March 15, 2013

A Shweddy-gon Time in Yangon (Yangon, Burma)

When I first met Tom (NINE YEARS AGO THIS WEEK!), I was amazed by how much of the world he had seen. I'd never known anyone who had traveled as much as he, and it was a dizzying prospect. (Read about some of his past travels here.) So I took notice when he told me that, of all the places he had traveled to, Burma was at the top of the list. He said that Burma was the most interesting place he had ever visited - that the contradiction of the Buddhist community ruled by the military police provided a fascinating culture. Since then, I've been devouring any information that came my way about Burma (or Myanmar, as it's officially known) and hoping I would make my way there some day. Because Tom loved it so much around the first time, and because I have been so eager to experience it for myself, we knew Burma was on our must-do list for The Trip.

In case you're wondering, Tom and I choose to call the country Burma, though you'll find it on maps and officially listed as Myanmar. Most of the people want the country to be called 'Burma,' so we defer to the wish of the wonderful Burmese people. If you're unfamiliar with the recent political history of Burma, read here.
Novice nuns outside Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon

Teeny tiny room in Yangon
After our relaxing reprise from India in Bangkok and Koh Samed (read here), we hopped on a flight to Yangon (Rangoon) to begin our Burmese adventure! When we landed, we headed straight for Chan Myaye Guesthouse where we had reserved a room. Our room was teeny tiny and we had our first shared bathroom, but the guest house had a great backpacker feel with travelers of all ages and backgrounds, and the staff was incredibly helpful. In fact, from the moment we arrived in Yangon, we were overwhelmed by the genuine kindness and helpfulness of the Burmese people and, while many people dismiss Yangon as dirty and crowded, we found it to be a really nice city - full of great culture, interesting sites, and happy people. 

Just a stroll through Yangon

Getting my fortune told on the streets of Yangon

A delicious Burmese spread
We spent our few days there doing the Lonely Planet Walking Tour (which we highly recommend even if it's very hot, which it was) and eating delicious food. The highlight of our time in Yangon was visiting Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset. It's absolutely fantastic and I hope I get to see it again some day. (If you plan to visit, allow yourself at least 2-3 hours of time and definitely visit at sunset - you get to see this amazing structure during 3 different kinds of light. It's breathtaking!)

At dusk

Shwedagon at night
 After our 3 nights in Yangon, we hopped on a bus and made our way to Mandalay (stay tuned).

Check out all of our Yangon pics here.

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