Buddhist prayers and the perils of walking the sidewalks of Yangon
18.08.2011 - 18.08.2011 30 °C
Mt. Popa to Yangon, Myanmar
Departing at 4am, darkness still enveloped the jungle as we descended into the valley from our mountain top retreat. Our sporadic backseat taxi conversation halted, temporarily, whilst our driver recited his 5am prayers for an eerie thirty minutes. Apart from an initial concern that he might be praying for deliverance from some suicidal overtaking maneuver little punctuated the passing of our journey to Bagan airport, save the deliberate avoidance of a road block and toll charge. Essentially put in place by villages, possibly with some form of governmental authority, most taxi drivers we had encountered played a generally successful game of ignoring assertions to halt, swerving instead around brightly painted red and white barriers.
Reaching Bagan airport in the early hours of the morning the terminal was quite deserted. Yet, within twenty minutes, as pickup truck loads of employees arrived check-in counters were bustling and the process of transporting passengers to either Yangon, Mandalay or Heho underway.
We were heading to Yangon for, sadly, our last night in Myanmar. Driving into the once proud capital city little had changed since our departure a few weeks ago. Indeed, little appeared to have changed since the departure of the British many years before that. Yet, after our time in the north the sight of traffic – taxis, trucks, and cars – seemed a little strange. We had not seen such a volume of vehicles since leaving Yangon. Although, with gasoline harder to obtain outside of the city this was hardly a surprise.
With the main tourist sights of Yangon already covered we spent our last afternoon in the city re-visiting Scott Market purchasing those last minute must have souvenirs we could, in reality, easily afford to leave behind. As expected the mid-afternoon monsoon arrived promptly, sending us scurrying for cover in a rather salubrious American style doughnut shop.
Supper that evening consisted of an excellent Indian curry served in colonial splendor to the east of Shwedagon Paya. With a certain amount of sadness that we would be leaving this welcoming, beautiful country the next day we passed the remainder of our evening walking back to the hotel, carefully avoiding the many dark, watery holes that offered unwelcome surprises to any less than observant pedestrians that might pass by.