I woke up beside Callum this morning which was somewhat unexpected as I’d gone to sleep beside Jennifer. Declan had vomited during the night and Jennifer had swapped rooms and beds with Callum, unnecessarily as it turned out because Dec went back to sleep and woke up fine in the morning.
Anyway, today was market-day in Kelaw. The Kelaw region has a rotating market that lands in each destination every five days. Some stall-holders do nothing but travel between the markets, others are farmers who only come in when they have something to sell. The market was a riot of produce from the seemingly normal – oranges, bananas, chickens – through to the unusual for us – fried rat on a stick, a root that looked like a silk-worm larvae, lots of animal organs. Overall it was one of the best markets we’ve ever been to.
After the market visit we drove for an hour or so and stopped to visit a traditional umbrella maker. It was an inspiring process with every part made deftly by hand. Then we drove on to the airport and caught a small plane to Mandalay. The flight took 25 minutes, our bikes going by road in the van would take seven or eight hours to cover the same distance.
In Mandalay we visited a bronze casting works and a place that made gold leaf. The gold leaf making process is extraordinarily laborious and was quite fascinating to learn about. The process to make the paper they use while beating the gold thin takes over three years.
Finally we made our way to the hotel which has a nice rooms with lovely views of the palace and the hills and a pool where we did some significant splashing.
Our Christmas Day ended with a complete contrast with the market where it started. We had dinner in a cafe inside a different sort of market, a Mercedes Benz car showroom, and spent the whole time obsessing about how surreal it felt.