Tour of the Old Kingdoms: Visits in Yangon, Myanmar

1. Bogyoke Market

Paintings for sale!

This place reminds me a lot of Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. In fact it’s pretty much the same format, and pretty much the same kind of stuff. I bought longyis here. In fact we all did! LOL.

Longyis are like skirts made from woven cloth that many men and women wear not only here in Yangon but also the rest of Myanmar. They’re pretty cheap, some even only US$2 each but the silk ones can go up to US$25 each.

Inferior photo quality: I apologise!

But really people go to Bogyoke Market for the precious gems they have for sale. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, jades, emeralds!!! The whole shebang! You need to bargain and bargain and bargain really hard!

And fruits and vegetables too!

The place is really big! Also look what we found:

Sigup daun!!! Unfiltered cancer sticks for US$0.50? Can’t remember how much it was but it was pretty cheap. Bought for the novelty of saying, “we bought Myanmar leaf ciggies”…

2. Select

In Myanmar, because of the sanctions, it is not easy to get imported goods. There are only very few places that sell imported goods and often at exorbitant prices. Here is one: Select. Didn’t go in. I put down a photo of this because, my friend Michelle bought cough syrup here because we ALL suddenly had a cough!!! We all ambung and didn’t buy the syrup but in the end we all shared it! It was really good syrup too, the kind that really soothes your throat immediately.

3. Junction 8 Mall

Haha!

My crazy friends all had a near death experience crossing the road to get to the Junction 8!!! As you know roads in Myanmar are right hand drive, like the American system. When we were crossing the road, I stopped cause saw a big truck approaching fast. However, my friends all went ahead and crossed the road anyway at a leisurely pace. I was puzzled at first but quickly realised that they must’ve forgotten that the road was right hand drive and thought no cars were approaching. I screamed at them and thankfully they all saw the approaching truck and ran to the other side like chickens. Hahahah!!! Of course now in retrospect it’s pretty funny but at that time it sure wasn’t. Moral of the story is, always remember that in Myanmar, people drive on the wrong side of the road!

The mall, as expected was unremarkable, except for the security guard who did his job a little to well. We were followed everywhere we go. From a distance but still noticeable. That must be how the royal family feels everyday hehe. This is the only photo I took inside a mall, because as it turns out, no cameras are allowed!

3. Shwedagon Pagoda

This must be one of the most golden places I have ever been to aside from the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand. Haha! And it’s HUGE!

To enter, one must purchase a US$5 entrance ticket and must wear a sticker all the time.

SM stands for Sex Machine hahahah!

A few tour guides will insist their services upon you while you’re paying your ticket. You can easilly brush them off by ignoring them but of course they are very good and will give you a lot of information about the place. We didn’t get a guide because I like to explore a place on my lonesome and daydream during my explorations. I have a vivid imaginations and sometimes when something is really interesting I even have dialogues in my head!

I’m weird like that.

Anyway, turns out, no shoes were allowed in the Shwedagon complex. So we had to leave ours near the ticketing booth on a rack and with a stinking suspicion that we’d end up shoeless when we came back down, we climbed aboard an elevator that smells like areca nut. Smelliest 30 seconds of my life haha.

The pagoda is really really gold.

When we were up there, feels like we were walking on hot ember!!! The green tiles were soooooo hot!!! Thankfully the marble white ones weren’t. Anyway, apparently this gold behemoth of a building is 98 metres high. To this day I still don’t know what’s inside.

I didn’t know it then, but these people are doing the cleansing act. They basically pour water over these statues like 13 times or something. It’s to cleanse your souls and apparently it is said that after the cleansing act you’d feel lighter.

A woman prostrating to her God.

Maha Tissada Gandha Bell

Carpetmen hauling carpet to praying areas.

Praying monk.

Photographer monk.

Some are only children.

This girl caught my attention cause she was learning English in front of an emerald buddha. The top book is in English, the second book is in Burmese, which I assume is the translation of the English words, and she’s copying the English words down in her notebook. I pretended to stand nearby admiring the emerald buddha, trying to listen as she reads aloud. It was a story, but her voice was too soft so I really couldn’t make out the whole story. Just a little.

