More thoughts of Myanmar

I was not sure what really to expect before my Myanmar trip. I tried looking for travel book at Kinokuniya. Zilch! Internet gave a mixed bag of stories, most of them untrue. A couple of days before leaving, there were worries that handphones would be confiscated T the airport, as well scary stories about to leave other communications devices at the airport, to be picked up again on the way out of the country. Internet would also be limited.

But it was much better than expected. It was a very safe city, we were allowed handphones in although we were not able to connect to any of the local networks. There were no problem taking laptops and cameras in. In fact, the Immigrations Officers at the airport was very courteous and efficient. The hotel we were put up in was very comfortable and smack in the city centre. The Internet was rather sketchy, with Google being blocked. Internet was generally very slow but in the early hours, it was more than adequate. I was able to assess emails from the lobby wifi, and the signals in the room enabled me to log into my blog, twitter and Facebook.

During the stay, we were taken to a couple of temples as well as the main shopping market. Myanmar was steep in Buddhism. In fact close to 80% of the people were Buddhist, reflected by the number of temples in town. The biggest one was definitely Shwedagon, which we vested on the second day we were there. People there lived a simple life, reflected by the way they dressed up and the way they communicate - you'd be surprised at how many of them can communicate very well in English. On one of the evenings, I actually visited one of the Sunni mosque, only about 300 meters from my hotel. Unfortunately, not many of them can speak English there, and I performed my Maghrib prayers there. There were mainly Indian Moslems coming to Yangon to make a living rather than the local. That explained why they were not Hanafi.

On the last afternoon before we left, we were taken to the main market, the Bugyoke. A typical market, selling bangles, T-shirt, as well as the local jades and rubies. I did not buy any of these precious stones, because first of all, they were damn expensive and secondly, I really can't tell if they were really precious. Better to be safe, to avoid being conned big time.

All in all, Yangon was a very safe city. Yes, there were beggars and children running around, but they were polite when you turn around and said no. The weather was very warm during the day - apparently we just missed the Monsoon season. The time there was an hour an half behind Malaysia, and it was better to use American Dollars for transaction.