I needed a change from the Banana-Pancake-Tourist-Trail and booked a flight to Yangon in Myanmar. A culture rich country bursting with all kind of flavours in every sense. I am eager to discover more of the culture and find answers to local habits I have not yet understood. Some examples of oddities I have seen so far lie particularly in the contrasts this country shows its visitors; Bottled water is not readily available and it seems that not all people can afford a bottle as it is beeing sold in sips at ‘Water-Stations’. Further it is common to see five people sharing one smartphone unlike back home where one person owns five smartphones. Most people don’t have a phone at all and call from a street-phone-market-stall. Moreover it is great to see how important face to face communication is. More often than not this is the only way news spreads. Except for the available newspaper and slow internet access. A local proudly showed me downloaded images on his phone. In contrast there are global companies with flashy new stores and luxury equipment. Also known hotel chains are present and are catering for big spenders. Though the city has not fully matched the high accommodation demand yet. We had a hard time finding a Guesthouse after our arrival.
Every Hotel and Guesthouse we went to was either full or had overpriced rooms. After a long search we got a double room for 20$ at Daddy’s Home. It was late evening and we ventured out to find some street food. It was a bit late and we only got some basic food. Later we tried the local beer and made new friends with Vietnamese sailors that paid for all our drinks.
The next day arranging a bus to Mandalay was impossible, instead I found myself a cheaper room and went for a stroll around the city. This day the market was closed as it is a public holiday related to the rulers of the country. In the evening I hailed a taxi to the Shwedagon Pagoda. Lonelyplanet lists this as number one thing to see in Myanmar and is somewhat right about it. The Pagoda is huge and has lots of zedis surrounding the big zedi in the middle. People can walk around it and admire the golden roofs and walls that shine bright in the flood lights. From the right spot it is possible to see the diamonds on top of the zedi. When rocking back and fourth the diamond changes colours. There are several spots around the pagoda to see different diamonds. If you are short on money the next ATMs are right inside the temple waiting for customers.
On my last day I walked around town to see what my guidebook recommends. Impressive to see is the Sule Pagoda with all the surrounding churches, mosques and synagogues all next to each other. Further west remaining colonial buildingshoise government departments. Around the corner towards the river is the street lined with book sellers. I traded in a book for Finding G.Orwell a book about Burma.
In the evening I took a night bus to Mandalay. Anticipating the worst, it was a huge surprise when I saw the bus: Comfy seats with plenty of space, free mineral water, included coffee and breakfast, neck massage before sleep (not kidding) and the road wasn’t bumpy.