Day 70, Wednesday 14 March 2012, Yangon
I woke after a good eight hours sleep feeling so much more lively than when I went to bed, thanks meds ! My back still aches but not as badly, and my stomach is still tender – I am wondering if my stomach hurts because I ate too much last night,But at least everything I ate last night is still inside. The headache is gone and my temperature is normal so think it was just a touch of sun stroke. Will hydrate more today and take more water with me when I go out. I am still a wee bit tired though and could curl up for a post breakfast nap quite easily.
We had a later start today, heading out just before 12, into the worst of the heat I guess, should stay in later or go earlier I suppose, but whatever we do it will be hot. We got a cab to the Monsoon restaurant downtown as there was supposed to be a good money changer nearby, plus we wanted a coffee before walking around the river front and seeing some of the central city sites, though there is not a lot to “see” in Yangon I am relishing the walk and to feel a bit of the city.
We found the money changer Ok, it is a large office with six businesses, mainly banks changing money at around the official rate. This is fairly new to Myanmar and a sign that they are starting to embrace tourism more officially. In the past, to get a good rate you had to use street changers with the risk of being ripped off. We were only allowed to change $500US each and I used five 100 dollar bills at the maximum rate of 815kyat per dollar. Mike used a mix of 100’2, 50’s and 20’s so got a lesser rate for the 50’s and 20’s. Two of his 20’s had ink marks on them so were rejected ! very very fussy.
Outside the money changer we met an Australian girl Jacqueline who was looking for Monsoon, so she joined us for a bit of lunch and a coffee, it was nice to have someone new to chat to. The coffee was great, but pricey, so won’t be doing too many of those while we are here as really going to have to be careful with cash for a few days at least.
After coffee we took a leisurely walk around the river front and downtown area of old Yangon. I got told off for trying to take a photo of the British consulate building, one of a few nice old colonial buildings on the river front. A lot of these buildings are in a terrible state, which is a shame.
Downtown Yangon is set out in a grid fashion with some wide main thoroughfares and smaller side streets, very different to the narrow lanes of many other places. With no motorbikes in sight, there a lot of cars about and lots of pedestrians. Some of the footpath is pretty bad so you are constantly looking up at where you are going and down again to ensure you don’t fall into a hole (or worse the drains)… According to Jacqueline a motorbike once hit and damaged the car of one of the “generals” and he subsequently banned them all from Yangon.
Unlike Cambodia walking the streets in Yangon is hassle free, no one (very few) people try to sell something or a taxi ride, it was quite a change. Quite a few people said hello, especially the kids, as we walked past, there are lots of tea stalls.
I paid a visit to the Sule Paya which cost me a couple of bucks and was pretty disappointing, Mike got his palm read while I was inside, I should have done the same in hindsight. Apparently he is going to come into some money soon – that was a real shock ! We wandered directionless around for a bit longer and then decided to get a cab back to the hotel as the heat was getting up.
After a wee rest I decided to go back to the Shwedagon Paya from yesterday as it was supposed to be stunning at sunset with the jewels sparkling under the setting sun. I had a rapid twenty minute walk there and arrived a bit worn and thirsty right on magic time at 5.30. however it wasn’t all that magic really, there was no sparkly reflection…. though the light was much better, it was significantly cooler and subsequently far more crowded than mid-day yesterday. I wandered around and snapped a few more photos. There are a lot of lights and other intrusions around the main stupa, so it was quite tricky to get shots that masked them.
8 second exposure to capture some movement 🙂
I was just preparing to sit down in a quite corner with the long lens on and try and catch a few people shots when I ran into Jacqueline, so we hung there till dark, the place does look good under lights.
We left soon after nightfall and agreed to share a meal at the Feel Myanmar restaurant that was a couple of blocks away from the paya. It was an interesting walk, on semi-lit streets, with the occasional torch light read of the map to find the restaurant, but well worth it. It was a nice place, not as “European” as Monsoon, but obviously geared for tourists, though it was mainly filled with Burmese. Burmese food is heavily influenced by India, so lots of curries, and plenty of vege options. I had a nice pototo and pea curry, which is one of my favourites and we shared a bottle of Myanmar beer. The restaurant brought round desert a watery tapioca and brown sugar dish that was quite nice, when they asked if we wanted a second, we both said yes… not sure if paid for those or not, bill was confusing ! but the meal was very cheap, I was anticipating to pay significantly more for the food, so very happy. After dinner we caught cabs back to our respective hotels.
We are both heading to Mandalay tomorrow, Mike and I on a plane that leaves at 7.00 and takes 1 quarter hours and Jacqueline on the bus that leaves at 7.30 and takes 10 hours… Ours was a LOT more expensive. We may catch up in Mandalay and share a hire car to do a day trip to the “3 cities” on Friday.
Up at 5.00 for the flight to Mandalay so early night!
it has taken 2 days to upload this so photos are a bit haphazard.