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but atleast there were kittens!

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The bus picked us up from outside the hotel which was one good thing although it was about an hour late, an hour which we could have spent in bed! Which was a little frustrating and it began the theme for the day. When the bus finally did come it was small and packed, so we sat uncomfortably squished until we reached Meiktila. From the roadside drop off we trekked through the town until we reached the bus station. We were pleased to see that the next bus was more modern, which we should have expected as it was going to the new capital. It seemed to be an old Japanese city bus so it seemed a little odd considering for long distance but we weren't complaining.

Our presence on the bus did seem to have people a little confused, I don't think they could get their head round why we were going to Naypyidaw. When we were dropped off at the bus station which looked more like a slightly shabbily built but new housing estate we weren't sure what to make of things. However first things first we wanted to book our onward bus ticket so that we had proof that we would abiding by the curfew and leaving before dark. This is where the fun and games began. Our intention was to go to the beach or if it was not possible to do this directly then to go as far south as possible.

We were directed by a few people and finally found someone who got on the phone and then asked us to sit down. He didn't speak much English and as we sat and waited we began to wonder what was going on. In the end small framed, smiley man appeared and asked us what we were doing here. We explained we had been told we could look round the new capital as long as we left by dark and so that is what we were hoping to do. The man said that an army officer had been called to come and see us and he would make a decision about whether we could have a look round or not.

That may sound a bit scary but it wasn't really presented in that way and I was a bit excited about the drama of it. That excitement however wore thin as the time ticked by. We ended up following the smiley man next door to where he ran his bus ticket selling business and also where he lived with his wife, daughter and four cats, two of which were kittens. That was one of the upsides along with the free food and drink that he happily dolled out.
He was really friendly and we spent the afternoon eating noodle salad, coconut, sweeties and playing with the kittens. I forgot how much entertainment a couple of lively cats could be, much better than a television. The man seemed to be the pied piper where they were concerned and as soon as he made a specific noise they all came dashing over, it was really quite sweet. He spoke good English which was due to him having worked in Singapore for a while.

Other people came and went, buying tickets or perhaps just stopping by to see the unexpected arrivals. We were getting a little impatient by now as there was still no sign of the officer. Our options for leaving were also a little limited as there was a night bus to Yangon, that we did not want to take or an early morning bus to Pyay which was in the right direction however we were also aware that we may not be allowed to stay the night.

In the end the officer showed up and we dutifully explained why we were here and what our intentions were. He then informed us that we were not allowed into the city to look around but he would let us stay the night so we could get the bus to Pyay in the morning. We were to go to the hotel he mentioned and stay there until it was time to catch our bus. It wasn't like we could argue, we just tried to explain our rather restricted budget which they seemed to understand and take in to consideration. We were then directed to a bus and told we would be directed when to get off. It hadn't exactly gone to plan but it had been an interesting and pleasant day, all of which was thanks to the friendly man who we thanked before being driven away.

When the bus stopped at the gates of a resort we knew the drama was not finished for the day. Still we decided to continue to play along as we were shepherded into a golf buggy and taken up the sweeping drive way to the main entrance. Before we unloaded our bags we asked the killer question, 'how much does a room cost?' We were informed between $75 and $125. This of course was a tad out of our price range and we had to assume there had been a bit of miscommunication earlier on and perhaps they thought we said we could afford $60 dollars when in fact we said $16. The hotelier obviously could not lower his prices that much and we could not stretch our budget even if we wanted to as we only had a certain amount of money on us.

We were now a little stuck, there was a specified 'tourist zone' that we were meant to stay in and apparently all the hotels here were a little pricey. Our only option appeared to be camping out at the bus station until it was time to go and so we hoped on the golf buggy which took us back down to the main road. A tricycle driver then took us to a little area by a market where we hoped to catch a bus to the the right bus station. Feeling pretty miserable, mainly due to being absolutely exhausted having gotten up at 3am we stood and waited for a bus. Thankfully our fortunes then changed slightly as we saw a familiar face. A man we had met in Mandalay, an English teacher appeared to come to our rescue, well sort of. He was here visiting his brother who he introduced us to and then we explained all that had happened and how we were now looking at a night outside. He spoke to the local motorbikes drivers who said they new of a hotel which was cheaper and so we agreed a price for them to take us there.

On our travels from bus station to hotel and so on we had seen a little of the city which seemed quite sparse. All of the roads, unlike anywhere else in the country were newly tarmac-ed with multi lanes and pretty much deserted. Things seemed new but at the same time instantaneously old, there was no character or it would much planning. There was a small park with ponds, fountains and an electricity pylon, all in all a bit odd.

The journey on the motorbike was a quite long and it was dark by now. We passed by a massive golden pagoda which was all lit up and it did take my breath away. I wish we could have got a good photo of it but all of Adam's attempts were a little blurry when taken at speed. The road up to it was all lit up and against the twilight sky it shone like a beacon. I wonder how much it cost.
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It was a no no at the next hotel, apparently we were now outside the tourist area and therefore we were not permitted to stay. By now we were beginning to wonder if the day would ever actually end. The manageress seemed to sense our slight desperation and she suggested a hotel inside the tourist zone which had cheaper rooms, so we asked her to call. A few minutes later it was confirmed that they had $20 rooms but they didn't have mini bars, it didn't take us too long to decide this wasn't a deal breaker and we were on the bikes again.

One more drama before bed as Adam's motorbike driver sped off into the distance the bike I was on came to a spluttering halt. The man wheeled it in to the side of the rode and tried his best to get it going. It seems silly now but standing there in the dark, beyond tired, knowing I couldn't actually reach Adam (mobiles out of commission) and having no idea where he was, I burst in to tears. At this point another motorbike stopped and a guy came over, he spoke to my driver who obviously explained the situation. I was then ushered on to this new bike who drove off and I just hoped we would find Adam.

We pulled in to the market that we'd been standing at earlier and I was still blubbering but trying to hide it. The man it would seem needed petrol and I tried to hide my tears from the onlookers who were peering at me through the dark. Still no sign of Adam and I wasn't sure how we were going to spot each other, especially if he was now looking for me. Once the bike was filled up we hit the road again and I kept looking left and right until finally I saw a tall guy with a backpack on and everything was ok. We were reunited and Adam explained his guy had gone of to find me and had left him with a tricycle driver who he was talking to.

In the end Adam's guy turned up, saw that I had now appeared and the two bikes took us the rest of the way to the hotel. It looked as posh as the first one we'd been too and our hopes sunk a little. Thankfully our luck was finally in as we were met by a very helpful woman who told us they had very basic rooms for $20 and a man presented a couple of orange juices to us on a silver tray. We also got one breakfast for our $20 which we asked if they could split in two and the lady smiled and said she would give us extra. Finally we could relax.

The room was small and pretty much unfinished but it had a massive tv and beds! We had to be up at 5am but at least we had somewhere to sleep. So now we could look back on all that had happened and laugh, well when we had the energy to.

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 04:15 Archived in Myanmar Tagged round_the_world

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