After sad goodbyes to Andrews friends in the village (the Arsenal brthers who did our laundry, Wai Wai who knocked up a blouse for Karina in 4 hrs, Ambrosia (of the prawns), Ambrosias parents who run the corner shop etc - several who gave us gifts) - we were dragged kicking & screaming from our lovely beach resort on to the bus for our resheduled & re-routed flight back to Yangon - a very hot Yangon 34C.
We spent the rest of that day (on our own) & most of the next (with a guide & driver) exploring this busy, noisy (but not so noisy as no motorbikes allowed) & scruffy city. On our own we constantly seemed to find ourselves in the underpant quarter (United skinny mens briefs in blue anyone?!) but our guide ensured we got our final fill of Myanmar temples. This included of course the mighty Shwedagon pagoda with tons of gold & precious stones, a reclining Buddha larger than the one in Bangkok & a pagoda apparently containing some hair from Buddha. This was a sort of fun pagoda with a revolving table where you throw money at bowls to score luck in for example 'Success in Exams' - get out here J,R & T. Also an area where you could set turtles free into a rather murky pond (presumably to be caught & set free again - for a fee of course - now there's a business opportunity!).
Needing our political fix, we managed to pursuade our guide to drop us off at the National League for Democracy headquarters - driver & guide did not come in with us. We had seen calenders & pictures of 'The Lady' for sale on some street stalls (only allowed in the last few months) but at NLD HQ you could get T-shorts, flags, newspapers etc
A last look at the market & some panic buying (NOT underpants) before we were bundled off to the airport. Here we had our tearful parting whcih was borne out by my horoscope in the flight magazine "A temporary separation with beloved ones is forseen' (astrology & horoscopes are a big thing out here). Andrew set off for the Bangmkok flight en-route for home :-( (trying to look as if the giant luxury pet carrier containing all our gifts 7 shopping weighed no more than the permitted 7kg) & Karina for the Kuala Lumpar flight for the start of part 3 .....
The cute little Aussie boy behind me said "Goodbye Myanmar - I Love You' as we took off & I have to say we agree. It really is a land of smiles (even if some of them look like a horror film as the men have a habit of chewing 'beatlenut'). An extraordinary country with half a million monks & half a million soldiers, right hand drive cars driving on the right (?), obsessive love for Justin Beaver & the Buddha and a calmness and warmth captured by the report of a staff football tournament "The match came to a close because both sides were being too kind & caring to each other".