This post is a follow up from my previous Yangon post. Sun Young, Janice and Grace went separate ways as they had more time exploring Myanmar. The three of them were headed to Kyaityo to see the Golden Rock. As for me,it was Bago. I did a research on Bago a week before my trip but I did not think it was necessary to go. Bago is a small town 70km away from the former capital Yangon. As I mentioned earlier in my last post, I bought the bus ticket to Bago out of impulse as I wanted to do something else other than walking around Yangon.
I set off quite early in the morning at 7.45am. I told the guest house staff that I need a taxi to bring me to Aung Mingalar Bus Station. So what they did was to call one of their neighbours living on the 4 th level of the shop house to drive me in their Toyota Saloon that was probably from the 70s. Not that I hate riding on antique cars but what really annoys me is that I had to wait for him to finish breakfast before he could send me off to the bus station. While waiting for the “King” to finish his breakfast (the irony), Sun Young and I took a photo together. Sun Young makes an awesome travel buddy because her bargaining skills are superb. Please, someone slap me hard. I totally forgot to tell Grace and Janice to take photos together! Hope to bump into them in Singapore one day.
The time from my guest house to Aung Mingalar Bus Station was a dreaded one hour. I hate the car. It has a huge hole on the right passenger seat. Now that is an antique you don’t need to bargain hard for a good price. At last, Aung Mingalar Bus Station. The moment I got off the car, people were asking me where was I headed to. I showed them my ticket and they stopped asking me loads of question. Aung Mingalar Bus Station looked pretty cool. The bus station made up of an L-shape row of shop houses. The moment I stepped in to the waiting area, the locals were all looking at me. I was the only the tourist. Yes, the only tourist in the bus station. Girls selling drinks and souvenirs approached. Many smiled at me. They were all nice. I noticed a girl kept smiling at me and she even blushed. Lets name her May. Perhaps May was waiting for me to propose to her and run far far away together. I am so delusional. =S
So it was time to board the bus. May followed me to the boarding area and kept her wide smile open for me. She stood outside the bus and just looked and even winked. I was probably the ideal Asian man for her. NOT.
The cheap bus to Bago wasn’t what I expected. It was non-air conditioned and cramp and people were storing their live produce in the luggage box. Fish, squid just name it and there you have it. It was going to be a smelly 2 hour ride but it was quite fun! I pre-booked the front seat and almost got into a fight with a guy who took my seat but the bus conductor ask him to get off. To pre-book, simply go to http://www.smellybusdotcom . Like seriously were you following what I said? Nah I was just kidding. To pre -book just tell them your preferred seat when you book through the bus operator. As simple as that. I bid goodbye to May and she waved at me with glee.
We passed by acres of rice padi fields. Warthogs and cows roamed freely at the countryside. It was indeed a beautiful sight. Two hours later, I reached Bago and I was greeted with my worse nightmare. A mob of at least 15 people surrounded me. They pulled me. Some pulled my limbs like I was a recalcitrant Spanish bull. Some pulled my bag. The only thing that came out from their mouths were COME TO MY HOTEL! I GIVE YOU GOOD PRICE! HOT SHOWER! How cute. It felt like they were going for a casting audition with the same script for the extra role. It was an eye opener and my nightmare quickly turned into an experience I will never forget. I really did not know who to follow till I noticed a guy a few years older than me and I went to him. His name is Kopio. He is 27 years old and his brother owns a hotel. He took me to the hotel on his motobike.
The name of Kopio’s brother’s hotel is Empress Hotel. It is more of a guest house. The place is not exactly a luxury but for the price which is a mere USD7.00 per night, I couldn’t ask for more. It comes with an attached bathroom, queen size bed, air condition and cable TV. The place is exceptionally clean and decent.
The temple tour organised by Kopio was hot and tiring but I really enjoyed it. As soon as I Kopio dropped me off at the guest house lobby, a local man approached me. He introduced himself as Tay. We chatted with each other briefly. He decided to invite me to his home. I wasn’t sure of this but he insisted. He took me on his motorbike. Along the way, I kept thinking to myself, whatever happens, I will accept it be it a robbery or even die there if he were to murder me.