Yangon, Myanmar (Formerly Rangoon, Burma)

We found our driver at the airport and he even had our names spelled correctly! He took us to the hotel and it was pretty good. I can recommend Motherland Inn 2 as a pretty cheap clean budget option. They let us in our room right away and let us have breakfast. Greg and I chose Myanmar options. Greg had a coconut chicken curry soup and I had rice with spicy lentils.

We took their city tour which was pricy at $65 per person, but it came with a car, driver and English speaking guide. We saw all of the major sights downtown, and all of the major pagodas and markets. We had a really great Myanmar lunch as part of our tour. For a standard Myanmar lunch, you get rice and little bowls of chicken, pork and mutton curry, fish, roasted chicken, and about eight little side dishes of vegetables and sauces and a big plate of vegetables and a bowl of soup. You seem to get all you can eat. We could never eat more than our first serving, but we saw people at other tables being given second and even third helpings.

The monument in the Central Square
The big Shwedegon Pagoda is covered with 6-9  m tons of gold (depending on who you talk to, or maybe whether it is a metric tonne or an imperial ton). Either way, it is what I would refer impolitely to as a shitload of gold. This pagoda is astounding. It is surrounded by an entire small city of temples and pagodas. Our guide showed us that there were fountains and statues for each day of the week  around the pagoda. Each person goes to the day of the week they were born, and pours three or five ladles water from the fountain over the statues of Buddha and over the other statues, thinking of the calmness and coolness of the water and feeling peace and tranquility. Of course Greg and I tried it. I was born on a Tuesday, and Greg was born on Wednesday morning. Wednesday had two stations, one for morning and one for afternoon. I guess Wednesday is a good day to be born.

Shwedegon Pagoda
Nuns dressed in pink and orange
Greg pouring water over the statues for peace and tranquility

In the evening, we went to Chinatown because there is a big night market and apparently some of the best street food and restaurants. We found the fruit sellers and I bought some watermelon and mango. Now that it is warm I am really craving a lot of fruit. We walked through the giant busting food market and looked for 19th street where the restaurants were fabled to be. When se did find it, it was quite a let down, just a dark little alley with only a few stores. But wait! what is across wide market street, but a continuation of 19th street! This side was filled with restaurants and street food and music and spas and people. We found a little place by the eenie-meemie,miney-mo method. It was delicious. We had barbecue. You simply go to the cart full of kabobs and vegetables and pick out the ones you want. They grill them and bring them to your table. You can order rice and drinks and it is all delicious.

Apartments in Yangon
This is one big ass electrical panel - want to pull the switch??? Dare ya!
Really really big Reclining Buddha 
Inside the temple of the tooth artifact  - walls are all covered in pure gold

Monks (at a funeral I think)
At the market near the pier
After dinner, and all that walking around, we thought a nice foot massage would be great. And there just down the street from the restaurant, was a foot massage place. $3US for a one hour foot massage.

Chinatown - looks like a painting ...
Chinatown - looks like the tenement buildings of New York City circa 1910
We decided to have some fun and took a bicycle rickshaw back to hotel. He peddled down dark streets and up brightly lit streets, and finally when we thought he was going the wrong way, he pulled over to a bunch of his rickshaw friends and asked them for directions. After that he laughed and nodded at us with his dark red and black beetle stained teeth and lips, and proceeded back up the street and on to our hotel.

In the morning we went to the National Museum. It is quite large - four large floors.

We decided to get the circle train around the city for about 25c. It was really great and we got to stand up at the open door at the front of the train with the driver and conductor.

On the train
Lovely river colour...
Standing at the open front door while the train raced up the tracks
The vendors moved off the tracks and stood on the platform while the train passed
Woman making betel - it is betel nuts, sliced and put in a betel leaf which is covered with lime
Greg was starving, so we got off, and Greg looked on the internet and found a place with good reviews and we had lunch for $2.50. It was great. We hurried back to the train station, because the next train came 40 minutes after the one we had arrived on. When we looked at the schedule back at the train station, we found out that the next train went the other way, and that the next train continuing on was not for another hour… We decided to go back, and go the other way on the train. That train finished up near the airport and did not go right around, but we had spent a long time on the train and were ready for dinner.

More apartments
We headed off for a place that Greg had read about. It was a place that helps street kids gain the skills they need by giving them the chance to work in a nice restaurant. We thought it would be like the one in Luang Prabang. We got there, and the students and staff were lovely. The prices were quite high, even by North American standards, and their menu was extremely limited - only a set course option with a couple of choices in each section. Then we found out that they do not pay their student waiters, even a small amount of that money. We were a little disappointed that they couldn't even give them bus fare. That would mean that the kids working there had to have someone support them while they were there, or work another job to support themselves as well as the long hours at the restaurant. This means, that the ones that really needed it, probably couldn't do the course. We decided to eat elsewhere. 

We took a taxi across to a place that got good reviews and it turned out to be the same place the guide took us yesterday for lunch. It had been really good, so we had another Myanmar dinner there. 

Finally, it was time to take a taxi back to the hotel and get packed and ready for to get a taxi to the airport at 5:30 am to fly to Bagan.