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I set my alarm for 5.15 am because I didn’t want to risk being late for my transfer to Bagan airport and the flight to Heho.

Breakfast was at 6.00 am and I was transferred to the airport at 6.30 – a little early I thought but it was better to be safe than sorry. As has always been the case throughout the trip, Celine and Ben were there to see me off and Soe, also in the photo, was to be my ‘guide’ to the airport to make absolutely sure that all my documents were in order and that I went through check-in correctly! (I could get used to this!)

My bags were collected from my cabin, brought up to the reception and passed over to be carried up the steep steps to the waiting car.

I confess that I had no objection to this kindness as there are plenty of steps up to the car park at this time of the year. In the wet season the river level rises to the bottom of the Belmond sign but at this time of the year when one can almost stand in the river, there are many more steps to negotiate. As I said many times – for a people of fairly small stature, they do make the risers on their steps amazingly deep. And the climb doesn’t stop where you see the steps end below the sign – there are just as many steps to negotiate around the bend. If you’re as unfit as I have become at the moment after a week of being amazingly well-fed and cared for, you might also be seriously breathless when you reach the top!

The airport conditions at Bagan were reminiscent of my travels through some of the smaller airports in Europe when I was a teenager. This was the departure lounge – the same one for every flight, and four left before we did.

And, of course, it was a walk out to the small plane, lined up with all the others going in different directions at much the same time.

The little window next to me was very scratched and the atmosphere below was misty but I was charmed by the sight of the landscape stretching out below us as we neared our destination in Shan State. Crops of every kind and colour were spread out, with little villages in between.

And as we got closer it became clear that the majority of the little houses were roofed with long run iron as opposed to the sugar cane thatching that we’d seen nearly everywhere in Bagan state.

Adam had sent a PRIME (his company) driver to meet the plane and we passed some fabulous sights along the way like these three little boys playing in a small (and pretty muddy looking) river and enjoying every moment, this farmer leading his water buffalo by the side of the road to their next ‘assignment’ and this compulsory stop for a herd of cattle being driven to new grazing – very much like what one often sees in the Oxfordshire countryside but in very different surroundings here – not to mention a very different breed of cattle too.

Adam had also organised our accommodation and had come up with an amazing deal at Sanctum Inle Resort on the northeastern side of the Lake (the airport is on the northwestern side so the journey took just under an hour). The hotel is not finished and has only had what’s called a ‘soft opening’. Because of this, Adam had negotiated a price of only 50% of what will be charged after the ‘hard opening’ at the end of the year.

Hard to believe, but this 'building' was my room – my whole room! It’s called a Provost Junior Suite and it’s enormous – probably about 100m². The hotel facilities are in the building to the right. Adam, Jan, and Cameron had an identical suite behind this one.

I could have accommodated an army in here and it was a complete contrast to the very cute accommodation I’ve had for the past eight days.

And so we spent a very restful day enjoying Cameron and beginning to catch up with the seventeen months since we were last together in Singapore.

The evening was spent very pleasantly in Nyaung Shwe, a fairly large town at the northern end of the lake where we all had dinner with a couple of Adam’s colleagues.

Bagan to HeHo and Inle Lake, Myanmar - 7 November 2015

 
 
 
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