Here it is! The last (and least picture heavy) post from my trip.
We got up early and had one last bowl of that delicious noodle soup for breakfast before getting back on the boats to head out to the jetty and meet the buses. I was sad to leave! I could travel like that pretty much indefinitely, really... most everyone was ready to go home, but I was ready to do it all again! But I digress...
From the jetty we took the buses back to the Heho airport where we were again split into flights. This time I was with 10 others, and we left first and met our bus in Yangon to go back to our hotel there and get our big bags that we'd left in storage. I was really glad we were on that first flight... the other group's flight was delayed so they came in quite a bit later than us. But it was good - I had time to repack and get everything ready for the trip home the next day and browse some of the shops connected to the hotel.
After the other group got back, those who were interested met up in the lobby and we took a bus out and around the lake so we could see Aung San Suu Kyi's house where she still lives and was held under house arrest for so many years. It was funny - lots of people got off the bus to go take pictures through the bars of the gate - holding the cameras up over the top since you couldn't see through. Turns out it was like the gardening shed and the house was further along... pretty funny to watch, though!
Then we went to a jewelry shop - Myanmar is known for top quality sapphires, rubies, and jadite. They had absolutely gorgeous pieces, and I was able to quickly confirm that yes, I have very expensive taste. lol. There were a few people who picked out some nice pieces to take home to family members and it was fun to see what they bought. Nothing for me, though! Not enough budget left.
That night I joined up with our blue bus group (group 4!) and the six of us had dinner together in the hotel restaurant. I went with the Myanmar beef curry again - it was a little different from the night before, but so, so good. I definitely need to find a recipe for that and try it at home - I bet it would be fabulous in a slow cooker or dutch oven. It was so fun to sit and chat, and we finished the meal with some delicious ice cream before we called it quits.
After dinner, there were four of us who were interested in going to the nail salon that was in the hotel, but they had closed early. Then another couple came by and happened to mention that there was a massage parlor down another hallway with dirt cheap massages. We looked at each other and immediately went to check it out. Seriously? $15 for a 90 minute massage - feet, head, shoulders and hands. It was absolutely wonderful and a great ending to the day (although in full disclosure, parts of it HURT! Especially when the masseur used his elbows on my legs. I still have bruises that haven't entirely faded on one shin.) Since we couldn't top that, it was time to head up and get some sleep before our big travel day.
The following morning we lined up our suitcases and took the buses to the Yangon airport where we checked all of our bags through to San Francisco.
We flew from Yangon to Singapore, which was only a few hours. And the Singapore airport is so cool! There was a group of us that decided to use the layover to find the butterfly garden that we'd heard wasn't to be missed (a butterfly garden in an airport? Awesome!) It was really cool.
Then we just walked the airport for a while, taking advantage of the time to get in a little activity and stretch our legs. Then we flew to Hong Kong, which was about 3.5 hours, and were able to get out and walk a bit there too. I did stop in a shop and buy a really cute magnet so I could have a souvenir from Hong Kong... lol. And then? The long flight to SFO. It was shorter going back - only about 12.5 hours. I liked that it was broken up so we could stretch and walk around, and miracle of all miracles, I SLEPT on the flight to SFO. Without drugs. That has never happened. Ever. The couple next to me on the flight said I had been really out (that says a lot about the level of sheer exhaustion!) Anyway, we made it back, got our bags, and I said goodbye to most of the new friends I'd made, many of whom were going straight home instead of going to the hotel. It was sad to say goodbye, but as Dr. Seuss said, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." So I'm holding to that advice because there's a lot to smile about.
Anyway, after that we took the shuttle to the Hyatt where those of us leaving Tuesday were staying, and I finally got some good wifi and a semi-soft bed! The next day was solid travel again, and I got lucky with the weather going through Minneapolis, but I finally landed in Hartford around 11pm. I was lucky that I didn't have to dig out my car (although it was 17 degrees and a foot of snow on the ground!) The snow was frozen on top so I could walk on it to get into the car, and I finally got home around 12:30am (and was up at 6am to work out and go back to work! Nuts. But I couldn't take another day off.) Sigh... what a trip! It was truly wonderful from start to finish, and I'm very grateful for all I was able to see and do and the new friends I made. As always coming home from a trip like that makes me very aware of and grateful for all of the blessings I've been given and the life I'm able to lead. And I'm grateful for small things... clean water from the tap (and in general!), my washer and dryer, western style toilets, and clean, safe food that's readily available. It's a good life, is it not?
For those who are interested, the tour company was Fun for Less Tours and they have a lot of awesome trips available. Most of the people there were repeat customers, and I can see why! I'm already planning on doing my next trip with them, so check them out if you're thinking of planning a big vacation!
And with that, we go... FINALLY... back to our regularly scheduled blogging (or lack thereof! lol.)
Until the next trip... :)