Mr T. and Mr. P.’s impromptu tour involved jumping on a local bus for a few minutes – a great experience within itself. Crammed with locals that giggled away at the sight of tourists taking a bus instead of a taxi. We giggled back at the sight of a huge spare tyre in the middle of the floor and the sheer noise of the bus rattling and chugging down the street. My girlfriend pointed out that the buses in Yangon must be ex-Japanese models that were sold on cheap many decades ago. This was obvious from all the Japanese writing inside them.
We jumped off the bus and onto a local bicycle-taxi who peddled us through the afternoon traffic, again we were a typical pair of giggling tourists. We arrived at the harbour where swarms of locals were boating across the huge river to their homes on the other side. Mr. T. explained that they come to the city for their daily business and then head back at dusk to their families. I couldn’t believe how many there were. Everyone was clambering into these noisy little motor boats that pulled up and shot off like bees swarming around their hive. Although the whole scene appeared to have little order or safety provisions Mr. T. went onto explain that there are legal rules that the drivers have to abide by. Apparently only 12 persons are allowed to a boat and all are fitted with life vests. This is because during the monsoon season the trip is notoriously dangerous and many of the boats capsize. As such, the government has strictly forbidden the locals to allow tourists to travel in them – regardless of the price they (we) may offer.
At the end of a short pier there were some hefty cruisers that did the longer trip to Delta and back. The sun was setting as the ships departed. Many of the locals were just sitting around watching it all happen, they had probably seen it all a hundred times before but they remained as equally entertained as we did.
Mr. P & Mr. T. then took us to see a night market where you could buy all sorts of meats, fish and fruit, as well as a few extraordinary culinary delicacies – Mr T. was particularly fond of fried grass-hoppers…but we weren’t so keen to give them a try.
After browsing the stalls and chatting with the locals we headed back to the camera shop to find a fully functioning camera waiting for us. The zoom cylinders had required a complete replacement which they were able to accomplish within 3 hours and for the agreeable price of $25 (about £15). It was at this point we parted ways with Mr T. & Mr P. and headed home for the night. They had shown us a great deal and proved to be entertaining hosts. I gave them $10 each for their efforts and they were eternally grateful.
-To be continue-