These pictures are of me leaving Penang, which was very tough to leave!!
I am in Yangon, Myanmar, and this is just an incredible place!!! 300 Ethnic groups here, and I will quote my Lonely Planet Guide, “You feel you have stepped into an issue of National Geographic around 1910, with no Starbucks in sight!” Buddhist’s make up 80 percent of the population, with Christians and Muslins filling in the rest.
I am sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to Mandalay, and believe or not Rudyard Kipling, the author of the poem “Mandalay”, was never there. The beautiful old building’s, shutters, and doors reminds me of Havana, Cuba in some ways; with the wide roads, trees, parks, lots of green, and very gentle people. My hotel is $80 US a night, and is just delightful. There is a wonderful roof top breakfast every morning overlooking the Pagoda (there are many), the rooms are large with all the Western trimmings done in old world. Getting cash here is major exercise, there are lots of ATMs, but don’t expect them to work, I don’t think they have figured that part out yet! You have to have US money, only crisp new bills. My Visa-card (bankcard), didn’t work, but there are Master-card signs all over the place, so I tried, got money without my pin number (there is a bit of corruption somewhere, I would suggest). The Internet is spotty; my Blackberry doesn’t work except with the Hotel’s Wi-Fi, my mobile works on and off. Everything is changing very quickly here, I am so happy to be here at beginning. This country is quite large, and to see the major sites, Mandalay, Began and Inle Lake, I have to fly. So for next 4 days I have a flight a day to get to these places and back to Yangon for grand total of $356 US, for 4 trips. I don’t see a lot of tourists, maybe because it is the end of the rainy season. On the way to the airport in the taxi this morning, a lady was living out in the open on the side of road and was arranging flowers in vase for her table, which was covered by tarp, (very proud and gracious people).
I will report more with pictures!!