Yangon, Bago and Kyaiktiyo, Myanmar (Burma)

Toe, our guide, was standing in the airport inside customs waiting for us with all our Visa-on-arrival forms filled out. He rushed us into a small room where the Customs Official took our $$, stamped our passports, and we left the airport, past all the lines of tourists waiting to enter Burma! This was a very unexpected and impressive “rich and famous” moment.

To Trader’s Hotel (part of the Shangri-La Hotel chain) in downtown Yangon and a fast visit to the market to exchange money. Toe couldn’t accompany us into the market because he said there were many police standing around, but he told us what to do. Go up to one of the many jewelers inside, ask if they are exchanging dollars. If not, go to the next one until you find the proper person. Mission accomplished, we walked out with 1,000,000 Kyats barely stuffed in our fanny packs, looking like two pregnant whales. There are also people standing around on the street asking if you want to change money and Toe said they would have taken you into the market, directly to their favorite money-changer. We were just too chicken to try that.

The next morning, we headed out to Bago, about 1-1/2 hours outside of Yangon. On the way, we stopped to take photos of these elephants (a mother and baby) on a truck heading somewhere probably to haul timber. There is always something interesting to see driving along the roads.

Elephant going to work hauling timber

Mother and Baby Elephants

A stop at the Htauk Kyant War Memorial Cemetery, with 27,000 graves of Commonwealth and Allied Force soldiers who fought against the Japanese in Burma during World War II. Beautifully kept with a register to assist anyone looking for a particular grave.

From there to Bago for lunch, then browsed the streets where ex-Marine had his pants shortened in a little Mall. His pants are the kind legs unzip to form shorts, and people gathered around to watch as he started unzipping the legs for hemming. Silent, frozen faces, aghast, thinking that he was going to take his pants off in front of them. When it finally dawned that he wasn’t going to get naked in public, they broke out in hysterical laughter accompanied by rapid-fire conversations. Without understanding one word of their language, we knew exactly what they had thought and joined in the laughter. I think it cost the huge sum of 75 cents for this tailoring job, ex-Marine left a big tip and they are probably still talking about ex-Marine unzipping his pants.

seamstress in Bago

We also visited the famous Shwe Tha Lyaung Reclining Buddha in Bago. It is 180 feet long, and considered the oldest and largest in Myanmar, restored in 1881. An iron pavilion was constructed in 1903 to shelter it. A very imposing, peaceful and serene Buddha. …View image

recliningbudha (400 x 408).jpg
Shwe Tha Lyaung Reclining Buddha statistics, Bago, Myanmar

Shwe Tha Lyaung Reclining Buddha face, Bago, Myanmar

A fast walk around the Shwemawdaw Pagoda, over 1,000 years old, with a spire taller than Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda, shining brightly in the sun. …View image

Shwemawdaw Pagoda in Bago, Myanmar

…and a uniquely decorated pagoda/stupa within the compound…


…a photo of local bus transport, used since World War II…can you believe it’s still running… and on to Kyaiktiyo/Golden Rock…

bus from the ’40’s, still being used

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