We spent one day in Yangon. It was great – gritty, dilapidated, old colonial grandeur crumbling and paint peeling before your eyes. We stayed stayed at a nice wee place on Barr Street (Chan Myaye Guesthouse), which was run by young and earnestly professional men and women. They served up an excellent breakfast of rice with raisins and cashew nuts and a fried egg, along with truly delicious sweet coffee that I later learnt was made with condensed milk (the same tastiness cannot be said of the tea with condensed milk, which I made the mistake of tasting later).
We walked over to the train station, hoping to get tickets for the legendary old sleeper train but found their were no tickets left. We walked back past the slums by the railway tracks and got our helpful hosts to book us the last and shittest seats in the next overnight bus to Bagan.
We had the afternoon free so decided to walk over to the Shwedagon Pagoda. Caught in a rainstorm just over halfway, we sheltered in a little coconut stand for about half an hour before carrying on.
Once at the temple, we had to take your shoes off at the bottom of the hill to the temple and walk up a covered staircase with touristy shops selling tat on either side. Once at the top, it became clear that foreigners AKA white people had to pay £7 to get in, quite a lot when you consider a meal for two is about £2. Hugo balked and didn’t go but I hadn’t come all that way to stand at the door so I paid up and went in.
I spent about an hour looking around the temples – the huge golden pagoda is just one part of a massive complex, home to an army of Buddhas (and a replica of the Buddha tooth relic, which I saw in Sri Lanka). Most interesting was seeing the normal people going about their business – some praying but most chilling out; chatting, eating or even napping beside the shrines. The buildings were impressive but my little map didn’t have that much information so I didn’t learn all that much.
When I came back, I found Hugo sitting next to a tour guide who was taking a lunch break, chatting about everything from the temple to their shared interest in martial arts. He probably got more out of sitting at the door than I did from going in. #greeneyedmonster
We walked back through the busy streets of Yangon, taking a little detour through a park with a green lake and the rickitiest wooden walk walkway over it. The wooden planks were rotten almost to the core and moved about underfoot. I heard the headline in my head: “Scottish woman drowns in Yangon after foreseeable accident”.