Pretty much an effortless crossing over to Myanmar from the border of Mae Sai. Thanks to our adorable tour guide, we paid her I think RM200.00 and she did the rest. Pass for crossing over and where and where we should head to for the next few hours, all of it sorted out by this lady. While she got moving to getting the pass, we waited, and within the next less than 1/2 an hour, we walked from the arch that separates Chiang Mai and Myanmar (Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai Day 2 & Chiang Mai Day 1). My-my, what a interesting travelling moment. Crossing over to another country by walking. Hundreds of others were also walking from and across the border, I hardly noticed any tourists though, subsequently, we hopped into our van and there we were already on the busy and quite a messy any way is your traffic way in Tachilek, Myanmar. Weather on this particular day lemme tell was killer heat. Really really hot. Literally unbearable and the dust simply flying at its whims and fancy made it even worst.
First stop, was walking at our leisure into the small Myanmar Village. Basically, its a going with the flow of seeing the daily life of this particular group of people. Their houses made with palm leaves and bamboo, water well, their home based money earning industry, kiddos running around and adults doing what they doing without being effected by the line of tourists. Actually, come to think of it, this is the sort of the scenario how my grandparents used to live those days in a secluded village in Ipoh back then 60 years ago. Their houses however were wooden planking but pretty much the same livelihood and we, my siblings and cousins were the kids who visited our grandparents during our school holidays. Speak about memories punching on your mind when you are travelling? All of it did return while I was doing the walk in this village.
Half an hour in Myanmar Village, off we left prior to stepping foot in Temple of Enrobed Elephant, aka Union of Myanmar in the township of Dhammayon, or call it as well as Tachileik/Community Hall. Into the temple for viewing the walls painted with murals depicting the different scenes of Buddha and also the golden Buddha statues, of course we must be grateful to god no matter whichever religion it is, so, a prayer is must be said and on our way out, we glimpsed through the souvenirs at the entrance.
Our next stop took place in Shwedagon Pagoda. Officially named Shwedagon Zedi Daw, aka Great Dragon Pagoda/Golden Pagoda, 2,500 years old Shwedagon Pagoda which enshrines strands of Buddha hair, and other holy relics, for your information is the oldest pagoda in the world. Additionally it is one of the most famous and main attractions in Yangon. In fact a must do, not to be missed out please. Sitting atop a 99 meters high hill and holding the breathtaking view of the surrounding region, all the way back to Doi Tung, Shwedagon Pagoda indeed dominates the the Yangon skyline. Utterly stunning mind you. Especially the Golden Pagoda itself. Known as “The Crown of Burma”, its main gold-plated dome is topped by a stupa adorned with over 7,000 diamonds, rubies, topaz and sapphires, and for reflecting the last rays of the setting sun, stupa is off-set by a massive emerald.
Guided by the young Myanmar guide who actually took me by surprise, he spoke like a Westerner, fluent English, honestly, I was really carried away, he specifically told me how to paid homage to Buddha. Washing my legs a few times, followed by heading to the marble-floored main terrace containing Buddha images and two giant cast-iron bells for prayers. I, literally ran instead of walking towards the altar to avoid my feet from being blistered.
We prayed and just as we sat back, the young guide returned with a basket of Myanmar made stuffs. We knew it. We had to buy. We did. Nothing much interesting or luring anyway in the basket, sense and sensibly, I was drawn to “Thanaka. The sandalwood paste smeared/applied mainly on the cheeks for preventing sunburn. Did I bother applying? Not really. I did though use is as body scrub when I returned home. Out of Shwedagon Pagoda, I tried Myanmar street food at the stalls outside. A mix of shredded vegetables and various types of sauces. Tasted quite nice but my friends just wouldn't try.
From Shwedagon Pagoda and to the streets for shopping. Seriously, such a waste of time because I didn't find anything worth buying between the fake goods, clothes and handcrafts. In fact, one and a half hours at the rows and rows of street shops was a massive nightmare. All sorts of people walking up and down, one even offered my male friend girls for fun, others wouldn't stop staring at us, whereas another two or three were full of smiles when they found out we are Indians. Glad I was thereafter we started walking back towards the bridge, before departing for the "Golden Triangle" ride which will the finale for our tour.