– ODO- 15933 – 16036km
– Location- Taungoo, Myanmar
– Weather- 26-29 overcast with drizzle
Another 36 degree day and after 150km I rolled into Naypyitaw, the capital of Myanmar. The heat sapped my energy and the thought of a cold shower and a firm mattress kept me going. Watching each kilometre click past like the minutes on the clock on the last day of school term. I pulled into the guest house I’d found a day earlier via a simple Google search. The night before I’d rolled into a guest house off the side of the road and they’d let me stay and pay and hadn’t even looked at my passport. In the nations capital it was a little different.
The first guest house was well rated and looked relatively cheap – the perfect combination. As I parked the bike a staff member came out and shook my hand giving me a seat and a bottle of the water. I gladly sat and let my heart beat return to normal. Soon I was keen to get the room sorted but when I communicated through the usual hand gestures about a room he shook his head. On my phone he showed me a hotel several kilometres away in the centre of town. I thanked him and rolled the bike to the hotel next door. The same response. I tried two more before an English speaking receptionist told me all these hotels are for locals only.
Similar to India, hotels have to register all foreigners with the government by a special form. Lots of hotels, especially the cheaper ones, don’t get enough foreign visitors or aren’t able to get these forms. For the first houses in remote towns and villages the tourist rate for the room is worth enough that they will take your money quietly without registering you. In the capital surrounded by police stations and military bases it’s not worth the risk.
As the sun began to set I went onto booking.com and found one hotel in the district I was in for $25. As I approached the single room wood huts with tin roofs gave way to a new brick complex surround by a high security fence topped with rolls of barbed wire. The modestly self proclaimed “high quality” guest house had its own banquet hall and temple on site. I paid in Kyat with a terrible exchange rate (definitely bring extra dollars if you come to Myanmar) and I was shown to my room on the 4th floor. I lay back on the bed unable to move from the heat of the day. Finally I made it up to the roof top restaurant. The full staff prepared the corner table just for me in the empty hall with a panaramic view of the city as a storm rolled across the distance outskirts, the clouds in sharp sillouette against the kealidoscope of colours from the sunken sun.