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Published: January 1st 2017
One of a pair of Chinthe guarding the Western Gate
Another early start, this time for the taxi to HeHo Airport for our flight to Yangon. Apart from feeling incredibly sick and having to pay £3 for a small packet of mcvities choc digestives to settle my stomach, the flight was fine and we were soon in another taxi on our way to our hostel for the night. We chose the Yangon Hub as it was the nearest place we could find with fairly decent reviews to the airport as we read that the traffic was mental here.
Luckily Howard had his google map thingy as he had to direct the taxi driver through the back streets to the hostel! We had booked the deluxe ensuite room so hopes were high, oh foolish me. Our room was a box next to reception, it did have a window though, complete with scenic view....of a wall. There was a bath with a shower over it, woo hoo no more wet floors...but there was no hot water and no soap. On the positive side the air con worked really well. We just dumped the bags and went out.
First stop was the shopping mall (bizarrely a real one) down the road for
Howard to eat, I was still feeling rough. Then it was on to the Shwedagon Pagoda, this place is huge! Set in massive grounds with the pagoda on top of the very large hill. There are 4 gates that lead up to it and by good fortune we were dropped off by the west gate, which is guarded by a pair of huge Chinthe, very impressive.
Inside we discovered a couple having their wedding photos taken, the outfits were fab and they were more than happy for me to take a pic too. This is when the luck came in, we had been dropped off by the gate with the escalators going up to the top! Result!! I think the taxi driver took one look at me and thought she'll never make it walking up. So we had the bizarre but welcome experience of being whisked up to the top.
As we came out onto the top level there was the pagoda in all it's gold and precious gem topped brilliance and it was dazzling. We were also approached by one of the many guides that are available but we didn't take him up on his offer as
Well it is a long way up!
we had a map, the guide book and frankly could not be arsed. We were feeling a bit pagodaded out. That said it was a fantastic place with amazing architecture and millions of side temples, Buddhas galore, bells, gong, a mini Shwedagon and a very large Bodhi tree, we saw the lot. It was so hot though and the floor was often burning on your feet, so we kind of hopped and skipped about!
We descended via the steps of the South Gate and again were relieved we hadn't had to walk up them. At the bottom it was shoes back on and another dice with death as we attempted to cross the main road, which we finally did and rewarded ourselves with a cold drink in a park.
Next up was the nearby Maha Wizaya Pagoda, at first I thought oh no not another bloody pagoda, then I remembered I had read about this one, it was new and totally different inside, it was designed to look like a forest glade and the ceiling was decorated with animals. It was beautiful, cool, calm, celebrating Buddha and nature and no neon in sight.
Our final planned stop
was to see the Chaukhtagyi Buddha and this is a giant and I mean GIANT reclining Buddha. We walked right round it accompanied by the sound of a monk reciting prayers over the loudspeaker system. I had to take photos of it with Howard in them, looking tiny, just to try and show the scale of it.
By now we are knackered and just wanted to go back to the luxury of the hostel. However,luckily for us our taxi driver had other ideas, pointing out lots of other pagodas we might like to visit...um no thank you, then coming up trumps by driving back along University Road and stopping outside Aung San Suu Kyi's house! I had really wanted to go here but didn't think we would be able to make it, so I was super chuffed with this.
I got out and took a couple of photos, I knew you couldn't go inside, but I felt that we had at least paid our respects and acknowledged what this incredible woman, The Lady had been through and achieved.
Back at the hostel we just sat on the bed in the air con until hunger forced us out
On reflection I wish we had visited Yangon first, I know we didn't get right into the downtown area, but the feel of the city is nicer, they have pavements that you can walk on!!!!!! and parks and trees!!!!! It appears a lot nicer than Mandalay and I think I would have preferred to spend longer here and would have been all fresh and excited by the pagodas, which is what they deserve.
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