Sick in Yangon: Unrefined first impressions of Myanmar

I managed to catch something in Cambodia. I gather it was a cold. It started with a tickle in my throat…and then I had difficulty swallowing… and finally, I developed the dreaded cough…the one that shakes the earth and awakens the neighbours and their dogs and babies at night. I started to worry that Burmese passport control would refuse me entry into Myanmar. But, in the end, it was all okay.

Flight from Bangkok to Yangon in Myanmar

Flight from Bangkok to Yangon in Myanmar

We set off early from Bangkok. The alarm went off at 04:45 am. I’m usually quite dead at such hours of the morning, but my cough made it even harder to wake up. Unfortunately, my energy levels stayed quite low throughout the day. In ordinary circumstances, I’d be full of beans. But, this time, the dusty roads and off-putting sewage smells on the streets of Yangon made my respiratory system feel hypersensitive… all I could think of to do was close my eyes to the bright, painful light and sleep.

Nico walking through local food stalls in Yangoon, Myanmar

Nico walking through local food stalls in Yangoon, Myanmar

Nonetheless, with concentrated energy, I enjoyed my walking tour of Yangon and paid a visit to the monumental Shwedagon Pagoda which is believed to trace its’ origins to as early as 2500 years ago (or so Buddhist history tells us).  I’ll share some photos of our first few days below.

Hustle and bustle to cross the street: women with sun-brellas and a man in his longi in Yangon, Myanmar

Hustle and bustle to cross the street: women with sun-brellas and a man in his longi in Yangon, Myanmar

Unrefined first impressions. (Burmese diary entry: 23 Mar 2012). Thanaka. Smiling faces. Honest prices. No hassle. Old cars. (500,000 miles). Crammed public transport. Cough-inducing pollution. No banks. No Pepsi brands. Hard on my cough – state of wellbeing. Shopping for medicine in Burma: Thai-manufactured Strepsils. No Western Brands. Pharmacists says: ‘Good medicine is from Malaysia’. Amazing chicken cashew nut and sauteed chicken with chillies! Tasted Myanmar beer (Is it or isn’t it government produced?!). Longi’s: men’s skirts. Pineapple was served with lime and salt (that’s almost as peculiar as I eat grapefruit!). Locals know of and actively use Lonely Planet when available. Aung San Suu Kyi t-shirts and stickers for sale. (Are they legal?). (Are they preparing for the elections?). A hotel worker advised a customer against taking a train to Mandalay as it was ‘government owned’.

Women wearing thanaka sunscreen whilst selling fresh goods in the streets of Yangon in Myanmar

Women wearing thanaka sunscreen whilst selling fresh goods in the streets of Yangon in Myanmar

Locals praying within Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon in Myanmar

Locals praying within Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon in Myanmar

Yangon's Shwedagon Palace in the night time (Myanmar)

Yangon’s Shwedagon Palace in the night time (Myanmar)

 

 

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One thought on “Sick in Yangon: Unrefined first impressions of Myanmar

  1. Pingback: Bagan to Kalaw: A worthwhile sacrifice « Time Out – New Beginnings

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