50 things we’ve learnt during our 27 days in Myanmar.

1. They drive on the right but it’s 50/50 what side the steering wheel is on. 

2. If the vehicle is not air conditioned, expect everything open… Including the boot. 

3. Rickshaws have 2 seats in a side car – one facing forward and one facing backwards. In Mandalay, these rickshaws are motorbikes. 

4. There is a brand of ION drink called ‘Pocari Sweat’. 

5. There is a device used in the bus station to stop exhaust fumes going into the waiting area (it’s half an oil drum on its side!). 

6. The underside luggage compartment on a bus is used as a seat for fruit and food sellers until it has to leave. 

7. Music videos in Myanmar feature torture with quite high frequency… 

8. You make a kissing noise to get people’s attention… Waiters, shop keepers, taxi drivers – anyone!!

9. Lychee Fanta is incredible and is definitely THE drink of our Myanmar trip. 

10. Children in Myanmar stare at you as if you have five heads until their parents hit them (gently) and tell them to wave hello. 

11. Stay away from green fish on a stick – my tummy turned funny just looking at it!

12. Tourists walking around a local market get treated like royalty. 

13. Some men don’t wear anything under their longyi (we’ve seen far too much!!)

14. Women and children rub thanakha (yellow sandalwood like paste) on their faces to protect themselves from the sun. 

15. Why drive your scooter to your destination when you can tie it on top of the bus and relax instead?!?

16. Discounts are offered in Bagan for every occasion – Rainy day discount, sunset discount, first/last customer discount, ’cause you are beautiful’ discount… The list goes on!!

17. Tea mix in a sachet… Jayne is in heaven!

18. Hotel owners are fully aware that there is limited accommodation choices and price their rooms accordingly… We’ve paid more for a room here than we did in the Maldives. 

19. Food, on the other hand, is very cheap!

20. You have to let your motorbike cool down in the shade for 5 minutes if you’ve been driving too long. 

21. If you miss your stop (or need to transfer to a different bus) the driver pays your fare. 

22. It’s perfectly acceptable to stop the entire bus so you can do some pottery shopping. 

23. Being a passenger on a non-air conditioned bus is similar to sitting with a hairdryer blowing on your face… For 6 hours. 

24. Thunder and lightening is called ‘electricity in the rain’.

25. The only food available to you in a restaurant is the one that the waiter knows the translation for. 

26. The speed at which you visit a temple is dependant on how much of it is in the shade. Temples are also hazardous zones during rainy seasons with super slippery marble floors. 

27. Police are more concerned with you having an actual helmet rather than if it fits and is functional. 

28. We’ve been hassled for money by Buddhist monks in Myanmar more than anywhere or anyone else. 

29. School uniform – it doesn’t matter what they wear as long as it’s dark green on the bottom and white on top. 

30. The toilet paper and napkins remind me of crepe paper we used at school for arts and crafts. 

31. A hard hat is a suitable alternative to a motorbike helmet…

32. When driving an ebike uphill, the passenger may have to jump off and run – husky sleigh dog style.

33. A rain storm brings out hundreds of insects, frogs, lizards and giant snakes!!

34. It is perfectly acceptable to park your motorbike inside a temple if it is raining. 

35. Motorbike license plates are in written in Myanmar… Car license plates are in English… Large vehicles have their license plates also written on the sides!

36. Around 4 out of 5 tourists we met were planning to deliberately overstay their visa as it was only a $3 a day fine. However, the amount of times we had to show our passports at police check points, I’m not sure either of us would feel comfortable/confident doing that!

37. Fresco peanut butter wafer sticks are dangerously addictive. 

38. Sunflower seeds are the snack of choice in the cinema – and the seed shells get thrown all over the floor. 

39. Myanmar is the first country we’ve visited where tattoos have been common and visible – on the young and on the old, on men and on women. 

40. Firemen sit on top of the engines not inside and the truck siren sounds like a sick and dying bell. 

41. Sidewalks/Footpaths stink and are wobbly. They are effectively just a piece of concrete slab over the sewer. You only choose to walk on them when cars are parked too far on to the road. 

42. Myanmar beer is a chaser. They add Johnny Walker Black Label to their beer and can finish a large bottle quite easily in one sitting. 

