I got breakfast on the roof terrace restaurant and enjoyed the views. The river can be seen in the distance and the Stupa of the Shwedegon Pagoda. The city is quite ugly and congested with very crowded buildings dirty from what I assume is pollution.
The breakfast was a mix of eastern and western, and I was thrilled to see chicken soup as an item. Nothing can make you feel better!
I lazed around my room a bit, caught up on my blog and email and checked into my flight. I had made plans to meet Harny, whom I met on the flight from Bangkok to Yangon two days earlier and waited for him to arrive.
First I decided to explore a little, and I wasn't really prepared for the reality that is Yangon. If I thought Hanoi felt like walking in a beehive, this city feels like walking between machine gun fire. It's intense trying to cross the street or even trying to walk on the sidewalk. People are extremely aggressive as it's so crowded and you must be alert at all times. Drivers honk constantly and I truly haven't seen cars get as close to cars and people as in this city.
The stores are interesting-- I saw a rope store, a paint shop, a makeup store and a random store that sold items with no relationship I could see. I walked a few blocks to the Musmea Yeshua synagogue, built in 1896 and supported in the last few generations by one family of sons.
It was small but quite beautiful Synagogue, built in 1896. Myanmar once had a thriving Sephardic Jewish population of over 2,500 people. Many fled during the Japanese occupation and the remainder once the military took power in 1962. Now there are only around 20 people in Myanmar in total. The temple is maintained to remember the community and the influence it once had.
I decided to find a pharmacy, no longer able to deny how sick I am. It took some doing (and back and forth on a busy street) but I found one. I had the foresight to ask my hotel to dictate a few things in the local language to help communicate with the pharmacist and that was a good thing. However, she was handing me everything from cold medicine to heartburn meds. Thankfully I have some knowledge of drug names and got some cold meds, cough meds, and a 'z-pack' antibiotic, which didn't require a prescription. I am a regular to sinus infections and bronchitis, and as this has dragged on for a bit, I'm sure I have an infection.
I went back to the hotel to check out and meet my new friend, Harny. I met him on my flight from Bangkok to Yangon, and we made plans to meet up. We had planned for dinner but when he suggested lunch, I jumped on it.
He was as overwhelmed by the street traffic as I was, which was a surprise. He lives 15 minutes from my hotel and apparently it's a little less crowded there. We hailed a cab to not deal with the mess, which was an exhilarating/terrifying experience. Even cabbies in NYC don't compare!
We tried to cross a busy street which was simply incredible. We finally ended up just running, dashing between cars, reminding me of the Nitari game, Freeway, I used to play as a kid, of a chicken trying to cross a busy highway. Turns out the restaurant he planned on is closed for the holidays. The owner apologized, and I found it interesting that the doors were open! We walked to a second place that was closeby, having to cross that busy street again. This time there was another couple and the man was quite insane just walking forcing the cards to stop, so we tagged on with them.
Shan Kitchen was quite good, and we had Shan region food. We got Shan noodles, morning glory (a green I had in Cambodia and liked) and pennywort. It was good and I especially liked the pennywort!
We then went to the National Museum, and it was amazing! Five floors but we only got through 3 of them, with some incredible historical pieces from the country and a display of attire from the many regions in Myanmar. It was interesting and beautiful.
We decided to go back to my hotel up to the rooftop terrace for some coffee and tea. The foot traffic was a bit too much for both of us, and I was getting a bit droopy. We sat there for a couple of hours and enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the city.
At dinnertime, we made our way towards Chinatown, only a couple of blocks from my hotel. We went a little further to a restaurant Harny knew, which escapes me. It was pretty good. We got a tomato dish to share and each got some local noodles.
Such a fun day! He brought me back to my hotel and I only had and hour and a half to wait for my ride to the airport for my 1 am flight.
My next flight was to Hong Kong, where I had a seven-hour layover. I grabbed a bite for breakfast, then made my way to Victoria Peak, that has an incredible view of the city. I had direction that seemed easy- take the Airport express train to central, take a mini bus to the peak tram. Well, getting to Airport Express was easy, but that was it. I had to ask several people for directions to the mini bus (which I never would have found otherwise.) I asked for the tram of the driver, and got dropped off.
The building I was dropped at was an indoor mall of sorts, with some stores, restaurants and a viewing terrace. I thought I was being dropped off to take the tram, but apparently he took me to the top and I would take the tram down. The terrace opened at 8 so i had 30 minutes to kill and walked around. I was glad I got there early as there was quite a line. I climbed up a few floors and there it was--Hong Kong. Beautiful views and the sun was up though it was still a bit foggy.
I was debating trying to see something else quickly but decided against it-- good thing as I got massively lost on my way back. I took the tram down and couldn't find the bus, and wasn't entirely sure there was a stop in this direction as the directions seemed a bit off. I decided to walk towards central, and while in some areas it was well marked, I seemed to miss some signs. I walked a while, and finally asked for some help. Three people pointed in three different directions, but turns out I was pretty much at the station and didn't know it. I'm bad with directions anyways, however, with no sleep in over 30 hours, yes, I was a bit of a mess.
The last guy was very nice and specific, and even ran over to make sure I went in the right door as I believe there was access to multiple things in this station. Then to find Airport Express... same thing. Wandered, wandered, signs disappeared. I asked a woman for help and she was so kind to walk me there! Very nice people here too.
Made it to the airport with some time and impressed with this huge, modern airport. Somehow managed to go to the wrong gate clear across the airport, apparently looking at the city I was going to but not confirming the flight number. It's a very, very large airport!
|Dragon's Beard candy, which I got in Seoul, South Korea on my last Asia adventure|
14.5 hour flight back, but I had an aisle seat so it was ok enough. Didn't sleep until my flight from LA to Phoenix where I passed out before we backed up and woke with a jolt on landing. My friend picked me up thankfully, and we went to get two of my dogs who were staying at the rescue. We did a quick grocery run, and now I'm home, sweet home.
What an amazing adventure!! I will post pictures in the next week or so and will write up my recommendations. They will not include Yangon, though!