Ready to escape Myanmar
Yangon Travel Blog› entry 255 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)
After jumping on the local bus from the long distance bus staion to Sule Paya, the first thing i saw when looking out of the window was a man having sex with the hood of a car. I wasn't quite sure i'd seen correct, so turned to Julia who was looking open mouthed at me - i took this as confirmation! Our evening was spent catching up on internet, which we hadn't had proper access to for weeks.
The following day it was decided that we would concentrate on 2 things, eating and using the internet. I was sick and tired of the country and figured it was best to lock myself away from it, before it caused me any more damage and vice versa. Typically the internet place also tried to overcharge us, but hey, whats new.
Our last full day in Yangon was spent like the previous one. We did have the pleasure of a brief chat with Ethel, an old woman who loiters around the town hall collaring unsuspecting tourists. In fairness we'd met her on our previous visit and she was a harmless old dear. We changed some money with her, had her ask us for clothes, medicine or anything else we might like to give her and she told us that the Chinese had just bought the town hall, im not sure if she meant literally or metaphorically, probably both!
It was a 5.40am start on Monday, our last day in Myanmar. We took a taxi to the airport and checked our bags in and went to pay the airport tax of $10. Even though the government changes $1 for 500kyat, if you wanted to pay the $10 in local money it would cost 16000kyat - go figure! This greatly annoyed a few people who had kyats that they needed to spend and i cant say i'm surprised. Having gotten rid of all my kyats already i handed over a $5 and 15 x $1 bills to pay for Julia and I. The sour faced lady fingered through the notes and informed me that they were 'too old and dirty', even though the oldest one was 2004 and they looked reasonably crisp still. Rather than be rude, i thought i'd take the sarcastic approach and asked if i paid in kyats what would be consituted as 'old and dirty' as basically every note looks like its about to disintegrate. This brought some general laughter from the queue of people who had clearly also heard the 'your moneys not new enough' line more than enough times in Myanmar. The woman didn't quite know what to make of this, so told me to pay in dollars, which i was going to do anyway. I pulled out a really tatty old $20 note and to my shock she was more than happy to accept this one. The truth of the matter is that the higher denomination bills can be exchanged for more on the black market, so thats what she was looking for by all accounts. Well, it was the kind of ending that i had expected and didn't disappoint my cynical side.
It wasn't too hard to find our plane in the brand spanking new airport which saw a staggering 10 outbound flights a day! 5 to Bangkok, 3 to Singapore and one to Kuala Lumpur and Calcutta. Surely the junta gets the hint? Myanmar is been boycotted like no other country in Asia and maybe this is contributing to the increased levels of scamming and begging within the country, as the citizens are becoming more and more desperate, with the ever increasing rise in poverty.
As i was greeted in Thai by the airline stewardesses i realised that my personal nightmare had finally come to an end and sat on the plane delighted to be going to Bangkok. I was so disappointed that it had all turned out like this, as i really loved the initial period in the country and some of the places i'd seen and some of my memories will be cherished. I think when i look back in a year or two some of the bad things won't seem so bad and i'll hopefully just remember the positives. Right now though, that seems a long way away.