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Inaccessible Myanmar Myanmar round trip April 2011

Finally in Yangon, the first day in Myanmar

MYANMAR | Sunday, 3 April 2011 | Views [1007]

Fog. A simple phenomenon that stops aircrafts from landing. It shouldn’t really with all the Doppler radars, auto pilots and all the other high tech crap we invent daily but here we are. Stranded for 1,5 hours, waiting on the Bangkok airport concrete for the fog to lift in Yangon. WHADDUP WEATHER? First the rain storms during the dry season in Thailand and now fog in Yangon? It was supposed to be dry, dusty and hot. Finally we arrived. A bit stressed about the immigration check. The visa I got was denied in London. Tips: Never write that your profession is a technical writer when you apply for a visa to a dictatorship country. Anyway, Union of Myanmar welcomed us with a smooth passport control and customs check. The heat outside the arrival hall was not crushing. In fact, I was surprised that there was so much green in the city. Streets walled by trees, blooming bushes and well maintained parks. What a difference to the Cambodian inhumane heat and dryness, when we visited last April!

Exchanged some dollars to Chat on the way. Actually, the taxi driver went in and changed it himself. Rip-off or not, we needed local money and really, how much can we loose on the black market rate, 3-4 dollars? We got shitload of MONEY! Like several centimetres of money! Felt rich for a moment. Got 800 chats for 1 dollar. OK rate we thought. The rate is changing daily anyway.

We stayed at the Kandawgyi Palace Hotel. A former British boat club, later a museum and now a beautiful hotel by the Royal lake. The only one in town with a teak roof, so they say. Room was very large with a lake view. Hey! Wot?? No Air Cond? I was just about to call the reception when I read.... Well yes... teh instruction.  I guess we should always read the instructions. After all, I write them for the living! AC went on after a couple of minutes, as written in the instruction! Good I didn´t make a fool of myself and called the reception for malfunctioning.

The garden around the pool was well maintained and in full bloom. The wild life, as far as you can experience it inside an Asian city, was also very active. Example: a snake fell into the swimming pool from a palm tree! TWICE! The crows were quick to chase him. Probably a nice snack for a crow but they were for sure a meter long! Maybe the snakes had a habit of eating young cows in their nests so the crows were hatin´. The birds stealing food from your plates while eating outside - check. The mosquito farm outside the hotel is a great thing. The royal Karaweik barge looks great from the pool chair in the sunset. However, the mosquito farm does generate a lot of mosquito bites in the afternoon.

We took a cab to the city centre in the middle of a baking hot day. The Myanmar alphabet is out of this world with more then 9 vowels or so we were happy to see the street signs in English. Jet lagged to death, we were desperately trying to avoid going to sleep in mid day. We normally take a walk by ourselves the first day in a new location and rent a guide the next day to show us the real gems. It´s more fun to get the feeling for the city by yourself. A walk tour recommended by LP was a great start to get a feeling for the city. We strolled around the downtown Yangon watching the most of the impressive colonial buildings. A lot of the buildings and old villas are now abandoned since the Government with "No 1" moved the capital to a completely new city, 5h drive outside Yangon. Maybe he wanted to do what the old kings did? They all seemed to move the capital around now and then. Or maybe they found it easier to control the crowds from another location. Anyway, great colonial architecture being refurbished. Some buildings are decaying but most look astonishing. IF you like old buildings that is.

I also saw a Subary WRX parked on one of the streets. White. Loooved it! (Yes, I drive a SUBARU). One interesting thing was the lack of litter. No plastic bottles or bags. Had a bad experience with that before in Cambodia. We did find some ECO-trash though. Banana leaf baskets and some small bamboo packages.  When you see some ecologic litter on the side of the road, it does not upset you in the same way of plastic bags or other modern crap left behind on the road side.


A pit stop at the Stand Hotel was recommended but we were actually disappointed. The lobby looks great, the service is excellent and the hotel is for sure top of the line but the bar where we sat was not at all impressive. A long Island Icea Tea later, we headed on to the China town, along the river front. Unfortunately the Yangon port is an active port so you can´t walk along the river like in Phonm Pehn. (A lot of comparisons to Cambodia, sorry for that). The open sewers!!! and cracked pavement makes the walking around the city a real adventure. A dinner at Golden duck restaurant was delicious. Ordered half a duck and boy did I get half a duck! Really half a duck, chopped right down the middle, head and all. 30000 for half a duck and shrimps and beer. I bet they ripped us off like hell but the duck was superb and worth the money. Didn´t feel so rich anymore. The centimetres high cash stack lost some height.

Walked across the down town in the direction of Scotts market, or Bogyoke Aung San Marketand passed an amazing Indian Kali temple beside a Jewish synagogue beside a mosque and beside a Chinese temple. What a glorious mix of religions. We also saw a lot of sleeping dogs. The dogs in Myanmar are veeeeeeeeeery lazy, laying in the heat of the day hardly moving. And that was the same story all over the country. The dogs were hardly moving, They were all of the same race and mostly the same colour. And 99% of them were sleeping.

Managed to fight our way through two market and then we gave up. We weren’t in a mood for shopping right now anyway.  Just outside the market we could see the round trip railroad. It was on our agenda but after seeing the tracks, we skipped that run. The train runs around the city but you can´t really see much. Mostly bushes and trees and some stations so we skipped that thought when we saw the train from a bridge over the rail from Bagyoke. Cool bridge btw, people on the bridge  were selling freshly butchered chickens, fresh fish and fruit. Just like that. My Mrs got ripped off and bought a Pomelo for 2000!!! Bhahahhaa

Back to the hotel for a refreshing swim and a forced long sleep. Funny think happened at the pool. A snake fell from the tree into the pool. Mrs almost died hahahhaaa. It was probably climbing up the palm tree to get some small birds from the nest when it fell into the pool. Not so nice to swim around with a green one meter snake so the snake left the pool very quickly. 

Tags: bagyoke, chin atown, golden duck, myanmar, walking tour, yangon

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