Thursday, February 27, 2014

Day 48 - Myanmar (Burma): Mawlamyine, Now this is what I expected Myanmar to be like....

I ventured to the bus station at 5:45am - with Alberto heading to the airport. ;(

It was a usual South East Asia bus with overcapacity (middle seats to make 5 rows across), 1970s patterned curtains, good luck flowers hanging from the front bumper and surprisingly HD quality TVs playing Burmese soap operas and music videos at a tolerable noise level. I tuned out the Myanmar programming on the TV until I heard the familiar tune "You give love a bad name" sung in Burmese by a woman doing silly dances that caused quite a bit of laughter from the passengers. As the only tourist on the bus, I was probably the only one to truly appreciate the Bon Jovi classic.

After merely 7 hours, I arrived to Mawlymine In the South of Mynamar. Getting the lay of the land, tourists were few and far between and the locals cheerfully smiled with betal stained red teeth. Betal is a nut sometimes mixed with tobacco and spices, wrapped in a lime-coated banana leaf that locals chew, leaving red vampire-like stains on the teeth and lips after being spat out in viscous pools on the ground). 

I watched a group of boys playing foot volley and kicked a few return balls back to them. 

I followed some locals into a dessert shop and did my usual, "I'll have what she's having" and ended up with Falooda, a sweet drink with ice cream and pink tapioca balls.

The day ended with a peaceful sunset at Kyaikthanlan pagoda on a hill with 6 other tourists and locals.

According to a CNN article in Nov 2013, "around 600 million people worldwid are thought to chew betel quids, making them the fourth most commonly used psychoactive substance after tobacco, alcohol and caffeinated drinks." Chewing is addictive and can lead to an increased risk of oral cancer.

NEXT STOP: Visit to Ogre Island 

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