SE Asia 2017 1

South East Asia 2017 - Day 10: Bagan

 

Monday 14 August, fine, 33°

The alarm went off at 4am so we dragged ourselves out of bed, got ready and headed down to the hotel lobby.  The airconditioning in the hotel was set up in such a way ( and I am not sure if this was intentional or not ) that meant the air was warmer in the corridor and warmer still in the lobby.  So as we left our nice cool 16° room and stepped into the corridor it felt like it was hot in the corridor ( probably only 20° ) and then as we stepped into the lobby it felt hotter still.  But of course when we stepped out the door to the outside world at 4:30am it was a lovely warm 27° and 70% humidity.

So we hired Ebikes for the sunrise ( Ky2000ea ( NZ$20 )) and headed out to a temple, that was suggested by the hotel staff, which involved riding along the main rode for about 10 minutes.  When we got there we found that it was closed due to construction work, so we doubled back and headed nearly back to the hotel, then headed back to Shwesandaw Pagoda where we were the previous night.  On the way we stopped to take a few photos of some of the pagoda under the stars and arrived at about 5am.  Sunrise was due at 6am so we climbed up the steps of Shwesandaw and joined the 40 or so people already up there.  The sunrise never came to much, with cloud blocking the eastern horizon, but it was nice to see the pagoda seem to appear out of the darkness as the sky lightened.  And unfortunately there were no hot air balloons up due to the breeze blowing across the plains.

So we left at about 6:30 and rode back to our hotel for some breakfast and a rest.  We headed out again at 10am this time in the hotel car to go to the Bagan Train Station to book tickets for our return journey to Mandalay.  We finally found the ticket man ( he was outside having a coffee break we think ) who wrote down our booking for the 16th August on a piece of paper and put it in the appropriate file.  We will pay for the tickets on the day of travel so we need to be at the station at 6:30am for the 7am train. We headed back to the hotel in the car ( after a brief stop for petrol which seems to be 781 kyats (78c NZ) per litre ).

Another rest time at the hotel for a bit.  There might have been a couple of snoozes had during this time.

At 12:30 we grabbed Ebikes again ( this time for 8 hours ) for K6000, and headed through New Bagan to have a look at the town then down to the Ayewaddy River and some lunch at The King Si Tu restaurant ( Ky15000 for 3 small dishes and drinks) overlooking the river.

After lunch we rode further along the river bank to a small pagoda, which we bypassed due to the number of hawkers hanging around ( they are very polite but insistent, and won’t take no for an answer ) and we just couldn’t be bothered fighting our way through them.

So we carried on our travels back through New Bagan and then down the track to Shwesandaw again, this time we turned off at Shwesandaw and headed back to the main road between New and Old Bagan’s, then then headed north to Old Bagan. On the way we had to negiotiate our way through an major intersection that should have traffic lights, but didn’t have them working today.  Maybe because it is Monday?

We stopped to have a look at Gawdapalin Temple, which again is surrounded with hawkers and trinket sellers, so we ducked into a little temple just to the south ( after negotiating the 1 hawker inside the temple ) and climbed the steps inside to get a view of Gawdapalin Temple.  We headed back down again through the narrow stairs and back on the Ebikes ( the lady still wanted us to buy her paintings ), then north again through Old Bagan.  The town is pretty deserted with most of the hotels are along the river and not in the town itself, but with a good scattering of temples.  We stopped at the rivers edge at Bu Paya to look at the gold stupa there. Most of the temples in Bagan are exposed brick, but some are covered in white plaster and other in gold leaf.  It is hard to know if all the temples were once all gold or plaster, or whether the gold and plaster is a later additional to the brick temples.  Also given that a lot of the temples have been rebuilt following major earthquakes it is hard to know if any of the temples are in their original state.

Anyway we headed back to the main road and back to Shwesandaw ( which we use as a bit of a beacon to know where we are ) and then back to the hotel at 3pm. Time for a swim and a rest.

We headed out again at 5 looking for a new spot to shoot the sunset, this time we headed east on the main road and headed north through West Pwa-Saw village and along dusty sandy tracks to Pyathetgyi Pagoda for a quick look around to see if we could get access to an upper level ( we couldn’t ) and so us and a crowd of other Ebikers headed off in to the setting sun looking for a better spot.  By the way Pyathetgyi Pagoda is a really nice pagoda, just not what we wanted.  So we carried on looking for possible spots to photograph from.

