I was so impressed with Antonia who hit the ground running. On our second day in Yangon she ran a workshop for Burmese artists which is a part of a broader study between Eastern and Western art practice. Take a look at the link here: Consensual Circle Project for Artists
“I thought yesterday was the first day of the rest of my life but it turns out today is.” – Steve Martin
Doh! I forgot to pack my camera. I’ve been kicking myself for days. So that means I’m down to my iphone and purloining photos from my friends Andy and Antonia who are luckily for me extremely artful with their snapping.
Burma/Mayanmar is beautiful, peaceful, colourful, nuts and not disneyed up for tourism y.e.t…. It’s people are warm, gentle, and as far as I can see happy.
Getting around has been nothing short of HILARIO:
The trains really do bounce, your bum will leave the seat.
There are no motorbikes in Yangon (capital of Burma). The traffic noise is nicely subdued compared to other cities in Asia.
They drive on the right hand side of the road in left hand drive cars – General Ne Win determined to avert a prophesied right wing uprising gave orders that everyone in Burma immediately had to drive on the right hand side of the road,
as had been the rule since British times. The whole country was thrown into confusion but this ‘right wing uprising’ fulfilled the prophecy after a fashion and the real revolt was averted. (Tiziano Terzani).
One of the Traffic Controllers much admired for his skills even has a Face Book fan page.
Yangon/Rangoon bursting at the seams with noisy leafy boulevards, rotting colourful romantic tropical houses infused with melancholic eastern bloc architecture and marvellous gargantuan colonial buildings is about to kick off . The investors are moving in, sadly ‘progress’ is coming wether the Burmese like it or not.
Walking around the incredible Shwedagon pagoda at sunset, bare feet on the warm marble floor, people watching was magical . Somehow Andy, Antonia and I arrived there separately and met up later at our hotel having all been equally mesmerised by the experience.
I’m not convinced by the Burmese food (too bland so far) but I will recommend Rakhine Seafood. Having had a mission to bring some birthday presents to my friend Clemmie’s boyfriend Monis here in Yangon, I was generously rewarded by being taken out to lunch. Rows of stainless steel refectory tables with slatted wood chairs in a semi out doors food hall filled with locals was worth the extra kilos in my suitcase. Crab, prawns, oysters, squid, the lot – all in all manner of ways and all very tasty.
Our highly entertaining misadventure to Golden Rock, the most important Buddhist destination in Burma after the Shwedagon Pagoda literally had us laughing into the sunset from a mountain top. This monumental rock resting precipitously on a cliff edge (only held in place by a few strands of Buddha’s hair apparently) was the goal. A fantastic five hour train journey leaving at 0700 hrs passing through bucolic tropical countryside, all kinds of food vendors on the train, I won’t get going on the blow by blow account I’ll be here all night.. followed by rides in 2 packed trucks, one from the station and the other for the final ascent to the mountain top. Just as we got started on the last ride the Burmese lady sitting behind me put her arms round my middle to hold on for the 45 minute scary uphill journey – alternating between reassuring pats on my back and panicked digging in of her nails when the truck started on a hair pin trajectory, relieved to have arrived she asked me with a beaming smile ‘Do you happy?’, ‘Yes me do happy thank you’. we wandered through a lively market on the final stretch full of souvenirs (machine guns and daggers fashioned from Bamboo inscribed with ‘Rambo USA’ – curious choice for a venerated Buddhist site) and Burmese remedies (claws, trotters, dried snakes, skulls anyone?). At last late afternoon on the mountain top looking out across Southern Burma,the sun colouring a distant river gold we turned to find the formidable Golden Rock was closed for repairs. Hey ho.
And there you have the start of our trip in beautiful Myanmar.