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Monthly Archives: September 2012

I’m live-blogging from the Schwedagon Pagoda this evening as the sun starts to set over this spectacular, mystical temple. For the Burmese, this is the most sacred of all Buddhist sites – many make the pilgrimage from all over the country to see it once in their lifetime.

It’s 2500 years old, although it has been jazzed up several times over the years, and consists of a 322ft golden dome, surrounded by many smaller temples, statues and walkways. It’s pretty breathtaking to behold.

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Plus – the wifi is fabulous. These Buddhists know what they’re doing.

Letter boxes evidently aren’t as big a deal in Yangon as they are at home. People just hang long pieces of string from their windows down to the street for people to attach things to. Some blocks of apartments have tons of them hanging down to the street, all getting tangled up.

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Many of Downtown Yangon’s streets are lined with imposing old colonial buildings, but they’re almost all derelict, disused and surrounded by wild undergrowth.

The old post office:

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City Hall (some parts still used)

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Myanmar Port Authority Building:

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The old bank – the ATMs are boarded up along the front. There are no ATMs in Myanmar, you have to bring all the cash you need with you and either change it at an exorbitant rate at the airport or on the black market, which I did last night:

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Part of the huge former Immigration Office, which was also once the largest department store in Asia. Now surrounded by barbed wire and populated by squatters:

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I left Kanchanaburi early this morning. It was good to be allowed back on the roads. First stop was the actual Bridge Over The River Kwai, which still has an old train go across it from time to time:

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Got involved with a little fishing off the actual Bridge Over The River Kwai:

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Rode on for a couple of hours, past paddy-field after paddy-field, surrounded by limestone hills:

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Eventually found the ancient Koapoon Cave Temple. It’s a spectacular place and I had it all to myself. It consists of nine caves, all varying in size and you have to go deep underground, sometimes crawling through tiny gaps, to reach the Thape-Ni-Mitra room, where this fella passes the time. We hung out.

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An incredible place. Worth the endless and very confusing journey back.

General conclusion of the day: I am an incredibly good motorbike driver, despite what all previous crashes might indicate.