Last night was the first time on this trip that I’ve slept more than 4 hours at a time. A full night of sleep (and a massage the night before) does wonders!
Started the morning at a couple of the smaller pagodas in Yangon. I don’t have too many pictures – the pagodas are all starting to look kind of the same.
Gaba Aye Pagoda was pretty small and quiet. Everyone here was praying – monks, nuns, and regular citizens.
Sule Pagoda is pretty. It’s really tall, so you can see it while you’re driving around Yangon. It’s also right in the middle of the city, so we got to see City Hall next to the pagoda, as well as some popular hangout spots.
We then had lunch with about 15 my mom’s relatives, most of whom she hasn’t seen since she left the country. It’s still weird to me that our only relatives that still live in Burma are distant (my mom’s second or third cousins), but they all grew up together, so everyone still seems really close.
After lunch, we went shopping for traditional Burmese clothes. We stand out as foreigners everywhere we go (people literally stop and point at us, and most people take pictures of us…), so we’ll see if the Burmese clothes help us blend in… A guy wears something called a pa-so (ပုဆိုး), and a woman wears a hta-mein (ထဘီ). They’re pretty much just cylindrical or rectangular sheets of cloth that you wrap and tie around your waist. Kind of like long skirts. I don’t know how else to explain them. But there will def be pictures of us in our Burmese outfits over the next week and a half. (PS: the styles in Burma definitely haven’t changed over the last ??? years. The other day, my dad wore a pa-so that he had back when he was a teenager, and he fit right in.)
After shopping, we spent the rest of the afternoon and part of the evening with Uncle Simon’s friend, Auntie Ee Ee Soe. I swear, she’s the reincarnation of Mother Teresa. She and her family own chains of restaurants throughout Burma (including the restaurant where we had lunch today), so she’s really well off. But beside the fact that all the food at her restaurants is amazing, she is out-of-this-world generous and kind. The employees in her house (I don’t want to say servants, because I feel like they’re not) are mostly kids under 25 who Auntie Ee took in. She takes them off the streets, employs them, houses them, feeds them, and even pays their college tuition. And in return, they’re extremely loyal to her and her family.
Side note: if / when I go back to Burma someday, I want to do something like this. I’ve seen so many adorable little kids who are either abandoned by their parents and left on the streets, or sent to work at extremely young ages, so that they never receive any sort of formal education. There are so many people in the US and other first-world countries who want to adopt children, and there are plenty of children in Burma in need of love.
Anyway, back to my recap of the day. After an amazing dinner at Auntie Ee’s house, we took off for the bus station. We’re taking a red eye bus up to Mandalay and the central / northern parts of the country. I’m excited – some of our coming highlights over the next five days include Mandalay, Mt. Popa, Bagan, and Inle Lake. WOOOOO!
That’s it for today – time to catch some sleep on this bus!