Myanmar – a mysterious and controversial country. When we passed this way five years ago it seemed like the country was just beginning to open to tourism on a larger scale. This time we stopped for three days/two nights. There are several crew members from Myanmar on board who were excited to have a day off at home. And a new fellow joined the restaurant crew – his first time away from home. He admits to being a bit homesick.
We sailed up the Yangon River to the port of Thanylin. The river has a tidal drop of almost 20 feet. The port can handle big ships, but there is a lot of time spent making adjustments to the boat’s position. For us that meant moving the gangway every three hours or so. The people on deck three spent a lot of time looking at the side of the pier as they were below the level of the pier when the tide was out. The port is about 10years old and has no facilities for passenger ships, so on the bus for us. The port is not that far from the city, but the ride can vary from 60 to 90 minutes. For us it was 90 minutes – busy Friday morning.
Our first stop was the Shwedagon pagoda complex. Turns out ‘shwe’ means golden in the Myanmar language. Good description.
Each country we visit has a different expression of Buddhism- things seem quite complex here. The pagoda complex is huge with stupas and temples and miles of marble walkways. No shoes, no socks. It was good that we were there before it got really hot (topped out over 40C that day)
So many things to see :
After visiting the golden pagoda we went to see another Buddha- this one a giant reclining Buddha who lives in a huge house, surrounded by hundreds of smaller golden Buddhas.
We had time on our own on our second day, so back on the bus (being the weekend it was only an hour each way!)
With the help of a local lady we managed to cross that sea of traffic.
The combination of the heat and humidity mixed with the pollution means that the buildings very quickly start to look beaten down. The air quality was very poor- when we got back on the bus after our touring we were given damp cloths to cool ourselves. It was shocking how dirty we were just from walking around in that air. And sweating. A lot!
We shopped at the big market
But mostly we wandered and saw what the local people were buying and eating. We didn’t think street food was a good idea, but we did have a very good noodle lunch in a tiny little restaurant.
I think we may have to go back.