We headed to Sulamani Temple ( which also has no upper level access ) and found an earth embankment which had been built nearby to allow access across a flood plane when it rained (very dry now ) but also provided a view across the plains towards the setting sun.  So we waited for the sun to sink on top of this bank.  We were the only ones up there when we arrived but slowly more and more people trickled in and it was quite busy when we left just before the sunset ( again too many clouds around ) and started our ride back to the hotel.  We stopped a couple of times on the way back looking at some temples and to watch a brief fiery sunset glow, then back to the hotel at 7pm, and returned the Ebikes

After a walk to the shop to get supplies ( and by that I mainly mean bottled water and chocolate ) we had a look at the local restaurant offerings and decided we liked the hotel restaurant best and went there again.

Another earlyish night with a 4am start again tomorrow.

South East Asia 2017 - Day 9: Mandalay to Bagan

 

13 August 2017 - cloudy, humid, 33°

We got up at 6am, packing bags again and then up to breakfast. I went for a quick walk around the block to capture a bit of early morning life then back to the hotel in time for the pickup truck bus to arrive at 8am, and for our friendly security guards at the hotel to say goodbye. 

There was just the 2 of us on board, but we stopped 100m down the road for the driver to pop into a travel agent and pick up another passenger.  We headed off again at 8:15am but now we were running late to meet the 8:30am bus at the bus depot south of town.  We stopped to make a couple of other pick ups on the way and arrived at the bus depot at 8:40am.  The rest of the people on the minibus were waiting for us, so we chucked our bags in and on we got. Got a free bottle of water and off we went.  This could be a long 5 hour trip with no leg room.  At least the a/c works.

We headed south through the city then east through the outskirts of town, making a couple more pickups on the way.  Our bus crew consists of the driver ( who doesn't interact with us at all, just drives ) and the 'conductor'; a betel chewing young fella who chats away to the locals on the bus, and if he needs us to know he is talking to us he says "Hello" first.

After turning onto the 'expressway' we head west across towards the airport then south on the new Mandalay - Yangon expressway.   I measured the time between mile markers and for most of the time on the expressway we were doing about 50km/h.  At one point there was a bit of a commotion from the driver and we pulled off to the side of the road, a bottle of hydraulic fluid was found, and it's contents poured into the engine.  With that done we carried on our way.

After a while we turned off at Pyinsi and headed west on a local, windy and narrow road.  Again we had a couple of pickups to do on the way; some tourists off other buses and some locals with bags of shopping.  After a toilet stop in the town of Natogyi we carried on through to Myingyan ( quite a big town ) and then on the outskirts of town stopped for a lunch break at 12:30pm.

After 20 minutes standing in the carpark of a shop / cafe eating the fruit we had brought with us we jumped back on the bus and headed to Bagan.  Just after leaving Myingyan we passed a massive steel mill ( which is still partly under construction ) and a road / rail bridge.  After another hour of driving we turned off the main road just before Nyaung U and headed south to the Bagan Bus Deport at 2pm ( the Bagan area consists of 3 main towns: Old Bagan, which is where the riverside resorts and some old temples are located, Nyaung U where most of the transport hubs, bars, backpackers and nightlife is located, and New Bagan ( where we are staying ) which is where they built a new town for the residents, in the 1990's, that they kicked out of Old Bagan to make way for the resorts mentioned above ( apparently they were given 2 weeks notice to leave ) ) . The Bus Station, whilst being near the airport and railway station, is miles from anywhere in relation to the towns.

After dropping a couple of people at the bus depot we headed north back towards Nyaung U, stopping briefly for the foreigners to pay for their archaeological ticket ( Ky25,000 ea, and lasts for a week ) we carried on into Nyaung U, dropped a couple of people off then went to a carpark for some people ( us included ) to transfer to a smaller pickup  truck bus to take us to our hotel.  After a couple of false starts ( a bag got put on our pickup that belonged to someone still on the main bus, and some confusion about the locations that people were going ) we headed out of town and then south to New Bagan, dropped the last other person on our bus off, and then dropped us at Hotel Yadanarbon (Ky 104,000 for 3 nights, a/c, pool and b/fast included) at 3pm. If we had turned left at the bus depot we could have been at our hotel in about 10 minutes.

