Day 6: I Dream of Mandalay…

Day 6: Wednesday, 17 April 2019 – Yangon, Myanmar (aka Burma) (16.8661° N, 96.1951° E)

If you smile at me, I will understand. Cause that is something everybody everywhere does in the same language.” – Wooden Ships lyrics from Crosby, Stills & Nash

Mingalar ba…Welcome to Myanmar!

We have successfully transitioned from Viet Nam to Myanmar on an early morning flight. Well, for the most part.

What do they say about foolish consistency? We ran into a bout of issues transitioning today from SGN to RGN via Vietnam Airlines. First, one agent wanted to know our onward flight from RGN four days from now? Hard to say why (Maybe the result of the old 60’s Hippies Rule when they didn’t want young people coming into their country without an onward tickets?), but it caught fire with the other agents as our group started checking in…hard to keep secrets in this world anymore and totally arbitrary as some teams just waltzed through without it being a concern. Next came a typo in an approved visa from Myanmar: all the data was correct save one passport date—that had already been approved by the Myanmar government. Not good enough for Vietnam Airlines though…the team (Order & Chaos) were kindly requested to apply online for another valid visa again…problem is that Immigration office closed until after the big holiday—tomorrow. Try as we might, they did not allow them to board the flight…they have since moved along to Bangkok and are booked on a flight to Yangon tomorrow assuming their visa comes through? Never a dull moment.

Anyway…We arrive at an auspicious time too…the last day of a loonnnng weekend celebration, the New Year “Thingyan Water Festival” holiday in Myanmar (13-17 April 2019), in which pretty much everything is closed…

Quick Observation: Oh, oh that smell…the olfactory memories we have: temple incense, cow dung, piss, cut flowers, traffic exhaust, baking bread, BO, curries… “The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.”  (Rudyard Kipling) indeed, the list grows…vehicle exhaust, sewage, cooking meat, sweating bodies, urine, rain in the air, jet fuel, fermenting fruit…a cacophony of odors that plays on the mind.

We have birthdays…today is Barbara (The FILLIES) and tomorrow because we won’t see them is Eric’s (Lazy Mondays)…Happy Birthday folks…enjoy your gifts of extraordinary experiences!

Old News: We have gone over all the peer reviewed SGN Leg (Par 3) scores; checked scavenges completed & strategic Bonuses. And here’s what happened:
9th – with 16 completed scavenges earning 515 points – Team NEXUS
8th – Transformed Goddesses completed 1 bonus and 13 scavenges for 590 points
7th – SLO Folks doing 1 Bonus and 21 scavenges for 760 points
6th – Retired Traveling Chicks completed 1 Bonus and 19 scavenges for 785 points
4th – The Fillies who completed 19 scavenges for 805 points
4th – Order & Chaos who completed 25 scavenges for 805 points
3rd – Team Ying 2.0…1 Bonus & 19 scavenges for 865 points
2nd – Lawyers without Borders who completed 1 bonus and 24 scavenges for 1050 points
1st – and completing 1 Bonus and 26 scavenges in all (plus the Team Challenge) Lazy Monday with 1070 points
Congrats to all on finishing the second leg…

The photo that won them a 1st place finish with 55 points in SGN leg…fun and creative…and accurate.
It’s a live…it’s bigger than he…it has 4 legs…it looks like a beast too!

Three-Things I Learned from the short Viet Nam Leg: Teams should find their sweet spot ASAP; It was hot; the mirror of the competition is real.

The New News: So, here we go, moving on to the third of nine legs making up the 2019 world travel championship event. And it will be doozy; a four-day difficult Par 5 country-wide four-day leg that will have teams not only dealing with Yangon scavenges, but also scavenges in Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake too–all some distance away. It will be a difficult leg because there are a lot of options and movement involved–and of course some strategic choices to consider. They are not in Kansas anymore! Teams will also have options as to where they will be staying a night while they set out to discover  this amazing country. Today is Wednesday morning and we see our Teams again come Saturday at our 6:00pm check-in deadline. (Oh yea…the Heat Index here is 114 degrees! A dry heat when it’s not so wet out…)

5-Sample Myanmar Scavenges:
-take a pilgrimage to the Golden Rock pagoda…
-take the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River Express between Mandalay and the Bagan Plains…
-visit a zen meditation center to learn from a master…
-smoke a big fatty, a cheroot that is…
Team Challenge: How high can you get, vertically-speaking, in Myanmar…

And today the real travel test will begin. Our teams collective travel savvy and travel IQ will be tested here in Myanmar… in this daunting, breathtaking, frustrating, exhilarating haunting, sacred, dynamic, traditional, thrilling, rapidly changing (and I could go on and on) destination! It will be an interesting four days. Have fun and be safe folks.

SLO Folks working on their ground invasion strategy!

An Instant Observation: Coming from the scooter capital of the world to here is jarring because motorbikes are outlawed, which means you’re in a car, a bus, or on foot. Crazy visuals….

It is said that: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the places and moments that take our breath away.” And Myanmar will do that to you…if you let it.

Video of the day? Watch this on YouTube.

Stay tuned…the 3rd Day Syndrome is wreaking havoc on us…