Well, the adventure begun!
With a great portion of sleep, we – the early birds. Twelve hours our bodies were crying for sleep. And immediately we jumped right into the crowd.
Our first try to get lost in the dusty streets and under terrible heat, around 37-38 degrees in the shade, was fully successful. Out of nowhere two young people came and in good English explained us how to reach the train station we were looking for. We can tell stories about this train, just read further.
The stationmaster, also cashier, also announcer, sold us two tickets for free in good Burmese and after a while we got on the train. In the opposite direction. We were lucky that the stations were a stone’s throw away, and quickly, bravely and skillfully we corrected our mistake and hopped on the right train.
The lack of glass on the windows in the coach served as air conditioning. There were two long benches, wooden type of floor (kind of I-don’t-remember-how-old-I-am) and ceiling (I-don’t-want-to-remember-my age). And under the ceiling – lying, sitting and half-sitting were small, smaller and even smaller Burmese kids and their parents. Burmese had a tiny structure. With big luggage, including… our vocabulary was not enough rich to describe it. In one word – exotic. If we had not switched on the adventure mode probably we might not like the ambience. But not now, now it is cooool…
The train is so called “Circle Train”, meaning that it circles the old four-five million capital in three hours. After 45-50 minutes of tottering, we got off at the central station in the terrible heat and the necessity pushed us to buy a mandatory accessory – beautiful pink umbrella on dots, hot couture of the Burmese fashion. Everyone had umbrella serving as “anti-sun”, we had too. And so, with anti-sun umbrella, we shoved into the first supermarket with ultimate purpose – finding food. We bought some cooked-in-front-of-us dishes, fruits and … Her Majesty the Beer.
Beer in Burma sounds pretty good for typesetter, mettre-en-page in other words. Outside, our table was waiting for us in the shadow, even covered with a white tablecloth of type oilcloth. No kidding, 20 m away from the store we found our place to bivouac. The first meeting with Burmese cuisine was much tasty. We never knew what we ate, only that it was not meat. And Her Majesty the Beer, mmm, great super pleasant surprise, brand Dagon, extra strong, 8%.
After the spread, we headed bright and cheerful for the only mandatory sightseeing in today agenda – Shwedagon pagoda.
It is great fun to walk around Yangon streets, everyone beeps from everywhere, horns and klaxons trying to outplay each other; people, roads and vehicles live in their own Burmese way, which is a little bit strange for us. Coming closer to the pagoda, we understood what our hostess from the guesthouse warned us – due to the full moon, the place will be overcrowded. Overcrowded in Burmese manner means many people gathered in one place, believe me – many! Traffic jam, horning, beeping are part of the performing of the crowd.
Then, all the visitors take their shoes off (we did the same of course), climb contented many steps. If they are local – tall less than 1.60 m, with slanting eyes and dark skin, they enter the pagoda, unnoticed by the security eye-scanner, who lurks for anyone different than the above described type in order to urge him to pay a large amount of money if he wants to feel the thrill of the Buddhist pagoda. And again longyi (long piece of cloth that is wrapped around the waist) for the short pants! The crowd circles around the main stupa in all directions, with funny bouquets in their hands. Another part of the crowd which has already finished the circling, sits tired on the ground, no matter where, for praying. In general, it is colorful, feels like the brightness of TV is increased. Shwedagon is actually very impressive Buddhist temple. It deserves the attention.
Taxi, traffic jam, heat, guesthouse, shower and right onto the bus to Mandalay – the cultural capital of Burma. How do you buy tickets? Easy, just ask in your hotel and at the appointed hour not only the tickets are waiting for you but the taxi which will take you to the bus station is in front of the guesthouse as well. In this respect, we immediately suspected the local tourist industry of stealing know-how from their well-organized Vietnamese colleagues.
Finally the night bus (scene of the word lacing today) came. Well, we’ve seen luxury and comfort in transportation, but this exceeded all our expectations. Each line had 3 seats, a double and single. The seat had footrest, so the feet stand nearly horizontally, all sleeping facilities were available. In front of each seat there was 10 “display. The service of the hostess surpassed that of her colleagues from Qatar and Emirates airlines together. They gave the passengers different staff – starting from Schweppes and sweets and finishing with toothbrush.
So, it’s time to take advantage of these bus seats and charge our batteries.