YANGON, MYANMAR

I say goodbye to Natasa, at her Bangkok airport then take a bus to my Bangkok budget airport,

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FOR MY FREE NIGHTS ACCOMADATION
I applied online for my visa “on arrival” ($90), then they requested another $30(U.S.),, cash, at the airport. I hand him a $10 and $20, he rejects the $20. WTF? There was a slight crease in the $20. No tears, creases, dirt, old notes, only fresh off the press money is accepted. I get through the border check and

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THERE’S THIS GUY WAITING FOR ME
At first I thought it was my free hotel ride, wrong! He’s there to see that I exchange my dollars to Kyat, at the government exchange office at the airport. We get outside and I realize, he’s not my ride, but he’s taking me for a ride, WELCOME TO MYANMAR!
At the hotel they asked to be paid in dollars, small problem, I left them at the airport.
I cycled through Vietnam in 1994. When I got off the plane from Bangkok, I felt like I was in a slow motion movie, everyone was riding bicycles. When I returned in 2000, it was motorcycle city. It is some what similar time here: small businesses, bicycle taxis, bicycle transportation, dirt roads, but no motorcycles? There is no safety equipment for workers.

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SLEDGE HAMMERING, DIGGING and PICKING, IN FLIP FLOPS (no work boots, anywhere) nice American Flag shorts.
I haven’t had much time to unwind from Thailand’s whirlwind tour with Natasa. I sat around the hotel the first day, then I discover there’s a train that circles the whole city, 3 hours. Just sitting sounds pretty good to me. The train station was an interesting wait (the train was an hour late).

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THAT’S A RED RUBY ON HER FOREHEAD, THEY ALSO WEAR VISIBLE MAKE-UP FOR SUN PROTECTION
Within the first few minutes of the train there was this

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GARBAGE FILLED OPEN SEWER, WELCOME TO THE THIRD WORLD
Myanmar is one of the last countries to “open” up, only North Korea remains closed. As the train got further from town

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MANY FARM FIELDS BECAME COMMON
Then the train passed a farmers market that was right at the train station

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LOTS OF CAULIFLOWER AND TOMATOES

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THE “HOUSING” WAS VERY BASIC
Everyone rides the rickety train, including

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THE GUNLESS POLICEMEN
The $1 train ride was 3 hours,2 would have been enough. I decide to visit the SHWEDAGON PAGODA.

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I TAKE A TAXI, WHAT A MISTAKE
No motorcycles are allowed downtown Yangon. The rumor is that a generals car was hit or his foot was run over?, by a motorcycle. Whatever the story, he decreed no motorcycles are allowed downtown!
They seem to want to model their economy after the U.S. and China, good luck with that.

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I’M STARTING TO GET THE FEELING THAT PAGODAS ARE MYANMAR’S EQUIVALENT TO EUROPE’S CASTLES AND CHURCH’S

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I LEARN LATER THAT IT’S A NO NO TO HAVE YOUR BACK TO THE BUDDA
I have 5 days in Yangon, so it’s still Jeff’s Bike Tour, so I rent a bike. Why was I waiting? This was the best decision, so far. The first road I venture down is a military compound, I’m turned back. I ride into town, bicycles aren’t welcomed everywhere.

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THEY’VE BANNED BICYCLES ON SOME ROADS,
It was awesome to cut through the traffic, the bike is “ALWAYS” the best transportation option, when trraveling. I’ve gotten good with the google maps,

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I RE-VISIT THE PAGODA,(from the outside)
I never go to zoos, but my curiosity got me, so I went.

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THE MONKEY IS PICKING BUGS OFF
They sold food at every exhibit, for feeding the animals. That helps cut the costs and the animals still eat.

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IV’E NEVER BEEN THIS CLOSE TO A HIPPO
The people seem friendly, I think the bicycle allows you to connect with people versus a taxi, that is stuck in traffic. I plan to take a bus to Inle Lake (10 hours). Most of the buses are night buses, so you arrive at 3, 4, 5? in the morning in a unfamiliar city. Another government decreed idea?
Thanks for reading
Jeff
NEXT? INLE LAKE: boating, biking, shopping, massage ($4)
Wordpress made a new program and the linkage doesn’t work, so when it’s fixed I’ll let you know.

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