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1/17/2013

Pindaya

Day 11: Does it get any better?

We are in a town called 'Pindaya'. From Heho airport a 2,5 hour drive. After a comfortable flight (with only 1 hour delay, which is such a great achievement if you know how many tourist want to fly these days) and extremely beautiful flight attendants, we arrived at Heho airport at 10am. We didn't book a taxi to Pindaya, we thought to figure this out at the airport. With only two (!) cab drivers showing up at this super tiny airport we 
*&(+@#$ didn't have much negotiating space. After quit a bit of walking, talking and dealing around we had to go for a 50.000K ride to Pindaya (2,5 hours). We know for a fact that this drive was a few months back about 40.000K, but it is what it is these days. The other option was walking.

The road is horrible, but the scenery perfect. There is so much agriculture going on here, which means many small trucks packed with locals wearing colourful clothes, scarfs and tools for working the land. Beautiful. We are back in the (green) nature and we love it.


Anyway, 

If you could see me right now, you would definitely blink a few times. I am sitting in front of an open fire because our room in The Conqueror has it's own fire place that the staf lit at night....oooh yeahhhhh! And that's just for starters. I cannot explain how bizare this bungalow is. For 65$ a night we are in a de luxe bungalow I booked through a travel agency in Yangon called Royal Exclusive Travel (tab to open link). Ms. Nar helped me book this place and we were able to pay for two nights with my credit card back in Holland.

Let me just show you the pics, because words never can explain this rather special situation we are in right now... (be prepared, we are about to to show off heavily..)






After we recuperated, we walked to Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda which is a 45 minute walk (uncountable stairs). Set high on a limestone ridge above a lake, this winding complex of natural caves and tunnels is filled to bursting point Buddha images in an astonishing variety of shapes, sizes and materials, many gaudily daubed with gold paint. At the least count, the caves contained more than 8.700 statues. Some left centuries ago by Burmese pilgrims and others newly installed by Buddhist organisations from as far as Singapore, our country and the USA. It took our breath away. It was such an amazing moment when we entered the cave.




After a long time we finally found a Buddha donated by Dutch people. We bursted out laughing, among all these huge shinny golden statues, this one was representing Holland:



But again, not one picture can capture the intensity of a huge cave filled with so many Buddha images.
We feel pretty strange being here. It's such a harsh contrast with the people living next door to our hotel, who only have a well and a thin roof over their heads. They live in dirt and poverty. We actually feel bad and a pretty ashamed when we walk to our hotel. We said to each other: "At least try to enjoy this semi luxurious place because we are here now, it is what it is". I say semi luxurious because everything is dirty, broken or unfinished (but the beds and linen are always fresh and clean).

We had a long conversation about this (we see it in all the time in the mid and high end places). Klaas is in architecture and I am into PR and marketing (and I like to clean, hahahaha.) I was wondering, if labour is cheap and you have a dozen of people from your staff walking around doing nothing all day long, why is everything still so dirty and/or broken and unfinished. Klaas said a few wise words: if nobody explains to you how to clean or how to construct a building or finish it properly, then how can you know that something is wrong?(for example our shower tap is actually a tap meant for a bath). 

There is still a long way ahead for Myanmar tourism, which is actually very charming, besides that, isn't this what we want to see and feel on our travels?? And since I love to clean, I can eat my heart out here.

This film Klaas made at night when the fire place was in full process (how romantic, right?):




Day 12: Biking and doing nothing

Ooh my god...it was so cold last night. I had to put on an extra blanket to keep myself warm. Klaas slept very good last night. It felt like being on a ski trip in Switzerland. The beds are extremely comfortable, the big pillows fluffy and the thick colourful blankets warm, but I didn't sleep that well. I guess the Burmese local whiskey and the local red wine were a troublemaker (but it taste sooooo good..). We were very curious how the breakfast would be. We put on our fleeces and went to the restaurant. It was freezing cold there too. The buffet they offer is not much. 

Actually is kind of sad to see how things are organized in this hotel. The choice of the food was minimal and the quality extremely poor. Strange because it's relatively seen a very expensive hotel. Later that morning we saw the manager or owner, who knows, talking to his staff. The girls and boys stood all in line, hands on the back, face down. He sat down in a chair (with a cigarette, kind of Al Capone style with a scary face) and was talking in a very hash negative way to them. We felt bad, just seeing all this. All of a sudden I realized that his might be a government hotel and I hated myself for not checking better.
The all over atmosphere in this hotel just doesn't feel right and it's all a bit rundown and dirty. Although our room still is magnificent.

Anyway, we jumped on our bikes to explore town and to find an internet spot. Kind of bizarre that the Conqueror doesn't have it, though the other expensive hotel 'The Inle Inn' apparently has it.




So we peddled through town, around the lovely lake and arrived at this wonderful 'Inle Inn hotel'. Wow, this place has a totally different vibe to it, compared to than ours. We asked for a tour and got one from such a sweet guy, who spoke very good English. He really seemed to enjoy his work and talking to us. The hotel, the restaurant and grounds around it are lovely and we decided to spent a lazy morning and lunch here. The internet worked great and we received the messages we needed.




We drink fresh lemon ginger tea (wow wow wow) and had fresh grilled tofu and vegetables for lunch. We met two ladies from Germany both working for Lufthansa in Singapore and we chatted for quit some time. Great stories about Singapore and all the Western men who seems to get the 'yellow fever' there...if you know what I mean. Single European women in Singapore, forget it. They are just not that into you.....


We decided to have dinner together and off we went again. This time to find one of the paper/umbrella 'factories' in town. It took us some time to find them, but that was no punishment. This town, the easy goingness of it, the vibe, the nature: just all so relaxing! When we finally found the place it was again a delight. A fairly old couple showed us extensively how they made paper and umbrella's.



The whole proces we stood there with wide open mouths. Unbelievable that with such simple materials, people can be so creative and artistic. We both bought a few layers of handmade paper with flowers for our mothers and left the place with such a good feeling! Why? Difficult to explain. These people seem to be utterly happy with their day to day business and although they live very simple and in our eyes poorly, I didn't feel sorry for them at all. Maybe they are happier then I am.

Back in our hotel we took a long hot shower (use it, if it's available) and read a book and drink some of this lovely Myanmar wine. Life is good for us and we say that all the time to each other.


That evening we had dinner with Birgit and Nicole at the Inle hotel. They make a fantastic woodfire in the restaurant and the food is good (a bit expensive though). We chatted a lot (so much to learn from each other) and when we left on our bikes and fleeces (cold!!!) we said to each other: "What a great day we had again".

Traveller facts: Entrance fee for Pindaya: 2$. Entrance fee for the cave: 3$. Bikes at Golden Cave hotel 3.000K per day. Conqueror Hotel we paid 65$ a night. The Inle Inn has rooms between 65-120$ (but comes with real French breakfast) Meal at Inle Inn about 4/5.000 per dish. Sheet of handmade paper: 1.000K. Taxi to Inle Lake: 50.000K

1 comment:

Zack Mocky said...

Nice room you got there. Shame they put the wrong tub. :D