Travelling – day 245

Isn’t it always typical that the one morning you have to set an alarm to be awake at 7, the hostel staff decide that it is also the day they aren’t going to sing Buddhist chants from 6am onwards?!? Got up and showered before having a leisurely breakfast. Finished packing and headed to the Main Street to get a taxi to the airport. I was put in charge of negotiating the price (and as everyone knows, I’m rubbish at this!!!) so I was completely shocked when he offered 7,000 kyat – 3,000 less than what I was prepared to go to and 1,000 less than what Jayne wanted me to aim for… Score!!! He seemed slightly worried that we were going to take a long time to get there due to heavy traffic but we had given ourselves plenty of time and, knowing this, he relaxed!! Took us over an hour to get to the airport and it was plain sailing getting checked in, dropping off our main bags and heading through immigration. Scary looking staff were pulling people aside who had overstayed their visas… Used up the rest of our currency on some food and last minute presents before boarding the plane back to Bangkok. Having promised Jayne a Burger King all throughout our travels in Myanmar, we had lunch at the airport before getting a taxi to the hostel. Stayed at the same hostel we used the last time we were in Bangkok (3 years ago) and it hasn’t changed one bit – if it’s not broke, why fix it?!? Used the super fast wifi (ahhhhh… We’ve missed you decent wifi!) to upload various photos to blogs and do some research for the next few days in Thailand. Our stomachs started grumbling so we headed back out to the street to try and find our favourite street restaurant from 3 years ago… Clearly doing much better, the three tables we were used to, had spread to 22! The food was, as we remembered, phenomenal and we gorged ourselves on chicken Pad Thai noodles, chicken green Thai curry and spicy papaya salad. Lips slightly red from the spices, we stopped via the shop to grab some water before heading back to the hostel to Skype parents and go to sleep!

Wednesday 8th June 2016

Yangon – day 244

Although Jayne still wasn’t feeling 100%, I was going slightly stir crazy in our ‘cell’ of a bedroom so convinced her to do something low key in the morning. After breakfast, we headed to the train station to get on the Yangon circle line train. The nearly 32 mile trip is slow moving, taking us over three hours to travel around Yangon and the neighbouring countryside. The train shook at times so much that we almost slide off the benches, whilst the cockerel onboard crowed constantly at his discomfort of being tossed around like he was in a washing machine on full spin cycle! The journey was actually really nice, full of commuters and food venders, passing through different parts of the city which are off the beaten track. It got particularly busy and interesting when the locals boarded the train, chucking their produce from the main market through the open windows and immediately began re-bundling it to sell on when they got closer to home. Arriving back at Yangon main train station, we quickly popped back to the hotel to use the toilet before returning to ‘999 Shan Noodle’ for a late lunch. 

After that, we got in a taxi to go to the Shwedagon Paya – think we paid too much at 2,500 kyat but at less than £1.60 it seemed silly to argue! Considered one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites, you can see this massive gold pagoda from almost everywhere in Yangon. Dropped off at the Eastern stairwell, we climbed the long staircase lined with shops, which reminded us of the first Myanmar temple we visited in Pyay! Paying our entrance fee, we were given a map of the temple complex. Deciding that we wanted to just explore by ourselves, we put the maps away and wandered slowly around the 325ft pagoda which is believed to enshrine eight hairs of the Gautama Buddha as well as relics of three former Buddhas.As we walked, we saw people pouring water over various statues, which we later realised were the different Buddhas and animals that represent the day or, in my case, the time of day on which you were born! I was born on a Wednesday morning which is apparently significant as Buddha was born on a Wednesday morning, so I have an elephant WITH tusks as my animal. Kept walking, finding hundreds of nooks and crannies filled with Buddha statues and images. Sheltered from the rain for a while before continuing to wander looking at how the bright gold pagoda, decorated with 27 metric tons of gold leaf and thousands of diamonds and other gems, changed colour in the fading sunlight.Got chatting to a Buddhist monk in one of the halls who seemed incredibly well travelled (or very handy at Photoshopping himself into famous landmark photos!). We chatted about Myanmar, religion and our respective jobs whilst he told us how it was too difficult for him to get a visa for the UK. Took our time visiting more of the Temple before downpours and Jaynes level of fatigue made us call it a day (at over two hours!) and we got a taxi back to the centre of town. Grabbed something for dinner before heading back to the hotel to pack our bags, ready to fly to Bangkok tomorrow.

Tuesday 7th June 2016