I had a rather slow start to the day today on account of two factors: 1) I had forgotten to deactivate my alarm which was set for 3.45am for me to catch my flight from Bangkok to Yangon, and 2) because I was then woken for a second time at dawn by the (very protracted) call to prayers. One was definitely not amused. On reflection, I do wish I had footage of the first sleep interuption – in hindsight it was hilarious. I woke up with a sudden start (must have been in VERY deep sleep) and for many seconds had literally no idea what was going on or where the sound was coming from. Much scrambling around to find my (otherwise defunct due to absence of international roaming) blackberry ensued.
I missed breakfast entirely and didn’t get my head into gear or tired self showered, dressed and out until almost midday so went straight for lunch/next steps travel planning. I’ve decided to miss out on Mt Kyaiktiyo (big gold rock on hill) in favour of having more time in northern Burma. Plus also more certainty of being able to spend a few days snorkelling on the Bay of Bengal. The golden rock would have eaten at least a couple of days geting there, seeing it at sunrise/set and then getting back to Yangon to transfer to the next place. Decision made.
I have also decided to really throw myself into the whole traveller thing by taking the bus (12-15 houra) to Kalaw rather than the plane (1 hour). So I will hopefully leave tomorrow late afternoon. In Kalaw I hope to do some trekking (that’s walking in a straight line in the countryside, btw), either a day trip or two or the 2-4 day trek to Inle Lake if I can find someone to take me and a group to join (don’t fancy it on my own with a guide – bit full on that).
I have also received the tremendous news that I have secured a place on a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the temples at Bagan for 21 January. Another item on the bucket list ticked off.
The main activity today was visiting Shwedaon Paya – wow. I urge you to google it to find some photos (can’t get mine to upload and they wont do it justice anyway). It was a momentous day for me today on a personal level – my divorce came through. So it was the perfect place to sit, reflect, remember good times, and think ahead to what the future holds. I’m not a religious person, but it even felt right to meditate alongside the chanting monks for part of the afternoon – helpful in clearing my busy little mind.
The sunset over the temple took my breath away. The temple is coated entirely in gold leaf, andas the sun set it changed from gold to red, and then as the sun neared the ground it glowed. I only wish I could upload my photos or have better creative writing skills to conjure back up what I saw. But put it this way, it’s not often I still for an hour or two but today I did. Just watching. And thinking.