We flew out at the reasonable time of 11.20, so after a lie-in we caught a cab to the airport, the best way to get nostalgic. As we crawled passed Rangoon’s old colonial buildings which have faded and become dilapidated we watched the chaotic street scenes which pass for everyday life. It reminded us both of Hanoi and Bangkok 15 years ago. Smelly, dirty mayhem but bursting with life. So much is going on its hard to take in and it makes your senses tingle. We were both excited about moving on but sad to be leaving Burma. The food wasn’t the finest we have tasted and food is an important part of our travels, but the country was special to us because of the people. We have never been anywhere where the locals are so friendly, hospitable and quick to smile. Shopkeepers welcomed us like the prodigal son, guesthouse owners cared for us when we were ill and hawkers said we didn’t have to buy from them they just wanted to chat. A truly amazing population especially considering how they are unfairly governed by the military as their democratic vote was ignored.
Burma isn’t that easy to get around. Its a big country (about the size of UK and France combined) the roads are appalling – on a par with India. Areas are completely off limits because of tribal / drug / warlord issues. Journeys are long and suffer from bonus time breaks due to creaking infrastructure. Buses and ferries are charged in US dollars and some goes back to the generals. The capital of the country is not on the tourist trail and not even mentioned in the guide book. Whilst we were there the BBC news reported on an 11 day course the British army were giving to Burmese generals to teach them how to live in a democracy and take orders from politicians which shows you how far they have to go.
As we checked into Yangon International Airport, a power cut killed all the computer systems, but the check in desk had a piece of A4 with our names on so we were able to board, guess they are used to it. We arrived at Bangkok and after a taxi, the tube, the airport rail link and another taxi we got to our hotel. The room was trendy and compact so we wandered out and explored a new area. It went dark and after the obligatory Magnum from seven eleven we decided to go to a Thai BBQ for tea. Nervous as to what to do (us and 150ish Thais) and with a bit of a language barrier we dived in head first and before you can say “unidentifiable burnt flesh” we were barbecuing strange meats at our table fire. As these things always turnout we had a great time.