Today I am still in Yangon, Myanmar! Today was a very full day. I started today's adventure at about 9:00a.m. I met up with my tour guide and driver in the lobby of my hotel and we were off!
First we went to the morning market. This is where they sell fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and all kinds of different foods. It was a typical SE Asian market. Lots of meat in the sun. Lots of fish, both alive and dried, being chopped up and some amazing looking fruits and vegetables. While we were there, we got lucky as a group of local monks were making their procession through the market for their daily alms. They all had giant fans and when I tried to get photos, they mostly put the fans in front of their faces. I kind of assumed from this that they weren't interested in having their photo taken. I got the point. I did manage to sneak a few photos though.
After the market, we walked around the area looking at a lot of colonial buildings/architecture. It was interesting, but not really my thing. But, I went with it and it was enjoyable although maybe a bit too much. I didn't realize that Myanmar was under British control. I thought the French invaded, but nope, the British. That's why all the colonial architecture in the city. After walking around looking at lots of buildings, we arrived at the Strand Hotel. It is famous in Yangon as one of the first hotel's. It has been renovated and it is pretty amazing. We went in for a drink. I had some lime juice. Have you ever had lime juice? You should. It might be my new favorite thing.
After the architecture walk and delicious lime juice, we headed to a smaller pagoda. Outside there was a market where you could buy offerings for Buddha. We spent some time there and it was really interesting learning about all the different Buddha's and more about the religion. I did find out that my Buddhist animal is a Dragon. So, that's pretty cool.
After the pagoda, we made our way to the reclining Buddha. It's huge!! It's the only Buddha I've seen with almost glass eyes and eyelashes. He was just relaxing, so it was cool. I'm always amazed at the size of reclining Buddha's. I've seen the one in Bangkok, and I think maybe this one was a bit bigger. But he was just reclining, seeing what's up.
After the reclining Buddha, we took the local train to a market. The train was great!! It offered a different view of the city (one without horrible traffic) and was kind of relaxing with all the swaying back and forth. Here's the thing I don't understand though. We got on the train and there were maybe 25 open seats. My guide immediately sat us next to some dude already in one of the seats. Then I noticed that everyone that got on the train, didn't take an empty set of benches, they always sat with someone else on the train. It was kind of strange. In the US if I got on a train and there were 25 open benches and one other person on the train, I'd probably pick an empty bench. Not probably, I would chose an empty bench. People here really like each other. To each their own. The only down side to the train was when we were maybe 200 yards from our last station, the train stopped and we sat for about 15 minutes. Today was 106 degrees so it got really hot, really fast. Finally the guide asked if I wanted to just jump off and walk to the station. YES!!! So we abandoned the train and walked down the tracks. The train led us to a local market. It was sort of indoors. It had a roof, but no walls and maybe about 300 different vendors in it and surrounding it. I've been to markets like this in Vietnam. It was kind of horrible. Everyone yelling at you to buy their stuff and so many people pushing and shoving. This one was a pleasant surprise. It wasn't really busy and no one harassed you to buy things. It was like a giant shopping mall. It was really nice. I bought a couple things and then we found our driver. After the market it was about 2:30 and we were to go to the largest Pagoda in Myanmar. But since it was SO HOT, my guide asked if I wanted to go back to the hotel for a couple hours and then head to the big pagoda when it was cooler, later in the day. Yes, that sounded like a dream!
After a couple hours of checking emails and resting back at the hotel, we were off to a giant pagoda called Shwedagon Pagoda. It was pretty amazing. The stupa was being refurbished, so it had some bamboo scaffolding on it, but it was mostly done. I think we spent almost 2 hours at that pagoda. I found my Buddhist animal (DRAGON!!!) and the guide said it was o.k. for me to pour water on the Buddha by it and my animal. So I did. It is a ritual that Buddhist's do. I poured three cups of water on the Buddha, and three on the Dragon right underneath it. I'm not exactly sure what it meant, but it was cool. While we were there, there were 3 or 4 different ceremonies happening. All of them were children being basically recognized in the Buddhist religion. It was a big deal, and was told I was very luck to see that. The families all dressed up in beautiful clothes and religious dress and walked around the Pagoda to a ceremony. I got some photos of it, and everyone smiled while I was taking photos, so it seemed o.k. It was really a relaxing time there. After walking around, we sat in one of the smaller pagoda's where there was a nice breeze and just watched all the people go by. Nice end to the day. Then, it was back to my hotel and I went to a restaurant around the corner from my hotel because it was easy and I was hungry. Now, just blogging and going to go to bed really soon.
Tomorrow I have to meet my driver at 5:30a.m. for a transfer to the airport. I'm flying to Bagan tomorrow, and I'm pretty excited about that. Mostly because it's in a much smaller town and I've ALWAYS wanted to see the temples in Bagan. I've read it is equivalent to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and that place is awesome. I love big cities, but it's a little congested here in Yangon. 6 million people live here, so it will be nice to get out of the craziness of the big city. So, I'm off to bed. Until tomorrow, thanks for reading everyone!!!!