Wednesday, 21 September -- Yangon

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Sally Jo & Lynn joined us at breakfast and our group is now complete. They  had a long journey and were tired, but game for what the day would bring. Niy Niy got us off to an early start, taking us by bus to the main train station. 
We boarded the circular train, which is a commuter train running in a rough circle through Yangon. No A/C but very effective fans. We stayed on for about an hour, 1/3 of the full circuit, seeing people living and working along the tracks and many different neighbourhoods of all kinds along the way. Niy Niy pointed out that there are no motor bikes in Yangon, a big difference from most other areas. We then visited the market, a sprawling area with hundreds of vendors. Some beautiful jewellery and fabric as well as a variety of other stuff. 

In late afternoon we visited the Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the most astonishing places I've ever seen. Its sheer immensity is overwhelming, to  say nothing of the fact that it's covered in gold! Many small and large shrines contain a whole range of Buddha statues. Monks and nuns wander. Everyone must be barefoot. It took us well over an hour to walk around the terrace area encircling the pagoda. As the sun sank lower in the sky, the gold lit up just beautifully. Most of us stopped at the shrines for our day of birth, to pour water over the statue for luck. 

We watched monks climb high on the sides of the pagoda gathering gems that had fallen or been knocked off the top of the spire (yes, real gems! There are thousands of them up there.) Visiting this place was worth the whole trip. After a delicious and lively dinner at Padonmar Restaurant we returned to the hotel to prepare for a travel day tomorrow. Cathy's suitcase has been repaired and I think Maria Angelica's has been replaced, so we're all equipped again.
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