I got up the usual around 7 am. Had breakfast at our hotel – Gypsy Inn. At every guesthouse you really feel at home. The owners greet you upon arrival, bring you fresh towels, and their wives and daughter/relatives will cook for you, sit on the patio and chat w you about your origin, help you plan your itinerary around. After breakfast, we walked to the local village market, a whole swap meet of people sitting on wooden benches. Mainly fruits and greens. Some sold half alive fishies tied together, flapping at it’s last breath. Further down they sold clothing, etc.
I rented a bike and went for my morning alone-time through the village. I first went left out of the hotel which is a less touristy area as there are no restaurants or stores catered to travelers, mainly all residential. I biked down a path towards a temple and passed by a school. As i’ve mentioned before when traveling, the native children almost always are my favorites to encounter, as well as schools. It seemed that everytime i passed by a school, the children were always singing. Maybe they learned through songs?? Or was that how it was when we grew up? I dont remember. It’s been awhile.
When I reached in my bag for my camera, I realized it wasn’t there. But i knew 20 minutes before I was taking photos. I started panicking. I’ve got 500 photos already in my camera of 1 week’s worth of trip. I frantically rode back the path I came. As miracle would happen, or if I were religious, I’d say GOD saved me. But I’m not, so I’ll say that the people here in Burma truly are the most honest, genuine people I’ve ever met. A 50 some year old Farmer spotted me from couple houses ahead and waived at me, gesturing the motion of taking a photo with his hands. Whew! He has it!
I parked my bike in front of his factory, among 3-4 other men around, he cannot speak English, but speaks to me in Burmese and hands me my camera back. He reenacted how he found my camera, walking over to the street, picking it up, and coming back. He and his crew invited me into their patio for Tea and to sit down, asking my origin, blah blah. Then they invited me into this factory for a little tour, and saw that it was a huge factory of fruits. What angels! They could have easily kept my camera, since none of them probably own one. Or they could have sold it, bringing in 1/3 of a month’s income for them.
Thereafter, I biked the other direction over the main bridge towards the Hot springs Chad had been the day before. He said it took an hour ride, and to make a left at a fork in the road. I never found that fork in the road or the hot springs, but the bike alone was fantastical! Was a straight rocky dirt road, passing by villages, huts, women with huge baskets over their head of the daily groceries, same school children walkin to school and motorbikes that road fast past me. Everyone stares, but rarely will they initiate the smile until you do.
I made sure to get back around 12 to check out. We sat in front and talked to the hotel owner for a bit. He told us stories. One of a family friend who was sponsored by the US to go to College there. He thanked us from the heart for being so generous in the US. He also talked about many friends and family who do get college education in the big cities of Burma, but after graduation, not being able to find a job and going to generic things like agriculture – leading tours, accomadating tourism.
Our taxi came at 2 for us to get to the airport. We flew from Heho (the near by city) to Yangon (the capital where we were the first day) and checked in again to our first hotel White House. Generally I like to try new things, new hotels, but the owners at White house were so accomodating, we had to go back to show our support for their guesthouse.
Got in around 7 and took a walk to the much recommended Chinese family restaurant Golden Duck Restaurant a few blocks down. It’s a 2 story restaurant with food similar to Sam Woo’s back home, with Duck meat as the focus. The top floor where we sat was packed, and it could be assumed that the people there: business men and families were among the upper class. Every table having a bottle of Johnny walker, smoking and many lavish dishes comfortably. I ordered some prawns and we got a few Mandalay ales.
Arriving in Yangon from Bangkok the first day, we had a sense of relief of leaving a bigger dirty city, to a smaller dirty city.. But then arriving back from Inle Lake to Yangon (the bigger city in this case), it felt dirty. Im just really not a fan of big cities when out of US. I’m glad we’re out of there!