01.02.2015 - 01.02.2014
Our last buffet breakfast was good though there weren't any pancakes, but some rice porridge to bring back memories of Chengdu where we ate more of it. We thanked the staff for feeding us so well over the past few days and packed up our bags to take the earlier, pricier bus to Mandalay. It was a bit sad to leave the guesthouse as we'd spent quite awhile there and it had been such a welcoming place. The bus stop was just down the street and when we got there a man gave us some oranges. A German woman walked around the street describing her trip into her camera and I wondered if it would pick up any decent audio over the noise of the loud trucks driving by.
The bus was nice enough and we stopped two hours into the trip for a break. We weren't terribly hungry so we just bought rice cakes and chips then wandered around. Five or six identical vendors were set up on both sides of the road but most customers stayed on the bus side.
We stopped again in Pwin Oo Lwin, far from Sun Top burgers much to Ryan's chagrin. We were all asked to leave the bus for another half hour to stand in the sun. The stops continued arbitrarily without much reason. At least at first down the winding road, we'd stopped for a reason like for dozens of watermelon trucks, likely heading to China. I read the book of Burmese short stories the whole time and wasn't feeling as restless as Ryan. The book was quite good and I finished it as the sun went down.
Finally, around six or seven, we arrived at the bus station outside of Mandalay, nowhere near the Yoe Toe Lay Guesthouse that we'd booked. With the help of a taxi driver, we found the main rain to catch a shared pickup. The driver had been far less pushy than the dozen who shoved and crowded near the bus door, swarming all the passengers who dared to disembark.
We watched a bunch of trucks go by with not much of a clue as to what we were looking for. When a local man flagged one down, we jumped or crawled on in my case, trying to duck my giant bag under the roof to everyone's amusement, and rode to 35th street. People helped translate for us. The downside was that we ended up at the intersection of 84th and 35th streets and we needed to make it down to 55th or so.
We kept our eyes peeled as we walked for pickup but had no luck. We tried taxis and motorbikes with prices outside our budget. By 77th street, we decided just to walk, even when the motor taxis drove alongside us to barter much fairer prices. Once our minds were set, we went with it. We stopped in a handful of restaurants, some with pages of dishes with the exact same English phrase or expensive ones. At 57th street, I saw a sign for our guesthouse. I double checked our e-mail confirmation and sure enough it was a touch closer than I'd thought. We had to get a little help to find the guesthouse, but eventually we did. They greeted us with juice, water and watermelon, all very appreciated by two tired travelers.
The dorms were decent with our top bunks and the bathrooms were clean. Again, there was someone sleeping at 8 pm so we hung out in the lobby using the wifi. Hunger became an afterthought sometime during our long walk.