After Singapore, our destination point was Myanmar. To be honest, we were mostly excited about this country on our list. The reason for that was Myanmar’s inscrutability. This country was opened for tourists only about six years ago and there was a big possibility that it kept its authenticity to a higher degree than other South-East-Asian countries.
In the end, we were not disappointed. Myanmar was not so extremely polluted with mass advertisement as for example its closest neighbor, Thailand, but still it was civilized to a level of comfort travel. During four days there we were positively overwhelmed with diverse impressions and experiences which resulted in about 1000 photos. Even now, while clicking through our digital memories immensely difficult, merely impossible for me to choose the best 30-40 photos. Hence, I gave up trying and decided to publish not one endless but four short blog posts about this incredible country.
In this post I will tell you about the city of Yangon, the first Burmese city we visited. The former capital of Myanmar, Yangon is the country’s largest city and its most important commercial center. About seven millions people are living here.
We arrived in Yangon in the evening, it was already dark. When we reached our hotel which was situated next to the one of the main Yangon’s attractions – Shwedagon pagoda – and went to the terrace upstairs for a drink, we were instantly mesmerized by the melodic jingle of some invisible bells and the shimmering and flickering of gold on some distance. That was it, the Shwedagon pagoda, all mysterious and luring to come closer. Quickly finishing out dinner, we couldn’t think about anything else but walking to this luminous wonder.
Finally, we were there, stricken by the truly impressive view. In my opinion, at night the pagoda looks incredible, much more powerful than at day light. Unfortunately, we were late to enter, as the pagoda territory is open until 10 pm. But, attention, it opens already at 4 am! Thus, we easily caught up and visited the pagoda the next morning.
The official name of this pagoda is Shwedagon Zedi Daw, some people call it otherwise the Great Dagon Pagoda and the Golden Pagoda (when you see it, you immediately understand why). The 99 meters tall, the Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar. The Burmese people believe that relics of the four previous Buddhas are kept there.
To get in, you pay 8000 kyats and get a sticker, which you can use during the whole day to enter the location (or at least it worked fine for us as we visited the pagoda again on the same day after the sunset around 18:30). By the way, in the evening the territory of the pagoda is much more crowded. If you enter from the city gate, beware of the kids persistently trying to sell you plastic bags for your shoes (which you can simply place it in your backpack).
If you want to check if the Shwedagon pagoda is open the day you planned for a visit, check it at the following site: http://www.theshwedagonpagoda.com/Tourist-Info.html.
In the center of Yangon, the colonial-era urban core is kept remarkably intact. Yangon, as the former British colonial capital, accommodates the highest number of colonial period buildings in the whole Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, many of them are decaying now.
In the heart of Yangon downtown, another remarkable pagoda is situated. The Sule pagoda is claimed to be 2500 years old, even older than the Shwedagon Pagoda being built during the time of the Buddha. The entrance fee is 3000 kyats.
Note, when you visit pagodas, it is advised to dress modestly: you have to wear trousers or at least knee length shorts or skirt and no open tops; you have to enter the pagoda barefoot.
In the evening, after intense experience in the Dalla village (details will follow in the next post), we needed to find a good place to eat and we found one – the 999 Shan Noodle Shop (130b, 34th Street, Yangon, Myanmar). The wonton soup (salmon tartare wonton) and popcorn shrimp were delicious; the Myanmar tea fit well to it.