Anthony and Erica on the road to Mandalay 2006 travel blog

Typical Yangon local bus

Monks collecting alms, Yangon

Boats on the river, Yangon

Erica at Botataung Pagoda

Botataung Pagoda

Roadside Nat (spirit) shrines in Yangon - they are everywhere!

Sule Pagoda from our hotel window second time in Yangon

One of the four covered walkways up Schwedagon Hill

View of the central Schwedagon stupa

Background of the central Schwedagon stupa

On Schwedagon Hill

Monk at Schwedagon

Schwedagon roofs

Schwedagon pillars

Smoking novice monks at Schwedagon

Erica and I at our local, with 'Extra Strong' Dagon Beer

Rangoon...a name to conjure with...visions of the Raj, etc. What a day(s)! Start off in the frost in Bath, UK, and end up with sweat pouring down me in Rangoon, Burma. Isn't travel wonderful. Note that the pics on this page are actually a combination of the ones I took in Yangon at both the beginning and end of our trip.

5:11:06: A 30 hour journey including several hours in Bangkok's new and humungous sci-fi airport. And then by contrast Yangon (aka Rangoon) - should be similar to Thailand, but is actually like a third world provincial airport. We tear into town in a taxi in that fast lane-weaving kind of way compulsory outside the West, by huge golden pagodas, check in to our hotel and then off to drink Dagon 'Extra Strong Beer' in some cafe nearby, where everyone was very friendly and nice. Erica's idea, as is often the case. She is very adventurous when abroad, particularly with bars. I still have vivid memories of the bar she took me in on Lake Titicaca, like the Mexican Roadhouse in from Dusk to Dawn, though we had left before everyone turned into vampires.

6:11:06: So today, here we are in Yangon, where the internet access leaves much to be desired. However, it is really nice here, very nice people and lovely food, I had a lovely curry for breakfast complete with huge amounts of dried chili. Today pagodas and just wandering, though the food markets are making me think of being a veggie while I'm here - there are only so many flies you can eat. And it is very muggy. A slight change of itinerary already - such are the pleasures of independent travel - so tomorrow we fly early to the legendary Bagan.

First we walked down to the river to the Botataung Pagoda, past lines of red-clad monks getting their morning alms from shopkeeepers and cafe owners on the street. And then wandered over to the Sule Pagoda, which is on a roundabout in the centre of town, the most glamorous roundabout I have ever seen! Lunch, more illegal money changing (normal here), and then to the main attraction, the awesome and gigantic Schwedagon Pagoda, which is actually the top of a hill cut off and covered with pagodas, all based around one giant one built over 8 of Buddha's hairs, covered in 9,000 gold slabs and several thousand diamonds, rubies and sapphires, with a huge emerald on top. Awesome place. We picked up a monk for a guide, got blessed by him, had to give him about ten pence for the privilege, and made wishes in the special holy wishing place. In the late afternoon the light on all the gold is gorgeous.

And then out for an Indian and back to our favourite cafe to drink strong beer and watch the world go by. Funny how quickly you can feel at home in a place when you are travelling.

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