Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Myanmar Motorcycle Epic 4: Up to the Chin State!

It was a very cold January morning as I left Bagan before the sun had come up. In the early morning darkness, there was confusion. A guest leaving before the 7 AM free breakfast had the staff in a tizzy. Worked out in my favor. You may remember from a couple blogs ago how I was happy to get a rate of 45 per night for my nice hotel room. At check out, there were two problems. First, I noticed at the last minute that my laundry package didn’t include their most important content: my socks and underwear. So, as I was preparing to leave, the hotel staff went scurrying about looking for my missing small things. They found them, and didn’t charge me for their cleaning. At check out, I put down my 90,000 Kyats (45K x2) and said thank you. 

Oh no sir, they told me the rate had been 45 US Dollars per night, not 45 thousand Kyats. This was a difference of about 25%. Now wait a minute here. That's not right. Two things worked in my favor: the laundry mixup and the fact that at 6:45 AM, none of the hotel’s management staff were awake, and the line workers were too scared to confront me, and so when I said that the rate that had been agreed upon was 45,000 Kyats per night, they just said okay.

Off into the very, very cold morning air.  I really wasn’t entirely sure where I’d end up at the end of my journey. The immediate goal was the town of Saw which lay at the base of the hills up into Chin State. If I needed to find accommodation there because I was worn out from the trip, I would do so, but if not, I could continue up to Kanpetlet, a Chin village way high in the clouds.
So I saw Saw. Not much to see in Saw. The local tourist bureau has been trying to attract visitors using a very catchy slogan: See Saw! Unfortunately, things have been rather up and down since adopting See Saw.
I like her. She brought me sausage. 
I did see the local chief in Saw. As I stopped for lunch, a man wearing a uniform and a name badge was introduced to me as being the head of the local somethingorother department. He came off as being an important guy. Mayoral. Then he sat down at noon to drink a pint of whiskey.

Off to Kanpetlet! I was quite proud of myself when I was able to read the following sign in Burmese. The first letter was a “K” and the second was an “N”. The stuff above and below were vowel markers, meaning this sign most certainly pointed to “Kan…something”… What else could it be?

I'm pretty sure this says "Welcome to Chin State" which
would explain the photo seekers.
Lovely, smooth, although occasionally gravelly road leading up to Kanpetlet, 2800m, 9000 feet above sea level. Along with the brisk air, I saw lots of old Chin women with their tattooed faces. It’s a custom up there that when you get married, a woman gets tattoos all over her face so that she’ll be too ugly for other men to covet. Seriously. That’s the tradition. 
The view from the hotel bungalow.

My favorite moment of this day came at the very end. It’s very hard to see in the video because of the lighting, but as we going back to my hotel, I witness a group of Chin people trying to strap a young pig to the back seat of a motorcycle. Not a dead pig, mind you, a living squealing healthy young pig. I guess I just have to trust that they’d done it before, because they had absolutely no success trying to bungee cord a living squirming animal to the back of a motorbike. I have enough concerns with my inanimate backpack.

Lastly, I have to comment on a computer problem I’ve been having, and you’re just going to have to bear with me if you enjoy my travel videos. I’m having a problem with rendering, the process by which a digital piece of work gets converted into a publishable format. When I render, I get this inexplicable flickering effect for which I apologize. I can’t find any reference to similar problems on the web and it’s not because I’m making fancy video with lots of effects. I’ve made short, simple trial videos at low res, and I have the same problem. Well, please enjoy the 80% of this vid that isn’t messed up, and if you happen to be epileptic, please don’t watch at all

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