Myanmar, or Burma, as it used to be called was top of my wish list for years. So when Aung San Suu Kyi said tourists could visit as long as we tried to spend money with the locals, not the government, we booked to go.
How things change! At the time she was considered practically a saint, a great supporter of human rights and revered by all. Then she got into power and she allowed appalling treatment of the Rohingya Muslims by the Myanmar military. I have no idea of the feeling in the country now but our guide made a point of taking us to sit outside her house in Yangon to silently contemplate her goodness. I doubt tourists would entirely cooperate with this now.
We had a hotel next to Kandawgyi Lake. Its a five mile walk round with a board walk along part of it with fantastic views of Shwedagon Pagoda. The parkland next to it is well maintained and you can see the locals relaxing in the evenings. The Karaweik Palace, made of concrete and built in the shape of a mythical bird is, disappointingly, a buffet restaurant and cultural show. Although its an amazing sight at night there is much cheaper and better food in plenty of places nearby.
The highlight tourist sight is the Shwedagan Pagoda on Singuttara hill. This really is one of the most amazing sights ever. Covered in gold with diamonds and rubies at the top you must walk round in a clockwise direction.
Most Burmese are Theravada Buddhists so its very important to know what day of the week you were born on. There is an an animal for each day of the week , I’m a mouse so I must worship with other mice at our own temple. Quite happy with that and our guide was excellent explaining in great detail how the Pagoda operated and how his religion affected his everyday life. Then he got to his wife, and I still find this hard to credit. He believes that he gets merit by marrying a woman less attractive than another who was willing to marry him. I didn’t say anything, I was struck dumb! He didn’t deserve either of them!
We visited to indoor market to buy souvenirs but really the outdoor food markets are always the most interesting. I guess post Covid that won’t happen either.
And another pagoda. This one is right in the centre of town, basically on a roundabout!
Chauk Htat Kyi Pagoda
This pagoda is the second must see sight in Yangon because it houses the famous reclining Buddha. At sixty six metres long its enormous and you can get very close to it. There are one hundred and eight segments on the feet coloured red and gold containing lakshanas which show the good character of the Buddha.