New Year's Eve, Burma Style!
Our flight connection in Bangkok goes well and we fly onto Myanmar as scheduled. We land in the capital, Yangon, around 08:45 local time. We are met by our two local guides, Michael and Harry, and we join our two private coaches to head off downtown. Traffic is predictably slow and we are tired following the long flight, so we may not remember everything Michael and Harry are telling us. Some of us make a brief stop to see the Sule Pagoda (which is over 2,000 years old) and some of us take a short stroll around a local market, however we cut short our orientation tour as we hear that our rooms at the luxurious Sule Shangri-La Hotel are ready early. A well-earned rest follows and Dawn and Richard have also arranged a surprise lunch in the hotel restaurant.
Not only is it New Year’s Eve today but it is also our guest, Roy’s birthday. Dawn and Richard therefore decide to do some shopping. It always amazes us what you can find to buy, anywhere in the world – so some party and gift items are purchased!
Everyone gets together for a fantastic New Year’s Eve buffet dinner this evening. Dawn and Richard have organised some table games which encourage mixing and helps everyone to get to know each other. Wine is included too, so the evening is soon in full swing.
During the meal we sing Happy Birthday to Roy and celebrate by lighting a special birthday candle (one of our purchases this afternoon at a local supermarket!). The candle holder is plastic and has six candles in the shape of a lotus flower. Believe it or not, once the candles are lit, the flower opens and there is a mechanism inside which plays a birthday tune. What the box doesn’t tell you is that when the flower opens, the flames from the candles continue to burn and hot wax and fire drops onto the table mat below. Sadly we have selected a plastic table mat and that begins to melt. It was all going so well. The candles eventually go out but the tune keeps playing (all night!). And the whole thing only cost the equivalent of 50p!
Given our long and tiring journey from the UK we do not anticipate we will last until midnight local time to see in the New Year. We therefore decide to have a countdown early and Richard calls out 10, 9, 8 ….
All of the other guests in the restaurant join in, but are looking at their watches and wondering why we’re celebrating at 9.30pm. Anyway, party poppers popped, silly hats worn and we have welcomed 2015 in style!