A Day In Yangon
Myanmar: a country of golden pagodas, a country that is six times the size of South Korea and a country with only slightly more people. That being said, upon looking down from the airplane on the Myanmar terrain, it was evident that Myanmar is a country with a vast amount of farms and green space. Prepare for some beautiful landscape photos in my later posts.After arriving early at 8 am to Yangon's run-down but pagoda-styled, golden airport, we met our airport pick-up man. Every man in the airport was wearing the traditional longyis in an array of colors (a skirt-like bottom that the grand majority of people wear in Myanmar). The airport pick-up drove us through a very undeveloped city in the pouring down rain to our hotel, the Motherland II. We were greeted by the friendliest of faces who were extremely accomodating. Even though we were checking in so early, they even offered us our room and an extra breakfast - a trend we seemed to notice after taking many night buses. Also, telling the lady that we were from Korea led to her speaking to us in Korean for the duration of our stay.
After departing our hotel, we decided to explore and take random photos around the city. We saw our first pagoda/golden temple and decided to walk into the temple grounds. We found a service taking place inside the main building of the temple and the monks insisted that we joined in. One of the monks gave us a tour of the numerous buildings on the grounds and then he had us join a birthday party and provided us with a free lunch. The lunch consisted of a few curries and meats and the dessert was arguably the worst thing I have ever eaten, durian ice cream. Durian is the most disgusting Asian fruit on the planet that gives off a rank odor that lingers. Eating durian flavored things does something similar, the aftertaste lingers in your throat. Ugh. /End of durian rant.
Walking around the city of Yangon, you can easily spot the buildings left over from British Imperialism. There are many buildings that look almost frozen in history. Some buildings are falling apart and it is sad to see that they weren't preserved but the architecture is beautiful to say the least. There were churches, Hindu temples, and mosques around the city as well. It was refreshing to see a city with so many religions coexisting. Our wandering around the city and gazing at the architecture was quickly ruined as the rain was pouring down ridiculously hard so we took refuge in a tourist market.
On a side note: An average Myanmar citizen makes about 80 USD a month. Day laborers in a field earn about 2-3 USD a day. The tourist market prices in USD, not the local currency kyat, The prices were outrageous, 200-400 USD, nothing relative to the prices of the country and from there, it was evident that many of the shops in the market were government owned. Myanmar is not yet a democracy so many people suffer because of the acting government. The government dominates the tourist industry: charges foreigners for entering cities and inflates hotels, services (taxis, etc), and shops like in this tourist market. Next year, however, there will be the first democratic election in Myanmar and one can only hope for change for the sake of the people.
Our last sightseeing trip of the day to was to the Yangon-famous pagoda, the Shwedagon Pagoda. At the entrance, we were greeted by an elderly woman selling birds for a dollar. Liam decided to buy one and set it free.The rain really started picking up by the time so we hurried along to the pagodas. The main pagoda building was about 10 dollars or so to enter, another government fee to only foreigners so we skipped it.
We wandered around a smaller pagoda nearby which was free and probably equal in beauty. Inside the dome, there were rugs surrounding some miniature Buddha statues. Some families hung out around the area on the rugs.
Yangon was not the most beautiful city we had ever seen and during rainy season, it definitely wasn't our favorite. Prepare for more eye pleasing Myanmar posts coming soon!