Getting Cooked in Yangon

Trip Start Dec 28, 2011
Trip End Jan 19, 2012

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Where I stayed
Chan Myae Guesthouse

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Yangon Heat
After idling the whole morning, watching Channel News Asia, I relunctantly got out in the Yangon heat for lunch at New Bogyoke market. Had to change for more kyat currencies at Central Hotel, before making my way on foot to Botataung Paya down at the jetty. I had to admit that my exploration of Yangon was rather sloppy but I blamed it on the heat. I meant to check out Inya Lake (where Aung Sung Su Kyi was detained), and the 3 hours city loop train ride.

Botataung Paya
The visit to Botataung Paya was not a bad choice. The last of Yangon's big three pagodas, Botataung Paya  is said to house a strand of hair relic from Buddha himself. Unlike most stupas which are largely solid, this stupa is hollow inside, with a maze-like corridor surrounding the hair relic in the centre. Nearby is a pond housing hundreds of turtles and terrapins, some small and some ridiculously huge, lurking in the brackish water. Devotees would purchase bits of carrots and vegetables, and litter the pond with food.

One Man Band
Tonight was my last chance to check out the entertainment scene in Yangon. In the middle of Chinatown market, is this rooftop stage and restaurant setup - Zero Zone - where locals sip beers and watch young burmese ladies belt out listlessly on the stage, backed only be a one-man keyboardist band. Some would purchase shimmering plastic garlands for pretty singers if they like what they hear or see. Elsewhere are seedy joints with bouncers outside soliciting for the ladies inside.

I have always enjoyed walking in a foreign city late in the night. Yangon at late night felt like Hanoi. Food vendors packing up, local boys fooling around with a bamboo straw ball and old men engrossed in their chess games, beside heaps of rubbish from the day. Did I mention huge rats? Oh yes, big fat ones.
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