"Our last two days in Yangon" Top 5 Page for this destination Rangoon Travelogue by albaaust
Rangoon Travel Guide: 531 reviews and 1,332 photos
Today, we decide that we will forgo visiting Bago and instead go to Sule Pagoda and do the walk from there to the waterfront as suggested in Lonely Planet. The walk to Sule is fairly easy although at each intersection we have to fend off touts wanting to sell us postcards etc. Sule is ornate and richly decorated and especially interesting because of the contrasts in the backdrop of the urban landscape. Its centrality makes it a popular place for prayer and meditation and it is teeming with local people.
From Sule we begin the walk – starting first of all buildings which are remnants of British colonial rule: the City Hall, the Population and Immigration building, Immanuel Baptist Church and the High Court. The buildings are solid and nice to look at but they are surrounded by a sea of disrepair. We continue watching where we walk because of the mud, jagged rocks and those dreaded storm drains. We walk along Pansodan Street where various professionals such lawyers and doctors have set up an “office” displaying their credentials and with their typewriters. There are a number of “shops” selling books as well. These books are not hard back and the pages are very thin and discoloured. Eventually we get to the Strand Hotel. We nearly miss it because outside the pavement is pretty shabby and decrepit. We are feeling very hot so we go inside and immediately welcomed with air-conditioned opulence. There is a gentleman in traditional Burmese costume playing a Burmese harp. The contrast between the Strand and the street outside is immense. We stay for a little while and look around the shops in the gallery section.
We head to the river hoping to catch a ferry to the other side and get mixed messages just before we get to the ticket counter: one that we can go across for US$2, the other message that no foreigners are allowed.
At the ferry dock there is a line of trishaw drivers who are obliging in terms of helping us. We hire three trishaw drivers to take us down to the river along Strand Road and other places we might be interested in. For US$1.50 they take us along Strand Road and down to the river, then to Kheng Hock Keong (Chinese temple) and then Shwe Dagon Pagoda Road where there appears to be a series of markets. The street is pretty muddy but it has all the senses going with open air stalls of meat, fish, fruit (durian again), vegetables of various descriptions, spices in bags and for the first time I actually see fresh npai – this is a purple coloured blend which I could tell was Npai because I could see little fish tails in it. It’s ugly to look at, offensive to smell – but when my mother cooks it, delicious to eat. I think I am going to be a more discerning when next she mentions she is cooking with this!!
We walk northward to Bogyoke Markets as I want to have a last look around. We decide to separate as brother wants to buy some jewellery for his wife and daughters and husband wants to buy some jade for our daughter. I decide that I will buy a Tiffin carrier for my mother and head for Supermarket One which is opposite Bogyoke market. They have a selection of different sizes and prices but it is disappointing not one single one is made in Myanmar. The brand name of one is Kangaroo – needless to say I do not buy that one!!
Meanwhile, my husband and brother have gone to a jeweller recommended by one of the staff. They have been looking at thin gold bracelets but at US$200 they are too much. They end up at a bar drinking beer and eating boiled corn cobs.
Tonight we are going to treat ourselves to some street food at a place in Bogyoke Street. We decide we are going to walk it as I think it is not too far away. Well, it turns out that it is past 47th Street and our hotel is near I think 20th. ..it is a bloody long way but we do get to see some interesting sights. We walk past two cinema complexes, numerous street stalls and of course the usual cooking over coal braziers. There are also some rather distressing young children who look neglected who really should be in bed. Eventually, we get to the “restaurant”. It is called Tan Yan (it is opposite the Yuma Hotel) and it is a bit like the night food restaurants in Phuket. There is a picture above which shows the meals they offer. Apparently, they have a book with pictures that you can then choose from but it is being photocopied. The owners ask a gentleman who is visiting the shop next door whether he can help translate. It turns out he works for the American Embassy as an interpreter. We order a fish curry, rice, vegetable curry, noodle dish, chicken noodle dish, two beers and a lime juice (no chance of red wine here!!). The fish comes and it is a whole fish and it is absolutely delicious. It is the best meal we have had the whole trip and guess how much for the whole meal? Under US$6!! The fish costs US$1.50. Our “new friend” sits with us and we have a very interesting discussion about Burma and the changes that are happening very slowly.
