Day 2. Bangkok to Yangon
Flying on Thai Airways TG303 to Yangon (Rangoon) in Burma (Myanmar) and exploring the historic city.
Turned out that the plane was delayed for a further 30 minutes. I decided to head down to the departure gate for the Thai Airways TG303 gate D6. I was exhausted and I stretched out on the new metal chairs dotted in the departure hall. The air conditioners were running and the cold of the metal was permeating through my body. Although the airport looks great in theory, in practice however it left me with a chill which lasted well into the flight to Myanmar and a general discomfort of surgical steel.
Myanmar says: Hello
We landed safely and out of the corner of the aircraft window I saw my first luscious and tropical green of Burma.
The bus whisked the passengers to the immigration hall which processed me very quickly. The hall opened up directly onto a single carousel. I looked to the right and saw Dave's smile and camera flashing - it was a fantastic feeling to finally be here. I wanted to rush over and give him a great big hug but there was still the quarantine to pass through - two desks separated me and Burma. The carousel gave out a yelp and begun to turn. Slowly the bags came to view and my bike was dropped off to the side. I loaded my belongings onto a trolley and passed through the Green Channel into the arms of 30 porters. I managed to navigate through them and got a huge pat on the back from Dave, we hugged and laughed. He had a van ready to take us back to the Winner Inn.
It took about 15 minutes to reach the Inn - a small well presented hotel about 5km north of the city center. The hotel was air-conditioned and very tidy, with traditional furniture and lots of wooden carvings throughout. We took my bags and bike to the room and settled in.
Barefoot and hungry
I was starting to get hungry so we thought a walk on the town would uncover a good eating spot. It was hot and humid, we walked at a snail's pace. Not far from the inn we could see the golden towers of some pagoda (which later turned out to be Shwedagon Paya) and headed in the general direction.
Everywhere we went people greeted us with kind words and smiles - this makes a nice change from Nigeria where I'd been just 4 days previously. There's no feeling of threat or possible danger and it's reassuring when the locals simply don't notice you on the street.
We strolled around the pagoda and took off our shoes to climb the steps to the top - seeing we're not locals we were asked to pay an entry fee to the main area - we decided to give it a miss. The structure covered the whole side of a small hill and someone mentioned that this one is much bigger than the pagoda in Bangkok.
The heat took everything out of us and started walking back to the hotel.
Confucious says: Warning only good when digested
On the way we stopped in at a street side stall which served us with some chicken and vermicelli. Yum! Some nice chilies came out and I was curious to know what they tasted like - Dave took one bite and said they were ok - two seconds later his mouth exploded and he was gasping for air. I took stock of what was coming my way because given his glowing review I had already stuffed 6 of these tiny green chilies in my mouth.
Nightwalkers hop to it
After a short nap we went back into the center of town to experience the night life.
Yangon was buzzing with activity, people had come out to shop, eat and socialize - kids play football (soccer for the Australians) in the streets and friends meet for a meal by the side of the road. We wandered the paths and alleys for a good part of the evening. All sorts of electrical goods, shoes and food - yep even grasshoppers.
After a meal we were ready for bed.