In the early afternoon we checked into the Queen hotel and exhausted, I thought to lay down for a short nap. No sooner did my head hit the pillow, jack hammering started on the floor above us shaking the room with deafening chaos. It figures….. I spoke with reception and it does not surprise me that nobody thought to check to see if the customers were in the adjacent room before causing the noise. So much for a nap. The evening found us wandering around looking for something to do. I am afraid to tell you that there is not much except eat and drink. A good sleep and we are off for Yangon again.
Again we board our aircraft. As before there is absolutely no check for passport or id in
the Mandalay airport. To their credit, we had a cigarette lighter confiscated whereas the Yangon airport and Saigon airport missed them entirely. We arrived around lunch time and after viewing the 200 foot long laying Buddha, we stopped at an amusement park for a cold drink and snack. The water of the park lake had quite a smell from some unknown source so we did not remain long. Out last stop was the famous Shwedagon Pagoda the largest pagoda in Myanmar covered with gold and diamonds. It was an impressive sight but unfortunately for us, we arrived the same time as a cruise ship. The pagoda was just chalk full of seniors enjoying the sights. It made it a bit difficult to get people free photos, or to easily move around, but alas….. I may be one of those seniors soon 😉
The guide and driver dropped us at our hotel for our final evening before returning to Saigon. Since there was an Indian district nearby, we decided to try Indian food for our final meal. We tiredly walked (our tired bare feet) down the main road looking fore something that looked palatable. Sadly, Indian food was not to be. All of the restaurants we found had something we found not desirable so the only Indian food we ate was a peice fo nhan bread we found at a street vendor. We finally did end up at the very same Chinese BBQ that we had dined at the first night. Now I finish this blog on the flight home to Saigon. Following are my thoughts on Myanmar.
Myanmar is a fast changing country and I expect that tourism will take off rapidly. Since the changes in the past few months, prices have dropped on consumables making it easier for the locals and tourists alike. I think however, it will be a bit of time before they catch up to other countries in the development of tourism because of the people themselves. Though the seem friendly, they are guarded and sometimes difficult to interact with. We have had taxi drivers simply say no and drive off when we tried to communicate with them. Most walk around with serious expressions and seem to take very little notice of others around them. I am sure that there is very good reason for this probably due to the hardships faced by day to day life in the past.
Another point of interest is the lack of communication devices. Until recently (according to our guide) it cost as much as 3000 dollars for a SIM card. Wow! I cannot imagine. Cars are also a very expensive asset which explains the amount of old beat up jalopies that can be seen everywhere.
There is also a contrast between new and old. It seems that the Burmese enjoy new things whilst living amongst old buildings. It is not uncommon to see a bamboo hut or brick aged structure only to hear modern pop music drifting out of the doorways. The military still had a high presence in Myanmar and one still has to be careful that a soldier is not in any of a persons photos.