Saturday, 8 March 2008

Day 290 - Bago (More problems, so going nowhere)

I am getting the feeling that I should never have come to this place!

From the moment I entered the airport at Dhaka, there has been one problem after another. First a delayed flight, then a missed flight, I was locked out of my hotel room, my bike got left behind at Bangkok, I have had all my money stolen and now the replacement funds have not turned up. I was assured by the embassy in Yangon that a CHAPS transfer was `almost instant`, but by the time that I had turned up there on Friday, 36 hours after the transaction had been initiated, it had still not arrived. To make matters worse it is now the weekend so still no money, oh, and the embassy in closed all day Monday for a one off training day, so no money until Tuesday at the earliest, that's assuming an instant transaction doesn't take more than 6 days! To cap it all I am going to have to pay the embassy 61 pounds for the privilege, so it's good to know that in your hour of need that rip off Britain is still fully functioning. That means I can not leave this place until Wednesday at the earliest. If I had any hair I would be tearing it out. If you haven't already realised it, I am getting just a bit pissed off now.

I was up at 6am on Friday and made the 2 1/2 hour bus ride to Yangon with Myakto as he goes there every Friday. Leg room was minimal shall we say, but at least I had a seat, there were plenty standing for the whole journey. I was on the Oakthar Express, but the word Express is used in the loosest terms, being rather slow and stopping all the time, no matter how packed the bus is already. By the time we were going through Yangon and stopping at lights it was getting uncomfortably hot, but at least it stopped right outside the embassy. Once they realised the money hadn't arrived they did their best to help me, but the most they could do was offer me 100 pounds, a bit risky if I end up another 3 weeks here and still without a flight out. So I resigned myself to be making another trip here on Tuesday and went to get the bus back, another 2 hour wait, oh joy! As I sat drinking tea somebody sat next to me and tried to have a conversation, but I wasn't in the mood for it, especially with questions like`Are you happy?`. My answer was pretty short, `No`. He wasn't put off by this and followed up with `Why not?`. I then decided it was best to just keep my mouth shut. The bus journey back was even worse, even less leg room and as I was right behind the driver I had to have my feet over a metal box, so after about an hour I had a really numb bum and no chance to move. I have said it before, but it is so much easier on a bike. Once I was back I went straight to Police Station No.2 to try and get a statement from them so that at least I can claim a little bit back on insurance. I was not surprised to be told to come back at 8am in the morning.

At 8am Saturday morning I was surprised to find that they had produced a report, even if it was only a short letter, though I wasn't too happy at having to sign their copy when I couldn't understand a single word. I refused at first but eventually worked out that there was a date in there for 2nd March and the numbers 1200 and 70000, in their numerals, so eventually I signed it. Nothing else much has happened really, I am just desperately trying to kill time, what a waste. I have certain things to look forward to each take, but they illustrate what a sorry state of affairs it is just sat here. Firstly I look forward to a couple of hours in the internet cafe as the time seems to go so quickly in there as my little brain it active for a while, then I look forward to an evening meal by which time I am pretty hungry as I have nothing to eat at lunchtime. But the real excitement of the day is at around 7pm when the electricity comes back on and I can turn on the air-con and the television and settle down to watch crap American films that surely nobody has ever paid to see, or two week old English football matches that I know the score of. Yesterday I watched Arsenal v Aston Villa, and I knew Arsenal scored a dramatic late equaliser that was worth watching. I can remember seeing the 89th minute, but then I dropped off and missed it! I also saw a film call The Absence of Good. It was terrible, but what an inspired and honest title. Last night I ate at the cafe just across the road from the hotel, having eaten there the night before. I hadn't eaten there prior to that as I thought it would be more expensive as it was much smarter than the other places I have been eating at, clean floors and tables with clean cups, plastic chairs instead of stools, that sort of thing. I had my usual, just a plate of rice which thankfully always comes with a few little side dishes such as pickled mango, veg, chillies etc. Last night there were an extra couple plus tea that when I asked for it the previous night they said they couldn't do it. The service was very good and each time I emptied a side dish or drank tea, I immediately got a refill. When I came to pay they wouldn't accept my payment and try as I may they kept refusing, then they said "You lose dollars, you lose dollars". Isn't that wonderful? It rather restores my faith in the human race. They also insisted that I go back there and eat for free again.

Today has just been more of the same, watching the clock pass slowly. I often get asked by passing people "Where are you going?" With my feelings for this place as they are, I just ignore them as to answer them I feel would be an invasion of my privacy, but I read today in the book I am reading, Wild Swans, that a bad but literal translation of a Chinese greeting is "Where are you going?", it's more of a "How do you do?" type greeting. Maybe that applies to here too, so perhaps I should loosen up a little.

The first photo is the Emperor Motel, the source of my problems and where I am currently stuck.

Roll on Wednesday!


aoiffe said...

Things are so frustrating for you,I'm glad you have found some good in the people. Your faith in the goodness of human nature is not misplaced.

Basher Barlow said...

Beastie, look on the bright side you was not physically attacked for the money, Man Utd have gone out of the FA Cup and you are still free to travel whilst I am stuck at work. However, I do have one thing to say after all I taught you about splitting your money up and hiding it in various places etc.."WHAT A DONKEY".. if I do not insult you then you know it is a rogue posting :-)

The Barlow family are thinking of you mate, it's been a dilema of late and one I would not have liked to have been in either.

Garry said...

Blimey, John, what a nightmare!

I'm sure you're well frustrated that you're spending more time on your writing skills than you are
on your cycling ones, but it does make for good easy reading. And I had to laugh at the naming of the 'Tall Man' - sounded like a character from a Famous Five book, all those years ago :-)

Pecker up. Console yourself with the reality that this trip is 'feeding the soul' in a way that money can never buy and must be a tad more enriching than standing at the window, glum faced, drinking tea, looking out into the rain and wondering whether to do The Dean again this year or not? :-)

Wishing you well.

Tony said...

Right behind garry's comments! Hope things are looking much better.