Wednesday, January 8, 2014


January 4 - Sam and I got a cab to the Don Muang airport and met up with Emilie once there.  We shipped a few things that should arrive in approximately 2 that will be a nice surprise when it shows up.  We met Emilie there and after a quick flight we landed in Yangon.  Guide told us we could hire a private car for around $800 for the three of us for our eight days in Myanmar, but we decided to do it on our own.  Can't wait to travel when I'm older and actually have the money to afford a little more comfort/convenience.
Got to The Motherland Inn 2 and ordered some food (fried rice, chicken, soup) for about $8 total.  Took a taxi to the Grand Pagoda ($8) and explored the complex a bit.  As we exited the elevator a female monk gestured to us to follow her and she showed us around all the different areas.  Very few words were exchanged as she spoke only a few words in English but the experience was really awesome.  On our way out a monk came up to us and asked if we spoke English.  He asked if we would come back to his monastery and we obliged (sounds way worse than it was...he clearly was a good person).

We went to the monastery and he showed us around.  Everyone was very friendly and we were even served fruit, cookies and tea.  He was pretty desperate to get us to come back the next morning to participate in their English class, but we were pretty clear that if we could come we would meet him at the monastery.  Taxi home and bed relatively early.

January 5 – Woke up at 6:30am because I wasn’t sleeping well and went outside for breakfast.  Ended up talking with Lars, this massive man from Sweden, about traveling mostly.  He’s traveling with a girl, Madhu, who he met while traveling through India.  They both seemed awesome so we agreed to meet later in the day.

Around 9am I’m sitting with Emilie outside on the porch and she turns to me, wide eyed, and said “Laura, he’s here.  The monk is here.”  It was generally a very uncomfortable situation but he ended up leaving after we told him we already had plans.  Emilie met a woman from New York named Kym, and the four of us went to the train station to take the loop around Yangon for three hours ($1).   The ride was incredible and it was so awesome to see how the people there live.  Everyone was extremely friendly and when we rode by the kids usually waved at us.

After we got off the train we headed into the city and walked around the local market for a while.  There was a young boy on the street painting and making these beautiful landscape portraits so I bought one for 1000k ($1).  On our way back Emilie got her palm read, rather inaccurately, and then we saw a protest but couldn’t see/understand much.  After a quick rest at the hotel, we met back up with Lars and Madhu and went to dinner down the street at a little restaurant called 711.  We had dishes of noodles, chicken, duck, shrimp and vegetables and ended up paying less than three dollars each.
We then went to 50th Street Bar to have a drink.  Almost like being back at home, with mostly only white people watching the game and playing pool.  We left the bar and Emilie, Sam and I walked home but got drawn into a local celebration where a stage had been put in the street and dancers were performing for a crowd that filled a whole street.  They were still celebrating their Independence Day, which had been the day before.  Once we got back to the hotel, I realized I’d left all my American dollars at the bar, in an envelope, in my notebook.  I quickly called the bar and asked if they had my notebook, and they said yes, and then asked if I could come pick it up, and they asked for how many people… so I hung up the phone and took a taxi back to the bar, and was elated to find my notebook still there, with the envelope inside.  Left the bar a tip as a thank you because that would have really made this trip much more difficult.

January 6 – For breakfast we ordered tradition Burmese dishes - onnoth khawk (noodles with coconut milk gravy), nan gyi thoke (thick noodle salad), and pe nan bya (naan and garbanzo beans).  The three of us spent most of the day lounging around, getting ready for check out, and then we took a taxi to the Kan Daw Gyi Nature Park and walked around for a few hours.  Had lunch/dinner at the hotel and took a taxi to the bus station headed for an overnight bus to Bagan.
Overall Yangon is a very interesting city.  When we first arrived at the airport, I thought the men’s’ mouths were bleeding because they were all red, but turns out it’s a kind of tobacco they all chew here.  Men and women both wear traditional long skirts call longyi.  In general everyone here is very friendly though, and kids are always very excited to say hello to us.  There isn’t all that much to do here – hoping Bagan and Mandalay will be a little more exciting.

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