very small airport at bagan. every passenger just got a sticker from the airline they're flying and all open seating. yangon airways back to yangon. flight was packed and I've noticed the plane wasnt cleaned. Back to the panda hotel, 11th floor this time with a view of the shwegadon temple if I craned my neck and looked left. It was lighted up at night. We spent the whole afternoon shopping at the Scott's market, now named the bogyoke market. it's immense, with a central hall and tons of shops on the sides that turned into alleys and more buildings, but still smaller than the ones in siem reap. bought so much, i've run out of local currency here. Even bought a longhi that I didnt really planned to buy. Afterwards we walked to the Strand hotel and had drinks and pastries at the Sarkies bar. I've wanted a drink that had white wine, elderflower and lime. it was on the menu but they didnt have it. the staff tried very hard to please the guests but their standards were just not up to par. But the lemon tart which turned out to be a lemon meringue was super good. We walked around a bit to see what the Strand was like. very colonial decor, with dark wooden molding on the walls, chandeliers and monochrome photos showing the colonial times in burma and the dignitaries that once frequented the 5 star hotel, no 2 in Myanmar. Took a peek at the grand restaurant. Quite old fashion. Irene said it used to be the ballroom. She was 10 years old when she lived in burma, in the colonial days.
our last dinner was at a restaurant just around the corner from the panda hotel. the menu was extensive and it included lotus root, boiled meat in banana leaf, all sorts of local greens I've never heard of, and of course, the usual curries and chinese rice and noodles. Very nice place and the food was excellent but a bit more expensive. I've ordered a ginger mint drink, a flat rice noodle with chicken and the lotus root and it cost me 12000 kyats, about 9usd, more than what I've been paying for dinners on this trip. but well worth it and still cheaper than what i had to pay at home. so it's goodbye vacation and back home to my problems. very reluctant to leave.
flight back home - had about 10000 kyats left and so i went on a shopping spree at the airport artisan shop. bought some mother of pearl forks and spoons set and 2 bamboo placemats. They were gorgeous. The flight back to singapore was pleasant enough having a window seat with just 1 person next to me. Spent the usual 3 hrs layover at changi and walked everywhere again and even bought a pack of beef jerky to surprise people back home. But both flights to HK and SFO were packed and they were long and uncomfortable, with the middle seat occupied. Finished reading the fate of ten and it was entertaining and kept me reading till the end.
My romantic notion of Myanmar was flamed by movies and books, and after the military government, the good old colonial days are now but a distant memory. Not quite up to the standards of its neighbours, the country nevertheless has its own charm. I probably didnt give it its proper attention due to my state of mind but I've enjoyed the stupas and temples, the noodles and curries and did my fair share of shopping. The romantic notion though would probably never dissipate. They kept telling me I should do Vietnam. Not sure if I can bear another southeast asian country with daily deet, heat and insects, but who knows.