We checked in etc and went up to our room.  I had a look later and if we had wanted to get a taxi from Mandalay to Bagan it would cost Ky150,000, not the Ky9,000 we paid; so I guess you get what you pay for. But Ky9,000 seemed expensive in comparison to the train that we took back to Bagan ( more on that in a later post: Day 12 )

We out for a quick walk around New Bagan and found a little cafe ( New Moon II ) a couple of hundred metres off the main street, down a dirt road ( all roads in New Bagan except the main one are dirt ) in amongst a collection of small stupa.  They had left the stupa as they were ( about 20 of them ) but just carried the streets and houses on around them.  

Just as an aside; the terms stupa, pagoda and temple get used interchangeably when referring to the structures in Bagan.  I think technically a stupa is a mound shaped temple, and a pagoda is a multilevelled temple.  But when you have a pagoda that has a stupa on top...well I don't know.    I use all three terms; temple generally , stupa for a small temple and pagoda for the bigger ones.

And also the purpose for all of these temples is to house an icon relating to Buddha, most commonly a stature of the fella himself ( or often in the bigger temples 4 statues , one facing each entry to the building ), but also sometimes items attributed to Buddha, like part of a tooth or a hair.

After a nice cool drink we grabbed some supplies from a grocery shop and walked back to the hotel.

At 5pm we hired a couple of ebikes ( mopeds but with electric motors ) to go shoot the sunset.  The hotel hires them out and for 2 1/2 hours we paid Ky2,000 ea.  No helmets were offered so off we set along a short section of main road, then off into the dirt tracks that criss-cross the plains of Bagan.  Within the first 5 minutes we had seen literally hundred's of stupa, some small, some big, dotting the landscape on both sides of the road.  As someone explained to us later the area around Bagan is technically a desert, with very little rainfall, so nothing much grows on the plains other than scattered trees and low scrub.  It reminded of photos that I have seen of the savannah in Africa.  So the stupa tend to stand out amongst the sparse vegetation.

We kept riding until, about 20 minutes later, we came to Shwesandaw Pagoda, which is one of the bigger pagoda, and also one of the most popular for sunset and sunrise, due to it's location near to the main road and it's height.  So we presented our archaeological ticket and were allowed to enter.  Shwesandaw has steps up on all 4 sides of the exterior of a terraced pagoda ( most have internal steps ) which also makes it easier for people to get up and down, and have some space to spread out a bit.  At the moment few of the pagoda have bamboo scaffolding on them as they are doing the repairs in the 'off' season.

We left before the sunset as we could see it wasn't to come to much ( again too much cloud ) and we rode down a different track back towards the hotel, stopping for a couple of bottles of water on the way ( 700ml bottles for Ky800 ea ) then back to the hotel just as it was getting dark at 7pm. 

Wow, on such a short ride we have already seen so many amazing pagoda scattered across the plains.

We grabbed our swimming gear and hit the pool of a quick dip, then back to the room and then down for dinner at the hotel ( a mixture of Chinese, Thai and Myanmar ( as well as Western ) dishes ) for dinner and a couple of beers.  

Then it was back to the room and into bed, ready for an early start in the morning to get the sunrise; the alarm is set for 4am

 

South East Asia 2017 - Day 8: Mandalay

 

12 August 2017 - partly cloudy, 32°

We got up at 5am and walked to the Moat then along the Moat to Sandamuni Pagoda to shoot the sunrise, which didn't really happen.  So then we walked back to the hotel through the back streets / alleys, past the Shwenandaw Monastery building and the markets on 63rd Street ( Mandalay has a slightly confusing system for naming their streets in the main part of town: low numbers ( 1st - 49th ) for the east west streets and higher numbers ( 50th + ) for the north south streets.  So our hotel is on the corner of 19th Street and 64th Streets ).  We walked past lots of new houses in the streets around our hotel, mixed in with the old and dishevelled ones.

We headed up for breakfast to the hotel breakfast room, which is on the 7th floor, with views out across all of Mandalay.  We had the usual simple fare; toast and jam with something that tasted vaguely like coffee.  But it was filling and included in the hotel price so no complaints here.

We decided that we were in no mood to walk up Mandalay Hill ( 1700+ steps ) so we caught a taxi from the hotel to the top of the hill carpark at 8am, and then the escalator up to the temple at the very top ( we had to leave our shoes at the bottom of the escalator, as this is where the temple technically started, and it was only an up escalator, so we would have to detour on the way down to collect them.

