i arrived in myanmar, and surprisingly, i’ve been able to log into my site and my blogg etc!! a local has befriended me and has helped me find a place that has good internet access!!
so.. here i am in myanmar, and what a change it is from india. even before i got out of the cab that drove me from the airport, i could tell that i was in another world from the one that i was in this morning. first off, when i walked out of the airport, i wasn’t attacked by a million taxi/rickshaw drivers as i would have been in ndia. instead, i was calmly talked to by just *one* person who directed me to a cab.. and even suggested that i save some money by splitting the cab w/ someone. i didnt have to haggle and fight over the fare in the cab either… instead, they just charged us a total of 5$…. for a ride that was 22km!! it was such a strange feeling all of this.. not having to fight tooth and nail every step of the way to get anywhere as i was used to while in india. could i actually relax now?? could i for one second put down my guard and not have to constantly worry that everyone around me was trying to rip me off or swindle me??
the cab ride itself was so different than any ride i’ve taken in the last 2 months. for one thing… myanmar actually has traffic lanes!! and people drive straight within the lanes instead of swerving all over and practically crashing into everything else on the road. and *gasp*… people actually stopped at red lights!!! for once i didnt feel like my life was at risk while on the road! the next thing i noticed was… myanmar is clean!! where were the huge piles of trash i was used to seeing all along the roads? there wasn’t any! not only did i not see any trash.. but i didnt see any beggars. not a single one during the ride to the hotel… and hardly any for the rest of the day. later, after the ride, as i walked down the streets, i didnt have people constantly grabbing at me asking me to buy things… no rickshaw drivers yellin at me… i could just *be*. all of this was such a shock. it was like i had been driving a car at a 100 miles an hour, having to constantly stare at the road and be alert…. and then all of a sudden slowing down to a crawl and being able to take a deep breath and just chill. ahhhhhhh. nice. i could tell that i was gonna like it here.
the next thing i noticed was the heat. it’s hot here. damn hot. ridiculiously and painfully hot… the guidebook even goes so far as to call it “intolerable”. even with the wind rushing by me as we drove, i was sweating bullets. i looked out the windows and watched the burmese peole stroll by on the streets. many of them had umbrellas to block the sun from beating down too much. at least 80% of the men i saw were wearing longyis which are basically an equivalent to a sarong (imagine a man wearing a huge towel made of thin fabric around his waist and you get an idea). this was the first time so far that i had seen so many men of any country wearing their traditional clothing. usualy, as far as i’ve seen, if anyone wears traditional stuff it’s the women: sarees in india, headscarves in the middle east, etc. most of the men from any country i’ve seen just wear western clothes: pants and shirts. not here though. longyis everywhere. and i can see why… in this heat, waering a thin longyi would defintely keep you much cooler than pants. another thing i noticed was that there were lots of monks wandering about wearing their red robes. and the toursists…. or lack thereof. looking out the cab window, i saw hardly any white faces. compared to so many other places, myanmar gets very few toursists, and it was very nice and refreshing to see a place that wasn’t jampacked w/ backpackers and didnt have a netcafe/souvenir shop/ guesthouse on every corner.
eventually i got a hotel room. my room is tiny. no really… i mean *tiny*. the room has a bed in it and that’s all beacasuse the whole room isn’t much bigger than the bed. there room is just 6 inches wider than my bed, and about 2.5 feet longer. that’s all. i couldnt even fit a chair in there if tried. luckily, there’s a fan hanging from the wall or else i’d fry. the cost of the room? 4 bucks… breakfast included. not bad eh?
….. i’ll write more about my first day in myanmar later….