Published: July 11th 2012July 11th 2012
Beers by Country
We arrived at the airport waiting in line to go through immigration. The building is stunning -polished white floors with glass walls. The strangest thing was it was silent-everyone standing in line, even the immigration officials processing the passports-no sound whatsover. We gathered by the sign "Motherland Inn 2 Suzie Johns-1" and met Rob and Bob-and englishman and american who live in Bankok over in Burma for a ten day holiday. We had three more americans join us and out we went-past the new mini vans, past the new taxis, and into a 1950's rusted bus-we barely fit on one seat. No air-con, open windows, and through Yangon we went. The traffic, although organized, was really bad. All of the cars were burning oil so the air was absolutely stifling. I had my scarf over my mouth but that didn't help with the onset of my headache. We landed at our hotel which was much more of a hostel than hotel and settled in. Simple room with twin beds that we couldn't push together , air-con, and an attached shower and toilet-I had booked the most deluxe room at the inn. We opened the curtains to a view of rusted corrugated
The huge containers of oil next to the seats should have been the first clue...
metal sheds and a garbage dump.
Quick change of clothes to have a walk around town to get our bearings. The taxi driver asked us if we needed a ride and we politely declined-saying we would walk. With the map from the inn in hand, we set off. After thirty minutes we were back. The sidewalks, when there was sidewalks, had huge holes filled with putrid water, rebar sticking out of concrete, mud, glass, and garbage everywhere. Dogs that look like crosses of a Basenji and a Pharoah Hound, standing their territory-not at all indifferent or friendly. People stared at us, something we are used to but no smiles, something we are not used to. The outdoor cafes were not appealing and that is coming from our viewpoint-not a real high standard.
We decided to negotiate a city tour with the taxi driver who had previously offered his services-he acted as if "Yeah, yeah, I knew you two would be back." His name was KoChi-a very nice man, married with a six year old daughter. Our firt stop, Myanmar Gem Museum-three floors of stalls set up to sell everything from Burma's famous rubies to plastic bracelets. The top
floor was the museum-the best of was the display of pearls-just stunning. When we came out our driver was asleep. I said in my best sing song voice, "Mr. Kochi, waaaaaaake uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup." He sprang into action and we were off again into the choking fumes of traffic. I mentioned Aung Suu Kyi and Kochi immediately brought out a picture he carries of her. I said she is a great woman. Then in his broken english he said "sleepy", making the asleep gesture, "take you to places". I said no, it was perfectly fine you were asleep while we were in the museum, and he said, louder, " Sleepy". Then I got it. I said, "reclining Buddha?" And he nodded and we said "Yes." (I don't know how to make an exclamation mark on this computer so hang in there). It was awesome-pictures do it no justice. Then he said he was taking us to Aung Suu Kyi-we didn't know what he meant but we said sure. We pull up on a side street where some young girls were selling Aung Suu Kyi's pictures, the flag, and necklaces. Then we looked behind the girls to see an entire warehouse of people
making political propaganda for the movement of democracy. We bought a picture of her and a flag for my classroom. Kochi dropped us at Shewdagon Pagoda, some young girls asked my for my shoes as a gift-we grabbed a taxi and headed back to the inn.
Up the next morning, grabbed a taxi-this time from MeSon, who is thirty-eight and married but no children-he explained he is married to a man-no big deal here. (wake up, America). Straight to the airport where we paid the change fee and will be flying to Bangkok in the morning.
We had a fabulous lunch at Feel Myanmar Food, and I found a bar down the street. I think I broke a glass ceiling by going in and having a beer (it took five men to translate that I wanted a cold beer) but I was accepted through offering the guy who offered me a seat an American Spirit. He wouldn't take it unless I took one of his and all was well. The young boys kept stealing glances at me but I smiled and it seemed ok.
Like our friend Rob said, as he patted his heart with his hand,
Carvings on feet
"I'm just not feeling it here." We feel the same way and will be in Bangkok by morning. We tried but we're done. I wish this country a prosperous future.
There are more photos below