Travelling from Kyaiktiyo to Yangon provided us with our first taster of the Myanmar train service. It was a little delayed but we got big comfy seats with lots of leg room, the only problem is it was very hot and very slow. However this did give us the opportunity to gaze at the beautiful scenery from the train window. We conveniently arrived at about 5.30pm meaning that it was still light but we didn’t have to wander round with our heavy rucksacks on during the hottest part of the day trying to find somewhere to stay. All the accommodation options seem to be located in very tall buildings and the reception seemed to be on the 3rd floor of all the buildings meaning a very inconvenient stroll up and down stairs whilst we looked for places. That night we dined on the street and enjoyed a mini feast for the grand total of £1.50.
Thankfully we’ve gotten into the routine of waking early and doing things before the midday heat kicks in, then relaxing during the afternoon and sightseeing as the sunsets. Our first morning in Yangon was spent wandering around a local market, the afternoon was spent in a cafe and the evening was spent at Shwedagon Pagoda. The pagoda is a sort of symbol of the country and is seen in photos hung in almost every guesthouse. It’s one of the biggest and goldest ones we’ve been to so far, the only thing ruining it was the layer of scaffolding around the middle of it. Admittedly it wasn’t the most spiritual place we’ve encountered but when there’s so many tourists this is to be expected. To be able to enter Chris was handed a borrowed longyi as the shorts he was wearing that day were too short to be deemed acceptable. This kept me amused during our visit. The pagoda got more impressive as the sun started to set and light reflected off all the gold panels making it glow.
I remember when I first mentioned to my dad and step-mum (hi Dad and June) that I was thinking of visiting Myanmar on my travels and how excited they got about the prospect of me visiting the war memorial that June’s uncle has a plaque of remembrance in along with tens of thousand of other soldiers who died during the first and Second World War. Taukkyan war memorial is located just outside Yangon and I couldn’t have visited the country without finding June’s uncles grave and paying my respects. Chris’ grandad also fought and was wounded here during the war. It was a very peaceful place, amazingly well kept and incredibly touching. All the graves beautifully laid out, each one with flowers at their side is a testament to the appreciation of the Burmese government to all the soldiers that died during the war in the country. We had a stroll round, soaking it all up and left feeling moved by the experience.
The rest of our final day in Yangon was spent eating peculiar frozen deserts and walking round the endless bustling streets. To be completely honest Yangon was a bit of an annoying place to be, it was so hot (which we knew to expect from Myanmar), the people not as friendly and there was an irritating amount of traffic and litter. We did find one nice park to escape it all from but at 4pm a man with a bell would walk round escorting everyone out of the park as it shut for the evening. Another annoyance.
As we got on the train which would take us to a town called Shwe Nyaung, located close to Myanmar’s Inle Lake we had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for!
Until next time.