(Nearly) Facebook-friend with a monk in Yangon

Everywhere in Yangon people are continuously staring at me – I just stare back and smile at them. All of a sudden also the Myanmar people start smiling and talking to me. Besides the few backpackers in my hostel it seems like there are just 3 further Westerners in the former capital – for this reason I am highly in demand as a photo motif. Even the monks ask me for a photo (I take over the smiling part for them).

In the evening an over 70 year old monk is just approaching me at the street, giving me tips for my next destinations and want to exchange eMail addresses. I shouldn’t be surprised at all if I also receive a Facebook request from him…

Photoshooting with the monks at great Stupa
Photoshooting with the monks and kids at great Swedagon Stupa

If they don’t wear a monk robe it is really hard to tell for me who is actually coming from the country. As there about 135 tribes some Myanmar look alike Koreans, others like Indians, Malaysian, Singapuri, Chinese or even Arabs. What distinguishes them from the few Asian visitors is their legwear – instead of shorts or trousers they are frequently renewing the knot of their Longyi – the traditional Myanmar male skirt. Furthermore most of them really look alike Dracula with their teeth red from betel nut juice.

Quite different to all the former countries I have seen on my trip so far. Also that they use a different calendar with 8 days per week and UK cars to drive on the right sight of the road is something really special in South East Asia.

Exploring architecture from former colonial times at 42°C - not without my new umbrella
Exploring architecture from former colonial times at 42°C with my new umbrella

I try to get myself moving at 42°C and take a little 3km walk to the famous Swedagon Stupa – the most important religious building in Myanmar and definitively more beautiful than every southeast Asian temple I have seen before. Apparently I am the only person walking around with my newly shopped sun-umbrella. The Myanmar are laying in the shade of the numerous little temples watching me burning my naked feed on the heated floor.

As soon as I sit down they are asking for pictures again. I wonder how long it will stay like this. When tourism is raising it probably will become here like in Thailand and in future you could hardly see anything of the stupa because of all the tourist groups. In Myanmar the development definitively has started – the big question is just to which direction it will lead the country. I am curious how the rest of Myanmar looks like.

After having experienced on the fastest trains in the world in Japan I am now rediscovering slowness – 16 hours for 500km by Myanmar night train from Yangon to Mandalay. Here we go…

PS: My 12 hour stopover in Kuala Lumpur was really nice – very clean, modern and easy to travel for me.

Stopover in Kuala Lumpur at Petronas Towers
Stopover in Kuala Lumpur at Petronas Towers