43. They have a Myanmar version of some English songs – Ronan Keating and Westlife are popular!!

44. We’ve heard (but not seen) that they shoot fireworks into clouds to make it rain. 

45. The need for pristine US dollars is no longer necessary – there are ATMs everywhere – and whenever the price was in dollars, we were able to pay in kyat. 

46. Water is called ‘PH7’ on menus and hotel mini bar price lists. 

47. Our ‘Point It’ illustrated dictionary and a notebook have been the best (and sometimes only) tools of communication. 

48. Trains on the Yangon circle line don’t stop at all the stations… Sometimes they slow down just enough for people to jump on and off. 

49. The smallest denomination of money is 50 kyat but prices can be in denominations of 5. Supermarkets and restaurants just round your bill up or down (usually up!!). 

50. Haggling is not a custom in Myanmar – the people are so nice and honest, you are usually always given a good price – and it’s lovely! 

Bangkok, Travelling & Ayutthaya – day 246

Woke up to the busy sounds of the street outside, still both slightly shattered from the past month in Myanmar. Took our time getting ready to leave, knowing that we couldn’t check in to our hostel in Ayutthaya until the afternoon so there was no rush to leave Bangkok. Used the hostel wifi to order a few bits and pieces for Jayne to pick up when she is back in the UK (Jayne accused me of having a ‘massive spending spree’) whilst she tried to purchase a website domain for our blog. Went for a shower in the communal bathroom and I clearly won the hostel shower lottery. In my cubical, someone had left some Aussie hair care products – my hair was in heaven!! Although it then decided to punish me for mistreating it so badly over the past few months by going incredibly curly and unruly! Packed up our bags – it feels very weird to be back to two big backpacks after 10 weeks of just having one. The nice man in the hostel reception let me print and scan my ‘voting by proxy’ form so I could email to my electoral officer to vote in the EU referendum whilst Jayne continued sorting out website/blog stuff. Left the hotel and made our way down the familiar streets to the BTS sky train. Forgot how quickly the ticket barriers close and am now sporting a lovely bruise on my leg! Got the train to Victory Monument and tried to find the mini bus to take us to Ayutthaya. Slightly difficult since neither of us could pronounce it properly and the first bus conductor looked at us blankly before he shouted at a lady to come help. Clearly not the first tourists to be totally useless, she pointed us in the right direction and four bus conductors later, we were in the right place!!! Bought a ticket for us (for 60 baht each – about £1.20) and another seat to stow our bags so we didn’t have to sit with them on our laps. Jayne, fortunately, got to sit in the air conditioned mini bus but since I had the door seat I had to wait until the bus was full and everyone onboard before I could get in! Wasn’t all bad as I got to people watch, which I love. Took about 20 minutes for the mini bus to sell all fourteen seats and once I got in, the driver started packing bags and boxes of stuff all around us… Really glad we splurged on the extra seat now as we could barely move as it was! Headed down the motorway towards Ayutthaya – a very dull journey – Jayne passed the time playing angry birds and I read my book. Arriving in Ayutthaya, we walked to our hostel and checked in. Think we might be the only guests but we have a huge room with a fridge, dining table, TV, air con and use of a washing machine for £10 a night! After 8 months of travelling, the washing machine is a luxury that I just can’t wait to use and abuse. Headed down the road for a late lunch, grabbing a bowl of pork noodles in a street cafe – the broth smelt incredible from the street (which is what lured us in) and it tasted amazing.A quick stop off at the ‘7-eleven’ to grab some water and Milo ice cream before heading back to the hostel for the afternoon. We were very boring and spent the afternoon taking it easy – reading books and playing games before heading out to the night market. Full of amazing food (deep fried crickets, chicken legs or mealworms anyone?!?) and weird fruit drink concoctions, we were overwhelmed with the choice for dinner. Decided to have a food crawl progressive dinner, we started with some fried pork which we ate in the park next to some of the ruins and the lake.We then had some Pad Thai Noodles before finishing off our meal with a raisin waffle and some Milo chocolate. Back at the hotel to watch some ‘Friends’ episodes before falling asleep. 

Thursday 9th June 2016