But For the Sky
17Apr/12Off

The Golden City of Yangon

Our first stop in Myanmar (which, by the way, was called Burma until the government changed the country's name in 1989 when they replaced a slew of British colonial names) was Yangon (formerly called Rangoon, as in that ubiquitous crab appetizer that shows up on Chinese take out menus everywhere). We arrived in this hot sweaty former country capital after a quick flight from Bangkok. I wasn't expecting too much from Yangon , but was prepared to make the most of our short stay. Because it has the only international airport in Myanmar, we knew we'd be here at the beginning and the end of our trip.

Monks and Buddhas at Shwedagon Paya

Monks and Buddhas at Shwedagon Paya

We were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves quite enjoying walking around this city. As we've been doing with most cities we've visited recently, we're less interested in any specific "sights" and much more fascinated by venturing into back alleys and spending time sitting in tea houses or street food stalls sampling the local fare. What we found was a city that reminded us of the things we liked about Thailand (noodle stalls and fresh fruit vendors on the street) as well as some characteristically Indian traits (paan stains on the sidewalk, sweet and milky chai tea available everywhere). Luckily, it was missing the trashy tourists we had grown weary of in Thailand, as well as the livestock taking up valuable sidewalk real estate we had tired of in India. The best of both worlds? Maybe!

Myanmar Beer

Myanmar Beer

So, we spent a couple days eating our way through Yangon (more on that later!), taking numerous cold drink breaks (it was over 100 degrees) and visiting the Shwedagon Paya, despite still being in temple recovery after India and Nepal. This dazzling Buddhist stupa--the country's most iconic religious monument--towers about 100m into the air and is completely covered in real gold. The paya sits at the center of a large complex full of temples, Buddha statues, shrines, pavillions, and smaller stupas-- all drenched in tons of gold as well. As we would see throughout our travels in Myanmar, the country loves its gold stupas, but nothing we saw came close to Shwedagon in terms of its pure brilliance. Frankly, I am shocked (and thankful) it has not been used in a rap video yet.

Shwedagon Paya

Shwedagon Paya

Buddhists Making Offerings at Shwedagon Paya

Buddhists Making Offerings at Shwedagon Paya

We left Yangon a little heavier, happier, and excited to return here at the end of our stay in Myanmar.

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Posted by Claudia

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