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Taking Bony M to Kuala Lumpur
Mandalay (Myanmar) to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Apr-15-08 / May-02-08

One day before the water festival ends, it is time to take the night bus from Mandalay to Yangon. That is easier said than done, as it is difficult to get to the bus stand without getting soaking wet. Everyone is standing with buckets, water pistols and fire hoses on the side of the road and every passenger can count on a huge amount of water. As we really don’t want to start our bus ride with wet cloths and wet backpacks, we don’t take the cycle rickshaw to the bus stand. We take a closed cab and this will be a pricey taxi ride. The taxi drivers know that they can ask a lot of money for a dry journey, so the prices are souring. We pay 7 euro, while the normal price should be between 2 and 3 euro. The temperatures in Mandalay are still well above 40 degrees centigrade, so it isn’t strange that taxi drivers don’t like to be in a closed car for the whole day. The average cab doesn’t have airco and without a breeze it is a kind of sauna on wheels. It is understandable that the cab drivers like to have the windows open, but our understanding disappears quickly when we get a few full buckets of water through the front window in the first 50 metres of our ride. We are soaking wet, but luckily our photo equipment is still dry. As we want to keep it that way, we make clear that we don’t pay good money to get wet anyway. When the driver closes the front windows, all passengers only get wet from their own sweat.

Edwin and Ivonne in front of the Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur
The night bus to Yangon has little surprises. The first hours of the ride we see a lot of festivities because of the water festival and we can enjoy it from a high and dry perspective. For us, night buses are synonymic for a night without sleep and this time it is just the same. Fortunately, the bus driver isn’t able to get the DVD player started until 5 am. This means that we get a quite night without sleep, although everybody has to leave the bus every few hours when the bus driver wants to take a break. At 5 am the moment has come that the DVD player appears to work. Within a few seconds, the ultimate medicine against a bad morning temper blares out of the loudspeakers of the bus. The greatest hits of Bony M are played and as a bonus the video clips are shown on the television screen. You don’t see singers dancing so smoothly these days anymore and the backcomb hair also looks as if from another era. On the sounds of Bony M, the remainder of the trip goes quickly. We forget out soured bottom and we don’t hear the snoring back neighbour anymore. The only thing we hear is “By the rivers of Babylon”. This pleasure continues longer then the bus ride to Yangon. In the following days we can’t get the songs out of our head and Bony M also accompanies us when we fly to Bangkok. (Try humming “By the rivers a Babylon” for a few times and you will know what we mean)

In Bangkok we enjoy the luxury that everything is available and we can find everything we like. On the day of arrival, Ivonne takes the opportunity to visit a hairdresser. The last time she went to a barber was six months ago in Delhi, when a barber just cut the hair in a straight line. No problem, as Ivonne always wears it on a ponytail anyway. Here in Bangkok, she hopes to get a proper hairdo. The big posters of David Beckham, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie give the impression that they have been in this hair salon before so that gives confidence. Full of confidence Ivonne takes her seat in hairdressing salon. The hairdresser nods approvingly when Ivonne explains that she wants to wear her hair in a neat little ponytail. After Ivonne has put off her glasses, the hairdresser starts energetically. Large amounts of hair fly around, while Edwin is reading a magazine in the waiting room. The reflection in the mirror isn’t clear because of the lack of decent eyesight without the glasses, so Ivonne tries not to worry when she thinks that her hair isn’t getting the same length everywhere. When the hairdresser says he is finished, it is time to put on the glasses again. The result makes Ivonne silent for a second, when she sees that her hair is thinned out massively and the remaining hair is cut into “peaks”. Spiky hair is the name of the coupe if you like to order the same at your local hairdresser. Large parts of her hair can’t be fixed in a ponytail anymore and when Ivonne asks how she can make the requested neat, little ponytail the hairdresser makes clear that “it isn’t possible anymore”. The coming months Ivonne is condemned to using hairpins again, but they say that it will grow again for free. This is all part of the charm of travelling.

A wild Oriental Pied Hornbill in the centre of Kuala Lumpur

The remainder of the week in Bangkok is mainly spent at the dentist. In this weblog we won’t give away the insides of this adventure, but you can read everything in the column: They are big and very difficult. Moreover, we have prepared our trip to Malaysia. We want to visit Malaysia more than once during this trip and our first visit started when we flew to Kuala Lumpur at the end of April. The first impression is positive. The city of Kuala Lumpur doesn’t look as slick as Bangkok, but it has a more Southeast Asian atmosphere. The streets are full with street stalls and you can eat good food everywhere. When we are here for more than a week, we will get visitors for the first time in more than 10 months. The parents of Edwin are coming to visit us and we are going to travel together for a couple of weeks through Malaysia. We are really looking forward to travel together and to show why we enjoy travelling so much. We expect that the coming weeks will feel more like a real holiday. Especially because we look forward seeing Edwin’s parents in real life again instead of via the webcam, but also because we are going to travel around with a hired car. A few weeks with close family and a few weeks without public transport. A few weeks of travelling around where we can start and stop whenever we like. We are looking forward to it!


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