Letters from Mawlamyine, Burma (Myanmar)

In the morning I went downstairs of my hotel to have a quick breakfast. It was those authentic old version of kopitiam that has obviously stood the test of time. The gaw pi (coffee) here is the best I’ve drank so far in Myanmar and that’s to say a lot for a coffee aficionado like me who tried to get a fix almost anywhere, though I must say numerous times I only had the choice of gasp, 3in1 instant coffee mix here. Burmese seem to love these powdered stuff here. But today is the true blue south east Asia’s take of coffee with milk from a tin. I absolutely love it. This was also opportune as I sat right outside, due to it being full inside (of men because Burmese men just love to hang out at shops) (also means it must be a popular breakfast place), where I manage to catch my new-found French friends going off to bus station for another last goodbye.

After I bid farewell I felt truly alone again, but somehow I seem at ease sipping my gaw pi and ordering yet another cup. Hey I don’t always get a good fix! Then suddenly a man came by and chatted me up, who turns out to be a guide around here and today is his off day. Lucky me as he gave me all the information I needed for my day’s excursion, and even wrote in Burmese to show people if I ever need.

Real coffee at Mawlamyine, Burma, Myanmar

Real coffee at Mawlamyine, Burma, Myanmar

Then I go on to proof that this help was exactly what I needed when I walked to the bus station and with my usual bad sense of direction got too far and ended up ON the bridge instead. I had to ask for help but they couldn’t understand me, so I ended up showing them the note. It worked perfectly and in fact the really helpful guy took me on his bike for a short ride down to the bus station. And now here I am waiting in the bus, contemplating my good fortune as usual in meeting good people in my travels.

I just love the idea of not having much plans today. If it took more hours than I expected for this morning excursion then I’ll just forgo the later ideas, it doesn’t matter because it is the journey itself that helped me to interact with so many random people, walked in random places and find myself serendipitously doing things that adds to the whole experience.


Upon reaching the foot of the hill, I found myself clambering into a huge pickup truck lined at the back with benches which is now filled with loads of people. After I got in we waited a bit more and amazingly able to somehow fit double the amount more of people! Then we embark on a precarious journey, winding steeply up and down and side to side just at the ledge of a drop off to an amazingly beautiful terrain. For a moment I thought there can never be another more beautiful place and exciting way to die.

At the peak I was presented with lush endless rolling mountains which for a moment as quoted in lonely planet, reminded me of middle earth. I found a hidden spot which provides a little shade by sitting under a rock which was halfway up, balancing itself on the verge from falling off the edge. I reckon if it is to fall, it should be the other way and not onto me.

View from the Hill at Mawlamyine, Burma, Myanmar

View from the Hill at Mawlamyine, Burma, Myanmar

While I was in reverie suddenly a guy came and rush me off back into the truck. I didn’t know that you couldn’t stay and have to go back in the same truck you came up with. Or maybe you don’t need to since the truck is less full than it was but oh well, I cannot disappoint the people who had been waiting for me while squeezed in the truck. So off we go down the natural roller coaster again.

At the foot of the hill I just walk out hoping to catch a bus passing buy, and a bunch of ladies with a booth waiting for donations for something welcome me to sit with them while I waited. They enthusiastically nod to “Mawlamyine?” and not long after one of them quickly stopped a pickup truck and ask me to go up. I’m like whoa and clamber in to find it full so the ‘conductor’ passed me a mini stool that has a wobbly metal stands and I open up somewhere in middle
between all the bags of goods and sat down, just in time to see my nice lady smiling at my predicament while we waved goodbye as the truck pull away.

And little did I know that was just the beginning of my adventure of the day.

26 January 2013
Mawlamyine, Burma (Myanmar)

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