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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Mingalabar : Myanmar's thriving nightlife


Night life is Myanmar is essentially non-existent: ten days into our trip and aside from falling down drains nothing exciting had happened to us after dark. Please don't get me wrong it is a beautiful country, one of the best places I've ever visited, but if you're looking for a wild time (or even a mildly thrilling one) don't come here.

The one exception to this was an evening spent at Inle Lake.

Me and my two travel buddies headed out to a restaurant for dinner, a little local place above a clothing shop. We ascended the staircase, dimly aware of some commotion above us, and no sooner had we emerged than we were invited to join a group of - predominantly Irish - guys already several bottles deep.

It turns out that bottles of whiskey (served by the restaurant!) were about 90p a pop : to put that in perspective that is roughly the same as two cans of coke.

Needless to say the evening became very exciting very quickly, and our plans for a meal rapidly dilapidated into a liquid dinner. The lads invited everyone who appeared to join the table and before long we were a huge group: Spaniards, French, Americans, Scandinavians: very continental!

We were having an extremely jolly time, things beginning to get a wee bit messy (and it was only 8pm) … when suddenly, from nowhere, some club bangers start playing.

We were shocked: Could this be nightlife in Myanmar?

No. Well not the nightlife that we expected anyway. It turned out that the music was coming from the roller disco across the road.

Immediately the lads were well up for it.

OK, I said, I'm game.

Now I have never roller bladed in my life, no thats not quite true, once when I was about six years old I got given a pair of plastic roller blades, fell over instantly and never used them again.

But I was being bold and adventurous … and all the fellas were doing it ...


I laced myself in, stood up, and the fear was immediate: I can't stand in these: why did I think I would be able to stand in these? Why did I think that this was a good idea? Have I even met me? 

Of course I couldn't stay on my feet for more than seven seconds, much to the hilarity of the throng of local onlookers that ringed the side of the rink. The crowd pressed thick around the edges, we were the only westerners on skates, me the only western woman. They cheered me on, laughing – I will only assume with me, not at me – as I gracelessly tumbled around the rink, like a baby giraffe …. on roller blades.

I was down far more than I was up, but I had the best time, it was hilarious and the whiskey definitely helped to mask any bruises, till tomorrow at least. I was however confused: why was no one else was falling as much as me?

It was only afterwards that I found out that the lads all had previous roller blade experience.
'I haven't roller bladed for a good year now …'
'I used to go every weekend'

I mean what on earth! No one told me I was the only novice! I was lured into this.

Even so it was still a great night in Myanmar soaking in the local culture, soaked in the local spirit…