This morning was definitely an emotional low for me on this trip. Katelyn and I managed to rally shortly after I blogged earlier and heat out to beat the pavement.
We trekked all over the city and visited everything that we could/wanted to on TripAdvisor’s Top 30 List (we felt like seeing ANOTHER reclining Buddha might be overkill). We left our hostel and grabbed a cab to the Botatung Pagoda. It was really cool to see all the old colonial architecture in downtown Yangon. We arrived at the pagoda, took off our shoes and wandered around. We noticed that there was only one other tourist there, so we kind of followed her around (but from a distance so it wasn’t super creepy…. I SWEAR). This was really cool as this is the only temple I’ve been to where we could go into the Stupa. The inside of the Stupa was covered in so much gold leaf that the only logical explanation is that it call came from Liberace’s estate sale.
After we finished at the pagoda, we took a walk down to see the Yangon river. We thought there would be a boardwalk or something nice, but nope. Just a very murky brown river and lots of boats. It was pretty cool to see the locals getting in and out of their equivalent of a long tail.
We grabbed another cab and headed for Bogyoke Park. The cabbie that we had was pretty freaking crazy. He had one hand on the horn the entire time, and was more liberal with using it than any other Burmese driver we’ve seen. He also enjoyed the occasional curse word (in Burmese so the jury is out on whether they’re curse words or not) thrown at his fellow drivers. Katelyn had seen the Karaweik Palace (which is in the Park) online and wanted to check it out. We walked around the park for awhile as it was a nice respite form the constant traffic of the city. From the park we noticed the Shwedagon Pagoda, but decided to see the Nga Htat Gyi Pagoda.
We grabbed a cab and were off with out a hitch. We took the steps to the top and walked into the temple to see the biggest sitting Buddha I’ve ever seen. Its also the only one I’ve seen so thats that. We took a few pictures and an older gentleman started talking to us. We got to chatting and it turns out he lives at the monastery attached to the Pagoda. We walked around and he told us some things about Buddhism (apparently the day of the week I was born on is Tiger Day.. quite fitting) and about the history of the pagoda (it was built 120 years ago by some rich Chinese people and is covered in Gold Leaf, diamonds, rubies and jade). After we walked around the temple, he wanted to show us the monastery. We begrudgingly accepted, as we really wanted to go see Schwedagon. We walked through the grounds of the Monstaries and this is where things started to get a little sketchy. He took us to another temple, where a monk was quite interested in us and wanted to get a picture with us (we’re thinking its because I’m a literal giant in this country). Despite our protests, he wanted to show us his room. Katelyn and I were both put off by this but he wouldn’t budge. He told us that he helped out at the pagoda and about the daily rituals of the monks. He wanted to make us coffee/tea but we said we were meeting friends at the hostel (we weren’t) and needed to go to Schwedagon quickly (which wasn’t an entire lie). We acted like we were in a rush and he realized we wanted to get out of there quickly, which we did. Within 5 mins we were in a cab and speeding away. Looking back now, Katelyn and I are still sketched out by it because it could have gone very wrong. We’re just happy that we made it out alive and with all our valuables. Moral of the story: Don’t talk to anyone ever. (Thats my life motto too just FYI).
We were still a little uneasy at Schwedagon, but toured the incredible temple without a hitch. It was so incredible to see the detail that has been put into the pagodas. We spent about an hour there taking in the beauty of it, any more time there and we would have come home with burnt feet.
We cabbed back from the pagoda, and headed out for dinner. All in all we spent $12 in cab fare for the two of us which isn’t bad at all. We wanted to grab fruit and snacks for tonight, so we ate dinner at a Singaporean place that was beside the supermarket. We both had chicken and rice, as I was craving protein and non-oily food. It was a god send. As we were eating dinner, the heavens literally opened up and it starting PISSING down rain. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it rain this hard anywhere. It was coming down sideways. We were a tad foolish and left our rain jackets at the hostel, so waited it out.
As we were eating Stroopwaffel (don’t ask me why they have them here) we noticed our friend from the first Pagoda. We chatted for a bit and then decided to brave the rain and head back. While heading back we noticed KFC was POPPIN. I’ve never seen this many people at a KFC ever. Ok well the KFC by U of W might give it a run for its money on Tooney Tuesday (no t no shade).
We made it back (relatively) dry and are attempting to clean up the vortex of lululemon that is our room. We’ve got an early flight to Bagan tomorrow so are planning on hitting the hay very soon. I’m just hoping I can fit everything in my bag again.