Trip Start Mar 04, 2006
19Trip End Apr 13, 2006
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Where I stayed
My reservations at the Motherland Inn (2) went through, and I was picked up at the airport along with a dozen other travelers, and deposited at the Inn. It is an air conditioned safe haven from the heat, and the third world conditions surrounding us. During the day, electricity is provided by what looks like a 40 year old diesel generator just outside the front door, and at night they draw from the grid. The inn is clean, well kept and staffed by very helpful and friendly locals, with better English skills than the staff at my place in Bangkok.
After arriving I exchanged a crisp new $100 bill for 113,000 kyat (chat), the local currency
As bad as the infrastructure is, especially to western eyes, it's just what the locals have known their whole lives. They seem remarkably unaffected by it. Friendly and open, neatly attired in crisply pressed shirts and traditional longyi (sarong-like skirt), they stand in amazing contrast to their city.
Turned in early last night, and tried to get out before the heat got too bad today
I didn't get any pictures of Sule Paya, as it's currently surrounded by scaffolding as they do their yearly application of gold leaf to the dome. In fact, I've taken hardly any pictures since arriving as most of my time has been spent just walking around, soaking it all in. (And drawing a lot of looks. I get the feeling most visitors get around in taxis and tour buses, and kinda confine themselves more to the tourist attractions.) Plenty of great photo ops, but I don't want to be that guy sticking his camera in everyones face
As long as these posts are, I'm relating so little of what I'm seeing and sensing. Just the barebones really. It's impossible to get across the absolute foreigness of the entire experience. Vendors cooking on the sidewalks, shops of all descriptions, sign makers working out of a 4x2 foot bench on the sidewalk, cutting letters from colored plastic with a hand saw, people riding on the outside of buses, EVERYTHING is different. My favorite though, was the guy on the side walk with a hand cranked pipe bender. Want some pipe bent? He's your guy. And the smells. Compared to this, San Francisco is scentless. Food, smoke, exhaust, spices, waste, and more things you can't identify.
Anyway, I'll look for internet access on the way to Shwedagon, and try to get this posted tonight. I'll be in Yangon until Friday, and catch a train north after that. Haven't decided where yet, but probably to Mandalay or Bagan.
P.S. Obviously I found net access. Great place actually, very modern, just a 5 minute walk from my GH. SLOW connection, so just a few pics, all low quality as I had to turn up the JPEG compression to compensate for the upload speed. As expected, my email is blocked. And thanks everyone for the comments!