Sunday, March 4, 2012

Umbrellas for every day of the week



Last Friday, our flight out of Yangon to Bangkok was at 10 AM.

It wasn't too early, but I would have preferred to get more sleep and perhaps a last relaxing breakfast in the garden of our lovely hotel, the Governor's Residence, operated by the Orient-Express.

As it was, I had a quick bowl of mohinga and a glass of carrot juice for breakfast, and then it was off in the car to the airport.

WORTH EVERY DOLLAR

The Orient-Express, which operates a luxury hotel in Yangon and an equally luxurious river boat between Bagan and Mandalay, is pricey but it's very good at taking care of its passengers.

So in a country with not too much tourist infrastructure like Myanmar, it's a very much welcome feature.


The same guide who'd picked us up from the airport upon our arrival in Yangon on Day 1 was there to take us back to the airport on our last day.

She called it "holding your hand like a baby" but I was really happy she did it.

She took us all the way to the security check, got a porter for our luggages and slipped her Yangon mobile number into my pocket in case we had any troubles or questions before flying out of Myanmar.

Or perhaps if we just wanted to say hello.

QUESTION OUT OF NOWHERE


On the way to the airport, we talked about a lot of things concerning local culture and customs.

Then, a question popped into my head. I asked her: "Do you get many Filipinos as Orient-Express clients?"

She replied: "Actually, not many. But last month we had some Philippine clients and a few years back we had the family of an important government official on board."

How very small Manila's world is, as I knew who these clients were, and one of them was actually a friend of mine.

NICER THAN MANILA

Finally we reached Yangon International Airport, which, incidentally, is nicer than anything we have in Manila.

It's clean, bright and pretty nicely designed, with a big and colorful mural on the way up to the departure lounge.


We had an hour to kill before boarding so I made the rounds of the souvenir shops -- as if I still had not had enough of shopping.

I'd already appropriated some of my companion's luggage allowance, but I was still 5 kilos overweight.

Fortunately the check-in lady didn't seem to mind. That put me in the mood for more shopping, even if it was for kitschy stuff.

Anything made in Yangon would be hard to get in Manila anyway.


I was toying with the idea of getting another lacquer box when a display of beautiful parasols had caught my eye.

I'd already bought a pretty red parasol in Bagan and had somehow succeeded in packing this into my suitcase.

And now here were a dozen parasols for sale and all at reasonable prices.

AN INSPIRED DECISION

What was I going to do with so many Burmese parasols, you might be wondering.

Well, in two of Yangon's fanciest restaurants, which we'd eaten in, we'd had dinner in the garden and both gardens had been so splendidly lit up with these types of parasols.

I was so inspired by the gardens of the restaurant of the Governor's Residence and of Le Planteur, that I decided to get not only the parasols, but also the very large garden.

But more on that in a later post.


After a bit of haggling -- "The first customer will bring you good luck," I said cheerily. To which the lady replied with evident satisfaction: "Actually, you're my third customer."


Not one to lose a beat, I then switched tack: "The third customer will bring you even more luck," I said.

We soon came down to prices we both could live with and I went back to the departure lounge to deposit my bundle of parasols with my hard-working companion, sitting amidst all our carry-on luggage.

We'd had absolutely no Blackberry service in Myanmar for over a week, you see. And the first Blackberry service we were getting was going to be at Bangkok Airport.

My companion, who had been furiously at work on his Blackberry, preparing everything for "SEND" as soon as our plane touched down in Bangkok and we got re-connected to the real world, looked up and said, dead-pan: "I'm not even going to ask what those are for."

I was glad he said that as it gave me an opportunity not to answer.

And, now, in Manila, I'm hoping it rains again soon as I have a lot of parasols to use. A different one for every day of the week, in fact, in our never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.


ON SALE EVERYWHERE NOW




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