The long dusty ride.
Mandalay Travel Blog› entry 13 of 27 › view all entries
We leave early today, departure time is 7 a.m., because it is a very long drive of twelve, partially mountainous, hours. First a nice breakfast, though, and another encounter with row of swift footed begging monks.
The first two hours of the trip are one big deja vu, we have to take the same road all the way back to Kalaw. When we are past Kalaw, the worst part begins, the long winding road down to the main connection between Yangon and Mandalay. It’s a terrible stretch where at many spots the tarmac has completely vanished and where there is any, it is full of holes.
Aart-Jan has asked Ben to take on the task of being the replacement tour leader and he is doing pretty well so far.
I try to stay awake and enjoy the views as long as I can, but eventually I doze off. Maybe this isn’t even so bad, because it makes me not feel my already sore buttocks for a while.
Apart from the occasional coffee stop nothing much happens, but it is fantastic to see what the Burmese transport over these horrible roads: trays of eggs, stacked more than ten trays high, crashing through holes and bouncing over rocks.
We have lunch at restaurant Golden Land, where we also made a short stop on our way to Kalaw a few days ago. The food is quite alright, but the tomato soup tastes like nothing. Now it is Wim who is having his leg severely pulled, a couple of days ago during a group lunch the staff had forgotten him altogether and he didn’t have a bite to eat. Once again he is one of the last ones to get his food and until he finally is eating, he is not given any peace.
We are on the road again for quite some time now and Mick needs to go to the little girls room and asks Trudy to pass on the message to Ben.
On the last part of the drive when the sun is already setting, against all odds, there are still some things to see, on our right hand side are hills that are litterally covered with pagodas and a huge image of four Buddhas, facing the four quarters of the compass.
Mandalay is, regarding its lay out, very much like an American city, it has straight numbered streets in a grid like pattern, forming square blocks of buildings. The Silver Star Hotel is on the corner of 27th and 83rd street, but to get there we have to take a short detour, because the shortest route is blocked by a market of some sort.
The hotel looks good and the rooms are clean and neat, although a bit on the small side. But who cares, we will probably only be there to sleep after all.
We go out for dinner together with Ton and Judith. We have been told that Mann Restaurant is very good, so that’s going to be our first guess. The interior looks a bit shabby, but the food is great and the prices are a joke. For a large portion of springrolls, a portion of sweet and sour shrimp with rice and two Star cola we pay 4100 Kyats (that’s less than three euros!!) Clearly the focus group are backpackers, but I know for sure that we will be coming back here as well in the days to come.
By the time we are heading out for desert, Mick, Willem and Evert are walking in, three more regular customers to be. Diagonally across the street is Nylon Icecream Bar, a place where it is safe to enjoy an icecream or two (according to our travel guide, that is) and we decide to take the chance. The tv is playing loud and the entire staff, and probably the rest of the neighbourhood, are watching something that looks like a soap series. All of them have their mouths open, paying absolutely no attention to the customers at all. When we make clear that we want to order, they start nudging eachother as in saying: “Now it’s your turn!!” Leaving this out of perspective the two ordered icecreams (one durian flavour, the other strawberry) are quite good, and the egg custard isn’t half bad either. Our total damage: 1600 Kyats. Evert comes by for desert as well and we chat for while before going back to the hotel and heading off to bed.