It’s a little after 9 pm and I’ve been in Yangon, Myanmar for a little over 12 hours. Usually, I acclimate to a destination rather quickly, but Yangon seems to be taking a little longer.
The city is intense, and nothing I had imagined. What I knew of Myanmar was garnered from the tales of friends who travelled here when the Military junta was in power. I heard stories of rolling blackouts and dead bodies in the streets. A city that was struggling, rough around the edges.
I wasn’t prepared for what I saw when I arrived this morning.
From the back seat of a taxi, I didn’t see a single dead body, and the city didn’t look nearly as rough and tumbled as I had imagined. It’s a good thing. I watch as locals walk by holding umbrellas, trying to protect themselves from the sun. The traffic is horrific, just as bad, if not worse, than Bangkok. It takes over an hour to get from the airport to my hotel, and during the last 35 minutes, my eyelids are so heavy that I fight to stay awake.
By the time I arrive at the hotel I look as though I have been run over by a bus. The result of getting an hour of sleep before waking up at 3 am to head to the airport in Bangkok.
Unaware of wait would be waiting for me in Yangon, I decided to stay with Sule Shangri-La. I had visions of my fiasco in Colombo, Sri Lanka a few years ago when I booked a sketchy guesthouse and ended up having to leave quickly and check into a hotel. The hotel is lovely, centrally located, great staff, and the bed is cozy. It’s a welcome reprieve from the intensity of the city. Not in a chaos kind of way, more in terms of the attention foreigners receive.
Tomorrow I take on Yangon, and all it’s curious locals. I’ve been wanting to take the circle line train for a couple years now, so I’m excited to do it tomorrow. Although we’ll see how I fare during the 3-hour ride in the low-class car – I’m told it’s the most interesting, so there could be a photo essay coming on that experience. I’m also checking out some of Yangon’s new hotspots (yes, there is an art scene, a music scene, and a budding foodie scene).
For now, I’m going to crawl into bed and get some much-needed sleep.