Min-gala-ba dear friends,
I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't know that Burma was renamed to Myanmar many years ago. Burma was the english name for the country.
After sleepless night at Bangkok airport I finally arrived to Yangon. A young girl at her early 30's (travelagent who was handling my visa) met me at the airport. We took taxi to her office and on the way she of some to me unnown reasons started to "inform" me about governments "heroic" attempts to protect the country from USA, Kina, Thailand etc... This was the reason for moving the capital from Yangon to another place where foreigners are not allowed... The university was split to many units and relocated to different places to prevent the students from gathering together... Chinese people are eating babies ( detailed description)... I felt really sorry for this parrot-like girl devoid any emotions behind the words. While listening to all paranoia I've got the first glimpse of colonial and spacious Yangon with broad streets and managable traffic (motorbikes are forbidden here). It was early morning and many people were jogging, exercising and stretching, which was a pleasant sight.
I had just one day in Yangon so I went to see Myanmar's biggest attraction: Shwedagon Paya, one of the world's most spectacular Buddhist monuments. It rises 322 ft above its base and covered with 60 tons of pure gold. According to legend this stupa is 2500 years old, but archeologists suggest that it was built sometime between 6-th and 10-th centuries. The stupa is surrounded by many temples and innumerable Buddha statues. It was jaw-dropping and I was probably a funny sight for the locals when I was going around with my mouth open and feeling that I was visiting the place from fairy-tales of my childhood. It is a dream for every buddhist in Myanmar to visit Shwedagon Paya at least ones in their lifetime.
And then it was this train journey to Mandalay. "Sleeper-aircon" the ticket said and it was air-con down to 12 degrees, according to my estimation, in the "do-not-touch-anything" 4-beds compartment with dirty sheets and very thin cover. I had 14 hours in front of me to contemplate Myanmar through the dirty window in the old train on bumpy railroad built by Brittish in 1930's. I had all compartment to myself and after some hours gazing at garbage piles after garbage piles after garbage piles and flat dry land with very little vegetation, I gave upp sightseeing and tried to get some sleep.
I finally arrived to Mandalay in the middle of the night but that is a different story...