The bus took us back to the bus station-styled airport terminal of Heho airport, for our last official day of the tour. We put our carry on luggage through the x-ray scanner at security and then went through the scanner which, unbelievably, was turned off so the security guard, briefly, checked us with a wand. The worst thing was Craig was let through without having to turn out his pockets which included his phone and wallet. Even more concerning though, a monk wasn't subjected to any checks, scanner nor wand!
The flight to Yangon was a very quiet journey and we were collected from the airport by Wyn (who had picked us up last week), our guide for the day. After getting checked in, back to Hotel Mawtin, we got organised and headed back out for some lunch. The first stop on the itinerary, after lunch, was to Bogyoke Aung San Market (formerly known as Scott Market), a colonial style building that now houses a massive market that sells artwork, jewellery, bolts of material, clothes and everything else that Myanmar offers.
Another early start, and we were off to Mandalay airport for our flight to Heho. At 25 minutes, we are pretty sure it was the shortest flight we have ever been on. The airport terminal was more like a bus terminal, and, after collecting our bags, were collected by our guide Momo. From the airport, the drive to Inle Lake took an hour, so we settled in and enjoyed the view as we drove.
Shwe Yan Pyay monastery was our first stop. It was built in 1888 and is a red teak structure on stilts. The monastery was built to provide shelter for orphaned boys in the village and it is still used for educating novice monks today. The oval windows used to house 2 stained glass windows from Italy but have sadly been destroyed.
From the rooftop of Bagan View Hotel, the sun crept slowly over the mountains to the east as the early morning haze started to dissipate, and then we saw them. 1 then 2, then the numbers grew as the swarm of hot air balloons slowly drifted past, west to east. It was a special sight, and with only a handful of us on the roof it was a very peaceful way to start our day.
Those of you who have been reading since the early days will remember when we visited Jasper in Canada we visited an abundance of lakes. So this here is the South East Asia version featuring more temples than we could possibly get round in 48 hours!
A 4am alarm and we were up and at 'em, ready to be collected. We were joined by 2 young Mexican guys and headed to the airport at 5am for our flight to Bagan - an ancient city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site with 3822 temples and pagodas. Thankfully it was a nice, quick flight and we were in Bagan just over an hour later. After being greeted by our guide for the next couple days, George, we paid our 25,000kyat (£12.50) each to allow us to enter the archeological zone for the duration of our stay and headed off.
Our first stop was to Bagan Market in Nyang-U. Now we must say, neither of us are big fans of markets, not least because we're rubbish at haggling. As soon as the door of the minivan opened, we were accosted by women trying the sell us postcards, magnets, make-up, traditional Burmese sun screen the lot! We managed to escape relatively unscathed other than some strange paste being put onto Katy's face. The obligatory once over confirmed we still don't like markets. Once we had reaffirmed our epiphany (especially this one, as Craig was too tall and kept banging his head) we found ourselves a little tea room and waited for the rest of our group with a green tea - much more peaceful!
The alarm felt very early at 07:00 (even earlier for Katy when Craig's went off at 06:20 for him to get up and watch the Packers game) and after getting ready and packed we headed out for our last meal in Thailand, breakfast at Nai Wiang. The taxi picked us up and in no time at all we were checked in, through security and facing immigration.