It was actually my last day in Myanmar when I flew back to Yangon from Bagan. I met the same taxi driver I hired on my very first day (he patiently waited for me outside the airport) and hired him again to see other Yangon wonders that day. I arrived Yangon airport in the late afternoon, rode to downtown for almost an hour and visited other tourist attractions firstly before the Shwedagon Pagoda as they say that the famed temple is more spectacular during the sunset till night with all the glimmering golden giant stupas and unbelievably impressive pagoda interiors.
Before roaming around, I firstly checked in at Hotel Yankin in downtown, left my bags and freshen up a little. My hotel room was just a standard one but a little more spacious than my first at Hotel Bahosi. It was clean and comfy, good enough for a one-night solo flashpacker stay, I must say.
After preparing myself, I hurriedly went back to the lobby where the cab driver is waiting. I started to feel the liberty in my hands again. In my mind was “I’m wandering alone, in a city that no one knows me, anonymous as I can be, I’m the master of my own self”. The fact that I was in control of this travel is what made this trip so remarkable.
I was completely lost with what to see in Yangon before the Shwedagon so I let the cab driver decide which attractions I should see in the daylight. He brought me to the White Elephants firstly, which to be honest, broke my frail heart as the huge but gentle animals with amazing grayish pinkish skin were chained up and were forced to be ostentatious to visitors whom I can tell are also disappointed with the sight. The giants deserved a better home than this, or at least a better treatment. My heart silently pleaded as if somebody can hear me “please, I hope someone does something about it.” Someone from Yangon I guess, who will be likely heard by authorities. It must be stopped. If keeping them in zoos makes it more rational for them to survive, at least try to let them walk freely without the heavy chains in one of their feet. I hope they are not being whacked too. The saddest “attraction” I have ever been. Something the Burmese shouldn’t be proud of.
Then we drove to the popular marble buddha Kyauk Daw Kyi. The fact that the giant buddha enclosed in clear glass is white makes it different from all the temples that I’ve seen. The interiors are also nice showing the Burmese designs. What captured me are the two little boys passionately worshiping and bowing endlessly as if they have sinned so much asking to be forgiven. I admire how the kids of Myanmar do that. I am a Catholic and somehow lost my way and did not religiously practice my supposedly faithfulness, I somehow hated myself. Continuously feeding these kids with good Buddha teachings is the very best way to keep the religion alive in Myanmar. It’s actually true to all countries regardless of religion. Otherwise, the religious conviction, which I still believe is a beautiful thing, will gradually die down after the next generation.
Finally, when the orange hues dominated the sky, an indication that the sun will rest for the day and will soon set in the due west, I rode to the prime Yangon spot – Shwedagon Pagoda. From afar I can already see its magnificence with the giant golden stupa peeking fleetingly but frequently as some trees and infrastructures covered it from where our cab was steering. Upon arriving, I thanked the cab driver for another wonderful day then he left me. My eyes were restless upon stepping foot in the famed worship place, it kept on moving from right to left as if I was looking for an old ring I misplaced. I can’t find the right words to describe the place, all pleasant adjectives existing in the dictionary may not be able to justify the elegance and extravagance of the detailed interiors and design and the significance of the temple to Burmese people. Shwedagon Pagoda left me in so much awe, speechless with amazement readable on my face.
I spent a couple of hours walking round and round the temple and went back to the hotel when I felt my starving tummy screaming at me. I ate in a humble cafe just outside the hotel where I had an amazing 5USD meal and learned how to say “thank you” in Burmese from the warm caretaker with cute cheeks emphasized by the thanaka cream. I certainly liked the shrimp and pork dish and the soup. 🙂 After dinner, I prepared myself for the flight back to Singapore the following morning and slept with a joyful heart.
I felt bad that I was not able to take a photo of the cab driver that served as my companion during my trip in Yangon, not even getting his contact number so I can recommend him to you. I met people on the touristy places but they also have their own tour guide and I felt bad ditching this Burmese Mr. Longhair rock star to be with them because he was really really warm and kind. He was so nice, and quiet but tried to talk to me at times to keep me entertained though he found it hard at times to speak the right words in English. . He was so patient that even though he didn’t have my contact number, he waited for me at the airport for almost 2 hours when I flew from Bagan to Yangon because I mistakenly mention the wrong airlines before I left Yangon for Inle. I gave him my correct arrival time, but because he remembered the wrong airlines I gave, I got him confused so he waited from the wrong airline’s arrival until my actual flight arrival time. I didn’t gave him my contact number, you can cricify me now. Hehe. . Upon seeing him at the exit door of the airport’s arrival area, he said “I thought 1 pm” and I kept on apologizing to him over and over again but he was still all smiles. May all the Gods that we pray to bless him and his family, I wish him all the beautiful things in the world that he deserves.
I might have pronounced it wrongly, but, cè-zù tin-ba-deh Yangon!