We arrived in Yangon on Sunday 22nd January after a short 80 minute flight. We were both surprised how green it was and clean although we later discovered this is not the case in most parts. We are staying at the Clover Hotel, which is OK, the plus is the view from the hotel restaurant of the top of the Shwedagon Pagoda, more on this later.
After breakfast, at which Ian decided to eat what the locals do, egg, bacon and chicken sausage in egg fried rice (I stuck to the egg on toast) we took a taxi to the Central Train Station to buy our ticket to Mandalay on Wednesday. The advanced booking office is on the other side and it looks like you are walking through a farm yard. There are various counters and we went to the first lane to be told that it is lane 7 we need to go to. The office behind the counters is one office. We arrived at lane 7 to be greeted by the same guy who now let us buy our tickets who obviously walked quicker than us. A bit like some comedy sketch. The train journey is 15 hours and the cost was 9,300 Kyats each which is about £6.00, that’s upper class too!
We then decided to take a ride on the Yangon circular train which gives you an insight to Yangon and how some of the people live. We couldn’t quite believe that a ticket for a 3 hour trip was just 200 Kyats, 13 pence, yes you did read that correctly!
There are many traders that get on and off the train selling various things including water, sweetcorn, vegetables,peanuts and it went on. This is one of those places where some of the women balance their wares on a tray on their head, great posture and balance. The journey was quite an eye opener, I think there are going to be quite a lot of those during this trip.
Along the railway tracks seems to be home for the poorer people. The piles of rubbish everywhere is a shock. Once we got further out we passed paddy fields alongside lots of buildings not just in open fields, where people were up to their waists in water. There was lots of activity as each of the stations, some didn’t even look like stations, people cooking food on the platforms.
This picture was one of the stations. One family who boarded at this station looked like they had bought up half the market, with big sacks of vegetables. A student sat with us for a while as he wanted to practice his English. We managed to communicate a little with him.
We arrived back at Yangoon central station where the train stopped at its final destination. Ian and I looked at each other wondering how long we had to wait for it to move along so we could get off at a platform. How green we were. It wasn’t going anywhere, so we followed the locals who climbed down the steps onto the track side, back up the steps of the next train along side the track, through the train carriage and finally down the steps to the platform.
We later visited the Shwedagon Pagoda, which is an amazing sight and it’s hard to grasp the enormity of it and the area around it without seeing it. In addition to the Pagoda there is a complex of Buddha shrines. The photos only show a small part of it. Standing close to 110 metres, the umbrella or crown called “hti” is tipped with 4,351 diamonds and 2,317 rubies. The very top, the diamond bud called “sein bu” is tipped with a 72 carat diamond. It is covered with hundreds of gold plates.
Ian showed his feminine side in a skirt to cover his knobbly knees!
My GoPro really came into its own with the wide angled lens. Thanks guys at JLT.
Tuesday 24th January, we had a lazy day. Attempted to take a walk around Inya Lake which proved more difficult as there were parts of it that couldn’t be accessed. We did make it to the Yangon Sailing Club though although they wouldn’t let us in as we weren’t members. Ian’s RYA didn’t do the trick of getting us access either. We are going to see how many sailing clubs we can visit on our travels now and when we are on the boat.