Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rangoon Burma day....um...something?

Today we woke and decided to voyage a tiny bit father afield.

We went out onto the street and walked a few blocks before finding a really good tea source (chao bawk?  That's what we say and they give us not too sweet chai, we really don't know if we're saying it right, but they seem to get it).  We had a quick cup at a tiny table in the gutter (most road food here is eaten on tiny plastic chairs made for children and little tiny tables sitting in the gutter, or on the "sidewalk").  It was okay but there were few snacks in the offering so we decided to take a cab to a known "good tea house".  It was worth it (and only cost $2 so....)  We went to "Lucky 7" on the east side of town (47th? something like that).  A very upscale chinese tea house (but still serving Burmese chai like tea).  Had some Mohinga, a noodle dish said to be the national dish.  It was okay.  I liked Mohinda better from a few days ago.  Better sauce, more chicken, good crunchies on top (It has been determined that the words I, nat, really need to learn in foreign languages are things like "And the crunchy stuff too!".  Otherwise locals tend to think us Ferang don't want all the strange dried fish things).

The tea was strong and sweet and the food was good.

We then wandered down the block a bit, and found a bunch of shops on the train tracks of the circle line that goes around the city that we took yesterday.  Saw a guy chiseling out a ganeesh sculpture.  Very cool.  Even a bit out of downtown and everyone is soooo friendly.  "Where you from?"  "America!???" "We love Barack Obama!!" etc.  It really feels like we've traveled back to 1964...or some time back when all SE asian countries still loved Uncle Sam.  

Eventually caught a cab out to a suburb kinda area (30 min thru traffic, $3) to the Myanmar Drug Elimination Museum.

Whoa...epic.  Giant super big museum built 10 years ago to show how Myanmar wants to eradicate opium and other drugs.  But left to slowly age and decay.  We were the only ones in the entire multi-thousand sq foot 3 story Museum.  Except for staff who were just sorta hanging out chatting.  A bit of mopping maybe.  

Pictures will eventually come, but they will take a good download once I'm home as I took hundreds to properly document it!

It doesn't show up almost anywhere well documented on the web so I have taken it upon myself!

After a few hours in a giant echoing empty museum looking at Generals getting out of helicopters and giant epic paintings of burning heroin bales we decided to head to a late lunch at a local join mentioned in the guide books.  It cemented our belief that the guide books of Burma so far just listed the few places they went and liked.  But not necessarily even close to the best of anything.  It was perfectly fine.  But not half as good as the random street food downtown.

Then we took a cab over to the Shwedegon Pagoda.  I can't begin to do justice to its magical beauty.  We arrive in the heat of the day, and over the next 4 hours the sun set and lit up the giant gold pagoda as it did.  A monk talked to us for an hour or more about learning English and his life as a teacher of Novices.  I meditated for a while to my personal perfect Buddha.  Covered in gold, in a ornate niche, with a psychedelic LED halo under a florescent bulb while bells rang and monks chanted in the distance.  Periodically a bell rings out.

I think I may have edged a bit closer to nirvana.

Then walking and talking and watching the Burmese people play and flirt and chant and burn incense.

It was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives.  Let alone the trip.  Cheesy to say, I know, but so wonderfully beautiful.

Then a cab home.

Shower, then off quickly to 19th street, the street of grilled stuff on sticks.  You sit down, get a beer, go look over a giant cart of meats and veggies on sticks and fill a small basket.  A teenage boy takes it off and grills it and brings it for you to eat.

If there was one take-away from Rangoon so far its "hard working, super-nice teenagers".  Everything is done by teens who are playful and fun and try really hard to speak whatever English they have.

One was selling small baggies of snacky things from a basket around his waist (the whole street is full of tables of people, mainly Burmese, drinking beer and eating).  I picked out a green one, he cuts it open and hands it to me, and our waiter, who is helping point says "eat it!" and laughs.  Gesturing to his mouth.  

I did.  Pickled Tealeaves and hot stuff.  Amazing!

now home.

epic epic day.

"Science is a Differential Equation.  Religion is a Boundary Condition."   - A. Turing

1 comment:

Oneirofer said...

Ah, Shwedagon Pagoda! What a lovely place. You can buy small sheets of that stuff they use to gold gilt everything. Go into one of the many shops near a pagoda to look for them. I gold gilded everything for a while after we got back from Burma! Also, if you want to entertain Burmese people, touch your elbow when they hand you something, or you hand them something. If you watch, you'll notice they all do it. That's a way of being polite, Burmese style, and they all laughed when I did it.