The initial trepidation for Myanmar wore off when my plane landed. New country, new city, new adventures. I was invigorated by the possibilities. Plus it was gorgeously sunny.
After the usual taxi bartering, the journey and hotel check in were smooth. After quick a nap I hit the road to visit one of the pagodas in the area. Boy it was an interesting country.
- Traffic is insane and there are no pedestrian crossing. It was life and death dear reader! I was on edge trying to navigate the roads, avoiding an early grave, and followed the natives when I could.
- Life is cheap. Bottle of water: $0.50, dessert $0.50, 1 hour taxi ride: $10. Awesome!
- Yangon is the corpse of a city, swirling with new life. Congested roads, no traffic lights, power cables strung from trees, beautiful colonial buildings left to rot, shacks in the streets.
- The Burmese are poor but not impoverished. They seemed happy, went about their daily lives. I saw no beggars, no prostitutes, it felt safe. The people seem hopeful.
- Food is so unique, heavy on carbs and vegetables. Savoury, tangy flavours. Lots of fermented ingredients. Somewhere between Vietnamese, Chinese and Indian.
So observations aside, I had a great day. A lady who looked ethnically Indian (though spoke fluent Burmese) sad beside the road with a giant pot of pink goop, I had to try and it and was thoroughly rewarded: a sweet and coconutty dessert refreshing in the 30 degree heat.
I worked my way to the remarkable Shwedagon Pagoda, the towering golden dome has to be seen to be believed. It was pretty busy, but most visitors were Burmese, only 40% or so foreigners. Despite the surface level hustle and bustle, there was a distinct air of tranquillity.
Oh yeah, forgot about the 'chewing' tobacco that I tried. It gave a pretty intense buzz, and I later found our that it's a leading cause of oral cancer locally! Didn't stop me from trying it several times though.
Tomorrow should be more of the same. This time a visit to a lake, a market a train ride and perhaps a massage.