Hehe Airport is the nearest airport to Inle Lake and this morning we flew from here back to Yangon. An internal flight in Myanmar is quite the experience. At check-in you are provided with a hand-written boarding pass without your name on it or assigned seat. ID is not requested. Luggage is left with a pile of other bags near the desk and a sticker is stuck on it. No baggage receipt is provided. Going through security I attempted to put my wallet and phone into a tray so it would pass through the scanner but the security guard gestured for me not to bother. Obviously this set off the metal detector alarm which meant that I got a bit of a pat down. Nobody bothered to look at my wallet or phone which I was holding above my head at this point. There are also no video screens to display the flight status and there’s no tannoy announcement regarding boarding. Instead a member of staff walks around with a sandwich board indicating that a flight is about to depart, prompting a Ryanair-style (in the days before assigned seating) rush to board. There was no need as the aircraft was less than half full and made up of almost entirely tourists. After about an hour in the air, the propeller plane made it to Yangon. It was a pleasant surprise that everyone’s luggage also arrived.
Yangon was ridiculous hot. If it wasn’t my last afternoon there I wouldn’t have bothered to venture out. I just about made it up the road to Kandawgyi Park, with its iconic lake and bridges. The bridges are currently being repaired and I can see why. After taking a few steps onto one, it was as rickety as anything and creaking in a slightly worrying manner.
Later in the afternoon Coco took us on a walk around downtown Yangon. It mostly covered markets although we finished off by walking down Pansodan Street. Here there’s still some nice colonial architecture, albeit some of which is looking a bit shabby nowadays. Afterwards we got the bus up to Shwedagon Pagoda, perhaps Yangon’s most famous landmark. The whole complex is said to be one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites. Its centrepiece is the huge and spectacular Golden Pagoda which looked amazing as the sun went down.
After celebrating the final night in Myanmar with a group meal, some of the people more inclined to partying stayed out a bit later. Yangon isn’t one of those cities where you can blindly wander around and stumble upon bars. Nightlife does exist though and via TripAdvisor we managed to find a street with a few late-opening establishments. We ended up in Pioneer. I haven’t been in this sort of loud, dance-style of nightclub for about ten years. Even then I’d have felt fairly old! I don’t think they get many westerners in there judging by some of the double-takes we were getting. It was friendly enough though. I asked one of the bouncers where the toilet was and he personally escorted me across the club and into the bathroom. Afterwards he was waiting outside to take me back to my mates. Although slightly weird, you don’t get this sort of attention back home.
All in all it was a good night and a nice way to end what has been a really good time in Myanmar. It’s a lovely country, the people are really nice, our group was great, as was Coco the tour guide. He seemed sincerely grateful that we were visiting his country. During the past couple of weeks, Coco told us some sad stories from his life. However he did say that while Myanmar still has some ongoing issues, the country is improving and he seemed quite optimistic for the future.