11 May 2008

the myanmar adventure-day 1

it was a trip that took months of planning and about a hundred or so emails crossing over ireland, singapore and the philippines. we all wanted to take advantage of the labor day holiday, so it was agreed that the chillis would go off somewhere...exotic. the initial plan was to go to nepal and catch a view of mt.everest. but our travel agent couldn't provide us with a flight back from kathmandu. we talked of other destinations: bali? someone in the group has been there. same thing with thailand and malaysia.

chilli a's backup destination of choice? myanmar! he'd been wanting to see the shwedagon pagoda and the historic city of bagan for the longest time. besides, all of us hadn't been there and so we all said yes. we'd been telling our singapore friends our next travel destination for quite a few weeks, and we've all been asked one question: "why myanmar"? and our (or at least my) constant answer would be: "why not?"

little did we know that phrase will haunt us for the rest of our trip. it will eventually be a constant expression among ourselves, that every time we say those words, we will always definitely be reminded of our experience. how that happened will slowly unfold as i write about the trip.

---day 1---
i left the night shift early to meet up with the chillis at the airport. we caught the first flight out to yangon, the capital city. three and a half hours later, we were there. the airport actually impressed us. it looked new and clean (think of the budget terminal in singapore, without the duty free shops). except for the few minutes that the lights went off while we were waiting for our tour guide, we were actually excited to be there.

the weather was a bit gloomy. i was concerned that we might not get to tour around as much as we'd like to. and i was right. by the time we stepped out of the hotel after a few minutes of rest, it was raining heavily. but as always, not even gloomy weather can dampen our spirits...and our stomachs. we asked our guide to bring us to an eatery so we can sample their local dishes. and it was as local as you can get.

their food is very close to filipino food. their fish paste tastes similar to ours, though a bit spicier. and how could you not love the vegetables in the middle? healthy, huh? and you don't have to order for it, it's the first thing they place on your table. the dessert is sugar balls (we all loved this!)

*ask for pepsi, and they'll give you star cola. chilli a, f and d

to while away the afternoon, our guide took us to the national museum where we were given a short, but very informative session about myanmar's history, people, clothing, art and other things. the thing that struck me the most about this particular session, was when our guide talked about their "very beautiful alphabet". how many people can say they have their own alphabet, and love it? very few, i tell you. unfortunately, pictures weren't allowed to be taken inside, so those images will be stored in our memories.

after a few hours in the museum, the rain lowered down to a slight drizzle. just enough for us to go to the shwedagon pagoda. we could finally get close to that gleaming tower of gold we'd been seeing the whole afternoon. this is it: up close, on a rainy, cloudy day:

we were there for about an hour, taking in the view, listening to our guide talking about the pagoda and its history (interesting fact: the pagoda is made of real gold, and has a diamond at it's peak!), taking hundreds of pictures, and making friends with the locals..

we would not have left the pagoda had our guide not told us that we were still going see the giant reclining buddha of yangon. with a sigh, we reluctantly left, went back to the van and proceeded to the chaukhtatgyi paya temple.

when the guide said giant buddha, he meant it. this is what greeted us:

ok, i don't think you can grasp how large it is. here's another angle:

on the way back to the hotel, we stopped by their city hall area, and another pagoda:

after that, it was back to the hotel for us for some much needed rest and a shower. we all agreed on waking up early to catch our flight the next morning. the next day, we were off to the very dry and hot city of bagan...

more pictures here
view video in shwedagon

1 comment

  1. uy matinding series eto ha!! hahahahah


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