Saturday, September 29, 2012

mandalay hill

after a day of exploring the markets and inner city of mandalay
we hired a cab to see some of the outer city cites.
the driver took us to a couple magnificent 
temples and payas
before heading to mandalay hill,
something we had been looking forward to before we even left the states.
two giant lion statues guard the entrance 
to the 790 foot hill.
we climbed stairs for half an hour,
stopping to gaze at the many Buddha statues
and trinket shops along the way.
at the top we spend a while taking in the view of mandalay
and it's surrounding mountain ranges. 
it was absolutely breathtaking.
about an hour before sunset we got back into the cab
and headed for the city of amarapura,
home of U Bein Bridge,
the longest teak bridge in the world...


temple kitties

lions guarding mandalay hill

half an hour of stairs. it was a nice workout...

a view of mandalay. so many golden payas covering the landscape

souvenir shops along the way

steven taking in the views

me at the top. a little over heated but so happy

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

mandalay :: zegyo market

after some quality time in yangon
steven and i took another overnight bus
to mandalay.
we were quite nervous and had a hard time sleeping
but after a while we realized
overnight buses in myanmar are worlds better then those in thailand.
expect for the burmese music videos playing at full volume
the entire night...

the first thing we did when we got to mandalay
was check out the zegyo market.
this market is where locals and tourists
go for everything.
there are food stalls, jewelers, fabric shops, herbal remedies, and everything in between. 
we spent a good half day here

taking in the sights, smells, and flavors of mandalay...


there are just a couple bikes and scooters in this town...

walking around the streets of myanmar you'd think this country was terribly violent with blood splattered everywhere. you'd soon realize that this is spit from people who chew betel nut.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

burmese tea

while in myanmar we tried to 
stay away from anything that had tap water in it.
we both already experienced travelers sickness
in both japan and thailand and
we were not in the mood to go through that again.
we did, however, frequently enjoy a nice cup of burmese tea.
and since the water was boiling hot,
we felt we were safe as far as bacteria was concerned.
when trying to describe burmese tea
i tell people to first think of thai tea
as it's made with a standard black tea.
in contrast, where the thai people add a little bit of sweetened condensed milk,
the burmese go above and beyond.
we watched a couple people as they made our tea
and it was astonishing to see the ratio of tea to milk
(the phrase "would you like some tea with that sweetened condensed milk" regularly ran through my mind).
our first cup was a bit hard to finish but after that i was rather hooked.
not as much for the nice boiling tea in the middle of a 90 degree day,
more for the delicious fried treats that always accompanied the drink...


we learned that each cup of burmese tea is accompanied by an endless supply of chinese black tea that we used to dilute our cups

i'm sure i'm not spelling this right but these were my favorite, samosas, flaky outside with sauteed mixed veggies inside

if the tea isn't sweet enough for you, these will take you over the edge

Friday, September 21, 2012

shwedagon paya

our second day in myanmar we ventured north to
see the magnificent shwedagon paya.
we had spotted the top of it around town 
as it reaches 325 feet into the sky
(in a city where the majority of buildings
are no more than four stories tall,
it's easy to see the shwedagon from almost everywhere).
we were not prepared for
the extravagance that we would see here.
the grounds are enormous:
housing hundreds of little pagodas and
Buddha monuments.
steven and i were two of maybe 5 white tourists present.
mostly there were monks walking around with burmese families,
bowing and praying for blessings upon their family.
everything was covered in gold paint.
the only structure actually covered in real gold is the main shwedagon paya.
it was one of the most stunning and incredible sights we 
saw in myanmar,
but it wouldn't be the last...


we entered through the western gate where there was a long hallway with these beautiful pillars and then several flights of stairs to climb in order to approach the shwedagon paya

the view form the top of the stairs. many small payas. each representing a day of the week. Buddhist pray and ask for blessing from the paya that corresponds with the day of the week they were born on.

some of the structures were covered in glass murals

a burmese man took this picture. he said he loves photography but cant afford a camera. so the credit for this great shot goes to him.

every Buddha had one of these light shows behind it. pretty interesting


chipping gold paint

we walked by these monks about seven times before we had the courage to ask if we could take their picture

they spoke no english but were very kind and wanted a picture with me as well. i can only dream of looking as cool as they do...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

sights of yangon

after three whirlwind days in bangkok
(finding out our money had been stolen, deciding to come home, getting a shock and surprise from our family and friends, and applying for visas)
we were finally on a plane to yangon 
and we could not believe it.
neither of us had any idea of what we'd find in myanmar.
sure, we had bought the lonely planet guide book 
(along with every other person on our plane ride over)
and we'd read all about the country's
ups and downs in the news,
but in reality,
we were going in blind.
which was a large part of the excitement.

in mass numbers,
is still a very new thing in myanmar.
from the moment we stepped off the plane until
the moment we left the country
people stared at us and watched our every move.
children waved at us and giggled as if they'd just seen a movie star.
everyone smiled at us and would yell "hello" as we walked past.
every time we ate out our waiter would stand next to our table, 
trying disparately to practice his or her english and
ask us clarifying questions about american slang.
we met some of the most wonderful and beautiful people this way
and had some great laughs.

yangon was a shocking city.
here we saw the most stunning sights we'd ever seen before.
huge pagodas covered in gold and "gold".
millions of people going about their everyday lives
in a city that is rapidly changing in front of their eyes.
new buildings being built while others rot away.
thousands of monks going about their everyday lives in the city.

we also saw a lot of filth, trash, and poverty.
it was shocking as a westerner because
there was no hiding it,
no indication that anyone cared about the problem
or even saw it as a problem.
we never got used to living among
the trash and mindset of the people of yangon,
i don't think we every would have.
it was an eye opening an shocking city,
both outrageously beautiful and devastating...


our first glimpse of myanmar from the plane. stunning

thank you coca- cola. you're pretty much all i drank while in this country...

beautiful buildings rotting away

nearly every truck and bus was a hino, which is the same type of truck my father owns. it was a sentimental couple weeks...

the streets were overrun with stray dogs. most of them skin and bones, or pregnant.

the markets were plentiful 

many streets are closed off to the public

asia has the cutest little cars

roosters and chickens everywhere

you can't just drink coke out of the can, or even in just a regular glass. wine glasses only...

phi phi view point

this is the LAST post about phi phi, i promise.
there is a great little hike up to an amazing 
view point on ko phip phi.
we didnt plan it perfectly as the tide was out,
making it much less picturesque, 
but it was still fun to step away form the beach
for a while and do something active.
on our way down we played a game we made up
"count the kitties".
there were TWENTY FOUR
cats on the short walk back form the viewpoint to our hotel.
this island might have a problem...

the first views, half way up the hike

all the orange kitties made me miss my niece. she would have loved this island and it's many four legged inhabitants...

steven getting a great shot of the viewpoint

all of this resorts and guesthouses are located on that sliver connecting to two big bodies of land. you could walk in between them in five minutes

the east bay

so many kitties...