Friday, January 2, 2015

This is Burma: From Mawlamyine to Hpa An

I wasn't expecting Mawlamyine to be so beautiful... not until that train roll into town.  The last couple shots from the previous video were taken from in front of my guesthouse on the Strand Road, along the river.  My host called it the most beautiful sunset in Myanmar, but of course, he has a vested interest.  If I had known Mawlamyine had more to offer, I would have given it more time on my itinerary that just the one day. I didn't. Day two was about getting up to Hpa An in Kayin State.

I'm an early riser, regardless of the circumstances. More so now as I'm getting older. I can no longer sleep in until 11 or noon, as I used to do as a young person.  Impossible.  If I get up at 8:30 AM, that's sleeping in for me. My situation is exacerbated by being in a hotel. I was up and about and able (sort of) to explore Mawlamyine very early in the morning. I think I got some good shots from the hilltop temple.

Then, it was time for the tourist ferry to Hpa An. I like boat rides.  Years ago, before they improved the road from the capital of Myanmar's Mon State to the capital of Myanmar's Kayin State, everyone took the ferry.  Nowadays, there is no longer a public ferry even offered.  Instead, people take the bus. Tourists take a little, rickety tiny boat that in no way could be considered a 'ferry'.

What can I say? This is a TRAVEL blog! It's about going from one place to another, and for the first two days of my recent vacation, that's all I did: travel!

And get in altercations with French people. When the train dropped me off in Mawlamyine Station, I got a one dollar mototaxi ride to my guesthouse, the one that was recommended on LonelyPlanet and Wikitravel, ground zero for tourists in Myanmar's third largest city.

Maybe it is because I've been living alone for the these last 8 years or so. Maybe I'd had a few too many Myanmar beers.  Whatever.  I was settling into my $10/night room at the cheap backpacker hostel in Mawlamyine and needed to take one final pee. These rooms did not include en suite bathrooms. I walk out my door and was immediately accosted by my French neighbor. She attacked me for being far too loud in my settling in.  Mind you, I was on my own.  I wasn't talking to anyone, just making my natural settling in noises.  I wasn't being loud, or even if I were, it would end quickly when I went to bed. I had no idea what she was talking about. I stood there and withstood her scolding for a full minute or so.

Finally, I just told her: Fuck Off. 

Her husband came bustling out wherever he was hiding and got in my face. He was three inches shorter than me, and I outweighed him by at least 50 pounds. "WHAT DID YOU SAY TO MY WIFE? HOW DARE YOU?!?"  Jesus Christ.  If your wife wasn't such a bitch, maybe you two would making noises of your own.

Regardless, as other guests and the hotel staff started to crowd around us in hopes of avoiding a possible fistfight, I decided to half apologize. I said that instead of telling the guy's wide to fuck off, what I should have said was 'I'm sorry'. He took this as an apology and we all went to bed.

C'mon, lady.  I'm sorry if I farted, blew my nose or made grunting noises beyond your ability to handle it, but for $10/night, whatchya expect, the Hilton?

As I've already said, I rode the tourist ferry up to Hpa An.  Guess who happened to be seated directly in front of me in the two-seat-wide little boat for four hours?  That same French couple.


  1. Looks like a wonderful day. The French are horrible in France too. Also the French Candians are a bit rude here in Florida.

  2. Suggestion for what to do about the next French-type person you meet:
    1. If you don't have your video camera but it's close, say "please wait here", go get it.
    2. Say "could you please repeat what you said before?", then record him/her doing so
    3. Say "thank you" and turn away. (Do not respond to their complaint.)

    The theory of this is that people know when they're being nasty, and they will wonder what you're going to do with a recording of them doing so. This should defuse the original issue.


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