Tuesday 1 April 2014

Burma: Market and reconnaissance and travel to Bagan

Lunch kit - Bogyoke market, Rangoon
With half a day to kill before flying to Bagan, we reconnoitred Bogyoke market in order for Mrs M to target her purchases at the end of the week when we return to Rangoon. We sat under an air conditioning unit in a smart coffee shop until the market opened at 10.00am. It was nice to have some time to watch the world drift by: elegant Burmese ladies buying juices, young boys in red robes asking for money, a couple of men starting their day with a beer and a group of businessmen who were probably not from these parts as they were all wearing nice suits.

Mobile paan vendor - Bogyoke market, RangoonWe wandered every aisle in the market searching for important things I didn’t know we needed such as shoes with a strap on the heel, puppets and rattan place mats. After ninety very long minutes, we headed back to the hotel to shower before taking another taxi to the airport for the journey to Bagan.

After waiting for about an hour for the Bagan Air staff in the domestic terminal to stir from their slumber, two young ladies arrived to provide us with boarding cards and stickers for our shirts. There was a general lack of urgency in the departure lounge, but eventually we climbed aboard a rickety bus to the aircraft. The journey to Bagan took us to Heho and Mandalay airports before we arrived at Bagan. The mustiness inside the aircraft increased throughout the journey due to the inadequate air conditioning system which had new passengers fiddling with the nozzles as they took their seats. The group of sweaty European tourists that got on at Heho didn’t help matters.

Infinity pool - Aureum Palace hotel, Bagan
When we arrived at Bagan, we paid the archaeological zone entrance fee of US$15.00 each and strolled outside the terminal building to look taxis which were not in abundance. Eventually, we found a taxi which clanged and rattled to the Aureum Palace hotel.

The 5* hotel plonked in the middle of the archaeological zone has an unnecessary level of luxury which caters for the more affluent tourist - not shoestring travellers such as ourselves. While we sipped drinks near the pool at sunset, guests wearing jumpers tied around their necks gathered around dimly-lit tables to dine in front of a stage where musicians strummed Simon and Garfunkel tunes. Oh dear. We felt a little out of place - perhaps tomorrow we should eat in old Bagan.

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