|Surprise! Surprise! The train was so comfy we decided to sign up for another 17 hours and keep heading north all the way to Myitkyina! Comfort has become a relative term of course. We had a private room with 2 bunks, and little table that turned out to have a nasty sink hiding under it, and a mouse hole. It didn’t seem to of been cleaned since the train was built, which must have been 100 years ago (only a slight exaggeration), and the bathroom was public and horrific. Roll up your pants, hold your breath and step carefully, with headlamp on. It became a bit of a rude joke, but we still managed to feel like Queens in our private cabin.
Unknowingly, we’d signed up for the mail train so we stopped in every little town along the way. But in every little town there were hawkers selling snacks and whiskey at our window. The whiskey was tempting, and the most readily available beverage, but Queens drink tea. With some poor english and sign language we could usually convince a kid to run off and find us some, served in a plastic bag, complete with straw. The more tea we drank, the more we had to visit the loo, but it was worth it. The scenery out the window was superb, the food, hit and miss, usually hits, and we had two excellent sleeps. The trip turned out to be 30 hours in total, and not a minute to long.
We arrived in Myikyina at midnight, and were so comfortable, that the train unloaded and pulled aside. They were “cleaning” the train when they discovered two foreigners, locked in our cabin, sound asleep. Getting a room in the middle of the night was a bit of a task, but we pulled it off and zonked out for the rest of the night.
The morning was a lazy one. We slept in, enjoyed breakfast, and took full advantage of our overpriced hot shower. Then it was time to change hotels, and I was itching to get to the internet, which is always a gamble. It may work, probably not. The government (I’ll just call them assholes from now on), has restricted what sites can be accessed. The savy, more touristy places have found a way around it, but not the smaller shops. This was a case of the latter. I could open my hotmail, and see that I had one message from Dawn, and 3 from my folks, but not read them or send a reply. Holy f’n frustrating. What timing to re-enter the 1900’s !%!&?!! I thought it might drive me mad, but I managed to block it out, and enjoy the surroundings.
The city is beautiful and green, the people shout out “hello!” (usually we’d already passed by before they’d get the courage up), and then break into giggles, and the market was full of goodies. We’d decided to rent a motorbike for the day for some personalized touring. The guy delivered the bike to our hotel, turned it off, and then couldn’t get it to start again, much embarrassment. Happy that it hadn’t happened to us in the middle of nowhere, we decided it might be easier and safer to hire a tuk-tuk of sorts. Every town seems to have a slightly different version, and these ones have comfy seats and a behemoth of a bike to tow it around. We ended the tour at a river side tea shop, snacking and smiling, happy to of decided to come so far north.
After unsuccessfully trying the internet again, AARRGGHH!!!, we headed out to a late diner. We decided on the nicest restaurant in town and were shocked when we got there. Some kind of celebration for assholes had just ended. There was police everywhere, and you had to pass through a metal detector to enter. The staff quickly whisked us off to a private cabana and we devoured an amazing diner for under $5. While sitting, trying to get up the energy to move, we looked at each other and started laughing. There was those silly grins again. We’d had them on our faces since we’d got on the train, and couldn’t get rid of them, not that we tried very hard. I did actually try once, but it didn’t last very long. It was paradise.
After a short sleep, we got up and headed out to the pier for the first leg of our river journey. Enroute we discovered just how much our “tour guide” hadn’t shown us, and then his tuk-tuk crapped out. Without feeling much guilt we quickly hopped in another, not giving him a penny. Some one else was driving his bike that morning, but we figured it all went to the same place. In the end I guess it all balances out.