So, after the aforementioned trip to the Golden Rock and a rather frightening truck ride down the mountain, I was definitely ready for some rest days in Myanmar’s South. At the Golden Rock, in the very early morning hours, I literally had to fight for a seat on a truck, slamming my backpack on the truck and then trying to jump on the vehicle with dozens of other pilgrims aiming to do the same. It was absolutely insane, as was the rather speedy ride down the hill, where I also had a small boy on my lap (since children did not count as real passengers and therefore were not allocated a seat…). As I didn’t want the boy to get hurt and his father already had his sister on his lap, I tried to balance him and myself while the truck raced down the mountain. At this moment, I really had enough…
So, when I arrived in Mawlamyine about 4 hours later, I just dumped my backpack at my hotel and asked a taxi driver to take me to a hotel with a swimming pool. There was only one in town, a very expensive congress hotel, but they let me use their pool for 5 USD and I had the whole pool area to myself. It was time to wind down and get my traveling self back together. I had really hated this particular day so far, but the sun and some rest and a good book helped to put me back on track and enjoy the rest of my otherwise fantastic Myanmar experience.
After a couple of hours of rest I finally set out in the late afternoon to explore Mawlamyine. And what hidden gems I found just strolling through the streets. My spirits were immediately lifted and a big smile appeared on my face. I was back to my traveling self. On my way up a hill towards a pagoda with supposedly great views for sunset, I passed along old colonial buildings, in slow decay. It was calm and I was almost the only person on the streets. Further along the way, I ran into a nice English fellow, also an avid photographer, so we spent the rest of the afternoon talking about traveling and photography, while enjoying the empty streets and the serenity of Mawlamyine in the evening light.
I was reconciled with my trip and also reassured that still, at 29, I can go traveling in backpacking style and that I still enjoy traveling on my own.