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Published: January 5th 2017
Up early and packed very quickly for our 9 am departure. We sit around the big beautiul wodden table and share our last breakfast in Yangon. With time to kill, Jules and I wander down Inya Rd to check out the street stalls we've driven by in the taxi or Dave's and Alex's 4X4 everyday. The kids know, by the way I ask, that they should come with us for one last adventure. They've seen enough and the draw of a puppy and Dave's as yet unused games console is too strong. It was fun, just Jules and I investigating a local market - just like old times.
The market sells fresh fruit and flowers and a variety of other bits and pieces. Each rose is individually wrapped in netting like a paw paw at a fruit shop and the combination of scents is delightful. We cross Inya Rd like pros - dodging traffic and pausing on the middle line like a local. Behind each stall is a wire fence and a small gap in the fence leads to a maze of two dozen market stalls clustered under a low roof. The smell of smoked fish and meat is overpowering
and Jules covers her nose with her hat.
Anything you could need is here, from tins of Milo to clothes pegs and sanitary napkins. Varieties of rice are lined in baskets in front of a stall selling packet noodles and other dry goods. A white cat sleeps amongst the stock and could easily rest it's head in one of the baskets of rice. Across the aisle is another butcher with no fridge. Butchered meat and offal spread across wodden chopping blocks the size of tree stumps. Dogs sneak amongst the stalls, perhaps hoping for a scrap to fall to the ground. The stall owners watch us with guarded curiousity. I don't imagine too many foreigners venture beyond the fresh flowers on the roadside, but I'm so glad we did. Nature calls and we cross the 4-6 lane Inya Rd with confidence and dash back to the sanctuary.
The kids are hanging out together on the couch and before we know it, it's time to say our goodbyes and catch our last Yangon taxi. Virtual strangers a week ago, the kids have grown close and shared some magical memories together. The girls became like sisters - fighting one minute
and inseparable the next. Deaks said he kept hearing Oliver's voice when we were at the airport in Singapore and both will miss cuddles with Elliot (despite Deaks dropping him on his face).
As we hurtle towards Yangon International I'm overwhelmed with happiness and a feeling of fulfilment. Myanmar has exceeded all expectations and I miss it already. I try to soak up everything I can through the open taxi window. The vibrant colours and patterns of the longji and sarongs still worn by the majority of Burmese going about their daily business. The traffic and it's considered chaos. The tolerance and patience of the drivers makes Australian drivers seems extremely selfish and overly competitive. The randomness of the street vendor wandering through stationary traffic selling A2 sized maps of Myanmar and cigarettes.
The majestic colonial buildings that look uncared for and run down on the outside but house universities, hospitals and govermnment agencies. The Burmese don't seem too concerned with polishing the outside for the sake of it, yet they are made for a bit of gold leaf on a monument and are keen to flash a sign of wealth where they can. Apparently the over-use of
oil in their cooking stems from a shortage of such things when they sort independance. This may also explain the propensity to add sugar to everything - even fresh fruit juice.
The lives of the common Burmese people you see appears very simple and humble and yet there is also great wealth here. The wealth gap is stark. While most cars on the road are taxis, there is the odd luxury vehicle that blows your mind. And the suburb where Dave and Alex live (Golden Valley) has some ridiculously palatial homes, while the shanty towns near the airport are no more than corrugated iron shacks.
Overall the people are very welcoming, happy and reserved and it was rare to be hassled or pressured as a tourist. Despite being able to spend someone's monthly wage with one swipe of our credit cards.
I am so glad we decided to make this trip and so grateful for Dave and Alex (and Myanmar) for making it an unforgettable adventure.
But enough of that! We've got Super Tuesday ahead of us. Three countries in one day. Two taxis, a bus, a flight, a ferry ride and plenty of waiting around. We went through 4 customs and immigration checkpoints and three timezones. We either missed lunch or had three dinners, I can't tell. I know we left the Sanctuary at 9.05 but beyond that, I don't know how long we were on the road. The kids fell into line as we navigated the arrival and departure times. Deaks cried for no reason (didn't know if he was a haoppy cry or a sad one) and Milla danced and spun around on the floor at the Singapore ferry terminal. With no food available while we waited for the late ferry, a vending machine beckoned. It contained a can of Red Bull and a row of Mentos. We opted for Mentos and after we inserted $1.50 SGD and selected D4, not one, but two mentos fell from the rack. And when the kids gathered the spoils from the hidden tray, they also scooped out a packet of four strawberry and cream biscuits. Oh the joy!
Both kids almost vomitted on the rough and pitch black ferry ride. Some other kid couldn't hold it in. Jules and I were also quite close to succumbing, and count our blessing that the other kids vommit didn't set of a domino effect. On dry land and balancing relief and fatigue we check in to Nirwana Gardens Resort and rest our heads for a well deserved sleep. I miss Myanmar but need some relaxation time.
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