The Gilded City of Yangon

Myanmar is a destination shrouded in secrecy and mystery. Up until 2011, the nation was run by a strict military government who kept the country's doors closed to the world. Recently, the new government has changed its policies. Foreigners are now warmly welcomed and tourism is staring to boom.

Wanting to get off the beaten path, I jumped on this opportunity and booked a flight to Yangon.



Culture shock hit me hard in the face. Nobody spoke a lick of English, buildings were old and creaky and not a single Western enterprise was in business. Signs were completely in Burmese, cars zoomed through narrow uneven streets and people stared at me as if I was an alien from another planet. I loved every minute of it.

After a stroll through the city, my boyfriend and I decided to visit the best pagodas in town. I don't think I've seen this much gold in my entire life.




Our first stop was the shimmering Botahtaung Pagoda. Nestled at the edge of a river, this sacred temple is said to be the home of one of Buddha's hair strands.


We walked inside the alluring pagoda and was stunned by the gilded walls and ceilings.




    
Patrons trickled in and out and gave donations while Buddhists sat crossed-legged and quietly prayed. I was paralyzed and stood in awe. I couldn't take my eyes off all that gold!

Once I was done admiring all that precious metal, we walked outside and found KITTENS!



I rescued a kitten when I was working in South Korea and since then, have become a crazy cat lady. When my teaching contract was up, I bought my cat a one-way ticket home to Canada. He's currently living with my brother while I travel. I miss my kitty everyday and even Skype him on a regular basis but it's still not enough to satisfy my cat cravings. My heart melts when I see other cats. I just can't resist playing with them all!




After countless belly rubs and cuddling sessions, I begrudgingly (the boyfriend had to drag me out by the arm) said goodbye. We hopped in a taxi and traveled across town to see the famous Shwedagon Pagoda.


Built over 2500 years ago, this ancient pagoda holds more strands of Buddha's hair and other holy relics. With my camera in tow, I meandered past vibrant monuments and elaborate prayer temples. Everywhere I looked, gold bombarded my eyes. The decor was also breathtaking. Just look at that attention to detail!




I weaved in and out of passageways and couldn't believe how enormous the entire complex was.







After a full tour of the area, I was informed that the pagoda lights up at night. I vowed to return after dinner.




I'm glad I came back because the Shwedagon Pagoda looked even more spectacular when the sun went down.



Have you ever seen anything this dazzling before? It was an unreal sight to gaze at.

Yangon is so different compared to all the other places I've traveled to in Southeast Asia. The pagodas are enthralling, the locals are genuine and the food is out of this world! More on Burmese cuisine later, a full food report is in the works!

Melissa Li

I’m a Canadian girl on a quest to step foot in every continent before I’m 30. You’ll most likely find me chowing down on Japanese ramen, partying at a music festival, hiking to the top of a scenic lookout, cuddling with cats, or chilling out at the beach. I’ve visited over 60 countries so far and hope to inspire you to do the same.

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