First, let me say I love visa runs. Myanmar requires that I leave the country every 70 days. Then I can return and get a new visa. That gets them an additional $50 visa fee every 70 days. Works for them and works for me, since I get free airfare (furnished by AIS) to Bangkok.
Arriving in Bangkok is easy. There's a direct, two hour flight from Mandalay to Don Mueang airport. We arrived 30 minutes early at 2:35 p.m. The plane parked a few feet from a jetway but as usual, we didn't use it. Instead, we climbed down stairs and onto a bus. We drove a few minutes and entered the terminal where we climbed a flight of stairs then trekked to immigration. It only took a few minutes before I was collecting my luggage, exchanging money and walking through customs. Less than 30 minutes after touching down, I walked out and snagged a taxi.
Traffic on the freeways was light. I was watching for any signs of military rule. I did see a group of soldiers on the other side of the freeway. Five or six guys in uniform were standing near a military vehicle. I think they had a flat tire.
|Mark Owen, I thought of you while waiting to exit on Sukhumvit.|
|My room at Citypoint hotel. Less than $45 a night and lovely.|
|I'm not a big fan of the frosted glass windows that serve as bathroom walls but since I'm staying alone it's no issue.|
|The room is fairly small but has a large, comfortable bed. It also has a mini-fridge and safe.|
When I checked in to the hotel, they recognized me. It's the hotel where I stayed and had to check out to go to the hospital. They were helpful then and now. And, coincidentally put me in the same room.
I immediately turned on the air conditioning, television and internet, in that order. I have television now but not as many channels. I was very excited about having a high speed internet connection. Lack of consistent internet is one of the greatest frustrations in Myanmar. And when it's working, it's slow.
After enjoying some time with my room's amenities, I headed out. First stop, bottom floor of Terminal 21. I was happy to see a photo shop and got prints of my cleaning ladies/ESL students for them. Next, Gourmet Market.
The market is much like being at a Whole Foods, just with more Asian products. I eyed heads of lettuce and the salad bar. But, I've been dreaming of tacos as my first meal. What to do? I continued shopping and picked up $60 (which filled two bags) of items I can't get in Mandalay. Cocoa, rosemary, black olives, salad dressings, taco seasoning.
Next, upstairs to Sunrise Tacos. I explained to the waitress that I just wanted to get something to go. She remembered me and that I was living in Myanmar. What a memory - this is a busy restaurant and I haven't been there for months. Of course, every time I make a visa run I do have several meals there.
We chatted while my food was being prepared. The owners (an American man and Thai woman) asked for my contact information. Seems they are considering opening one of their restaurants in Myanmar and they're planning a visit soon to check it out. Some of the staff at the restaurant are Myanmar.
I'm writing this as if its no big deal. Inside, I'm doing a happy dance. A good Mexican restaurant in Mandalay? I will abandon my beloved Bistro Mandalay in a heartbeat. My pay check will be dedicated to tacos and margaritas. Que bueno!
My meal, by the way, was delicious. Three crispy tacos with fresh salsa and sour cream and a salad. Perfect.
|My over-stuffed tacos and side salad. Fresh and delicious.|
It's 7:30 a.m. now on Friday. I'm planning a day of massage and shopping. And sweating, since even at 5:00 a.m. when I walked outside it was already humid and warm. It will be a day of tough decisions. Do I enjoy the honey-glazed duck at the nearby Chinese restaurant or do I go back to Sunrise Tacos?