Breaking Burma Day 111: Last Day in Myanmar – Say It Ain’t So!

That gloriously comfortable bus dumped me off in Yangon at 3:30 in the morning. I can not emphasize enough how sarcastic of a remark that is with an inner debate over whether I officially slept for a single second beyond the desperate attempts to close my eyes. After getting a questionable, yet believable response of when a bus departs from the station to the airport (depending on the guy’s understanding of my English), I sat down at one of the station’s restaurants to watch the rare American movie, sip a bottomless supply of green tea, catch up on my blog, and order some food. Knowing that the one waiter did not have a single understanding of English (even struggling to comprehend the hand gesture of paying the eventual bill), I pointed at a dish one of the locals had in front of him to be cooked up for me. The dish I received was clearly not the same but I refrained from rebuke and ate the over easy egg topped fried rice as if it were the one and only dish that could quench my hunger. I kept passing the time sipping away at my hot tea as I only know best well after the sun rose still not ready to wait around at the airport for the continued duration of the day until my flight would depart at 5:30 pm from Yangon. Still a bit hungry I asked the owner if he had mohinga, the famous Myanmar breakfast dish that I had yet to get my foodie hands on, and he responded ‘yes’ with a confirmative display of English. The dish was not the salty fish broth that was rumored but a tasty substance of noodles in an earthy broth with corn crisps floating on top and fresh cilantro (we shall see in the next few days how that goes over), dried chilis, and lime wedges on the side ready to join in on the festivities. My oh my was it good. As this soup proved, not all Myanmar food detests the foreigner population when not done up with an absurd spool of oil. I continued powering on to pull off the unthinkable, restless overnighter. After the continuous tea called me elsewhere, I went around to search out further answers about my ride to the airport. The taxi drivers clearly gave me different information than what I gleaned before which further muddled the situation. I played the game and told them I had all the time in the world so I was in no rush. Since my previous early morning dishes were mere snacks I needed an actual meal so I tried my luck elsewhere outside of the usual snack and tea shops. Boy did I meet a heavy handed task. Since I didn’t want the typical Burmese fare which is soaked in oil and sits out in bowls waiting for the sun to produce its next victim’s diarrhea dilemma, I chose to request my own dish but it is not as easy as it may seem. I wanted fresh cooked veggies but you see none of the restaurants knew what I meant even after my countless efforts to mime it into existence. All they knew was chicken and rice. They did know lappheto (tea leaf salad) which was a welcome relief. Eventually I ordered that with some noodles and chicken thanks to me clucking and waving my imaginary wings like a chicken. For awhile I was the court jester entertaining everyone with my desperate pleas and charades. After all that, I went back to the task at hand to sort how I was going to get to the airport on the cheap. I busted out my still fresh and sharp machete blade to swipe away and thrash myself through the jungle of lies in search of the truth, a truth that they or I could not handle. The many catcalling taxi drivers had lowered their prices to 2000 kyat but I stubbornly would not back down. Finally I found a bus for 200 kyat that would take me to the airport. This bus was bare bones and felt its age. More than that, with each stop the number of passengers continued to swell beyond its capacity. I got dropped off at my stop but no airport stood in sight. They told me to take a taxi there for 2000 kyat. Oh hell no was I about to take the same offer that I had been given before after all that. I continued searching and miming by showing a stiff arm flying towards the sky to symbolize a plane lifting off (after this trip I need to go on a charade-based game show, because I know I would put on whooping). After some more inquiries into the matter I found a bus that could take me further down the road where a pickup truck taxi would complete the journey but due to my belief that I was being taken to my requested final destination with the original bus I gave that first bus the other 400 kyat I figured I wouldn’t need. After explaining my predicament, the driver said ‘no worry’ and told me to hop on. Again the situation arose where I had no more Myanmar currency on me. My story was retold to this next man who originally was confused before relenting to my helpless state. Into this pickup truck taxi went fourteen people including myself but not the body bag sized backpack that came wrapped the size of a normal looking Asian. I had to contort my body in the most uncomfortable and peculiar way to make it work with the bag still attached to me and hanging out the rear despite the dead feeling that quickly arose in my numbing upper limbs. Sure enough, I got to the airport where I would still wait for many more hours so I sat there knowing this day turned into a journey that I did not expect or bargain for. Sure I tried something new by using the Myanmar bus transit but it was not worth the hassle it ended up being. Even the most simple days that should have required no story worth telling end up being epic dramatic tales with surefire complicated conclusions. I got into Bangkok, the city I said I would avoid but such a wish is impossible when in SE Asia. Now all I had to do was find the couch I would be sleeping on for the next several nights as a pit stop before crossing over into Cambodia. I had arranged with my friend from the first Couchsurfing experience so already we had some familiarity. He was so trusting of me that he told me along with giving me direct directions to his address that he left his door unlocked for me to enter while he was gone for the night to his hometown. Unfortunately for me, those exact directions where on my spastic iPod touch (having been tampered with when I tried to connect to the wifi in Yangon airport). I still remembered the skytrain station near his apartment along with a vague idea of how to complete the last few steps to his doorstep but then again it has been almost two months since I walked those streets. After departing the skytrain I walked leery of where I was going but nonetheless confident as I proceeded forward. It was past nine o’clock at this point but with Bangkok the streets never quite die. I kept walking along as my familiarity slowly dissipated while I continued looking all around me for what I remembered might have been a tall outcropping sign advertising gas for which I would need to make a turn for the final street. After some time, the road changed looking unlike anything I had seen before on my previous jaunts into this neighborhood on my first go around. When I realized I simply had gone too far I turned around and found a pizza shop with a table of white people (hint, hint: lights flashing, sound the alarms!). Some may find what I did next out of the ordinary (something I would have been apprehensive about before this trip began) but when necessity calls you answer. I barged in through the doors and excused my disturbance before asking them if they somehow had some wifi. Luckily, the one Brit got enough service to his phone for me to receive the message that my Couchsurfing buddy sent to me. After getting the directions I needed, I left the pizza shop and my guardian angels behind in search of the apartment. By golly I made it not too long after. For old times sake and as a celebratory toast for not getting toooo lost, I bought myself a tall Chang beer. After a cool shower, I drank that beer fully in the peace of the apartment room to myself. Hopefully karma can spare me some good fortune for these next several days in Bangkok as I refuel my traveling tank and plan for what’s ahead on the road in Asia.

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