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Getting to Shwedagon

Woman selling watermelon on The Circular Train in Yangon
Woman selling watermelon on The Circular Train in Yangon

My last two days in Cambodia were spent doing things almost none of which would be appropriate to publish here. Then came the 5th step in my get well program: "Plan a couple jam-packed, stressful days of pure transit where everything is riding on the previous thing working out and the slightest hiccup could make a sane train go mad." We tried to give ourselves a little breathing room by scheduling 7hrs to chill in Bangkok before our plane left, but our 12hr bus ride from Phnom Penh turned into a 19hr bus ride and we found ourselves scrambling upon arrival.

The inside of Wat Phnom
The inside of Wat Phnom

Everything went well with our flight and immigration into Myanmar and providence smiled upon us and delivered us to a nice, affordable hotel in Yangon. We met scores of nice travelers along the way. After 28hrs of pure transit and almost no food or sleep we were more than ready for dinner and bed. The next day we went to a local market where I upgraded my wardrobe to the latest in local mens fashion. We proceeded to ride "The Circular Train" which took us on a non-tourist loop around Yangon and allowed us to get a better feel for the daily life here in the city and afforded me an opportunity to talk to a monk who had a much different demeanor than I was expecting. The sun was setting as our 3 hour tour came to a close so we rushed to the Shwedagon Pagoda and snuck in the side entrance to avoid paying the government fee. The complex was beautiful but overwhelming, much like the grand palace in Bangkok. There were so many things and so much detail that to scrutinize any of it was to study all of it and to take it all in was to go mad. Dinner and drinks with some new friends put a close to a wonderful day.

Me and the shopkeeper that sold me my handbag
Me and the shopkeeper that sold me my handbag

Myanmar at first blush

Yangon is a surprisingly modern city with no litter where almost no one smokes. The people are extremely nice, often smiling and when they speak English they seem to speak it well. As per option 2 of step 1 in my previous post we rolled into town with no hotel reservations (but don't tell the government that) and while trying to get a taxi from the airport a shuttle van from the hotel I was hoping to stay at offered us a ride. When we arrived at the hotel we learned that it was fully booked and without us even asking they called around to local places and found us a nice room within walking distance. So far all the locals have been nothing but friendly and helpful.

There are some quite odd things here that I've never experienced in all my travels. One of them is the half-timezone time difference. Myanmar is 30min behind Thailand and the surrounding countries. They also drive on the wrong side of the road. I've been to countries where they drive on the left side of the road but I've never been to a country where the driver is situated closest to the curb. There are also internet restrictions, some enforced by the local government and some enforced by foreign governments. Due to some BS American OFAC policy I can't access Google Analytics or update things on my android powered phone. As those of you who know me well know, I'm a hardcore nerd and I really love analytics. Luckily I have personal analytics beyond what Google offers and I setup a VPN on my personal server to bypass countries internet restrictions. Unfortunately the internet here is prohibitively slow for routing data through my American server. Oh well, I'll get by for another week or so. My good friend and current travel companion Brad and I are hoping to hitchhike up north tomorrow and there might not be any internet up there at all anyway.

Shwedagon Paya
Shwedagon Paya

Letter to a Lady

I shouldn't have looked into your eyes
That wasn't fair to you, you stood no chance

My eyes evoked a flirty calm
My gaze revealed unquenchable desire

I wanted to get to know you better, and I did
You seemed like a wonderful person, and you were

Your depth cried out for more
Your soft shimmer revealed sadness

I shouldn't have looked into your eyes
That wasn't fair to me, I saw things I wish I hadn't

I'm glad we met
I'm sorry

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Soundtrack: Is That You Mo-Dean? (The B-52's)


If you're asking a question, it may be better to just email me at beau@dangertravels.com