Travelogue: Myanmar - Day One

HELLO! I've been quiet the past week because I flew off to the land of pagodas and shrines! No not Thailand, but Myanmar! I went on the NUS Geography Overseas Field Trip (OFT) to Yangon and those 5 days have been nothing short of amazing! Really want to share with you my thoughts and all about this trip, so here's my travelogue! But it'll mostly be photos, because I have so many posts to write! (Oops.)

So let's begin with DAY ONE!

Welcome to Yangon, Myanmar! Thought the first picture in this post should be something authentic of Myanmar, and here's a typical scene on the streets of Yangon. Think streets lined with both vehicles and pedestrians walking down and fighting for space.

Their houses and apartments remind me so much of Nepal. The houses in Kathmandu look like this too!

Lunch affair! Our tables were filled with their local food, namely chicken, pork, curry, vegetable platter and fried sweetcorn. We were all quite hungry after the flight and checking in to our hostel etc, plus it's our first meal here so we were eager to dig in!

The dishes are served in small plates and look how they have already prepared the dishes and scooped them onto the plates! We went during the busy lunch hour so I guess they were preparing ahead.

Check out their HUGEEE selection of dishes! This is how a typical Myanmese lunch is like in restaurants. Patrons choose the dishes they want and the food will be served to their table, along with rice, their staple food. Very much like our 菜飯 in Singapore but waaaay more variety haha.

Next we toured around downtown Yangon where the old colonial buildings are located.

I really love how their colonial buildings are rundown but so rustic. Nothing like the polished and clean ones we have in Singapore. Not that I don't appreciate the modernity in Singapore, but it's definitely very refreshing to see the other side of things. Like, you can see that the windows are dirty, rusty and curtains very soiled, but they evoke that very... mysterious yet pure feeling, like it's been untouched since day one.

We visited the Yangon Heritage Trust which is a small gallery of photos depicting the development of Yangon/Myanmar. Whoh, I swear all that I've learnt in GE2204 Cities in Transition was ringing in my head man! What about megacities, ordinary cities etc etc were so applicable here. If you look at the two photos above, you can see that the government really wants to develop Yangon into a 'global city'. And that really got our geographical lenses out, thinking critically about the 'overratedness' and excess attention placed on global cities and the path to being one.

I love walking on the streets because you get to see the local way of life. This man above was using a typewriter!

I think we were walking along a book street because we saw a few book shops and stalls set up like this. Interesting.

A typical street with food stalls set up.

Some fried crickets/insects for you?

Yangon City Hall

We arrived at the Sule Pagoda. It's located right in the heart of Yangon city, and many roads lead right up to this pagoda. The 48m-high dome was used by the British as the nucleus of their grid pattern for the city, given its central location.

Pagodas are solid inside and it's not hollow, unlike shrines and temples. That's something I find very intriguing and amazing. Can you imagine it's that whole block of solid?

Sule Pagoda is believed to hold enshrine the hair relic of the Buddha. Like most pagodas in Myanmar, it is plated with gold leaves.

I'm also very marvelled by the intricacy of the architecture. Right up at the top are many bells, a wind vane, and the very top has a diamond on it. Not a real diamond but that's what they call it.

An interesting fact about Buddhism in Myanmar is that they regard the day of your birth very significantly. Different days have different offering corners where you make your prayers and perform a special 'ritual': you pour water on the Buddha figure and the holy animal in front three times each, or you do it the number of times that is your age plus one.

Following which we went to a local tea shop, since we had some time to kill before dinner. Haha, eating when we're only two hours away from dinner lol. But I know that drinking tea is a popular culture in Myanmar, and you'll often see tea shops very crowded. Essentially they're just like our local coffeeshops, where they serve snacks and sometimes full meals too. I tried their black tea, which was um rather bitter. Haha at least I tried. And the snacks in the background are bean paste cookies, which tasted like mooncakes to me!

This is the Yangon River, south of the city centre. We didn't see many big ships but there was a small port where you can see people unloading goods and stuff.

Men transporting sacks of rice

It was evening time and the sun was setting. I really love the shot above because it has so much feels! Haha not tryna praise myself but yeah, hope you get it. Anyway, it's a true depiction of Myanmar because it's definitely still a developing country, and many of their houses look like that. The streets are littered and you can see rubbish strewn in certain parts, especially here at the riverside.

And it's time for dinner! I will remember this dinner very well because I was getting hungry and we were walking, weaving through the crowded streets, crossing those busy roads, and finally, arriving at the little non-descript noodle shop. The best part was that we could order anything we wanted! Because we had already paid for our meals (and we paid more than what the prices called for) heh.

The noodles were really good! The broth was quite salty but I guess that's just how the food overseas is usually like lol. I had pork ribs and it was very tender! Tasted quite like Singapore food so we all ate our meals in a jiffy haha.

Though we returned back to our hostel after dinner, the night was still young! But no, we didn't go out lol. We gathered for (many) rounds of board games~