We walked around the 4 sided temple on the very top of the hill, the Sutaungpyai Pagoda, ( after paying our foreigners fee of Ky1000 ea ) with 360° views across Mandalay and the surrounding plains.

We then wandered down the southern walkway which heads to the bottom of the hill ( there are various routes down, but this is the main one ), detouring to pick up our shoes ( for a donation of course ), a brief stop for a drink and for me to buy some 'jandals' made of bamboo.  Then on with the serious task of walking down the many steps and through many pagoda.  Rather than taking our shoes off at each pagoda we walked down barefoot; thankfully the walkways down are covered so we were walking in the shade most of the way.  At intervals on the way down were people selling trinkets and food, always accompanied by dogs or cats or chickens or turkeys.  Nearer the bottom it looked like people were living in the bush next to the walkways in little shacks.  At the bottom the walkway is guarded by statues of Chinthe ( half lion, half dragon ).

We reached bottom at 9:30am, a walk of just over an hour ( yes, we did stop a few times for photos, but it was still a long walk and we were glad we didn't walk up ).

After grabbing a couple of bottles of water we walked along the road to the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda complex for a look at the 900 tonne marble Buddha.  Liz bought a small Buddha statue for Ky 3,500 on the way out.

Then on to the next Pagoda, the Sandamuni Pagoda, where shot sunrise this morning.  This time we went inside and walked around the central golden stupa, which is surrounded by 1774 marble tablets ( each in their own little white stupa ) which contain the teachings of Buddha.  

After leaving this largely outdoors temple we headed across the road to a cafe/bar for some shade, and a bottle of Myanmar Beer.  Nothing has tasted better than that bottle of beer at 10:30am, after walking for the last few hours in 32°.

For our last tourist visit we walked to the bridge across the moat around the Royal Fort ( this moat / fort wall is 2km long on each side, and it now seems to enclose a government / army base, with the Mandalay Palace at the centre ), and after handing over a passport ( which they kept until we left ) and paying Ky10,000 ea we were allowed to enter the fort and walk down the access road to the Palace.  We were definitely not allowed to deviate off this road.  So we walked the 1km or so to the Palace, handed over our entry tickets and entered the Mandalay Palace ( well not really the Mandalay Palace ).

The original Palace buildings were destroyed by the British in WWII ( well, the Japanese were using it as their HQ ) and what is now on the site is a recreation built in the 1990's.  Whilst they have recreated the buildings to what is believed to have been there, the whole complex feels fake, with modern materials being used instead of the original materials, and the buildings themselves are largely empty.  So we walked up the lookout tower for an overview of the Palace, then looked in the main Royal Apartment building ( empty ) and then walked back out the front again and left.  We stopped and sat in the shade with fresh water bottles for a while then walked back out to the east gate where we had come in ( this is the only gate that foreigners can enter into the Royal Fort, locals can use any gate ).

We walked back to the City Mall for some lunch and stocked up on supplies for the trip to Bagan on the bus tomorrow and then wandered back to the hotel at 1pm.  

On the way back we drew some Kyats; the currency is generally measured in 000's, and has bank notes of 100, 200, 1000, 5000 and 1000 Ky.  So if you draw NZ$200 you get Ky200,000 and you get it in the equivalent of $5 and $10 bills ( Ky 5000 and Ky10000 ).  Which is quite a wad of cash to put in the wallet. And it takes a while to count out when you are paying for a hotel room!

We organised for a taxi to take us to U Bein bridge for sunset, which is the longest teak bridge in the world,  at 4:30pm for the price of Ky18,000, return, and the driver would wait for us there.

Then it was time to rest and cool down again.

The taxi arrived at 4:20pm so off we went south to Amarapura.  As we drove through the centre of Mandalay we saw a very different side of the city to the area that we are staying in; lots of new shiny glass buildings, shopping centres and western brand stores ( like Timberland ).  It felt a bit odd to see these sorts of buildings when 1 block away were shacks built of woven rattan walls and thatched roofs.

We arrived at the eastern end of U Bean Bridge at 5pm.