Replenished we walk back to our hotel making sure we avoid the section of the footpath that “covers” (I use this term loosely) the storm drains. Back in the hotel that night we are once more in touch with the world as we are able to watch CNN.
The next morning breakfast in the Central Hotel is again an interesting affair. One of the young gentlemen who is dressed in black and white tells us proudly that he is in charge. If only he knew what we really thought about breakfast at the Central. The buffet today offers a sort of noodle dish with chillies. It is pretty bland. Husband decides to stick to toast and jam and asks if he could have his bread toasted a bit more. We spend the next few minutes cringing as the waiter uses a knife like a cooking chopstick and pushes down the toaster to check to see that it has browned.
We decide that today we will catch the circle train that goes around Yangon and get off at Paremi Station and make our way to the Gem Museum where we might buy our jade and brother the jewels for his wife. We walk down Bogyoke again past the cinema complexes and cross a footbridge to the Central Railway station. The station platform is quite crowded and reminds me of what I might expect at an Indian railway station. We are the only foreigners on the platform. An official approaches us and asks whether we are catching the circle train. He then ushers us into a booth and takes our passport number and US $2. He wants to know our nationality. I can’t remember my passport number but its Ok- brother and husband know theirs.
The diesel train pulls in but we don’t know which way it is going – we want to go the long way so we see more. Its Ok - it is going the way we want. The train goes very slowly and you can stick your head out of the window and as it pulls into each station you can see which station it is. Somehow brother has a map which has the station names on it –apparently it was one of the maps he grabbed at the airport on the first day. The carriage itself is pretty bare-wooden floors and benches about 10 metres by 3.4 metres. We have enough room to spread out but as the train stops at each station it fills up and people sit very close; they have a smaller personal space than we do. One woman sits next to me at one point and I am sure she has nits!! However, it is really interesting observing all the activity happening in the carriage. Opposite us for most of the trip is a group of young beautiful women on the way to a market. Next to them is a woman selling buns. What she does is pour condensed milk on the bun and then she adds sugar and coconut. Another man hops on and he is selling betel nut; another sells chicken satay things and of course from time to time a young boy walks through selling cold water – no thoughts here of catching meningococcal from sharing cups! At another point an old woman comes into the carriage and stands in the middle and makes some kind of speech – she is begging. A number of people give her some money. We do too. She then gives us all a ceremonial blessing of some kind. After three or so station stops there is a mad scramble to get into the carriage by a number of people carrying huge bales of fresh produce- mainly vegetables of various descriptions. They push them through the windows and the main door and very quickly the carriage is full. Once they are all in there is absolutely no room to move. All the time in the background the scenery is changing from four storied buildings to villages by the railway line to rice fields.
We get off at Paremi station (along with most of the people with their produce) and walk to the Gem Museum – by now it is about 1pm. We arrive to a nondescript building. Inside, we discover there are four levels and it looks like a department store except that each “stall” is a jewellery store. There are rows and rows of jewels from jade to sapphires, rubies and diamonds on all four levels. It is mind-boggling too mind-boggling in fact! Eventually, my husband buys a jade pendant and my brother a sapphire set of pendant and earrings. We ask for a receipt to show customs. Each time the shopkeeper asks if they can write down that they have sold the item at a much lower price so they don’t have to pay so much tax. We agree. We head back to Bogyoke Markets to get some last minute carved wooden ornaments by taxi. We only just make it as the markets close at 5pm. Taxi costs US$2.
That night we decide that we will have a couple of drinks as a celebration at the Strand Hotel. It has half price drinks every Friday from 5.30pm. We catch a taxi and organise with the taxi driver that he will take us on after an hour and half to Sabai Sabai restaurant. We also organise him to pick us up the next morning and take us to the airport. US$8 The bar in the Strand Hotel is a rather extravagant bar. It is full of old photos of famous people who have stayed at the hotel and we order the special Strand Sour cocktail. They also serve some snacks with the cocktails which is very nice. We have a couple of cocktails each and then head off to the Sabai Sabai. The Sabai Sabai is very obviously a popular restaurant –it is packed. We sit next to a large table of about 20 Burmese people. The food is very nice Thai and is a little more expensive than average. Recommended.
We try to catch a taxi back to the hotel but it is some time before we can locate one. When we do, it is some time before we manage to wave one down.
