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    Tropical Heat Tour: Myanmar Part 1

    Friday, August 24, 2012
    Yangon, Myanmar

    My trip from Banglamphu to Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok went super smoothly. For the first time in recorded history, I only perspired a mere moderate amount, and avoided getting fully drenched with sweat, because I was able to sit down on bus number 15, so the air rushing in could blow on me. Then it was a simple two-stop ride on the air-conditioned SkyTrain from Siam Square to Phaya Thai for the connection to the airport train. I paid a whopping $3.00 for the non-stop version, a super smooth air-conditioned beast with comfy seats that cruises all the way there in a mere 15 minutes. On the way, you can see all kinds of new high-rises going up near picturesque, rusty-roofed shack towns. Bangkok seems to keep sprawling out forever, easily earning its status as a megalopolis. Suvarnabhumi airport is kind of similar, in that you have to walk through a giant, shiny, upscale shopping mall to get to your gate.

    Buddhist monks wait for passengers to arrive at the airport in Yangon, Myanmar.

    After we touched down in Yangon, Myanmar, going through immigration was a breeze. The lady who checked my passport was so cute and so sweet. She smiled and said thank you when she was done checking my paperwork. When have you ever seen that happen in any other country? After I picked up my backpack at the luggage terminal, I was pleased to find a driver from the Motherland Inn II holding up a sheet of paper with my name on it–especially since I had just reserved a room the night before. (I’ve heard that this hotel is popular, and that they’re usually full.) We had to wait around the airport for a while for some other guests to arrive, then the shuttle bus got a flat tire on the way to the airport, so we probably spent an hour relaxing and people-watching the Burmese folks all wrapped up in their longyi, with their faces lightly smeared with golden Thanaka paste.

    All aboard the Motherland Inn II bus in Yangon, Myanmar.

    The bus finally showed up, and boy, was it an old chugger! This thing was probably at least a few decades old. The engine was so loud, it sounded like it might throw a rod at any given moment, and the ride was super primitive and rough–especially on the pothole-filled streets of Yangon. On the main drag into town, I was surprised to see so many shops, restaurants, hotels and other businesses with neon signs in English. I didn’t notice that as much on my last trip here, maybe because I left the airport right away in a taxi and passed through there in daylight. As I checked into the Motherland Inn II, I was bummed to find out that the rates had almost doubled since 2010, from $10 to $20 per night. That will make it hard to stay on budget, even though I’ll only be here a night or two before I head up to Mandalay. I was surprised that a couple of the people who work here remembered me from two years ago.

    Roll over photos for captions.
    Words and photos ©2012 Arcane Candy.

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