We get to the little pagoda, that can only be reached at low tide, before the sun rises over the horizon.
Today we had the opportunity to sleep late until 6.30 a.m.. Yes, you read it right, HAD, because Trudy is stumbling through the room as early as 5.15. She’s had a restless night, because yesterday during dinner we found out where the little pagoda is located that can only be reached at low tide, while at high tide it is surrounded by water, and we didn’t have time to go there anymore. Since we are awake now anyway, we get dressed and decide to visit it before breakfast.
It is pitch black when we set off and without our flashlight we wouldn’t have gotten very far, especially when we have to get off the beach, away from the sea that sheds a little light by reflecting some moonlight, onto a small unsealed road that is a shorter, but much darker route.
We walk through a couple of tiny sleeping settlements and, although we are doing nothing wrong and are disturbing nobody, I still feel like an intruder. Every once in a while we are surprised by a föhn wind, that fogs up Trudy’s glasses, making sure that her sight is completely reduced to zero. We have walked in a rather quick pace for half an hour when we reach the rock with the pagoda on it and darkness is lifting, but the sun hasn’t reached the horizon yet. We have a look around and take a few pictures, but in fact it is a meaningless little stupa and the only reason that it was mentioned in our travel guide must be the high- and low tide story. We walk back, taking an alternative route that leads over the beach for a bigger part, but eventually we have to take the dirt track, because we have to cross a little river and there is only one bridge.
By the time we walk back the sun has awoken and lights our way.
We are having breakfast before the clock strikes 7.
30 a.m. (nice sweet bread, that is a good taste combo with the fried egg) and we are on our way to Yangon before eight. This ride will complete our circular tour through this lovely country. We have to drive all the way back to Pathein, where we can take a right to Yangon. To this point we are fine, but when we have left Pathein behind us our bus dies all of a sudden. Our driver and co-driver start tinkering and it is only a matter of minutes until we are driving again, but the engine isn’t running smoothly. An obligatory coffee stop is intercalculated to fix the problem, well timed, because I fancy a cuppa by now. This time it takes half an hour, but the engine runs like a charm again.
The all new scaffoldless entrance to Shwedagon Paya.
Executing the plan to skip lunch and drive straight on to the capital, so that everyone can go separate ways sooner, is definitely out of the question now, we have fallen to far behind on schedule.
We have lunch in an insignificant restaurant where the food equals the English of the staff: far below the average. My Sweet and Sour Pork should have been called “Sweet and Sour Fatwithalittleporkonit” and some others tell me that the noodle soup isn’t haute quisine either.
A lady praying in the mirror faced Sein Yong Chi Pagoda.
The ride on itself is beautiful, once more lots of locals doing their thing without being influenced by tourism: fish farms, road works and so on and so on.
When we enter Yangon we drive through a district where the wealthier people live in colonial style homes on large plots and where the billboards tell people to buy jewelry instead of Pep baby food.
We pass Shwedagon Paya when we get closer to the hotel and we see that the entrance is no longer covered in scaffolding like four weeks ago. We decide to put our luggage in our room and hop on a taxi to Shwedagon right away. The ride costs 2000 Kyats and we get dropped off only metres away from the entrance. We take some pictures of the entrance and of Maha Wizaya Paya, that is connected to Shwedagon by a pedestrian bridge. We make our way back to the hotel on foot and have plenty of time to take in the city one more time. During this walk we see the Sein Yong Chi pagoda that has been completely covered with mirror shards, the outside as well as the inside. It has a high kitsch factor, but it is certainly worth a visit, simply because it is so different than all the pagodas we have already seen.
The view at the Yangon train station and soccer stadium, seen from the 20th floor of the Sakura Tower.
Mick told us that the view over the city is very impressive from the Sakura Tower that is pretty close to our hotel.
On the 20th floor is the Thiripyitsaya Sky Lounge, a luxurious establishment with an, indeed, astonishing view. We can see the Yangon river, the harbour, Sule Pagoda and last but not least: Shwedagon Paya. We decide to let our hair down and have dinner here, because there’s an offer on the menu we cannot refuse: a tomato and egg soup as an appetizer, fish filet with white rice and a little salad with Teriyaki sauce as the main dish, and tea or coffee for desert (different choices of coffee, so I decide to do something I normally never do and order a capuccino). All of that for only 6500 Kyats, rather steep for most Burmese, but certainly do-able for us. The portions aren’t colossal, but the taste more than makes up for that. To top it all off we have a home made mango ice-cream, which is rather good as well. We have to pay 18000 Kyats all together, about 10 or 11 Euros. When we have finished eating night has fallen and we do another tour of the viewpoints of the tower to take some nightshots.
Sule Pagoda by night.
When I am trying my best to portrait Shwedagon at night we are adressed by an American couple and before we know it an hour has passed. When we say goodbye, they give us their card and invite us to stay at their (or one of their children’s) home should we ever be in the neighbourhood.
Shwedagon Paya by night.
It is almost 9 p.m. when we get back to the hotel and we prepare ourselves for the long flight back to the Netherlands tomorrow and we plan some small things to do in the morning to fill the last hours.