Chiang Mai, Thailand-Yangon, Myanmar

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January 18th 2016
Published: March 3rd 2016
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Our fellow cruisersOur fellow cruisersOur fellow cruisers

Our welcome meeting. Duli, the cruise manager introduced Ye Min, the assistant cruise manager and gave us an overview of the cruise and the activities of today. Each of us introduced ourselves to the group and where we were from.
Day 6 & Day 7

Monday-January 18- We arose early this morning at the Dhara Dhevi Resort and had a quick breakfast prior to our pick up by Nok and Poi for our drive to the airport to get on our Bangkok Air flight at 11:00 for Yangon. We arrived in Yangon, went through immigration and looked for our AmaWaterways representative to transfer us to the hotel but no one showed up. A gentleman from the airport finally contacted the Shangri-La Hotel for us and Doug was able to talk with them. They said they couldn’t find the transfer but would have someone at the airport within 30 minutes wearing a red jacket. Doug went outside and was approached by a taxi guy asking if we needed a taxi and it would be $15US, saying no as we had other arrangements. Well, the hotel driver showed up and said that the ride to the hotel would be $50 and Doug showed him the hotel transfer in our coupon book and it didn’t matter because he couldn’t find our name. Doug said “no” that we would take a taxi. So we went outside and approached the same guy and negotiated a
Sule Shangri-La HotelSule Shangri-La HotelSule Shangri-La Hotel

Our Yangon hotel
$10 fare. It was a VERY interesting ride through some unusually poor neighborhoods. The traffic was incredible, especially when we got on a couple of the bigger streets. Our driver would then make a turn and go through an alley or small street. It ended up taking about an hour to get to the hotel. Feeling that this poor taxi driver had earned more, Doug gave him the original $15 fare and a $5 tip...he was very happy.

We got checked into our room at the hotel and Doug went to the front desk with the coupon book in hand and asked what had happened regarding our transfer problem from the airport. The guy at the desk said he would have to talk with the representative from AmaWaterways. Doug went down to their desk and no one was there at the time. Duli, our Cruise Manager, arrived in a short time and I told him about the transfer problem, which he acknowledged that he had already heard about. He looked at his manifest and it indicated that we would be arriving at 10:30 pm. He was deeply apologetic for the misunderstanding and said that we would be reimbursed. Travelers
Life is a celebrationLife is a celebrationLife is a celebration

The Yangon buses have many sayings...this one depicts our trip.
that we are, those things happen once in a while. We got settled in and had a nice dinner at the pub restaurant in the hotel.

Tuesday-January 19-HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANNETTE! This morning we had breakfast in the hotel café and proceeded to a room next to the AmaWaterways desk at 8:45 to gather with the other cruise guests for a brief intro and overview of the cruise and the activities of today. There will be 51 of us on the cruise. Unfortunately, 4 people had to cancel at the last minute. Duli introduced Ye Min, the Assistant Cruise Manager. Then we were all given the opportunity to introduce ourselves and say where we were from. We were divided into two groups, yellow & green, and Ye Min will be our guide as the yellow group. He is a 31-year old Burmese from the Shan State in the Northeastern part of Myanmar where Inle Lake is located. Duli will be guiding the green group.

Shortly after the meeting we boarded buses that dropped us off in downtown Yangon. Each bus went to a different drop-off location so 51 people weren't at the same place at the same
Fountain & parkFountain & parkFountain & park

In downtown Yangon where our bus dropped us off.
time. Yangon, the capital of Burma for 120 years, is known as the “Garden City of the East” because of its tropical flowers, verdant parks and beautiful lakes. Founded in 1755, Yangon (“End of Conflict”) was little more than a fishing village until it came under British control in 1855. It quickly transformed into a vibrant urban hub and became known as the “Pearl of the Orient.” Today the city offers numerous historical and cultural attractions.

Ye Min took us through the downtown describing the architecture and history of many buildings. He stopped at a street vendor who was selling a variety of items including Betel Nut on a leaf. Betel Nut is a very addictive substance that they chew and spit out the red juice from the nut. It makes their teeth red and rots them out. You can definitely see on the pavement or dirt where someone has been using Betel Nut or see its effects on their teeth when they smile. It seems to appeal to young and old, mostly males. We also walked past a number of other street food vendors.

We hopped back onto the bus and made our way through the heavy
Street cafeStreet cafeStreet cafe

Check out those cute miniature tables and chairs.
traffic, sometimes just waiting to move a little bit. Part of the problem is they are working on a couple bridges in the downtown area. We encountered the same thing yesterday going from the airport to the hotel.

We then continued on to visit the Reclining Buddha, or Chauk Htat Gyi Buddha. It is one of Myanmar's more revered reclining Buddhas. It is housed in a large metal-roofed shed, only a short distance from Shwedagon Palace.

