Postcards from Abroad

Whether your dream is to stay in a colonial-era bungalow in the middle of a tea plantation, an Indian princely palace, or to cruise in luxury the Irrawaddy to Mandalay, we never tire of searching for your next great travel destination. This is the place to share with us your most recent adventures.

Mingalaba - Hello

James and Cate in Hpa AnMingalaba - hello

 

We arrived in Yangon to find that our itinerary had to change because of full moon so after 15 hours of travel (4 am our time), we found there was no rest for the wicked. We were given 2 hours to freshen up and then our adventure began. Noticeable were the longyis - sarong lower body garments worn by men and women and we were also fascinated by the number of people covered in Thanaka, a bright yellow face paint which acts as a sunblock/ makeup made from ground tree bark. Faces vary from subtle streaks to spectacular styles.

Myanmar children wearing Thanaka

Yangon, originally Rangoon is a charming a mix of old colonial buildings and tree lined streets with the ultra modern; pavement cafes, markets, street hawkers, and stupas. In some ways it seems untouched as though time has stood still but although very busy it is calm, orderly and quiet as heavy traffic weaves about the city. Attractive lakes and parks add to the green feel of the city.

charming colonial Yangon

The National Museum's highlight is the Lion Throne, made for King Bodawpaya in 1816 from which he used to adjudicate on law cases. The costume exhibits added a splash of colour with mannequins decked in traditional dress.

The Lion Throne National Museum Yangon

We walked a great deal and found the old part of the city fascinating. The Sule Pagoda slap bang in the middle of the 1850's grid plan at the centre of a busy roundabout served as an important place for pro-democracy activists over the years but the highlight was the Shwedagon Pagoda which floats above the city like a golden beacon. It is the most revered in Myanmar and said to enshrine 8 strands of hair of the historical Buddha. We visited at sunset and watched with fascination as young boys dressed as princes were paraded about. This is a tradition and important ritual for the family and their friends. After much celebration the boy will have his head shaved and become a monk for about 5 days or so.

Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset

Shwedagon Palace Yangon

Our ferry ride across the river to sample village life on the other side was interesting. Most noise emanated from hawkers encouraging people to buy their wares on the quayside and on the boat. Large fishing boats bobbed as some families prefer the more traditional method of crossing the river. What a contrast, the sophisticated city one side and very basic villages on the other. Sadly, some of the fishing villages were littered with the scourge of the world - plastic, it was everywhere. The government is keen to expand the city so businesses are being encouraged to set up across the river. In a few years this side will look very different and be unrecognisable.

Yangon across the river

Our visit to the Secretariat building was not disappointing. The most impressive of all the colonial monuments was where Aung Sang was assassinated in 1947. It was the National parliament building until 1962 and then closed to the public until very recently. It is presently being restored and we attended a photographic exhibition. On entry we walked up one of the original cast iron staircases, the place was heaving and there was much public interest as it has been off-limits for so long.

The Secretariat Building Yangon

 

Finally, the Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda, a giant reclining figure has a lovely face, wonderful eyelashes, finished off with a stylish bindi. The huge feet sport golden markings; it is truly remarkable. Whilst visiting we came across some girls from the Paoh tribe who looked stunning in their tribal outfits. They insisted they have a picture with James. Please note serious faces are the norm here as most people do not smile for photographs!

Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda Yangon

 

James with girls from the Pa O tribe Yangon

A yes to Yangon, next stop Kyaiktiyo - Golden Rock!

Genial Gwalior and diverse Delhi
Kyaiktiyo: 'pagoda on a hermit's head'
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