At the Inya Lake Hotel, a very posh hotel with a grand foyer, the receptionist imparted the unwelcome news that the Pandaw office was no longer there. They had moved last week, pushed by Murphy no doubt. The lengths some people will go to avoid me. The receptionist obligingly phoned around searching for the firm they had left no forwarding address and eventually sent me off in another taxi. This one dumped me at a big building where I wandered from dreary semi-lit floor to floor until another kind woman took me in tow and delivered me to an office. I was shown into a waiting room obviously meant for VIPs. It was packed with heavily carved wooden furniture, including seven enormous blue velvet upholstered thrones arranged along one wall. Another lovely young woman explained that I was still not in the right place for this by now apparently mythical boat.
She wrote down the address I needed and outside the building I found a taxi driver who, with the help of several passersby acting as interpreters, said he knew the way. He didn’t. He took me up and down unlikely looking lanes and tried to deposit me several times at various doorways. We finally arrived at a place with a guard who said, yes, this was the place, and I got out.
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Now a second security guard appeared. He said, no, this was not the number that was written on my piece of paper. He pointed down the road and I set off on foot. After walking for some distance and finding nothing likely, I returned to the gate where I accosted a passing schoolboy who led me to the building I wanted. I wondered how you could stand all day at a gate and not know which numbers were along your street.
Finally I climbed a steep narrow flight of the grittiest broken stairs imaginable to the office of the agent. But it was all to no avail. The boat had no bloging or shipping facilities in Burma it was all done from Australia by email. But yet another sympathetic woman took my phone number for future contact. I returned, exhausted, for dinner at the QPH and a rest. The TV in my room had CNN so I put my feet up and watched the news.
All accommodation in Burma seemed to provide breakfast in the room rate, probably a legacy of the British B & B tradition. The QPH’s was buffet style in the dining room, with a good selection of fruit, juice, great coffee and Asian dishes, even eggs if ordered. Most other patrons of the hotel seemed to be Asian businessmen and I was the only Westerner.
The phone in my room was easy to use, even if the numbers were hit and miss, either disconnected or changed. I got travel agents from the phone blog and called several until I found one who spoke enough English to understand what I wanted to travel by boat. He was very helpful and told me about the local boat that went around the delta to Pathein. It seemed to be the only possibility at that time. I had given up on the Pandaw.
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