Work on this image started in 1899, the donor named U Hpo Thar being fired by his ambition to make it a model edifice not only in this country but in the whole world as well. By 1907, the image of the Buddha half reclining on a royal couch on his flank, one hand propping up his upper torso was completed. From afar one might have mistaken it for an image in the seated posture. The image then had a length of 195 feet (59.28m) and a height of 100 feet (30.4m) from the surface of the couch to the halo round the head with the height of the couch itself 5 feet 6 inches above the
Ye Min and Betel NutYe Min and Betel NutYe Min and Betel Nut

Our first stop was at a vendor who sells a variety of things including betel nut and leaf. Very addictive!
platform. Extensive reconstruction completed in 1973 extended the length of the image to 216 feet (65.85m) with the height of the couch however, reduced to 4 feet (1.22m). Originally the axis of the head turned towards the west and the visage faced the south, but the reconstructed image has the head aligned towards the east and the visage facing north.

One thing that we will learn and become very accustomed to is when visiting any religious site that NO shoes and socks are permitted and that there is a need to wear proper dress, where ladies cannot have bare shoulders and knees must be covered. The Reclining Buddha was an impressive site.

We made a quick stop at Royal Lake which has a huge barge and building that is Karaweik Palace and restaurant. We then drove back downtown and Ye Min gave us a quick tour of the Scott Market which is a huge marketplace with booths offering all types of things. He set us free to shop and showed us how to make the short walk to the hotel.

We shopped a while and made our way back to the hotel for lunch. When we got
The chewable productThe chewable productThe chewable product

Ye Min shows us what the finished item looks like after it has been rolled in a leaf and what the user chews.
back to our room there were flowers and a Happy Birthday cake on the bed from the Shangri-La Hotel. We decided to put the cake in the mini-fridge to keep it fresh and went down to lunch.

At 3:15 we met back at the Cruise Manager Desk for our afternoon tour to Shwedagon Pagoda. In about 588 BC Gautama Buddha attained Enlightenment, and while traveling in seven places, two merchants, Taphussa and Ballika, offered Him alms(food). Having received 8 strands of hair from Him as a blessing, they returned to Okkalapa where they were welcomed back by the multitudes led by King Okkalapa.

The King and his subjects enshrined Buddha’s hairs together with the relics of three Buddhas before Him in a ceti 66 feet high which they consecrated as the Shwedagon Pagoda. Because it contained the relics of the four Buddhas who had attained Enlightenment, it was known as Shwedagon, the Reliquary of the Four.

From about 588 BC to the 14th century, the Shwedagon was maintained by 32 kings of the Okkalapa dynasty and since 1372 AD by Kings Banya U. Banyanyan, Banyagyandow and others.

In 1453 AD, when Queen Shin Saw Pu ascended
Face of the vendorFace of the vendorFace of the vendor

Most women and some men in Myanmar wear a cream type substance that is derived from the bark of a certain tree that protects their skin from sun.
to the throne, she had it raised to a height of 302 feet and in 1774, King Sinbyushin had it rebuilt to a height of 326 feet, what it is today. It is a very large compound that includes 3 other pagodas, many Buddha images and other things to see. The land it covers is 114 acres and the area of the terrace is 14 acres. The Diamond Orb atop the Shwedagon Pagoda is 22 inches high and a diameter of 10.5 inches. It has 4,351 diamonds, 1,800 carats and the apex diamond is 76 carats.

Upon our return to the hotel we were surprised when we entered our room and surprise, surprise…there was another Happy Birthday cake on the bed. They must not have thought that the other cake was delivered. So, after we had dinner at the pub area of the hotel again, Doug cut one of them into pieces took it back downstairs and shared it with some of the other folks on the trip.

Additional photos below
Photos: 72, Displayed: 28


Skin care productSkin care product
Skin care product

Ye Min shows us the product that she also sells to people for their skin.
Meat vendorMeat vendor
Meat vendor

Across from the betel nut lady, this man is slicing and preparing some bacon and other items for sale.
Telegraph buildingTelegraph building
Telegraph building

Much of the architecture in the old buildings downtown have a very strong British influence.
Bok ChoyBok Choy
Bok Choy

This young lady is preparing some Bok Choy for sale.
Book vendorBook vendor
Book vendor

This vendor is selling books...most of them in English.
Government buildingGovernment building
Government building

Some of these buildings appear to be in good condition.
Revenue Department buildingRevenue Department building
Revenue Department building

Central revenue department for Myanmar.
Have a chairHave a chair
Have a chair

These young ladies have stopped for something to eat. We will see many street food vendors just like this over the course of the trip.
Selling her waresSelling her wares
Selling her wares

This young woman has a variety of nuts and other items nicely bagged.
Tea Leaves?Tea Leaves?
Tea Leaves?

This man appears to be selling tea leaves, used in their trademark tea leaf salad.
A friendly smileA friendly smile
A friendly smile

He gave Annette a nice smile, and she rewarded him with a crisp one dollar bill.
Over hereOver here
Over here

Ye Min, our yellow group guide, is rounding us up to hop back on the bus for our next stop. He is very knowledgeable about Myanmar/Burma history and extremely personable.
An attractive buildingAn attractive building
An attractive building

This building would look good in San Francisco.

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