Ride

Back on the bike, one belonging to Uncharted Horizons . Our excellent guide Michael led us on the Wild West Tour. I love a boat trip and this half day tour promised three, as well as a ride in the country – so how could we say no? After checking out a local market and negotiating early morning traffic, we stopped at a teahouse for breakfast before heading to the port. The ride took us across the river from Yangon, through the countryside and various villages, with a couple of rest stops at a monastery and a roadside palm wine stall. It was somewhat quieter than the city, although a few of the pagodas we passed had chanting being broadcast across the paddocks – our guide said it was to prevent accidents – and in the villages, we passed a wedding being set up, and a couple of karaoke houses, that had the volume cranked up.

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Gold

Usually I don’t like showing my toes in public, but in Myanmar it’s a necessity if you want to visit any pagodas, monasteries, homes and even some shops. Having learned from our previous pagoda visit that the tiled courtyards can get very warm for bare (western/soft) feet in the afternoon sun, we decided to get an early start to experience the Shwedagon Pagoda. Which is truly amazing = plenty of gold, jewels and detailed mosaics.

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The rules of entry are simple – no bare knees, no bare shoulders, no shoes or socks, no drones.
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Side view of the southern gate
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The gold stupas were beautiful in the morning light. There is an incredible amount of precious stones and jewellery on the very top of the main stupa.
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Depending on what day and time you were born, there is a particular space to worship – this is the Wednesday morning corner.
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Shwedagon Paya is one of the most impressive sites I’ve seen for mosaics – such detail. 

By the way, any handy wipes given to you before or after a pagoda visit are probably for your feet. Not for your hands once you’ve put your dusty shoes back on. I would never make that mistake.

Mingalaba

No, not a dusty town in outback NSW – mingalaba is ‘hello’ in Myanmar. I can remember hello but ‘thank you’ is proving trickier – jay zu din ba de. I’ll keep practising. M has it down already. Having been in Yangon a couple of days we’re having a great time getting back into Asian life. Sightseeing yesterday included the Bogyoke Market, where we discovered a great coffee seller and had a good look round. In the afternoon, we visited the Botataung Pagoda, which has an unusual zigzag interior design.

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This coffee seller was a lovely guy – M bought a cup of coffee but we didn’t have a small enough note to pay for it. The seller was unconcerned and encouraged us to sit and enjoy the coffee first. As it was excellent coffee it was easy to buy some beans as well and resolve the ‘no-change’ dilemma. Absolutely recommended if you’re heading to the market.
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Where we’ve been in Yangon so far there are plenty of betel nut users – hence the ‘no spitting’ sign at the market.
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Loved the poster accompanying the ‘Traditional *wears*’ shop – can’t imagine it ever gets cold enough to need a military-style overcoat…
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Gorgeous golden zigzag interior of the main Botataung Pagoda. The ‘sunwise’ swastika is considered an auspicious sign in Buddhism (so google tells me).