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  Yangon  |  23.05.2008
 
 

Since we were supposed to move in with Manuel some time today we checkout of the hotel by 12. We kept our bags behind the desk and we went on a short tour of the city by bicycle. Lesh had checked his mail this morning and nothing new had been written so we just had to wait to hear what time we should arrive. Manuel doesn't have a mobile or land line so email is the only communication we can have which makes things a lot harder.

Since it was lunchtime we went in search of some food. We had read in LP that there was a nice place called Sharkies which is run by a local Burmese guy who cures his own meats and makes his own cheese (yes even I  these humid conditions!) and he has a deli that is popular with expats near Shwedagon Paya. So map in hand, off we cycle. The roads are NOT good here. They are uneven and full of potholes and if I take my eyes off the road for more than 2 seconds to admire something then I may not stay on the bike for much longer. We cycle round for nearly 2 hours trying to find this stupid deli...no paté tastes that good. I am slowly losing the will to live and I get grumpier and grumpier with every set of dodgy direction we get. In the end we cycle up this tiny road on the recommendations of another shop owner and it is a dead end, I almost scream out loud...but then just at that moment somone opens their gate to their big posh house and encourages us to wheel our bikes in?!? We explain we are looking for Sharkies and they smile and say yes this is it?!? Huh?!? But where's the sign board? Either this is one very popular restaurant...so popular that they don't need to advertise or the owner is stupid. Turns out the owner is stupid...because Sharkies is not in fact a restaurant. It is just a shop that sells nice deli food. Duped again by Lonely Plant...I don't know why we bother buying their books. To be honest the food does look amazing but it is very expensive. $7 for 100grams of parma ham! Or $4 for a small tub of paté! However the girl would not allow us to eat there which I thought was strange since there was a table and chairs but she was very unwilling to get us a knife and help us, so I was very unwilling to part with $10. Lesh was insistant on buying something, so he bought a home made yoghurt and defiantly  sat there eating it at the table. He gave her a dollar and I grumbled not so under my breath at cycling for 2 hours for one crappy yoghurt...

That then still left the dilema on what to eat for lunch and in fact it was edging closer and closer to  early dinner time. We found a nice Italian restaurant close by and managed to get some nice food there. We decided that since we were so close to Swedagon Paya we would cycle to it and call in and take some photos. I think the best time to go is at sunset as the light would reflect amazingly off the huge gold stupa...however it was 4:30pm and we could not think of anything to do in the meantime so we just decided to go straight there and admire it in daylight conditions. Again...Lonely Planet says that Swedagon Paya is the highlight of any trip to Yangon and that any visit should not be rushed and plenty of time devoted to looking round...pah...what a load of baloney. I mean don't get me wrong, Swedagon is a great centre piece to the city and yes it dominates th skyline and it is beautiful...but after 20 minutes we were both thinking "is this it?" and after wandering round for 10 more minutes we knew we had exhausted our time there. Maybe for hardcore Buddhists it is an amazingly spiritual place and they can just sit and be at one there...but for me...as soon as the first tout tried to rip me off by asking for $1 after encouraging me to ring a bell, I knew this place had no specal meaning.  When I went to the Bahai Lotus Temple in Delhi I sat for over and hour praying and  contemplating and people watching and then I walked round the complex for nearly an hour more as I felt peaceful there...but here I didn't get that connection. Plus I was damn annoyed at having to pay $7 EACH to enter Swedagon Paya. This is a place of worship....and that is a total rip off. I know that they have to pay for damages that happened during the cyclone but $7 really is an excessive amount. And then we come to the final gripe, in true Aunty Irene fashion we went to Swedagon Paya during the time when the most scaffolding was up. Many of the spires, stupas and pillars had been damaged during the cyclone so there was a lot of scaffolding up for repair work. So all in all I can say that I did not have a great Swedagon experience. Which is a shame but I'll get over it. I can say yes I have been but to me it was nothing at all special.

So we left and cycled back to the hotel to check our emails....still no word fro Manuel. So we could do nothing but wait. So we spent our time on the net. We sent him one more message saying we would make our way round at 7pm but by 7pm we still had not heard anything. I didn't think it was worth going round till we had a response as it obviously meant he would not bethere...but by 7pm Lesh had my bike fully loaded and kept prompting me to quit my nice conversation with Andrew so we could leave, which annoyed me a lot. Of course we get to the flat and nobody is home ....why would he be? He has not read our message and he does not know we are coming. So now we are in the dark with nowhere to go and no way to see if he reads our email. I am feeling sicker and sicker and my fever is getting worse. I just really need to shower and relax in bed...to be honest now is not a great time for me to meet Manuel as I will not be chatty, I just want to sleep and in fact everything is getting like too much hard work and I start crying..crying cos I am hot, tired, sick, and missing my mum. I know this is hard work for Lesh, he had dragged me out to cycle in the dark when I am sick ad now we are like to homeless people on the street. We decide to leave Manuel a note on his door saying we will have a drink in the tea shop next door till 8pm and if he does not come by then then we will go back to the hotel. Its a long 50 minute wait and by 7:55 I am so fed up that we pay up and leave. It is such a miserable cycle back to the hotel. We check back into our old room that if we had known that all this would have happened then we needn't have checkout in the first place. As I lie in bed my fever gets worse and my whole body starts to ache really bad. I am convinced I have malaria or something equally as terrible. Nothing Lesh says can make me feel better and although he tries to make me fall asleep I am reluctant to give in and close my eyes as I'm worried I may never wake up again....yes call me little miss hypercondriac....
 
 
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