Having fallen into bed at 3am and promptly passing out, we weren’t awake very early. In fact, we missed breakfast but Jayne managed to use her charm and grace on the hotel manager, who sorted out coffee, mango, omelette and toast for us. Very much appreciated!! Feeling slightly more human, we chatted to the hotel manager about the local area. She gave us a map with all the most important ‘sites’. Apparently, we were very lucky as we had arrived on the day of the special five day market. Basically, in addition to the regular daily market stalls selling dried fruit, dried fish, fruit, vegetables and local liqueurs, every five days the market is easily doubled in size by traders from nearby hill-tribe villages. Armed with our map, we headed off and weaved our way through rows upon rows of market stalls selling everything you could possibly imagine – including a lotion for your skin made from rotting goat carcass… Treated both of us to some local made stone jewellery – an elephant necklace for Jayne and a bracelet for me. Also got ourselves a little pocket knife and a mango as the one from this morning had been so delicious. Popped back to the hotel briefly to check on the situation for our trek tomorrow and look up transport routes for later on this week so we can buy bus tickets before walking back into town to have some lunch. Went to the noodle cafe that had been recommended to us and ordered the local speciality – Shan noodles. Jayne had it as a soup whereas I had it as a salad. Very nice although it was kind of small portions (but for 34p you can’t complain!!) so it was great when it started chucking it down with rain as, since we couldn’t leave anytime soon, it gave us a perfect excuse to order a second bowl!! The rain lessened for enough time for us to make a dash to the bus ticket counter to get our tickets to Nay Pyi Taw (the new capital city) after our trek to Inle Lake. Started walking back towards the hotel to drop off our tickets on the way to the Shwe Oo Min Paya when it started raining again… Hard!!! Took shelter in a shop before making a dash for it, stopping in the bakery for a piece of cake and a proper cafe latte. Sat in the hotel planning our last few days in Myanmar as the rain pelted down and enjoyed the first proper coffee we have had in months. The rain finally stopped and we headed for a walk around the outskirts of town towards the pagoda and the cave. It wasn’t at all what we expected – the natural cave was dripping in literally hundreds of golden Buddha statues and the caves seemed to continue on for ages; twisting in and out, with statues on every single nook and cranny. Some even were decorated with additional flashing LED lights. There are three caves in total – the first one being the largest and the upper cave being the most slippery as the rain water dropped down from the ceiling turning the marble tile floor into a giant slip-and-slide. Had a meeting at 18:00 with Ko Aung (our guide for our three day trek) back at the hotel. Seems like a nice trek – quite long daily distances but on, relatively, flat terrain (well, in comparison to what we are used to!!). Watched the sun set from the hotel roof terrace before going to the local Nepalese restaurant – we’ve both been craving Dal Bhat for ages and we were both secretly hoping there would be momos, but no such luck!! Back at the hotel to repack our bags for the trek and watched a couple of episodes of ‘Friends’.
Saturday 28th May 2016