A walk in Guápulo Parque – Quito

One of the lovely things about being in a holiday destination for an extended time is that you have the luxury of doing ‘normal’ things – like going for a walk without a particular tourist must-see in mind. We took a stroll down to Guápulo park, which has one of the steepest paths I’ve been on in a city park. It was kind of like home with all the eucalpts, flowering callistemon and wattle trees.  But not really. I am enjoying surprising Ecuadorians by telling them that eucalypts are ‘de Australia.’

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Won’t you take me to/ Monkey Town (Lopburi)

So we did get a little closer to the monkeys by walking certain streets of the old town, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to enter Pha Prang Sam Yot – where the monkeys know they can jump all over you. In our Lopburi experience, the monkeys were mainly centred around the aforementioned temple, and the railway crossing nearby – and surrounding streets. Not running rampant everywhere.

But Lopburi has so much more to offer than monkey encounters, with a number of really wonderful temple sites (ancient and current). And we did a Noom Guesthouse tour which included Ang Sub Lak (the local lake) and the out of town ‘Peacock Temple’ (Wat Weyru Wan) – so wonderful to see some surrounding countryside. The biggest surprise was the really fabulous museum, housed in the old palace. The info panels were informative, in English as well as Thai. Downstairs housed a most impressive collection of ancient jewellery/jewelry. And the information about surrounding historical sites makes us want to return to see more around Lopburi.

Just the ticket

Purchasing train tickets to travel from Mawlamyine to Bago  involved three conversations with rail staff on three different days. On the afternoon we arrived in Mawlamyine, we checked that we could buy a ticket the following day, and were told that we could, but at the other counters on the other side of the station. The Mawlamyine station is quite impressive, clean marble floors and obviously no one allowed to hang about or sell anything from the front area of the station. The ticket office is split between windows for tickets for same day travel – on the right when you enter the station, while the other side sells tickets for future days.

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View of the right ticket counters from the wrong ticket counters – Mawlamyine train station

While in Yangon we could buy a ticket three days before, this was not the case in Mawlamyine, despite the advice we received on the first day. The next morning we went to the correct counter, only to be told that we could only buy a ticket one day in advance and would have to come back the following morning. Which we did, and following our taxi driver’s advice went to the daily ticket counter, to be told we could buy a ticket, but from the other counter on the other side of the station. We duly walked across the shining marble once again, and yes, we were at the right counter, and we could buy a ticket! Wait, said the ticket seller. He then walked across to the marble foyer all the way to the daily tickets counter, and came back with the ticket book, so that he could write out our ticket for travel the following morning.

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Rice paddies, Mawlamyine to Bago

Mingalaba

No, not a dusty town in outback NSW – mingalaba is ‘hello’ in Myanmar. I can remember hello but ‘thank you’ is proving trickier – jay zu din ba de. I’ll keep practising. M has it down already. Having been in Yangon a couple of days we’re having a great time getting back into Asian life. Sightseeing yesterday included the Bogyoke Market, where we discovered a great coffee seller and had a good look round. In the afternoon, we visited the Botataung Pagoda, which has an unusual zigzag interior design.

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This coffee seller was a lovely guy – M bought a cup of coffee but we didn’t have a small enough note to pay for it. The seller was unconcerned and encouraged us to sit and enjoy the coffee first. As it was excellent coffee it was easy to buy some beans as well and resolve the ‘no-change’ dilemma. Absolutely recommended if you’re heading to the market.
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Where we’ve been in Yangon so far there are plenty of betel nut users – hence the ‘no spitting’ sign at the market.
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Loved the poster accompanying the ‘Traditional *wears*’ shop – can’t imagine it ever gets cold enough to need a military-style overcoat…
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Gorgeous golden zigzag interior of the main Botataung Pagoda. The ‘sunwise’ swastika is considered an auspicious sign in Buddhism (so google tells me).