The bridge is 1.2m long, mainly made of teak and was built around 1850 ( although, between you and me, I don't think the concrete supports that are under part of the bridge date from then! ).  After being dropped at the eastern end we walked across the bridge to the western end, along with hordes of tourists, and then back to the eastern end.  There was no nice sunset as there were a lot of clouds around ( one of the problems with travelling during the 'wet' season ) so we left at 6:30pm and were back at the hotel at 7pm.

We headed out for tea at Mya Yi Nandar ( same place as last night ) and paid the princely sum of Ky6200 for 2 dishes ( we ordered a seafood dish by mistake ( which we didn't eat ) so had to order another one ) and 2 beers.  Back to the hotel and into the cool of our room ( it is still hard to get used to working up a sweat at 9pm just walking along the street ).

We are heading off to Bagan in the morning so another early start, but no sunrise shooting to be done.  

South East Asia 2017 - Day 7: Bangkok to Mandalay

 

11 August 2017 - partly cloudy, 32°C

There was not time for sunrise shooting this morning as we had a flight to catch.  So after having breakfast at 6:30am we finished packing our bags, checked out of the Pas Cher Hotel at 7:30 and walked to Siphon Taksin station, and caught the BTS to Siam then switched line and through to Paya Thai.  We then bought tickets and jumped on the airport train.  

We arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport at 9am, did the obligatory check in, immigration etc then walked through airside into another high end shopping mall.  After checking the board for our gate number we started walking in that direction ( there are 2 directions to walk once you come through customs ), but after walking for a few minutes I glanced at the departures board again and found that they had changed our gate number, so we started walking back the other way.

After walking for about 20 minutes we found our gate and grabbed a drink at the nearby Starbucks ( the expensive flights obviously leave from nearer the customs, as the quality of shops reduced the further we walked ).  We went down to our gate and waited, and then onto buses at 11:30 and around the terminal to our plane ( which was hooked up to an airbridge, but for some reason we couldn't use it ).  

Our plane left late at 12:30 ( instead of the scheduled 12:00 ) due to some late people.  Not a bad flight, not much to see until we started to descend in Mandalay and we flew in from the north over Mandalay and the Ayeyarwady River, with gold pagoda popping up through the bush.  We landed at 1:30pm local time ( 1/2 hour behind Thai time ), through immigration etc, grabbed our bags and drew some money our of the ATM ( NZ$1 = 1000 Kyats ( pronounced chats )) and then out the front door in to Myanmar.

We were immediately harassed by young guys offering taxi services, so we accepted a 'taxi' for Ky15,000 in what appeared to be his mates car, with no taxi markings.  Ah well, lesson learned.  Off to Mandalay we went up the main expressway, which was a concrete road and quite bumpy.  Whatever the maximum speed limit was our driver didn't go much above 50km/h.

As we hit the outskirts of Mandalay our driver asked for confirmation of where he was heading.  After we said "Hotel United" he gave a sigh and started to wind his way through the grid pattern of streets.

Some things we learned about Myanmar traffic during this journey; our car was a right hand drive ( there seems to be a mixture of right and left hand vehicles ) but they drive on the right; they beep their horn to let those about to be over taken know that they are coming; they beep their horn for any reason they can think of; 4 way intersections ( apart from a few with traffic lights ) are uncontrolled and those who go first should make it through ok, but if something is in the way ( car, bike, dog etc ) beep the horn and go around it, and indicators are optional or actually not required.  It is all about confidence I think.  

After negotiating the traffic we finally arrived at Hotel United ( US$54 for 3 nights ( about Ky73,000 )  incl a/c, breakfast and wifi ).  We paid in US dollars because we had some, but they are very fussy about the quality of them and rejected any with marks or rips on them.  Up to our room on the 3rd floor.

Went out for a walk along the street; what a shock..  Seemed to be complete chaos, cars and bikes going everywhere, people wandering across the road in front of cars, dust, dirt, rubbish, and dogs everywhere. ( I am not making a judgement on whether the way things are here is right or wrong, just saying what we saw).  Crossing the street for us timid white folk was a bit daunting, but we finally figured it out.

We bought 6 bottles of water for Ky1200 ( Liz accidentally gave the woman Ky12,000 and she looked shocked and told us that it was too much).  As we carried on walking it looked like schools were out as groups of kids and young monks were walking around and catching truck buses ( like a pickup truck with seats in the back ).  After bumping into a couple of Dutch girls and swapping stories we walked back past the hotel and walked to the moat around the Royal Fort, then back towards the hotel.  We stopped into a shopping mall ( and bumped into the Dutch girls again ) and bought some supplies, then back to the hotel at 4:30pm.

