Yangon and Bagan
Taxi to Don Muang airport and we are quickly through immigration where we grab a bite before the flight. Craig and Steve have befriended Nynke, from Holland, who is travelling on her own. E and C are the only ones who have accommodation booked in Yangon, but if we all stick together, we are sure it will work out. A short flight, and our watches back 30 minutes we touch down in Yangon. Quickly though immigration, we check the rate of USD to Kyat and change up some of our crispy USD. The USD notes we carry must be clean, new (after 2006), and unfolded or they will not be accepted! The Ocean Palace Inn has a mini bus waiting to take us, and it seems that there is room for the other 3, so happy days. The cars on the roads are driving on the right, even though many are imports from Japan that have the steering wheel on the right. After checking in with the extremely friendly staff, we taxi to a huge complex of temples and Pagodas at Shwedagon. An elevator takes us up to the complex. We spend the next 2 hours wandering round the serene complex till sunset. Dinner is a feast at an outdoor restaurant of local dishes. We are all very happy with our first afternoon in Myanmar!
Next morning we all book our onward jouneys. E and C are going to Bagan, and Steve and Craig to Kalau. We are assured these are very good buses as we are shown pictures on the bus tickets. Hardly a useful indication, but these are the only options. Craig and E take Stevo's advise to try the local Betel nut that is wrapped in a leaf with tobacco and lime (calcium). This is chewed for a while and then spat out, and it gives a light headed buzz...Burmese Daze.
We spend the afternoon doing a walking tour of the city armed with our guide book. We take lunch in a tea house where the waiters really enjoy looking out for us! On the streets we note the huge array of books, including to our surprise many about Aung San Suu Kyi. Craig has his fortune read by a roadside fortune teller! In the late afternoon we taxi to the bus station which turns out to be an enormous place. On the way Craig fixes the air-con in the taxi! We bid farewell to Craig and Steve, and find our bus. It is not quite the luxury bus we were spoiled with in Thailand. Infact it is a little on the shabby side, with seats that barely recline! We are sad to have said goodbye to the others, and are already missing the chat, banter and laughter.
After 150 miles or so of achingly loud Karaoke videos of Myanmar love songs we stop for dinner break, and bump into Craig and Steve, so we have dinner together!
Back on the bus and the karaoke videos flash back on the screen, and the air con goes into Arctic mode. Fortunately our packs are on the back seats so we are able to pull out our winter gear and rug up. surprisingly we get little sleep, and at 4:30am we arrive in Bagan. We stagger off the bus and loa our bags into a waiting horse drawn cart that takes us to our hotel called Eden. It is at this point that E realises he has left some things on the now departed bus. It must have been the love songs that interrupted his train of thought. No matter, we are assured that the small bag will be returned later in the morning.
We reach the hotel and as it is still so early, our room is still occupied. We wait in the dark lobby fora while before the horse and cart returns to take us to see sunrise over the hundreds of pagodas that litter the landscape at Bagan.
It is a wonderful sight. As the sun rises, so do several hot air balloons.
After a good breakfast, we go to our room and fall into a deep slumber for 2 hours, dreaming of karaoke.
We drag ourselves from bed and rent bicycles to visit the pagodas and temples. Armed with a map we set off and spend the afternoon happily riding around dirt tracks and poking our noses into some fabulous old ruins. We watch sunset from the top of a pagoda. Later we venture out for dinner, and stumble blindly upon the aptly named Restaurant Street, where we wine and dine. We notice that internet cafes are fairly prevalent.
A terrific sleep! Our second day in Bagan is spent on the bikes visiting more temples, before sunset over the Irrawaddy river. Myanmar is a country full of Pagodas, and Bagan is an ancient epicenter for them. We have an early night, as tomorrow we take an early boat to Mandalay...
C at Shwedagon, Yangon
E at Shwedagon
Bhudda image Shwedagon
C surrounded by Bhudda
Pagodas at Shwedagon
C and Bhudda
C and E at Shwedagon
C, Nynke, Craig and Stevo at dinner in Yangon
Betel nut seller in Yangon
Stevo and C ordering lunch in a tea house, Yangon
Stevo, C, E and Craig in the tea house
Waiters in the tea house
our food in the tea house!
Craig has his fortune read on the streets of Yangon
Balloon Rise, Bagan
Sun and Balloon
C - it's all just hot air
Pagoda at Bagan
horse and carts, Bagan
C on the Pagoda