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« January 10, 2005 | Main | January 08, 2005 »

January 09, 2008

Aye Chan Tha Inn, Room 203, Myitkyina, 2:49 PM (N25˚23.114', E97˚23.782')

The local departure lounge at the Yangon airport is a bit like a Third World bus station. Our tickets were small scraps of paper with Burmese writing on them, and although there were three or four planes on the tarmac, there was only one door. Some young ladies in uniforms were walking around telling people things,  maybe boarding times, but Andrew and I were depending on Saw Lwin to tell us when to get on the plane.

We finally got a signal from Saw Lwin and walked out to find our plane.  The Myanma Airways plane was a small jet that seated about 80 people. We were told that there are usually several hundred people that want to get on the flight and that we were able to get tickets because of our Forestry Department connections. The plane was clean, although somewhat old and worn, and the emergency exit sign was taped to the bulkhead.

The flight stopped in Mandalay before heading on to Myitkyina. Only a few people got off the plane, but three porters boarded carrying extra baggage which they proceeded to cram into the bathroom. They made about a dozen trips.  Among other things, they carried on the three huge cardboard boxes labeled "condoms". The two stewardesses giggled politely.

The Myitkyina airport is essentially a large, empty space surrounded by big trees and army guys with guns. After milling around awhile (I thought we were waiting for our bags), Saw Lwin informed us that now we had to leave the airport and walk to another place where they would bring the bags.  After walking about 200 meters we came to a market area jammed with parked cars.  One of them was the Forestry Department truck, a black Toyota Club Cab with "Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve" stenciled in large letters across the windshield. Andrew and I hopped in and were whisked away to the Aye Chan Tha Inn, a clean hotel in the center of town with several floors and stairways leading off in all directions. Andrew and I are sharing Room 203, which has two beds, carpet, a bathroom, a TV, and a clock that ticks very loudly. The door to the bathrooom has a faux stained-glass window. 


Aye Chan Tha Inn, Room 203, Myitkyina, 6:30 PM

Saw Lwin and Tun Shaung stopped by with our bags and we divided up the 40 million kyat.  They also brought t-shirts and baseball caps (see last frame of Mandalay Express) that say "Hukaung Rattan Survey".  We have enough for all of the team members and a dozen extra that we can give away as necessary. Clearly, they have done these trips before.


Aye Chan Tha Inn, Room 203, Myitkyina, 9:04 PM 

Back from dinner at a Chinese restaurant which is part of a big (and mostly empty) hotel along the river.   Tomorrow is the 57th anniversary of Kachin State and there will be a festival with native music and dance. Although we have meetings with the Secretary of Kachin State and a major rattan seller tomorrow, the festival is probably the real reason that we are spending two nights here.  I wore my new cap to dinner.

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