We then tried to book the boat trip to Bagan, but found that, as it was low season, it wasn't running every day, and more importantly not on the day we wanted to use it.  So we booked an 'express' bus instead ( Ky9,000 each ) which should take about 5 hours to cover the 170kms.  Hmm, doesn't sound express.

We headed out again at 6 and wandered to the moat again to shoot the sunset looking up at Mandalay Hill and it's pagoda, then back to a restaurant on the side of the road for tea ( 2 dishes + 2 beers, Ky6,600 ) which was very nice, then back to the mall for an ice-cream, and back to the hotel at 8pm.  

One of the hardest things to get used to is the speed with which it gets dark in the tropics.  It goes from light enough to see by to needing a torch within 10 minutes, and is completely dark within about 20 minutes of sun down.

Off to play tourists again tomorrow with a bit of temple bashing on the plans.

 

South East Asia 2017 - Day 6: Bangkok

 

10 August 2017, showers, mainly fine, 32°

I was up early again and walked a few hundred meters to the King Taksin Bridge to shoot the sunrise and some photos of the traffic.  I met a man from Australia also shooting ( see, I am not the only one ). He was near the end of his 4 weeks in Cambodia and Thailand.  I took a few shots then wandered back to the hotel at 6:30 in time for breakfast.

We left the hotel again at 8 and walked to the Sathon Ferry terminal ( just under the King Taksin Bridge ) and caught an orange flag ferry at 8:30 heading up river ( B14 ea ).  These boats are like buses and run every 15 minutes or so, making various stops along the river.  It was interesting to see the new buildings on the river ( mostly western hotels and malls ) which contrasted with the street we caught the bus on on day 4, which runs parallel to the river ( about 100m away ) but has no new buildings at all.

We got off the ferry at Chang Pier and walked along the road ( with the crowds ) to the entrance to the Grand Palace complex.  I had to zip the legs onto my shorts to be able to enter ( as it is a temple as well ) and Liz had to cover her shoulders.  We watched lots of people ( do they not read guidebooks? ) realising that they were under-dressed and having to buy trousers and tops from the local stalls ( at double the normal prices ).

We walked into the Grand Palace complex then through to the ticket booth ( B500 each ) at 9am, then walked through the scanners and gates and into the Wat Phra Kaew temple.  Wow, what an overload of sights for us to take in as our first temple.  We spent about 20 minutes just shooting in and around the entry area and then we moved on through the rest of the temple complex.  

The detail on the buildings and statues is amazing, but I guess we won't be as easily impressed by the end of our trip after we have seen hundreds of temples.

We walked through the rest of temple then out into the Grand Palace grounds itself, past the Grand Palace itself and then back out to the main entry and back to the street at 11am.  Time for a drink and pastry at a local cafe.

Next we walked back towards the river then south past the Grand Palace walls to Wat Pho.  We went in and paid for our ticket ( B100 ea ) and walked into the building containing the Reclining Buddha ( 15m high and 45m long in all his golden glory ) then around the complex ( there are over 100 buildings in Way Pho ), with lots of stupa, pagoda, Buddha and people ( and a few cats as well ).

We almost converted to Buddism when we went into the Ordination Hall and sat on the floor, the air was so nice and cool, we nearly didn't want to leave.

We left Wat Pho by the east gate, then we had to walk back to the other side where we had entered from to get back to the boat pier.  Once we arrived there we found it was closed for all ferries except the cross river ferry to Wat Arun, so we caught that one ( B3.50ea) then the orange flag ferry back to Saphon Pier, and then walked to Robinson's Mall at 1pm for some Starbucks lunch ( it is so hard to resist... ) and cold drinks.  We grabbed some  more groceries and headed back to the hotel.

We headed out again at 5pm, walked to the Saphon Pier and caught the free shuttle boat to Asiatique, a large 'market' further down river.  This looks like a 'made for tourists' type of market, not a local market.  We wandered around through the t shirt shops, trinket sellers and food stalls, then grabbed some unexciting dinner at the food court area.  We walked back to the river side and caught the shuttle boat back to Saphon in the dark and back to the hotel at 7:45pm.

Started to pack our bags ready for a big travel day tomorrow to Myanmar, country No 3.