The taxi took me a long way, several miles at least, along a six-lane highway absolutely devoid of traffic. On both sides was green, empty bush edged with newly planted trees and centred by a median strip filled with flowering bushes and shrubs. When the trees are avenues they will be lovely. But why all the open country of bush between everything? After twenty minutes of fast driving I saw the first building, a massive hotel, then there were more half-finished three or more storeyed buildings. More open space followed, as all the while we travelled along these great wide highways, intersected now and then by big, high roundabouts topped by a gigantic rose, in one place red, another yellow.
Finally we came to the hotel zone, one of the several separate zones into which the city is divided. All foreigners have to stay in the hotel zone and some zones, like the one for government buildings and the generals houses, are off limits. There are some colossal hotels in the hotel zone, each surrounded by large grounds, trees and neon lights. The Tungapura, the almost-new hotel I had bloged, was great. Superficially. Flaws appeared on closer inspection. The marble wash basin was cracked, some lights didn’t work, and the elaborate fancy curtains wouldn’t draw without considerable assistance.
Burma Or Myanmar Map Photo Gallery
For the first time in Burma the hotel asked to be paid in kyats, telling me that if I paid in dollars it would be converted at an abysmal rate. I had just enough kyats for one night, but the next day was Saturday and the bank was closed. ‘Oh, well, as Scarlett O’Hara said on the last line of Gone with the Wind, ‘tomorrow is another day’.
My room on the first floor had terrific lights, even with some not working, and wide French windows that opened onto a ledge that looked as though it had been designed as a small balcony. But its edge was only four inches high. No cattle prod on earth would have got me out there. The hotel foyer was marvellous and there were real plants here and there; even in my bathroom there was a pot of devil’s ivy. The bathroom was big and had a washing line that could be pulled across it. Now that really is encouraging washing. I complied and soaped up a storm
Later, as the sole diner in an empty expanse of restaurant, I provided entertainment for the two lonely waitresses. Then I slept well despite being lost in a king-sized bed.
The next morning, afer a substantial buffet breakfast, I asked at reception about transport. There was no public transport or trishaws, only taxis at fifteen dollars an hour. This was dear by Burmese standards but there was no option here. I had to use a taxi. The driver spent an hour trying to find a money changer for me. First he took me to the supermarket, a huge shopping centre in the shopping zone and a fifteen minute drive from the hotel section, again through open country on massive freeways. At the money changer there the staff didn’t have the key to the money box! I waited, but when the person who should have had the key was located, she couldn’t find it.
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