Our first day in Myanmar was a lovely introduction to the country.
The girls and I woke up at 4:30. We checked in at the new Bangkok airport a bit before 6 AM for our 7 AM flight. As we arrived at the airport, it was still dark. The place is so huge! The place sprawls out over several square miles, it seems. As we approached, the behemouth parking garage was lighted with white lights. Beyond that huge building, the curved, geodesic airport building itself is illuminated with blue and white lights so that it looks very futuristic. I wished I had my camera on the ready, but it was buried deep in the recesses of my bag and I couldn’t get it out in time! The airport, all lit up this way as we approached in the darkness, looked just like a space ship from the movie set of Star Wars. All it needed was space ships flying around and the movie set would have been complete!
We had arrived in plenty of time, so I took time to see if I could change David’s ticket. That’s the Air Asia ticket he was unable to use because he had to work several days longer than expected before leaving on vacation. Unfortunately, Air Asia requires 48 hours notice, and it didn’t do any good for me to tell them I had sat on the phone for a very long time trying to get through to their call center and getting a perpetual busy signal. What can I say, it’s a discount carrier. Anyway, being told "no" took longer than I had hoped, and then emigration procedure to leave the country was quite slow. We ended up running to catch our flight, and that’s a big airport to be running to a distant terminal in! I thought they were literally holding the plane for us, but we were not the very last people on board. It was a relatively small plane and was not full.
When we arrived at immigration in Yangon, Myanmar (formerly called Burma), we had to declare every item of value. Not knowing what to expect on leaving the country, I declared my wedding ring and the earrings we were wearing, out of an abundance of caution. Then we were met by our guide Mr. Oo. It is quite a luxury to have a car, driver, and guide waiting for you when you arrive at an airport! I know we could have managed without a guide, but it makes the whole process so brainless and convenient!
Mr. Oo took us to a temple where there is a 25 foot marble Buddhah carved from Jade. I didn’t take any photos of the Buddha, but here are some photos of the temple complex:
Then we went to a museum of gems (where no photos were allowed, but supposedly we saw the world’s largest uncut ruby and then some), and then to our hotel. After a rest, we went to lunch at a restaurant where our guide had once worked as a manager. He ordered and then left us to have a private lunch on a covered veranda overlooking a lake. Here is what it looked like from the veranda:
This is just a restaurant (above)
After lunch, we went to another temple which had a reclining Buddhah, and then to a market. The travel agency had given each of us a longji. Mr. Oo wanted to take us to get our longjis sewn properly. It turns out, he knew exactly where the shop was to do this in his neighborhood. Here is the lady as she is sewing one of the longji. Notice the foot pedals on her sewing machine?
From our questions, Mr. Oo could also tell that we were very interested in the local side of things, learning how people actually live, so he took us to a street market. At the time, we didn’t know it was near his house, but we ended up walking right past it. His uncle has a shop along the front, where the street is, and to get to our guide’s home you go through the shop to the back and then upstairs into the lofted area over the shop. He wanted us to meet his daughter who was the same age as Munchkin more or less, so he went in to check to see if she were in, but she was not. We didn’t go inside his house, but he took us to where his daughter was and we met her. She was a lovely girl but both girls were just a bit shy.
After this, we went to a monastary just to see what one looked like. While we were there, a monk invited us inside. We went and visited with the Monks, who are learning English. They served us tea. It was very lovely and very interesting to meet them. We didn’t discuss anything of substance, of course. They told me they had received very little in the way of formal education, but they studied English on their own by tutoring each other and studying in books. Given this, their knowledge of the language was simply amazing. They showed me books they were reading which were well beyond the level of what most high schoolers are reading.
After we left the Monastary, we returned to pick up our finished sewing. We were really tired by this time of day. When we got back to our room, about 6:00, we all fell into bed and slept. To our utter amazement, we all fell asleep in our clothes without even brushing our teeth or eating supper! I woke up about 9 PM and changed clothes, but Clarissa never woke up. I thought we would all be awake and restless by 3 AM or so, but to our further amazement we slept until 7 AM. After a very nice breakfast, we are heading out now to go see some more sights and then to get David from the airport when his plane arrives at about 10:30 AM.