Tuesday, May 14, 2013

first day in yangon

forget ice cream. forget taxis with air-condition. forget fast internet connection. for now, Yangon may lag in many aspects but the way this country is changing in the past months would make our experience different when one comes in the coming years. 
on our first day in Yangon coming from a flight via Kuala Lumpur, we managed to get a van that would bring us around the city before heading far North to the historical site of Bagan. our goal for day one was:

- to get some of our US Dollar bills converted to Myanmar Kyat.
- to buy longyi and htamein - traditional Burmese under garment
- to buy souvenirs as we might miss out dropping by these shops on our way back
- to make a quick stop at some tourist spots within the city.

we made three quick stops. a pagoda, a local food shop and a bazaar. 
Kaba Aye Pagoda 
built in commemoration to the 2,500th year of Buddha's nirvana in 1952, this pagoda remains a solemn place for worshipers. from a small parking area it leads to a long walkway of shops. like all the pagoda's in Myanmar, one has to walk barefoot when entering the walkway. 
the pagoda is composed of an outer and inner area for worship. the outer area has Buddhas on its corners with tables for offerings and donation glass box. the inner area is a more solemn area where a neon-lighted Buddha halo becomes the center of meditation. 
Kaba Aye Pagoda
location: Kaba Aye Road, Mayangon township, Yangon
GPS: 16' 51" 24 N, 96' 9" 16 E
height: 111 feet
date built: 1952
this is in between the airport and the city. so you can make a quick stop to this pagoda. might not be as grand as Shwedagon Pagoda but the place is solemn. though taking photos is allowed, please respect the worshipers by turning off the flash option of your camera.

Hla Myanmar (Shwe Ba) Restaurant
after a walk around Kaba Aye pagoda, we had to stop for lunch and we requested for good local food. our guide recommended us this somewhat isolated food shop but was full of locals.
our guide though got us a semi-private area reserved when we got to there. the place looked like a typical carenderia in the Philippines where one would order from pre-cooked meals. 
when served, a large vegetable salad comes first with condiments. since i'm not really into the kind of vegetables served, just few bites was fine. i picked this sweetened corn in tandem with spicy meat balls which turned out a good choice. 
Hla Myanmar (Shwe Ba) Restaurant
location: No 27, 5th Street, West Shwegonedine, Bahan Township, Yangon
GPS: 16' 48" 13 N, 96' 8" 44 E
specialty: local food
ice cold Myanmar beer was good. also dont forget to try those fermented fish sauces. most meals comes with overflowing oil and less spice.

Bogyoke Market
reminded us so much of Ho Chi Minh's Ben Thanh Market where tourists would spend an hour or more moving around bargaining for souvenirs and antique items. a tourist landmark of the city of Yangon which name comes from the former general Aung San. formerly known as Scott's Market.
going around was easy with a main hallway from the main entrance which leads to several clusters of shops. the preferred currency is its local Myanmar Kyat (MMK) when buying items but most shops would also accept it in US Dollars (USD). 
the closest resemblance to this market in the Philippines would be the Zamboanga City barter shops. including the way one would bargain for the items. the famous local longyi and htamein would remind us of malongs.  
Burmese jade bracelets, rings and small figurines are among the most famous buys as these stones are considered precious and known as Myanmar gems. apart from these, the usual ref magnet, t-shirts, postcards and paintings are also available. so it's worth dropping by this market when you're in Yangon.
Bogyoke Aug San Market
location: Bogyoke Aung San Road, Pabedan Township, Yangon
GPS: 16' 46" 49 N, 96' 9" 20 E
date built: 1926
Bogyoke market is closed during Mondays. among the best items to buy here are longyis and htamein, jade items, lacquerwares and souvenirs. we bought really cheap items at this shop whose owner can speak a little of Tagalog: Heyday Gems and Jewellery Shop. it's at the inner portion of the market.  
even a half day in Yangon can bring you to interesting spots. we did all these on less than 8hours. after buying items in Bogyoke market on our first day, around 3pm we started our trip North of Yangon to the historical site of Bagan. coming up next.

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Photo Cache said...

this may sound very selfish, but i hope that myanmar remains as it is for now; it would be a pity if there aren't any more of these places around to see and explore.

Borneo Falcon said...

Nice and interesting places in Yangon. Would love to see it one day

Pinay Travel Junkie said...

Kakamiss na talaga. Sad I won't be able to join sa reunion trip :(

blissfulguro said...

hmm.. zamboanga nga ang peg! shopping agad ha? :)

lakwatserong tsinelas said...

ur post made me so interested of Yangon. i'm bookmarking this.

escape said...

>Photo Cache, same here. as selfish as i would also be. it's nicer that way but in time will definitely be changing but for sure little pieces of its old charm will remain.

>Borneo Falcon, you should. it would be great to see you feature it too.

>Blissfulguro, hahaha... yes. kasi yung araw na pabalik kami sa Yangon sarado ang shops.

>Mark, great! you wont regret it if you love rustic spots. thanks for dropping by.

Wanderer Juan said...

Will be going to Myanmar in August can't wait already even if it is a long way from now haha

Travel and Tours Philippines said...

Interesting! Might try visiting Yangon one of these days!

Online Hotel Reservation said...

I agree with your opinion.your article is excellent. I have been examinating out some of your stories and i can state pretty nice stuff. I look forward your next article. Its a great post.


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