At dinner I made the fatal mistake of thinking it was a good idea to try something Western on the menu before I left. It was not. I ordered ‘Maxican burger’. Maxican, whatever that was, it might have been, but burger it certainly wasn’t. It came with an enormous pile of skinny chips that I gave to a young English couple sitting nearby who told me that they had been teaching in South Korea.
At breakfast I donated all my tatty, indescribably worn, torn and dirty small kyat notes to the kitchen staff. It made an impressively large wad but probably was no more than a couple of dollars. No one minds the state of the local money but they refuse to take a US dollar that is not in pristine condition.
Sadly I had to leave Burma, and took a taxi through the heavy Sunday traffic to the airport. Remembering that I needed to get rid of my remaining kyats it is illegal to export them, and why would you when all they would be good for outside Burma would be to wallpaper the loo I scouted around for something to spend them on and opted for a four thousand kyat bottle of Mandalay rum, strictly as a souvenir of course.
Myanmar World Map Photo Gallery
In the departure lounge I observed the local attitude to litter. A plastic bag lay on the carpet. Two stewardesses stepped over it, one kicked it to the side. Other airport employees did the same. It occurred to no one to put it in the bin, even though, for a change, there was actually a bin in sight the only one I had seen in this area. I itched to pick up the bag before someone tripped on it it had already entangled a few feet but I was curious to see what happened. It was still there when I boarded the plane.
I arrived in Bangkok towards evening and with difficulty found a taxi. The driver shouted information at me for the entire hour it took to get downtown, only one word of which I understood ‘Bangkok’. In the central area of the town long avenues of trees were hung with masses of golden fairy lights that were just then coming on, making for a pretty sight in the grey cloud of approaching rain. Then, passing a big picture of Queen Sirikit, the driver shouted, ‘Clean’. I’m sure she is, but the other word he used escaped me. More pictures followed and I realised that it was her birthday and what he was saying was not ‘Clean birdie but ‘Queen birthday’. He added then that she was ‘one hundled an tenty. She would be thrilled. Probably have had him beheaded in the old days. I know she’s even older than I am, but 120! I don’t think so. I said, ‘Queen Sirikit and King Bhumipol and impressed him no end. I am always surprised at how much the Thais love their royal family. Then there were pictures of the crown prince. I rather hoped my driver would tell me he was the Clown Plince but he didn’t.
At Kho San Street the evening was thick with drunken louts of tourists. Moving into my room at the Palace, I decided to try a wee sip of my four dollar bottle of rum But when I opened it, I discovered that it was not intended for keeping. The lid did not screw back on. You were meant to get it all down in one go. Of course I couldn’t waste it, so life was a little hazy from then on.