23 January – last day in Burma

Well, the final day in Burma, it does seem much longer than 2 weeks we have been here. The big ticket (that means another $8 to the military government) here is Shwe Dagon Paya, a massive gold pagoda with 82 other buildings around, built on a hill containing 8 of Buddha’s hairs. BTW, we are now enlightened as to why Buddhists have shaved heads, there seems to be a lot of Buddhist stupas and sites that are built on his hair, he can’t have had much left on his head after gifting it out everywhere.
We took the easy option of getting a betel nut chewing taxi driver to take us there. This guy obviously cared about his car in that he spat his betel nut, not out the car window and therefore streaking the side of his taxi like most of the drivers do here, but by opening the car door whenever we stopped, which was pretty permenantly as downtown Rangoon is usually at a standstill in the daytime, and spitting on the road.
The pagoda is magnificent, we took the lift to the top, and were dazzled by the splendour of the sight. Guy spent the next 2 hours taking photos, I dutifully followed him around.

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Spot the 2 sparrows playing on the reliefs.

We then walked back downtown, despite many taxi drivers worried about our ability to actually walk and shouting ‘Taxi! You want taxi?!’ every 2 mins. We had a bit of street food, and wandered through a market, photos below!

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After a well earned(!) rest in the room we treated ourselves to afternoon tea at The Strand, well why wouldn’t you? It was fabulous…!  Guy had the Burmese version, I had the classic.

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We then wandered through to the bar for a Gin and tonic, but there was no tonic! This country is in a mess!! A glass of white wine for me and for guy a beer and about 15 mossie bites.

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We headed back to the streets with a more reasonably priced beer and had a blog writing session, watching office workers go home, street stalls being dismantled and put away for the night and Italian tourists setting up their own chairs and tables in our restaurant, across the road using the tables from the betel nut seller’s equipment!

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Once the blogs were finished we thought a light snack would be in order for tea. About this time a large rat dashed across the road, into the gutter our side of the road, past the Italian tourist next to me. The rat was slightly unnerved by now and ran into a brush, knocking it over and disappeared down the side of our restaurant. This was then followed up by a small mouse who seemed to be lost and darting in and out of the gutter/road. We decided to move upstairs to eat our food of tom yum soup with cold rice, and not the eel in soil bowl or the chicken’s overy hot plate!

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