The rice was in various stages of growth and the villagers came a few at a time to work in the fields, some planting rice shoots and one ploughing with an ox. They all went home when it began to rain heavily, leaving the ox standing alone in the downpour. I was happy when he was finally collected and taken away, hopefully to a nice dry stable, leaving the paddy to the egrets who stalked regally among the plants.
Below the balcony a profusion of palms and trees grew luxuriantly and the fields came up to within a metre of them. The noise of the frogs at night was deafening. Added to the delights of this place, I found a resident dog and cat to talk to, as well as the charming man who was the owner, a doctor who ran a clinic in the town.
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In the mornings a sensational breakfast was laid out on a communal table groaning under the weight of platters of tropical fruit and other life-sustaining goodies. Lunch and dinner were ordered in advance and also eaten communally in the ground floor, net-enclosed dining room that doubled as the reception area. I met a couple of German women teachers there who were good company at dinner each night when we shared large bottles of beer.
Much as I didn’t want to leave this idyllic place, I enquired about onward travel and learned that the train south to Bago left at eleven am That beat the bus that departed in the middle of the night well six am actually. Yes, I was about to try once more to go to Bago.
A trishaw to transport me to the train station was conjured up. It was a long ride to the station for the trishaw rider, but this time at least it was not raining. At the entrance a guard took control of me and led me to the station master’s office, where we went through the passport and US dollar ritual again. It took a lot of writing of papers and filling in of forms before a ticket was allowed into my possession, costing ten dollars. I was taken to a seat, far away at the end of the platform, to wait.
The train arrived almost on time and I found my seat, a single similar to the one I’d had on the Moulmein train. The carriage was grotty but quite comfortable. Before we left the station master came aboard to seek me out and enquire if I was happy with my situation.
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