Last morning and the usual breakfast : “Light on quality but rich in service”
The taxi is waiting for us and we have a last minute look at Yangon. Maybe, we might come back we all say at once. When we arrive at the airport we can’t get in to the airport lounge the doors are locked! Eventually, one of the officials takes pity on us and we are ushered past crowds of people who look like they might be Burmese or Indians waiting to catch a plane or for people arriving. We are expecting to be given a thorough inspection in terms of our luggage, what we have bought etc. My husband is worried because he thinks my luggage is overweight. One guy takes charge of our passports and departure fee and the usual happens as three guys “look after” our cases until they go through into the back area. We pay the US$10 departure fee and we are in the transit lounge. What is amazing (and a relief) is that they do not even ask for the customs declaration we made when we first went through. There are two parts to the transit lounge – there is the first part which has a duty free section and a number of shops which sell souvenirs, jewellery and a bookstore. After you go through to the passenger section (after showing boarding pass) there is a coffee shop (looks like a Starbucks) and a set of state of the art computers which you can use for a fee.
Jetstar Asia arrives on time and we board the plane. One last incident…we are on the runway behind an Air Mandalay plane. I can see what is happening through the window. It is drizzling and I want to get off the ground.. you know already how I feel about flying…the nose of the Air Mandalay swivels and goes downward and the plane stops. Oh oh….our plane is delayed while we wait for the plane to be towed away….thank goodness we never flew Air Yangon.
We arrive back in Singapore on time despite the delay.
More Travelogues (1)
- See All Burmese dolls
- See All Catch a circle train
- See All Excellent food in restaurant...
- See All Trishaws
albaaust's Related Pages
Rangoon Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "Yangon - capital and great introduction to Myanmar"
- "Yangon - City of Golden Pagodas"
- "Some of the Loveliest People in all of Asia"
- "Yangon - don`t worry anymore..."
- "Yangon - Once Visited"
- See All...
- Things to Do in Rangoon
- Hotels in Rangoon
- Transportation in Rangoon
- Nightlife in Rangoon
- Restaurants in Rangoon
- Shopping in Rangoon
- Warnings and Dangers in Rangoon
- See All...
Explore the World
Badges & Stats in Rangoon
- 24 Reviews
- 47 Photos
- 5 Forum posts
- 7 Comments
- See All Stats
- See All Badges (21)
Have you been to Rangoon?Share Your Travels
Latest Activity in Rangoon
Top 10 Pages
- Top 5 Page for this destination Broome Intro, 35 reviews, 79 photos, 2 travelogues
- Cottesloe Intro, 37 reviews, 66 photos, 4 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Yangshuo Intro, 36 reviews, 66 photos, 1 travelogue
- Darwin Intro, 22 reviews, 64 photos
- Top 5 Page for this destination Pingyao Intro, 33 reviews, 53 photos
- Top 5 Page for this destination Xi'an Intro, 28 reviews, 54 photos
- Top 5 Page for this destination Nanjing Intro, 25 reviews, 49 photos
- Beijing Intro, 23 reviews, 49 photos
- Top 5 Page for this destination Rangoon Intro, 24 reviews, 47 photos, 2 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Inle Lake Intro, 27 reviews, 42 photos, 1 travelogue
FriendsSee All Friends (24)
Latest Rangoon hotel reviews
- Three Seasons Hotel
- 28 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Oct 24, 2013
- Panorama Hotel
- 91 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 1, 2013
- Central Hotel Yangon
- 104 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 30, 2013
- MiCasa Hotel Apartments
- 61 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 30, 2013
- Garden Guest House
- 9 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Jul 10, 2013
- The Kandawgyi Palace Hotel
- 333 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 4, 2013
- Traders Hotel Yangon
- 606 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 5, 2013
- YMCA Yangon
- 14 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 2, 2013
- Dusit Inya Lake Resort, Yangon
- 115 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 28, 2013
- Imperial Jade Hotel
- 1 Review & Opinion
Latest: Jul 24, 2008
- Sedona Hotel Yangon
- 160 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 5, 2013
- Savoy Hotel Yangon
- 244 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 5, 2013
- The Strand
- 90 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 5, 2013
- Summit Parkview Hotel
- 194 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 30, 2013
- Parkroyal Yangon
- 281 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 1, 2013