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.
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.
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.
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’.