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    Tropical Heat Tour: Myanmar Part 2

    Saturday, August 25, 2012
    Yangon, Myanmar

    The Motherland Inn II airport shuttle bus in Yangon, Myanmar.

    A typical sidewalk shop cave in Yangon, Myanmar.

    A golden tree at a small Buddhist shrine in Yangon, Myanmar.

    I got a pretty good night’s sleep despite the constant sound of slamming doors in the morning. (The Motherland Inn II is one of those places with thin wooden doors that make a loud noise when someone closes them.) I got my ass in gear just in time for checkout at noon. After relaxing in the lightly air-conditioned lobby while it drizzled outside, I went out for a short walk down the main road in this area to shoot some photos, when the sun showed its fierce face around 3:00 pm. This street is full of dinky little shops that sell all kinds of random stuff like nuts and bolts, bearings and many other kinds of hardware, plus the usual food and clothing. I like the way they decorate the trees here with various kinds of Buddhist shrines. It was so insanely hot and sticky, I turned back after a half mile, because I felt like I was slowly transforming into a sumo wrestler on steroids wrapped up in a steel wool blanket.

    Getting down to the nuts and bolts with a vendor in Yangon, Myanmar.

    Cracked sidewalk bliss in Yangon, Myanmar.

    Back at the Motherland, I had a nice long chat with one of the girls who works there about life in Myanmar. I played her a few snippets of some music on my iPod from a Nat Pwe CD, which put a big smile on her face. She even told me what they were singing about! I asked her if there were many nat worshipers in Yangon, but she said it’s much more prevalent in Mandalay. Around 6:00 pm, I shared a taxi cab ride with three young tourists from Belgium who are spending a month in Myanmar. When we arrived at the street fair-like chaos of the bus station an hour later, we sat down at a table for a drink. I asked them how they chose Myanmar to travel to. They said Thailand is too touristy and they were looking for a more authentic experience. Just before 8:00 pm, we climbed onto separate buses, each heading out for an overnight chug to Mandalay. The first several hours are always extra annoying as everyone jabbers away and bad Burmese power ballads and overly dramatic grade B movies play on the monitor.

    A colorful bus in Yangon, Myanmar.

    The Beligians I shared a taxi with to the bus terminal in Yangon, Myanmar.

    Fortunately, the “entertainment” gets turned off around midnight, and once everyone shuts up, it’s a little easier to sneak a few naps. Then there’s the stop for food and restrooms, which all goes down at a huge complex in the middle of nowhere filled with restaurants, food stalls and carts, etc. Since the grub here is so awful, I just bought a couple of bananas. At one food stall, I leaned in to look at something, and when I stood back up, I whacked my head on wooden stick that held up the roof, which really amused the guy who worked there. Luckily, it didn’t draw blood. I’m surprised I didn’t cut my head open on a rusty nail. The bus spent the rest of the night cruising pretty slowly, maybe 40 or 50 miles per hour. I thought the engine was going to break down, as it sounded like it was going to throw a rod. Other buses flew past us like everyone’s business.

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

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