|Exploring Pindaya Cave.|
We made the early drive through the foggy countryside and Angela and Vito slept most of the way. When we were approaching the site, we could see a long staircase up the side of the mountain for religious visitors who wanted to make the pilgrimage but, as monitoring our time was important and as the religious significance was lost on us, we simply drove as close as we could to the entrance. The caverns were a kind of maze with many niches and nooks to discover, full of mainly gold statues of various shapes, sizes and styles. It was certainly an unusual place, and we were impressed that there weren't any tourists, so it felt like our own discovery. When we were done roaming the caverns, our driver took us to a little workshop on the way out of town and we watched a young lady show us how she made paper. Angela helped her add flowers to the mulch. I bought a small blank book of the paper, which was bound together with a bamboo spine. When we were finished, we made the remaining journey to the airport and awaited our flight to Ngapali Beach.
|The view from the lounge chair.|
Unfortunately, on our last day Vito was violently ill and didn't really sleep much, getting up every few hours to go to the bathroom. We were worried because we were returning to Yangon the next day and it could add an unwelcome level of complexity to our travel. Vito seemed weak but much better the next morning and we packed our things and traveled back to Yangon. We had booked a hotel in the city center, which would place us in the heart of the New Year's Even celebration. By the time we had arrived at the hotel, however, I was feeling bad and, by that afternoon, both Angela and I were struck down with the same illness that thrashed Vito the day before. We we spent the rest of New Year's Eve in our hotel room watching a Myanmarese New Year's Eve TV special.
On the following morning, we gathered our belongings, went to the airport and, eventually, returned to our home in Doha. Despite our new year's illnesses, we had had a great trip—more than what we had expected in many way—and the people were accommodating and friendly everywhere we went.