Let us now gather, children, around a warm sack of fermented woodlands beverage and enjoy some photographs of joyous, spectacular Myanmar. As an ornery completionist, the lack of Myanmar on my Big Dumb Asia MegaSojourn caused me great, undue anxiety. To the west of Thailand was a huge unruly blob of the unknown: dark roads, unseen temples, unslurped noodles. There were whole swaths of countryside I had not trod upon, great pools of sweat I had not yet exuded, great glories of the continent that were as yet a mystery to me. When friends from Korea declared their intention, I knew it was time to explore. Set your eyeballs on these shinies, kids. Myanmar is pretty golden. (The joke being that much of Myanmar is covered in gold leaf. Get it?)
We began our journeys in Yangon, but Will had already spent a day storming about the city and wanted to see what delights were held across the river. Thus we boarded the midday ferry, crowded with a mass of humanity, and arrived in quaint, rural Dalla.
Not pictured: the part of the day where we were sucked into a Hindu religious festival, surrounded everywhere by self-mortification. The locals were apparently divided on how they felt about Random Honkies being all up in an actual religious ceremony, and though some kept trying to get me to snap a few shots of the fellows with hooks in their backs or the skewers through their mouths, I felt icky interrupting the ceremonies with my big dumb DSLR.
Luckily, I have plenty of pictures of Sackjuice! While sitting outside of a temple, some local dudes scooted by on a motorbike and asked if we wanted to hop aboard and enjoy a cool, relaxing unspecified unit of “farmer drink.” When the offer to be sped off into the mysterious distance in the jungle seemed seedy, the guys hurried off alone. To prove us untrusting and jaded Westerners, they soon returned with the aforementioned beverage and tried to refuse our offers to pay them for the trouble. We sat down to enjoy our drink: served in enormous plastic bags, milky and yeasty and tasting as though it had roasted under a hot sun percolating with untold bacteria, sackjuice got us pretty buzzed.
Back in Yangon proper, we got to properly scouring the city for the happenings, taking the train to the interesting spots in town. And also the less interesting spots. But at least they had a rope bridge. And seething hordes of pigeons.
The most gloriest of glories offered by the big city were of course held in and around Shwedagon Paya, the enormous pagoda in town. Everything around it bounds with golden light: other temples installed into ponds, lush gardens, even incredibly shaggy dogs on the cusp of spending out their days on the stoop of a New York pizzeria waiting for a cryogenically frozen Pizza boy.
I am all about this dog, people.
Then of course you have the pagoda itself. Swathed everywhere in sold and plated gold, gold leaf and silver inlay, huge pillars of mirror and brass and wood. It’s a little bit blinding, sitting in a massive golden megastructure, while natural sunlight blitzes around off of every surface. Things get kind of mad picturesque up in there. Consider this your end-of-post golden pagoda conga line:
Words on Myanmar are forthcoming, but you can assume a large number of them are dull synonyms for “wow.” It’s a pretty cool place, y’all.