9/15Wiki Info MeiktilaWiki Info Bago
The very nice folks at Remember Inn
saw to it that we could have our banana/honey pancakes at 6:15am so we could catch an early sangthau (an open 'taxi/truck') to Shwenyaung junction. After only a block of walking a taxi stopped and offered a ride there for only 500 k. (75 cents US) more so we went with him. Got to the jnct. and onto a bus to Meiktila, a transport hub, so that 6 hours later and 8000 k. poorer we arrived at 1pm. Here we encountered some language difficulties... We could go to Bago by motorcycle or 3 wheeler for 1500 k and ??? hours or another fellow said another option was just 4 blocks away. We had at least 3 'helpers' get us there where the options were 1) AC express 11000 each and 2+ hours, 2:30-4:30! Cheaper? we asked and after some discussion among themselves and their adamant proposal that the express was a big bus to which we said 'too expensive' they finally took the hint and suggested 2) Mini-bus at 3:30 for 6500 k. Okay! Sealed the deal with smiles all around. Still no idea how long it will take to get to Bago!!!
Three came and went and at 3;30 the lady (who was helping us most and spoke minimal English) motioned for us to follow her with our packs and we walked a couple blocks to another private 'bus stop', her mothers place. After some time on the phone and then retrieving a gentleman from next door who spoke English pretty well all became clear.
He said that the mini-bus would not be going today (later we put together that there was a motor problem to be fixed) and our only options were to get our money back or take the night bus leaving at 8pm and arriving in Bago at 4am which would entail paying 4000 k. more. Our meager supply of khat is quickly dwindling but as Bon is quick to remind me (in my heated, agitated, irritated, disappointed state which later she pointed out was NOT helpful in the problem/solution situation we faced at the time) that it saves us $$$ in an overnight. But, of course,it totally defeats the purpose of going during the daytime since the night bus travels the only part of the journey we haven't seen!!
Our emergency sardines and crackers comes in handy since our money has now been spent on unplanned transport. I also took the opportunity to 'blow' another 700 k. (about $1 US) on a haircut since we now get to wait another 4+ hours here. Darkness comes, our AC express bus arrives, we say goodbye to our helper lady and away we go having the back of the bus to choose from and 2 seats each to 'sleep' in. At midnight the bus stops for a break and Bon and I sit to contemplate our situation.
1) We can get off at Bago where the bus station is just a few hundred meter from the train station...Bon has read in the LP that trains go to Yangon for only $2 US each day and the station in Yangon is much closer to Motherland 2 (where we booked and paid for our overnight before we left 2 weeks earlier) than the bus station which is almost an hour out and cost 7000 k. for a taxi to get to Motherland 2. We can then see the sights in Bago that might not cost much by walking or whatever...the LP says entry fee of $10 US is necessary or alternatively pay a motorcycle guide the $$$ and he can get you into some of the sights without the entry fee paid to the government.
2) We will be arriving in the dark and we won't have any place to leave our luggage other than ask at one of the accommodations if they would 'store' it while we do the tourist thing. This may not be possible and we might have to wait several hours to get info on a train which may or may not be available...this being Sunday. Our tickets are paid to go all the way to Yangon where it may cost the same 7000 k. we'd spend on Bago to get to Motherland 2 plus we could rest there...sleeping on the bus is not really possible.
We finally come to the conclusion that given the uncertainties of getting off in Bago we will continue on to Yangon and miss Bago! We tell the 'conductor' fellow who gives us a puzzled look but nevertheless, now we can rest onward without thinking about what we'll do. When we get to our seats, a very nice Burmese fellow (they all are that way it seems) tells us in broken English that the bus really does not go into Bago, it would drop us off 24 miles from Bago from where we'd have to pay a taxi to get into town!! This,of course, clinches our decision, as sad as it makes Bon!
At 3:15 the bus stops again and the 'conductor' guy wakes us to tell us we are at the get off for Bago! Clearly, our communications skills are lacking but we reconfirm that we wish to continue on to Yangon. Fifteen minutes later we arrive in the Yangon bus station, ha! So much for arriving at 4:30am...a taxi after some haggling from 10000 to down to 7000 (which is probably twice what the locals pay anyway but Bon hangs tough) brings us to Motherland 2. Just a slight delay while the driver breaks off the key in the trunk lock and deals with it and then the kindly door 'guard' carries our bags in to the lobby where we crash for 2 hours on their not-so-comfortable wood chairs waiting to check in.