It was‘different’ we wanted – and Myanmar didn’t disappoint!
|Land of Buddha - Yangon, Myanmar|
|A city street - Yangon, Myanmar|
We opted to go it alone. We booked ourselves a room on shore*, packed a carry-on bag and were off to explore as soon as the ship had cleared local customs.
This short stay was a good way to test out our abilities to get around and explore this city with a population of more than five million; a place where ornate buildings that harkened back to the time of British colonial rule stand next to sleek, modern high-rises.
Located in southern Myanmar, Yangon (once called Rangoon) is the country’s former capital and its main point of entry (a number of Asian airlines land at its airport and cruise ships dock here).
Actually the town is an hour’s drive (35 km or 22 miles) from where we were docked near the mouth of the Yangon River at the Thilawa Container Wharf. The ‘cruise ship port’ is still a part of an industrial area, much like our experience in Bangkok.
The cab we shared into town with another couple from the ship crept along the narrow port road made even more narrow with oil trucks waiting for their turn to fill up the many containers ships in port.
|The port road was a parking lot at times as we drove toward Yangon, Myanmar|
|Traffic was simply crazy in Yangon, Myanmar|
|Pansodan Ferry Terminal alive with activity - Yangon, Myanmar|
|Burmese Kyat - local currency|
We left our bottles of water in the room, planning to buy some along the way. . .
. . .and that would be our first ‘lesson learned’ and reminder that we weren’t ‘in Kansas anymore, Toto’!
We’d walked a couple of miles through the city teeming with people when we agreed we were not where we thought we were headed. Problem was, we didn’t know where we were – and we disagreed about where we thought we were. It was hot - 95+ degrees under the mid-day sun. We were thirsty. It was time to buy that water, only there was none to be purchased, because drinking water was made available for free throughout the city:
|Drinking water was free - and communal - in Yangon, Myanmar|
None of the small markets that lined the streets we walked sold bottled water – people simply sipped out of the communal cups.
|Local shopper taking a water/shade break -Yangon, Myanmar|
The city was definitely a study in contrasts as within a few minutes, we left the congestion of the sidewalk markets to find ourselves sipping ice tea in the luxurious lobby café at the Shangri-La Hotel, while locals like the lady above quenched her thirst from the public water bottles.
|Top, lobby bar; bottom first floor bar - Shangri La Hotel - Yangon, Myanmar|
*Note: While the cruise line allowed you to stay on shore if you chose to do so, there were no refunds for the night not spent on the ship. Seemed fair enough as just being allowed off the ship for independent overnight stays was a first for us! Their only request was that you notify the ship in advance so your passport (they are held by the ship) can be returned to you and that you leave contact information and your anticipated location while on shore in event of any emergency you might have or any change in the ship's departure time.
Speaking of time, thanks for the time you spent with us today on our Magic Carpet Ride to and through the Middle East. Hope you’ll be back next week as we tour The Strand Hotel. Until then, happy travels to you~
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