A Travellerspoint blog

Yangon, Myanmar - Monday, 16 January 2017

Visit to a traditional village at Dhala

sunny 32 °C

Sule Shangri-La Hotel - Room 2207
The holiday is over - now adhering to a timetable begins!

At 8.30 am we met in the foyer, about 36 of us, for the short bus ride to the wharf to catch the ferry to the other side of the Yangon River to visit the village of Dhala. The bus took ages to drive the short distance to the wharf, due to the traffic that never seems to get anywhere. The waiting area was chock a block with locals, so we joined in and waited for the ferry. As it arrived, hoardes of people disembarked and as we all piled on, the thought did cross my mind about overcrowded ferries sinking in Asia. How many times have we heard that in the news?

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It only took about 15 minutes for cross the fast flowing, very muddy river and waiting on the other side were our trishaws - one each plus a driver (or should I say a pedaller!) My driver's name was Coco and he was a young man aged 21. A majority of men and boys in Myanmar wear the longyi (a wrap around skirt) but Coco was one of the very few I have seen in jeans.

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We drove through the streets of the village and the villagers and the children came running out to say hello and high five us. "Mingalabar" means hello or wishing you an auspicious day or anything nice you would like to impart. It was nice being driven through the narrow lanes shouting this out to everyone we passed. They were very responsive and are a very gentle and friendly people. The road was made of cement, which surprised me as we are in quite a remote village and most of the houses are no more than shacks so I had really expected a dirt track. There were even speed bumps which gave the back side a bit of a thump, but I guess they are there to slow down the motor bikes which are here in their thousands. They are not allowed in Yangon.

We visited the market. It was small but the people were very happy and friendly. Lots of local fresh produce and the stalls with all the junky stuff.

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Next stop was the local monastery where the children attend school. Government schools insist the chidren wear uniforms but the monastery children can wear what they like but most are in uniform. They learn English from early primary school. The monks take in boy and girl orphans and both sexes become monks and nuns, but they are brought up in different places. Compared to Australian primary schools, these children and thd teachers have absolutely nothing - no teaching aids, no books, no pencils.
These are the rules they try to teach the children.

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This is a good way to keep the kids in the class room. Only joking - it wasn't really locked but looked like it was.

Bye bye Coco..

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Back to the ferry terminal for the ride back to Yangon.

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We had lunch at the Rangoon Tea House. Each table shared Pennywort Salad and Mutton Samosas and the main was Pork Belly in Soy Bean Sauce. It was okay but pork belly is not something I would normally eat. Dessert was delicious - House Falooda which was egg pudding, rose jelly, rose syrup, chia seeds, pandan cendol (whatever that is), vermicelli sev, whole milk, milk icecream, pistachio and almonds. Yum.

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Back to the hotel for 45 mins before we visited the Shwedagon Pagoda. It is visible from all over Yangon. It is not far from our hotel and didn't take very long to get there in the bus. It is huge. I think our guide said there were more than 1,800 buddahs in the area. It is absolute stunning. There are really no words to describe this magical place. And the later we stayed, towards sunset, the lovelier it became. The golden colour changed in the evening light and just glowed. It was wonderful. It is covered in gold plate from the bell shape up and gold leaf for the rest. The gold leaf is replaced every 5 years.

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We participated in the ritual of 'oil lamp lighting' where we lit candles to mediate on how fragile human life is. It was very moving.

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After circumnavigating the entire pagoda, we finally came to Saturday corner for all people born on Saturdays, which is me. I poured water on Buddah - not sure why, but it will probably bring me good luck.

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These people are volunteers who come to sweep the floor every day. They are usually born on the day that they come to sweep. For example, people born on Mondays will donate their time on a Monday afternoon to clean the pagoda. Despite the cleaning, our feet were black!

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We arrived back at the hotel in time for the last hour of Happy Hour. We spent a lot of time chatting to Ann and Dieter from Bonn. They are very nice people. It would be nice if they were travelling with us but they are joining a cruise in Yangon on Wednesday, which will take them to Mandalay. I don't think it could possibly be as nice as the Scenic Aura.

I didn't have time for a swim today. I was going to try to improve on my laps.

No motor bikes are allowed in Yangon, but maybe the traffic would flow a bit better if they were.

Leaving tomorrow to join the Scenic Aura. Bags out at 7.30 pm. On the bus at 8.30 am for the six hour road trip to Pyay.

Posted by gaddingabout 21:35 Archived in Myanmar

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