Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Day 2: Yangon - Buying Air Tickets and Visiting Shwedagon Pagoda

13 May 2013 (Monday)

I woke up early and intended to go out as soon as possible for a stroll. The owner was there and I had a chat with him but found myself unable to get away. At 8:00 a.m., I made the excuse of going up for breakfast.

The boss cum co-owner in white t-shirts.
White House Hotel breakfast area on Level 8
White House way of toasting bread
My breakfast at White House Hotel
Sandwich with banana stuffing... quite nice
After the breakfast, I went out at about 9:00 a.m. Right across the road from White House Hotel was a restaurant selling breakfast. I went over and checked. It was selling Mohinga, the national noodle dish of Myanmar. I have been looking for Mohinga since my arrival yesterday and decided to go for my second breakfast. It was only 300 Kyat.

This Mohinga noodle stall was opened in the morning only and closed on Sunday
Mohinga. Even though it was soaked in the soup, the fried fritter was still very crispy and I loved that crispiness.
My intention this morning was to visit Golden Air Travels & Tours which was at the corner of Sint Oh Dan Street and Anawrahta Road to book my flights to Heho, the gateway to Nyaungshwe and Inle Lake. I was told to come back today by a clerk the previous day, as it was a Sunday and a non-working day yesterday.

On the way there, I explored the mysterious market which was closed early the day before. It was situated at Konzaydan Street between Maha Bandoola Road and Anawrahta Road. I think it is called Theingyee Bazaar (from Open Street Map).

Theingyee Bazaar is the low building on the left
Theingyee Bazaar
Theingyee Bazaar
Theingyee Bazaar

As I was about to reach the travel agency, short of one block only, but having some more time before the office opened at 10:00 a.m., I decided to explore one of the nearby streets. Near the junction with Maha Bandoola Road, I caught sight of OK Discovery Travels Tours, and decided to check it out.

OK Discovery Travels & Tours
OK Discovery Travels Tours is owned by a mainland Chinese
The quotation offered for Yangon-Heho (Inle Lake) - Yangon was USD240. I told the assistant that the price should be between USD102 - 107 per sector as that was what I read on a website. After making another call, the quotation came down to USD169 for a round trip. After some more inquiries about the departure time, etc., I was told that a day's trip to Bagan should be sufficient.

To cut the story short, my plan has now changed. I would fly from Yangon to Bagan on 14 May; then flew from Bagan to Heho on 15 May and from there returned to Yangon on 17 May. The total air fares were USD298.

I needed to give them a duplicate copy of my passport and made a deposit as the tickets could not be given to me right away. I gave them White House Hotel contact and address and ask the attendant to deliver it to the hotel.

The receipt for the USD10 deposit I made
My three tickets - I have not seen this kind of legacy tickets for a very long time
From OK Discovery Travels & Tours, I left for Shwedagon Pagoda by taxi for 1,500 Kyat after an attendant from the agency went down to the street to look for a taxi and negotiate the price for me. I had read that it would normally cost 3,000 Kyat from downtown to Shwedagon Pagoda.

At Shwedagon Pagoda, I paid 100 Kyat at the pagoda road entrance, without a receipt as usual. Then at the office, I could either pay USD5 or 5,000 Kyat for the pagoda entrance fee. I paid 5,000 Kyat and got a sticker on my T-shirt. Shoes and socks have to be removed but I came prepared with a bag to carry them.

However, I was not prepared for the hot mosaic floor. NEVER come on a hot sunny day. Your sole would be burnt walking on the burning ground. It was very hot. Fortunately, there were intermittent drizzles that cooled the ground when I was there.

The entrance ticket counter at Southern Stairway
The entrance ticket
The entrance sticker
Just as I proceeded to the lift, a guy came over and introduced himself as a guide. Knowing that there was no such thing as a free lunch, I asked him how much it would cost me. He said USD10 for one hour. That was expensive. Nevertheless, I agreed partly because I saw it as an act of charity and I felt generous that day, though I did not need it.

The lift to Shwedagon Pagoda complex
The corridor to Shwedagon Pagoda from the lift exit
The tree at the Southern entrance

The overcast sky but there was no thunderstorm, just a light drizzle

The tip of the main Shwedagon pagoda is studded with large diamonds, rubies, etc
Solid gold plate covers the tip of the pagoda
The tip of the main Shwedagon pagoda
The main pagoda at Shwedagon Pagoda complex

People born on different days have different deities to bath and worship ...

A white monk and a white nun
Entrance to the Southern Stairway at ground level
Entrance to the Southern Stairway
As the tour ended at Southern Stairway, the tour guide said I could pay him there and if I was satisfied with his service, I could give him more. How greedy could he be? I was being generous by hiring him and he had the cheek to ask for more! One hour of shit from him and paying USD10 was not generous enough for him! If I had known he could be so greedy, I would have refused to hire him in the first place. Anyway, after he was gone, I got down to do what I came for, to take the photos and to cover those areas not included in the tour.

After having enough of Shwedagon, I walked down the Southern Stairway, instead of taking the lift. A taxi which I hailed outside the Southern Stairway refused to take me as it stopped to discharge two passengers. I wonder why, maybe because it was difficult for the taxi to make the U turn to Bogyoke Market. I walked back to the parking area near the office.

There was a taxi there and the fare was 3,000 Kyat to Bogyoke Market. When I changed my mind and said I wanted to go to White House Hotel, the driver quoted me 3,500 Kyat. I told him that was excessive and that I had paid only 1,500 Kyat that morning. He relented and agreed to accept 3,000 Kyat.

I did not go out again except to look for dinner. I missed or rather skipped lunch today as I had gained weight since my return to Malaysia.

No comments:

Post a Comment