Not the easiest of rides

Pyay Travel Blog

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If you're afraid of heights, don't apply for a job on a Toddy distillery.

The planned time for departure today is 7 a.m., so we get up at 5.30. Our entire party is at the ready and waiting by the bus at 6.45, so we set off with a head start. The luxury of being ahead of schedule doesn’t last long however, because the people in the back part of the bus soon start smelling a pungeant odour that nobody recognises immediately. Half an hour later we make an obligatory stop, because the back seat passengers are developing headaches from the smell. The drivers start tinkering without hesitating and soon find out that it is the buses’ dynamo that has jammed and that it is the friction of the rubber drive belt sliding over its pully that’s causing the smell.

While the drivers are trying to fix the bus, we keep ourselves busy by visiting another Toddy distillery.

Exchanging the jars with palm sap, the main ingredient for making Toddy.
Trudy makes friends again with the cow that powers the mill where peanuts are ground to the pulp that is used for peanut cookies and I watch the man dash up the palm tree again to exchange the jars with sap that is used for the Toddy. One of the employees entertains us for a short while by folding a bird from a palm leaf. In spite of this display of organic origami we opt for walking ahead and have the bus pick us up later on. It is either this or wait for the replacement bus to arrive, because the one that’s broken down can’t be fixed on the spot.

Rudolf, Anne, Evert and Ad are also walking and so it is a fun walk with lots of conversation and the lovely feel of being on our own in a region that hasn’t been too seriously spoiled by tourism. We see people put a roof on a house that is under construction, a beautifully located house with a pig lazing about in front of it and a pottery, amongst others.

Burmese origami, folding a bird using only a piece of palm leaf.
Finally we start looking for a place to have a cup of coffee, even though it is only shortly after nine. The place we find is right beside the road, but there’s no furniture on the terrace. The owner starts running around and within seconds there are chairs and a table outside. We cannot sit inside, because if we can’t be seen from the road, the new bus may pass us by without noticing, leaving us behind while driving happily on to Pyay. We have made a wise decision, because we have barely emptied our cups when the bus pulls up.

Now that we are in posession of a decent bus again, complete with interior lighting that look like miniature chandeliers, we have to make up for the two hours we have lost. This will prove not to be easy, because the roads are so bad (some stretches similar the road between Khajuraho and Varanasi in India seven years ago), that we can’t really take up the pace.

Roofing a house with palm leaf.

Stops are limited to short pee-breaks, that are a nice comic relief, because every time half the population of our bus dashe into the bushes, coming back out again with a relieved smile on their faces.

We reach our lunch adress around one o’clock. The staff speak an English that is so poor that we simply can’t tell their fish from their squid. Half of us logically end up with a dish they didn’t order, including Trudy and myself. I don’t even try explaining this to the staff, because it is a lost cause anyway. Anne nearly chokes her food because she accidentally bites a green pepper. Trudy and I have the same dish and carefully filter the peppers from our plates.

It is a miracle that everyone has finished their meal within the hour and we are on the move again when the clock strikes two.

A peaceful rural scene, on the way to Pyay.
During the afternoon we have two run-ins with unguarded cattle. The first time is with an adult bovine that bashes a crack in the window on the side of our bus. Later on it is a calf that crosses the road without looking out, causing our driver to smash his brakes hard as he can. The calf still gets a firm nudge from our bumper, but both beasts get away without injuries.

We stop for a twenty minute coffee break at 5.15 p.m. and the we drive on until we arrive at the Sweet Golden Land Hotel in Pyay. We are all completely done for and I have developed a nice cold today and we don’t feel like doing anything anymore today.

We eat in the restaurant of the hotel, because the hotel is located too far outside the city to walk there. The taste of the food is allright, but it is spoiled by the fact that the shrimps haven’t been peeled decently, so my mouth is regularly filled with hard stuff.

When I have separated the edible from the rubbish we head for our room, that isn’t fantastic (and the bathroom isn’t much better, but the water is hot though), but the beds are good, and a bed is what I need right now.

glennisnz says:
That free walk in the country must of been the only really good moment of the day. I would of liked that, better than sitting around waiting for the new bus..
Posted on: Nov 21, 2008
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If youre afraid of heights, dont…
If you're afraid of heights, don'…
Exchanging the jars with palm sap,…
Exchanging the jars with palm sap…
Burmese origami, folding a bird us…
Burmese origami, folding a bird u…
Roofing a house with palm leaf.
Roofing a house with palm leaf.
A peaceful rural scene, on the way…
A peaceful rural scene, on the wa…
photo by: tj1777