One of my friends is a travel agent, well connected to the domestic airlines, who could get me tickets when getting tickets is a difficulty. How ? I really don't know she does it or would do it, but she must have ways. She once got me a ticket to get back to Mandalay when everyone else said : "No, all the flights are full, blah blah blah !"
I popped over to her office and asked her for the favour.
And Voila !
One phone call and it was : " Come get your tickets to Sittwe at 2".
Me : "OK ! Man !, Real cool, U the greatest !".
She : "No problemo friend !"
After the frustration of the previous day I felt a tingling warm satisfaction. Mum jumped for joy when I called her with the good news (I actually didn't see her jump up and down but could feel it). Yesterday I had had to put on a brave face myself when I found out our Cambodia trip was out of the question (at least temporarily). Now things were getting much better! The sky was bluer!
A bit about Mrauk U now. You get there via Sittwe, capital of the Rakhine Division which is about an hour's flight from Yangon. Then it's a 7 hour boat ride or a 6 hour car ride over some of the country's worst roads. And it's about 70 miles to the Bangladesh border. Mrauk U is famed for its 14th, 15th and 16th century Buddhist temples. Of course, it's not so well-known as Bagan or Angkor but the temples when I saw them, were fabulous in their own way. A real photogenic place. The temples are all scattered around the town and most of them are located on hill tops. A very un-touristy place too. No touts at all, trying to get you to buy trinkets etc. And that is refreshing. The local population depends on other means of survival than tourism as there are, I guess, only about or at most a thousand foreign tourists coming there a year. Fishing and farming are main local trades. For Myanmar people to get there cheaply it would mean a 600 mile, 2day and 2 night bus ride from Yangon over the Rakhine Mountain Range with roads that are barely acceptable for only the first 200 hundred miles. So the domestic tourists who want to get there cheaply really have to think about it. It's rough, it's dusty, it's dangerous but I am sure it would be wonderfully beautiful. I sure would have taken that route if I were 20 years younger. But this time it's with my elderly mum and me getting a bit older too, so that route's a no go!
So the next day we were off to Sittwe and then on to the Indiana-Jones-like temples of Mruak U.
To be continued. Ciao for now !
(Actually ,it's the 22nd of December 2008 today as I write this post and I am to be off to Yangon the day after tomorrow and in Angkor on the 26th )
The author of this post is Mr. Soe Lwin, an Engish Teacher, BEST Language School in Mandalay See his blog at the links, and he is my brother
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