The second day of the tour was interesting for so many reasons. We set off from the boat in the morning, travelling on horse and cart – two people to a cart. The travel company likes to use local transport, but the seats are made for rather smaller Burmese bottoms on the whole. I didn’t even take a photo when we went out on a trishaw – too many bits of overflowing flesh for the most part! But it was quite a sight seeing twenty five horse and carts trot off with British and Australian (more Aussies than Brits) hanging on for dear life.
Our first stop was at a golf course – which apparently has affiliations to St Andrews. They said that anybody who joined the Mynamar Golf Club was automatically given membership of St Andrews. I’m not sure whether that’s still true, and the club house was something rather out of the ordinary!
However, most people had a go (and failed) at putting three balls on the surprisingly healthy looking greens. They were raised, though. I’m not quite sure how that would work, but not being a golfer (although I was one of the few to pot one ball) I’m probably not the best person to ask.
We had a brief stop at a market – but tomorrow we go to a bigger market, so I won’t go on too much about that.
The afternoon we were cruising up river, so lots of time to relax and read – always a huge pleasure – and then a delicious dinner. The food is good – I always go for the Burmese dishes because I work on the basis that they will cook these the best! I’m not convinced that they will cook roast beef too well, so a Burmese fish stew always wins with me.
The thing that struck me the most about today, though, was how alien this must all have seemed to my dad when he arrived here when he was 18 years old. Even to me, it is very much a foreign country where women still do their washing in the river.
In fact, they still rely on the river for so much – even their water comes from here. Some of the villages have wells, but they prefer to drink filtered river water!
As a young man travelling to Myanmar, in the days before we had televisions to give us at least some sense of familiarity with the culture, it must have almost surreal to a young man who came here from Bolton to see the poverty on the one hand, and the magnificent and lavish temples on the other.
The people are wonderful – warm, friendly and beautiful. As we get off the boat every day, just about every waiter from the boat is standing along the path to the transport, wishing us a ‘have good scursion’ and when we return saying ‘welcome home’. And in the streets, people wave to us. Tourists are still the exception.
Signing off now. Tomorrow we visit a big market, and I’m really looking forward to that. Even the little one today was interesting, so I’m looking forward to seeing a large one. I’m really hoping to find some wonderful fabric to bring home (although not quite sure how it will fit in my suitcase!).