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Our Trip to Myanmar, January 2005


Yangon!

In the early hours of the first day of 2005 we left Bangkok for Yangon, the capital of Myanmar. Our office/agent tour guide, Miss Tin Tin, was at the airport to welcome us. We got into a good but 15 year old car with a driver to the centre of Yangon for our stay at the 4-5* Traders hotel. All cars are second-hand car in Myanmar. Looking out from the window of our car I felt like I had travelled back 50 years in a time machine. The buildings, many in the colonial or Victorian style, the old Chinese houses, the old cars on the road, the buses, the cinema billboards, the traffic policeman at the junction in white jacket & helmet directing the traffic, the traffic, the shops, the clothing & the people etc… it's back to the 1950 & it is lovely. Temporarily I left our 21st century behind in Bangkok.

Traders hotel is at an excellent position at the heart of the city. The hotel has an old fashion charm & elegance but with all modern facilities. The weekly Saturday night Seafood buffet is not to be missed. The display & choice of seafood is the best I have seen among many top hotels.

We began our tour at the very centre of town, at The Sule Paya. Not a significant pagoda but it gave us some idea of the Burmese style pagodas & temples. Next we walked over to the Mahabandoola Garden. It's a pleasant park in a square with an Independence Monument at the centre. From here there is a lovely view of the surrounding interesting historical buildings of government, law courts & post office. Today's lunch was at the Shan Kan Chinese restaurant set in a lovely environment of lakes & gardens. Chinese food is a popular choice in Myanmar. Today we had dishes such as Fried Kai Len with oyster sauce, grilled duck, Shanghai style chicken, fried potato rolls & tofu with chicken balls soup washed down with 'Myanmar' beer. After lunch we took a walking tour around China Town visiting one of the oldest Chinese temples, Khant Hoke temple. By 16:00 it was the tour of the day. We visited Shwedagon Paya. This is the highlight of any visit to Yangon. One just has to be there to feel & witness the full colour & character of this magical place. It is like a kingdom of the religious. The sheer overwhelming complex of different pagodas & the impact of colour hit me as soon as we entered to this world of shrines, pagodas, animal figures, Buddha images, monks & gold. It is another world up there.

Everybody seems to be walking in a daze, dazzled by this amazing sight in front of our eyes. It's strange that everybody was walking in the same direction circling this unique pagodas complex. We lingered until sunset to see the changing colour of the pagodas. In the dusk, illuminated by lights, the pagoda has now turned to a rich deep gold. Other pagodas that are covered by gold leaf are now shining beautifully creating a magnificent setting. Returned to hotel & finished the Dragon day (Saturday is the day of Dragon according to Burmese) with a fantastic feast at the Seafood buffet at Traders hotel.

Second day in Yangon we started the morning with a number of hotels to see & by lunchtime we had a list of hotels for our Standard, Superior, Deluxe hotels plus one in a special category:The Strand. Visiting The Strand is like stepping back to history. The Strand is now a national landmark. One can see why as the past lingers under potted palms & gently twirling fans in the lobby. Please see hotels in Myanmar for details of all our hotels.

Today's lunch was at the wonderful Green Elephant restaurant. This is a lovely restaurant beautifully decorated in Burmese style with delicious Burmese food. Our lunch consisted of lentil soup, fried mixed vegetables, salad of long beans, chicken curry, butterfish curry, shrimp curry followed by fried & steamed banana for desert. It was very memorable, especially the chicken, fish curry & the banana desert.

Our afternoon tour included Botataung Paya, Kaba Aye Paya, the white elephants & Chaukhtagyi Paya where is the famous large reclining Buddha. Before the day is over we visited the Bogyoke Market. An evening stroll along the streets reminded me of Cholon, the Chinatown of Saigon during the fifties when street light was limited & street stalls were operated under a single light bulb or in semi-darkness.

Next day there were more hotels to see before our late afternoon flight to Bagan, arriving in the evening.

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Sule Paya, Yangon
Sule Paya, Yangon
Central Post Office, Yangon
Central Post Office, Yangon
Khant Hoke Temple
Khant Hoke Temple
Shwedagon Paya
Shwedagon Paya
Bogyoke Market, Yangon
Bogyoke Market, Yangon