intoxicant. When your done chewing you spit it out. (The markings of which are very apparent on the pavements) Me and Charlie really liked it but this age old habit leaves a redish brown stain in the mouth and in more severe cases.....toothless. Charlie and I have also come the conclusion that the people of Myanmar are incredibly good looking. The hairstyle of choice for men being the popular 'hipster' look back in England, with shaved sides and a bun up top. It's seems burma has its very own hipster culture.
We are currently residing in Dawei, a cute little town south of Yangon. 16 hours on an overnight bus might I add. We made it here at 5 this morning and jumped on a moped to take us to a hostel. With the sun rising in the mountains to our right and white knuckles from the tight grip on the back of the moped, we made it in one piece. Not that we had any doubt that our experienced drivers would have trouble negotiating other traffic and potholes at top speed!
Nicely settled into our hostel, and me refusing to let Charlie catch some z's we went to explore our new surroundings. We were in search of some good food, a beach and a bike for our expedition.
We stumbled across a busy market selling some alien and some familiar goods, from a whole butterflied dried tuna to an abundance of fresh kumquats. Past the market we stopped to see if we could rent a couple of bikes. Walking into what we thought was a bike rental place, actually turned out to be a family home. With an open heart and an open mind they offered to lend us their bikes for the day. Whilst waiting for another bike (which was being retrieved from a family friend down the road) we were talking to the family and it was beginning to feel a little like a zoo in the shop. Birds were chilling in the lamp shade, Mary the crazy little dog was running around, then they announce that they have a monkey. We walk out back and there is a rather large monkey, lily, in a cage far too small for her size. A little shocked we put it down to different cultures.
The youngest in the family, Shwe, in her broken English tells us she is on her way to the beach with her friends. We rethink taking the bikes and jump into a minivan.
The beach stretched about 7 miles, the landscape sculpted with lush green hills. We sit for food as Charlie and I are ravenous. Normally scrupulous in our food choices, ( we generally have a few rules. 1 we HAVE to try something different. 2 we HAVE to order separate dishes so we can share and 3 the dishes HAVE to be piping, ensuring that we don't spend most of our trip on the toilet) this occasion however we let the girls, and chit a friend of theirs who met at the beach, choose for us. In what seemed like forever our feast arrived. A ton of rice, a staple in any Asian country, seafood tom yum soup, fried shark skin Sally( for those of you who don't know Sally is of course salad), cockle Sally, cockle stir fry and a BBQ river fish which Charlie chose. The feast was a triumph.
Bellies full me an Charlie wondered down the beach only to return to find the girls eating some snacks, dried cockles on a stick and fried cockles in a bag. And we thought the Brits loved a good cockle or two! Conversation was difficult and sometimes scarce but we got by.
Our next stop was the hot springs just down the road. I jumped on the back of chits bike and Charlie on the back of another boys. (who had joined the party a bit late and who we later found out had a bit of a thing for Charlie) the hot springs were great and we probably would have never heard about them had it not been for our new friends. Facebook names exchanged we thanked them for their hospitality and made it back to our hostel.