December 2, 2014

flight to inle lake

i'm tired of the slow trains and sad buses so i've decided to fly.  once again, i have not planned far enough ahead so after i get into Mandalay i jump on the internet to see if I can book a flight for the next morning to Inle Lake.  let's just say that didn't happen so i don't have to detail again how anything involving the internet, airlines and credit cards don't work in Myanmar at the moment.   in the morning i taxi out to the airport hoping to find a seat on a flight.  it was a bit of a gamble as the airport is an hour outside the city.  in the middle of nowhere.  when i get to the airport i find the airline i think will be safest.  i'm out of khat so I need to pay with US dollars.  what ensues is comical.  it's a $60 flight and i'm down to my last dollars which have previously been rejected by other vendors so I know this is going to be a bit dicey.  there are three airline agents crowded around the ticket counter inspecting every one of my dollars and asking for more, conferring about a tiny fold in the corner on one and a possible stain on another - holding each bill up to the light for whatever reason i don't even know.  soon there is about $250 in cash spread across the counter as they continue to debate which dollars are the best.  some other guy who i think is a porter starts to handle some money and I ask him politely not to touch my money.  it's surreal.  fifteen minutes later they eventually take the most acceptable bills and give me a ticket and the rest of my cash back.

ticket in hand I head off to find an ATM so i don't run into this problem again and tucked away in the corner I find a cafe.  with an espresso machine, air conditioning and fresh croissants.  it is quiet and there are clean comfortable chairs.  it is so vastly different from the raw hot sweaty loud dirty world that is myanmar.  it isn't until i am sitting quietly in the stillness of the cafe that i realize how overwhelming the sights and sounds and chaos of this country can be.  the moment ends too quickly as i must go to catch my flight.  

tagged with an orange circle marked HEHO i'm rounded up and sent out to a plane.  SE Asia is the only place in the world where flights routinely take off BEFORE they are scheduled and in this case we leave 15 minutes early.  crazy.

the plane isn't as scary as i've read about.  just a twenty minute flight and then i'm down at HEHO.  whatever, that's the code for the inle lake airport.   it's still another 30 minute ride to get into Nyang Shwe which is on the north side of the lake i share it with two swiss guys who are mega travelers and just arrived to Myanmar.

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