Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Final, Short Day in Myanmar


March 1, 2013

I finally got some good sleep in my little top bunk in the cabin on the ship.  Matt and I woke up to catch the 8am bus into downtown Yangon because it was our final day in port before leaving for India.

We had decided to go and check out Scott’s Market, a large market in the middle of the city which had been recommended as a sight to see.  The bus stops right in front of city hall, so we had about a 15 minute walk there.  We weren’t completely sure how to get there, but we started down the right direction.

Along the way, we were stopped by three different locals asking us if we were on the Semester at Sea ship and asking us where we were going.  They said that they were glad that we were there, and made sure that we knew right where we were going.  They were all so kind.

We saw the city’s movie theater and saw that they were showing some Japanese movie and Die Hard.  Made me chuckle a little how much of a reach Bruce Willis has.

We made it to the market and then realized that they didn’t open until 10am.  People were still getting their booths set up, so we wandered around, unable to use the rest of our Myanmar money.  We had about $25 left, so approximately 20,000 kyat.

In Vietnam, it felt like the markets were set up for tourists with t-shirts, purses, watches and shoes.  They had a ton of snacks, coffee and meat where the locals seemed to eat.  Myanmar hasn’t been a huge tourist destination because of the government issues, and opened up so recently, that I think this market isn’t geared toward people like Matt and I who were looking to frivolously spend away $25.

The booths being set up were a combination of animal food, cloth for sewing and medical supplies.  People didn’t really care that we were in there walking around while they set up nor did they give us much attention or try to sell us anything.  We headed back down some back alleys trying to get to city hall and found ourselves in the Muslim district.  We really stuck out and felt the eyes of all of the locals.  We did not belong there, but it didn’t feel scary, just a little awkward.

We popped out to the circle where we had started and decided to load up on some snacks from some locals sellers.  We found the open air Walgreens equivalent down one street and bought them out of Cokes and chips.  At that point, though, we still had 15,000 kyat left.  I attempted to switch it back at the money exchange, but it wasn’t enough for them to accept it.

We searched for a t-shirt guy, but he had moved since the night before, so we decided to just call it good and catch the 10:30am bus back to the ship.  The last one was at 11:00am, so we didn’t want to be late in case everyone else had that idea.

On our way back to the bus, we found an older woman chilling on the side of a building with some shoes and cloth for Longyi’s.  I spotted her pretty fabric and pointed to it asking how much.  They were 5,000 kyat each.  Just the right amount.

She chose a pretty black and pink one and went to work getting it around my waist and tying it up with a pretty fold.  I modeled it a little for her and she laughed and loaded up that one and a brown one into a bag.  She made nice choices, so I went with it.  They’re actually very cute and comfortable.  I’d like to hem them since they have some rough edges, but they’ll make for very cute skirts for some pretty ladies that I’m missing back home.

We caught the bus rode an hour to the ship and crashed.  Our early mornings and late nights had finally caught up with us.  After lunch we both took a long nap and woke up in time for dinner.

I really, really enjoyed our time in Myanmar.  Make sure to watch for the Unreasonable at Sea Vignette called, “A Glimpse of Myanmar” in which I’ll edit together some of the epic shots that we found. Unreasonable.is/atsea