Sunday, February 27, 2011

Another early wake up to catch our plane from Shanghai to Bangkok. Traffic to the airport was light given the time of day but to our surprise, the drop off area at the airport was a zoo. Looks like all the cars converge on one point and then just park at the curb for as long as they like. First bit of mayhem we have experienced at an Asian airport! Check in was smooth and we had some time to visit the airport lounge before our flight was called.

The flight to Bangkok was painless - four and a half hours. Great Thai meal on the plane followed by a couple of episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and we landed on time at about 12.45 pm. Our Thai Airlines flight to Yangon was scheduled to leave at 5.55 pm and we noticed there was a earlier flight on Bangkok Airways leaving at 3.10 pm. This earlier flight would give us the chance to see some of Yangon in the daylight, so we made the switch. It cost us a little bit extra but it was totally worth it. Hopefully our flight from Yangon to Bangkok in a few days time is still intact! By the time, we had switched flights, cleared immigration and got back to the departure area, it was time to leave.

The flying time to Yangon was about an hour and they too have a fairly new international terminal. Even though there are not many flights here, it still took an eternity to get our bags. We had called ahead to advise of our new arrival time and our driver was waiting for us as planned. We asked him to take us to the domestic terminal before heading to the hotel so we could pick up our tickets for the next leg of our journey to Bagan. This was quite an experience. The domestic terminal is quite unlike the international one. Quite old and run down. After much amusement, we eventually found the Air Bagan ticket office - a room in the back with no windows, lots of papers all over the place and four or five people crammed into the tiny workspace. They took our voucher and wrote out our tickets by hand the old fashioned way. It was neat to see.

With tickets in hand, we headed off to our hotel for the night - the Governor’s Mansion. A wonderful hotel with a gorgeous setting. Lots of old teak wood was used in the construction and it was very colonial in style. Our room was fabulous and the staff were wonderful.

With daylight starting to fade, we decided to walk to the Shwedagon Pagoda - one of the most significant buddha temples in the world. The pagoda is spectacular and there is gold everywhere. The stupa (main tower) is made from several tons of gold and more gets added all the time. The temple was very busy with lots of family worshippers on a Sunday evening. We were completely blown away by the sheer size of the place. Very impressive.

After our visit, we took a cab back to the hotel and had a meal on the outside dining terrace. The food was outstanding especially the spring rolls, Myanmar chicken curry and the Myanmar beer. As it was now getting close to 9.00 pm, we decided that some sleep was in order given our long travel day and the fact that we need to be up again at 3.45 am to get ready for our flight to Bagan.

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