We flew via Heho back to Yangon – these local pilots get lots of practice in landing and taking off. The average on the ground time is about 15 minutes! and no lost luggage (touch wood, so far!) We are flying props – AFR-72.
We were met at the bustling airport by our new guide, a lovely young 23-year old, Miso. The drive to and from the airport to Yangon is horrible – traffic-wise. We made a few stops: at a traditional tea-house for some green tea and the local tea (which is the same as indian chai) and some snacks of samosas and other goodies. Then a little walk around a lovely lake which, evidently, is very busy in the evening with families strolling, courting couples, etc.
Our next stop was the train station for a ride on the circular train (around Yangon). We stayed on for 20-minutes, but the entire trip takes over three hours.
To the hotel for check in – the Sule Shangri-La is a top-notch hotel (the best we stayed in) and we took advantage of the 5th floor pool for a dip during the hot afternoon.
Miso picked us up again at 4 to take us to the Shwe Dagon Pagoda (we missed it last time around because of the King of Norway) and I am glad – this was the frosting of all pagodas! It is said that the four buddhas also have four buddha relics (very unusual). It is in the process of being restored with new gold leaf (60 tons, no less), therefore, the stupa is covered with bamboo scaffolding which gives an interesting mesh look. In the globe atop the umbrella are numerous jewels and gems plus much more gold, but at the very top is a 74 carat cut diamond!
We each went to our special corner (there are eight – one for each day of the week, except for Wednesday which has two – one for the morning and one for the afternoon). Each is represented by an animal – your very own special animal. I am a Tuesday child, so mine is Lion; Dennis is Saturday which is Dragon. We washed our buddha, guardian, and pedestal with the holy water.
One of the funniest stories was of an old bell that had been donated by one of the former, beloved Kings. During the Anglo-Burmese war, the british stole it and wanted to hold it as war treasure. The thing was so heavy that they dropped it in the Ayerarwaddy in their attempt to get it on board a ship!! It stayed there for two years and the locals eventually retrieved it by floating it on to bamboo rafts!
They dropped us off at Feel Restaurant, a well-known local establishment frequented by Yangoners. Miso came in and helped us order and we enjoyed a delicious dinner, a bottle of Myanmar beer, and caught a taxi back to the hotel.