I had made arrangements with the hostel to pick me up from the airport. It was nice having a person standing there with a sign to meet me. It was $10 for this service instead of the $8 it cost to get an official taxi from the airport. I thought it was worth it until I was dying in the 90 degree heat as the driver wouldn’t turn on the air conditioner. It was a very long hour drive into town.
As I rode in the taxi I watched all of the people going about their daily lives. The men all still wear sarongs instead of pants and the woman are all in long skirts. There are few tourists. And it is extremely hard to find people who speak English. The tourist areas charge in dollars while everyone else uses kyats. The exchange rate is $1 = 1290. Tourist areas will convert a $1 item for 1300. An example would be my taxi ride was $10, I asked the hostel if I could pay in kyat, sure 13,000 kyats. In non tourist areas $1 = 1000. “How much is that fruit? $1. I only have kyat. 1000 kyats. Great, I’ll take 3!”
After checking into my room and given multiple glasses of a syrupy juice because I looked like an overheated mess. I walked to get a SIM card. I was starving but all I could find was emerald booths and these people selling leaves with a paste and bugs rolled up in it. I think this is what turns all these people’s mouths red. I purchased my SIM card and 1 G of data for $8 and was on my way. I went back to the hostel to meet up with Alonso, a guy I met from Mexico City. We agreed to visit some pagodas and share the cost of the taxis.
We start at the Reclining Buddha then walk to the largest sitting Buddha in Burma. It is hot out. I am in a black shirt and long skirt. And I am melting!!! I still haven’t eaten anything but I need to find water. So I ask a lady selling the leaves if she sells water and in the nastiest cooler ever she pulls out a sealed bottle of water for 400 kyats. Sold! On the street is a man selling some kind of bean roti and it is the only thing I can see them actually cooking in front of me and I am starving so I get one. 250 kyats. It was horrible but I was hungry.
We then took a taxi to the famous Shwedagon Paya (pagoda). We went through security and paid the 8000 kyats to get in. No socks allowed or shoes. The marble is hard and hot on my feet. We walk around taking photos and I bathe the Saturday Buddha since I was born on a Saturday for good luck. We wait for the sun to go down and take more photos.
Afterwards we take a taxi to Chinatown. Where there is a night market and skewered meat and veggies. We select a BBQ place and are given a very dirty plastic basket to place our skewers in. I select a mushroom, asparagus, quail eggs, and a chicken skewer. You hand it to the lady and she gives you a number. We sit down while the BBQ our food and bring it to us. I have to go to the store to buy a beer as they don’t sell drinks.
I am starting to over heat. All of the BBQs along with the heat and bugs are getting to me. We walked back to our hostel where I was so delirious that I walked into my air conditioned room stripped off all my clothes and fell asleep at 8:00pm. Only to wake up at midnight with a horrible headache and freezing cold. My ac was set to 16 degrees Celsius. That’s in the 60’s! I am now laying in bed in my fleece trying to hydrate. I feel horrible. Like I am getting sick. I turned the ac down but it is still freezing in my room. I’m sad that I didn’t get to see more of Yangon at night.