Trains, Buses and the Shwe Dagon Pagoda

Trip Start Nov 23, 2012
Trip End Dec 22, 2012

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Flag of Myanmar  ,
Sunday, November 25, 2012

10:15 We came out of our hotel for a short walk and were immidiately set upon by 3 small boy monks who wanted money! They followed us down the street for a bit soon gave up. We ended up in a mini mart, as the folks needed a few things and I ended up buying a couple of drinks and other items myself. People appear to find me fascinating and keep staring, I always assume this is the blond hair and white skin rather than I still have breakfast on my face!
There's the usual assortment of local nibbles and foods but also coke, cadburys, Pringles etc, Nivea products and ferrero rocher! It seems that although this country has been fairly cut off, it really hasnt!
12:24 On our return we found some of our tour group and guide in reception and had a word, before going out to the Scott Market to change some dollars to Kyats and have a look around. The way to the market is an affair whereby you have to duck and dive amongst umbrellas, dodge and weave around fruit and veg stalls all along the pavements. The market is mostly full of jewellery, the very yellow gold, lots of jade and various jewels.
Whilst the men are mostly in sarongs, the ladies have face paint over their cheekbones which is called takkana- a traditional look which is said to protect their faces and look attractive.
We have a coffee in the only decent looking restaurant around, the same place we came for dinner last night. It's full of westerners all over the age of 50, as if they were all waiting for Burma to be opened their whole lives (sorry oldies). We get ice coffees and watch the world go by - the men. The buildings around look shabby and crumbling, like they need repainting a good deal of maintenance. There are wires dangling all over the place in an untidy fashion, with the occasional clip holding a bunch together. Satellite dishes cover the roofs whilst bars cover a lot of the windows.
13:27 Our first stop on our tour was lunch. This was a local restaurant, plastic chairs and tables, a fan whirring in the corner. We are more or less told what we are eating with a choice of mutton or chicken. I go for chicken and get presented with chicken and rice.
14:25 We drove to the train station and got on the city train which costs the locals about 1p. It smells a bit like a cattle truck, has no doors, wooden floors but has been upgraded to plastic seats down the side.
We trundle along at about 15mph for about an hour, people get on and off with bundles of bananas, baskets, etc. We pass by houses made of wood or corrugated iron, the occasional colonial style station, washing hangs out either on the tracks or by it. Rubbish litters the side of the tracks, people are free to walk along them and cross them, after all trains don't go so fast. The train blows its horn all the way along warning pedestrians of its coming. When we cross roads the barriers are manually operated- pushed over by a person.
16:03 We finally end our journey at a station that is entirely covered in people selling produce in an absolutely chaotic manner, the pictures speak for themselves! The people walk past and smile at me, big broad grins beneath their painted faces.
16:52 58p a litre for petrol here...randomism of today!
17:54 We came to the Shwe Dagon pagoda, the biggest pagoda in the world (apparently?). It is huge, covered in gold and surrounded by more little temples and Buddhas and gold everywhere. It really is quite an amazing sight and we come round a corner and it got a little bit Disney world when there was an area covered in Christmas lights. Again, the photos speak for themselves!
19:10 After watching the light change as the sun went down over the pagoda we have come for dinner at a very nice restaurant called Padonmar Restaurant- serving burmese food. A starter of lentil soup, chicken and potato curry, fish curry, watercress, rice, Aubergine something, all finished off with banana fritter in honey.
21:54 We returned to the hotel just before 9pm as we have an early start tomorrow- leaving at 545am! I had a shower and put my photos on my computer before getting tucked up in bed for my sleep.
Best: Shwe Dagon Pagoda
Worst: nothing of an early start?
Beautiful: the golden Shwe Dagon Pagoda
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Von Adder on

Zoe you've gone on holiday with Richard Attenborough!!

Caroline on

50+ equals oldies?! You can go off people...

Sharon on

Wow Zoe, it looks like you are having a great time!

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