The Burmese Kantburn six spotter at work.

The Burmese Kantburn six slotter at work.

Time to forsake the Merriment Hotel, Khao Lak. Tomorrow we take to the skies (hopefully) with Silk Air to go to Yangon, Myanmar, via Singapore. We’ll breakfast at Phuket airport, being careful to avoid Burger King and its dreaded powdered milk.

Our last day here was not without some excitement. For a start, it was Michelle’s birthday and the Merriment sent a 15000 calorie chocolate cake to our room. The delivery boy sang happy birthday as he brought it in to which I added my fine tenor voice. If we eat it we will be unable to leave owing to dual bilious attacks. Maybe this is their way of extending our stay.

Still on ailments, I found that I hadn’t brought enough of an important medication to see me through the Myanmar assignment. Where to go for help but the Merriment medical centre –  looking like a cheap movie set of a medical centre? It had a bed on wheels, a small metal bucket with some instruments sticking out of the top, a petri dish and a glass case full of popular headache and cough cures. The diminutive, whispering nurse, done up in a pale blue uniform festooned with an “I’ve passed the course” badge was awaiting the arrival of the sick. I got the feeling that her specialities were sunburn and diarrhoea so that when I presented her with a needed foreign medication she was in over her head.

She stared at the packet, looked it up on the internet, photographed it with her phone and telephoned two people to talk about it. Her solution? Ask a taxi driver to take you to a pharmacy and show them the packet. Which is what I did. We visited six Khao Lak pharmacies and the pharmacists all did the same thing: looked at the packet at zero distance from their noses, took out the pills and held them up to the light, gave me a blank stare and said “no hab.” Luckily, through the ingenuity of the birthday girl I found they were available in the pharmacy at Changi Airport and we’ll get them tomorrow. They hab.

Later . . We’ve now arrived at the Myanmar Shangri-La after a whole day of travel with Silk Air and various ground transport, finishing with panel-rubbing traffic in Yangon. I’ve previously criticised Silk Air for tired old A320 planes. That’s no longer the case. They have been replaced by A737-800s, still small, but now with more robust engines, stronger wings and enough room inside to employ normally proportioned cabin crew instead of the former dwarfs. In addition, there are lovely blue lights in the cabin, while in cattle class the décor makes you feel as though you’re sitting in the middle of a ripe apricot.

We meet up with the rest of the tour troops tomorrow night and I’m feeling apprehensive. After we booked and paid for this tour we were the sent the small print which tells us that we have to be fit and nimble to participate. We have to be able to traverse rough ground for up to two kilometres, climb punishing temple steps and hop in an out of small boats without capsizing them. I don’t think we’ve done enough training, especially in small boats, and may be court-martialled, clapped in irons and thrown in the brig for endangering the wellbeing of the other platoon members. What we need among our number are overweight people with bad hearts to slow down the pace a bit.

Much later . . . We have just had our first breakfast in the club lounge room at the Shang. No kids, no screams, no sparrows. It’s quite a shock. People are sitting around whispering to one another. The management doesn’t like me wearing shorts. Knees are obscene for the cocktail hour and only just passable for breakfast. I did an early workout at the superbly equipped gym and watched the pigeons taking their daily bath in the kid’s pool. Later we went to the authentic gem market next to the authentic gem museum. I’m glad we’ve prepaid the trip because I’d have to return home immediately owing to shortage of funds. Our ride back to the Shang demonstrated the bottom end of the taxi industry in Yangon. Our little sawn-off Japanese machine had no seat belts, an after-market back set that somebody had thrown out at a council clean-up, and shrieking suspension. It looked like a cut & shut – the term used for rebirthing of wrecked cars.

Hotel Toaster Report

Because we’re on the club floor, we don’t mix with guests of low degree for breakfast. The club floor, if cunningly used, can provide enough food to sustain life and enough grog to keep an alcoholic going – all free, sort of.

This toaster, therefore, is not the standard fare for the hotel. It is a Burmese Kantburn six slotter with infinite timer and peekaboo handle to see how your tost is getting on in the cremo. A fine performer, except it can lead to nasty disagreements when more than one person uses it. This morning I had to devise on a toasting plan with a gentleman whose sliced roll  had to be toasted with my thick rye bread. We used four slots and the peekaboo to achieve a good result.