I’m back! You’re probably wondering now what has taken me so long to post this instalment……
After 18 hours of travel door to door I arrived early Saturday evening. Quick freshen up and then went straight into a meeting with our guide/translator, the camera crew (totalling 4 (plus a girlfriend)), and my brother Moe who’s assumed the position of director/producer. At the end of our chat, it dawns on me the schedule planned for the next six days will be pretty full, starting with a visit to The Governor’s Residence Hotel at 7.30 am (!)….I thought to myself I’ll probably be jet-lagged and wide awake by 3am anyway. Needless to say I was…
My first impression is Rangoon airport is bigger, cleaner and more efficient than how I remember. It took less than half an hour from passport control to collecting luggage. As I walked through, the customs declaration officer said something to me in Burmese. Then a few confusing moments exchanging sentences in broken Burmese (me) and broken English (said officer), blank looks all round and eventually both of us gave up with sentences (as a small queue was building up behind me), and a two worded, stunted conversation you often hear between foreigners followed;
Officer: ok (accompanied by an impatient waving hand to usher me along)
Up until that point I thought my understanding of the Burmese language was pretty good! Best stick to English and thank goodness Moe booked a guide/translator for the duration of our trip. Cultural identity can be confusing and frustrating.
In 2013 arriving through immigration was bedlam. Once through, you encountered hundreds of people awaiting relatives or friends, even more in numbers were taxi drivers, shouting at you from all directions vying for your custom. Today there were only a dozen or so, although this is partly due to it being a Sunday. The change took place as a consequence of regulations which led to the removal of unauthorised taxi drivers from entering the airport compounds.
As we drive to the hotel I immediately notice cars and taxis are modern, and no more of the 1960’s style cars which dominated the roads. I kind of miss them, though not being in one just looking at one from afar! (this experience will require a seperate post of its own later!). There seems to be fewer cars on the roads too. I’m told again, this is because it’s a Sunday. I later find out current statistics show there are 800, 000 cars on the roads in Burma and half of them (400,000) are registered in Rangoon. I’m not looking forward to travelling around in tomorrow morning’s rush hour, at all.
I should be tired but I’m too eager to try some food so we head out to Shan Yoe Yar restaurant….