4. Chaukhtatgyi Temple

Temple of a reaaaaally big reclining Buddha. Well what can I say about this Temple. We went here after Shwedagon and well, it looked a little plain after all the gold and glamour in Shwedagon. Note to future travellers: Go to Chaukhtatgyi (pronounced God knows how… something like CHO-TA-GEE?)  before heading off to Shwedagon. Haha. We didn’t really go in, just at the corridor and took photos.

After this sign, I realise that Myanmar is so full of not just monks, but pilgrims. They’ve come here for clarity and soul searching. This is their sacred land. Much like how we see our own sacred lands of Makkah and Madinah. I feel a bit pathetic that I actually paid so much to see all these temples and not even one mosque..

5.  Inya Lake

Some guys kayaking on the lake in the distance.

This is honestly my top most favorite location in Yangon! 🙂 Inya Lake is, according t Wikipedia,

“located 6 miles (9.7 km) north of downtown Yangon, Inya Lake is bounded by Parami Road on the north, Pyay Road on the west, Inya Road on the southwest, University Avenue on the south, and Kaba Aye Pagoda Road on the east.”

We stayed with Ani, who lives on Pyay Road, so we asked our driver to drop us off there, so we could walk back home after watching the sunset. Perfect plan right? Haha!

The sun didn’t set over the lake!!! LOL!!!

Actually as we quickly realised, the sun sets on the other side of the lake, so we didn’t see the sun set and it looked very near to walk by car but actually the “leisurely” walk home was more than 5km UPHILL! Haha. Many interesting sights on the way though so we didn’t mind so much.

Back to Inya Lake, it is my favorite spot, particularly because it is a very popular place in Yangon to go DATING!!!

Get a snack of stomach entrail steamboat first? 😛

Or perhaps some spicy mango?

Or some posh Burmese cigarettes? Hehe! (No warning signs!)

Basically when you’re at Inya Lake, you’d need to look for an empty spot to go berdating.

It can either be any of the seats, facing the beautiful lake…

or

…any shady spot will do! Hehe!

We chose a sunny pink seat sponsored by A21 Soap haha!

While sitting and laughing and hanging out there, we were approached by many kinds of people, and saw many kinds of things people are up to.

One man approached us just to tell us that a building on our right side is the Convocation Hall in the University of Yangon! *___*”

There was a man selling a bouquet of mango slices.

SO CLEVER!!! I now officially declare that I only want bouquets of sliced fruits instead of boring inedible flower bouquets!

We had music too! 🙂

Polka dot longyi!

As the sun sets and it becomes more shady, more Yangonites and young couples ventured out. It was all very romantic and nice! 🙂 Me thinks these young couples go to the University of Yangon, located on the University Avenue, just a few minutes walk from Inya Lake.

Another reason why I think Inya Lake is so fascinating is because as you have noticed, it is nearby University Avenue, where Nobel Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi is currently under house arrest.

The area surrounding Inya Lake is one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Yangon… Lakefront properties include residences of Aung San Suu Kyi, the late strongman Gen. Ne Win and the United States ambassador.

This is the lake in the 2009 trespass incident involving John Yettaw. He swam across to her house uninvited and was arrested when he made his return trip three days later. His trespass caused Suu Kyi to be arrested for violating the terms of her house arrest. Apparently, Yettaw said he swam to Suu Kyi’s house to warn her that her life was “in danger”.

I hope you Google for more information. The house arrest of Suu Kyi and the Junta’s subsequent decision to not release her is a major current issue and is the reason why the US and EU are imposing economic sanctions, import bans, arms embargo, and suspension of all aid (except humanitarian) over Myanmar. They find it a human rights issue.

It’s quite sad really. Reminds me of the Malay saying, “gajah berperang, pelanduk mati di tengah-tengah” because well, Burma was in the past a centre of excellence, particularly in the area of medicine. Now, it’s just a military state, where the common people are so poor and a select few are unbelievably rich. 😦

Overall, I quite enjoy my time in Myanmar. Things move slowly here, even slower than Brunei and that can make you sort of sleepy almost. But I think it’s part of Yangon’s charm. 🙂

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