After a standard flight (not that I'd want anything out of the ordinary to happen!) I made it to Myanmar (Burma) and it was a breeze going through passport control. Didn't need to prove a flight out if the country so may make purchase had all be in vain. Found two guys to share a taxi with, then Laura made it through customs and we were reunited for our adventure. The guys kindly didn't wait for us whilst we went to find a working ATM but I managed to barter the driver down a few thousand kyats. It seems very strange that non-Burmese SIM cards/phones are blocked and can't pick up a phone signal not that it affects me as I live by wifi.
The taxi journey was funny as we weren't even sure it was an official journey and we seemed to be sharing it with the drivers 'friend' from Vietnam who had to use his phone translated to communicate with us, only problem was we could only reply in English. We tried to make it simple English but the drivers tactic was to shout and repeat to him exactly what we had said (the driver has clearly learnt that trick that from watching Benidorm!) as we arrived in the evening it was hard to get first impressions of Myanmar and Yangon but it was bizarre noticing that whilst they drive on the right hand side of the road, they have right hand driver, we certainly saw some funny driving techniques like getting your passenger to hang out the window and wave to signal that you're moving lanes (whether like it or not).
We arrived at our hostel - Humble Footprints which was brand new, clean, friendly with the best and comfiest bunk beds I've stayed in. We attempted to go out for a stroll and we clocked the golden pagoda (which looked so impressive in the night sky) but after collecting some water we turned back and stopped for a local beer called Myanmar before hitting the hay.
The following morning we decided to get up early and sightsee around Yangon. And at 8.30am the humidity and hear was already incredible. Trying to cross the umpteen dual carriageways was an experience in itself, made funnier when a car went past with a sticker in the window saying 'lane driving is safe driving'. The first stop was the golden 96ft high sitting Buddha at Ngahtatgyi Paya created in 1901. It was an impressive sight. However, it was strange being asked to have my photo taken by a monk! Everyone we met were so friendly and people would shout hello to us just to wave.
The second stop was the 219ft long reclining Buddha at Chaukhtatgyi Paya which was also impressive. After that Laura and I just went exploring around the downtown area and markets. But we left the most impressive sight in Yangon for sunset, the Shwedagon Paya. A huge golden site of stupas and other Buddhist buildings. You literally can't explain how stunning it is. Just wow! Especially as the evening light draws on.
The following day we had planned to go to Bago but after talking to some people at the hostel we decided to change our plans and booked a night bus for that evening to Mandalay which we booked with Christine who we also met at the hostel. That day Laura and I spent the day wondering about...knackering! And neither of us could make a decision so we ambled around aimlessly until we found a park to crash in and plan out remaining time in Myanmar. Then it was time to head back to get the bus and we did a quick pit stop at The Finger Food Garden for the best and tastiest food - Kachin style curry with garlic fried rice and sweet lime juice. Can't wait to come back to Yangon for the food here! Then Christine, Laura and I went for the night bus to Mandalay, Laura and I smuggled on a sneaky can of beer that cost all of 31p!
Was weird getting off at the pit stop place and being confronted by a Liverpool FC bus, you'd think the guys were on tour here looking at the bus. Anyway, Mandalay here we come.