Mingalabar, Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake)

Nyaung Shwe is a small town located at the Inle Like in northern Myanmar. During the first half of the first day, I joined two nice girls from Thailand and Taiwan for the tour around the lake.

Unfortunately, my camera battery died, so most of the impressions from that trip are imprinted in my heart, not in the memory card.Inle Lake is a very authentic and culturally rich place where you can attend workshops in various crafts (such as silver-making, cigarette-rolling, or lotus clothes weaving). You can also see the vibrant floating market, fishermen rowing in a traditional one-leg manner, and simply   And of co

Inle Lake is a very authentic and culturally rich place where you can attend workshops in various crafts (such as silver-making, cigarette-rolling, or lotus clothes weaving). You can also see the vibrant floating market, fishermen rowing in a traditional one-leg manner, observe people literally living on the water, and simply enjoy the ride on the lake.

In the beginning it was very cold, and we had bad arguments with the local “tour organizers”, but the impressions were rewarding as always.

Most of the photos below are from the second day of my stay in Nyaung Shwe. This concludes my Myanmar journey.

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At the boat station.

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By far the most vibrant spot in town.

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Fishermen at dawn at the Inle Lake.

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Trying out local natural cosmetics: thanaka is very refreshing!

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I attracted many eyes by wearing a traditional Shan suit. 

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Serenity in the neighbourhood.

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Fire-station.

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What a cute mailbox!

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Shwe Zali Paya pagoda.

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Guardians of Buddha.

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I saw many of these, but did not make out the meaning.

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Yandanamanaung Paya.

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Inside the temple.

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Cute Thukha Teashop.

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Usual green tea and local bakery.

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A warm welcome with useful info in the Sin Yaw restaurant.

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My conclusion of the Burmese / Shan food: simple and delicious.

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Back in Yangon the next morning: the view of the Inya Lake. 

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Tata, Myanmar!

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Mingalabar, Mandalay

Mandalay is a former capital located in northern Myanmar. I stopped here for one day because I liked the name: “Mandalay”. It turned out to be one of the most exciting experiences for me in Burma.

Mandalay is full of beautiful pagodas, warm people, and charming women. From my observations, the most beautiful Burmese women are in Mandalay!

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A stop on the way from Bagan to Mandalay: women using heads for selling. 

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Must be very tiring.

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Welcome to Mandalay. Motorbikes and scooters are popular in Myanmar.

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I arrived in Mandalay just after noon and figured Mandalay Hill would be a good place to escape from the heat. The hill is properly guarded by two giant chinthes. 

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Entrance from south. There are four staircases from each of the four directions. 

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Dogs are all over the hill.

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Stairway to heaven. The climb all the way to the summit takes about 45 minutes. There is also a motorway.

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Mandalay Hill is famous for its numerous pagodas.

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It is a pilgrimage site for Burmese Buddhists.

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You can peer into your future here too 🙂

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When tired from heat or climbing (or both), you can take a rest on a bench in in these wonderful square areas.

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One of the pagodas near the summit.

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Almost at the top: panorama of the Mandalay city. On the left: the Mandalay palace – the last royal palace of the last Burmese monarchy.

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People praying.Two things surprised me about people here.

Two things surprised me about people here. First, no souvenir seller ever asked me to buy anything. Second, many more people greeted me here. Is this because it’s a holy place? 

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Simply beautiful. Sadly enough, if you look below, you’ll find tons of garbage near the walls.

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At the summit: on the terrace of the Sutaungpyei (“wish-fulfilling”) Pagoda.

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The architecture and colors are stunning.

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Ceremonial bell.

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As I was enjoying the view, a local man approached me and said the white building ahead is the Mandalay University of Traditional Medicine. The man works as a professor (healer) there.

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Buddhist monks before the sunset.

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Amazing. There was an atmosphere of joy and happiness all around.

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Worshipping the sun.

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As I was chatting with a solo traveler Elisabeth from London, a group of kids approached us and asked to practice English with them :). It was fascinating to see how eager they were to learn. As they told us, they have language class several times per day, five days a week! A few monks also approached me afterward and practiced their English.

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After the sunset.

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The lights are up. I spent around 5 hours on the hill and absolutely loved it. After coming down I enjoyed a slow motor taxi ride given by a local old man, a dinner and a glass of local Myanmar beer, and a swift bike ride through the city to the bus terminal.

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At the “JJ Express” bus station. Christmas feeling is a sign of Buddhist Myanmar becoming more globalized. The local ladies at the bus counter looked very cute in these hats.

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I’ve never been on such a comfortable bus. The chairs extend almost completely into a bed.

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Entertainment and coffee with a snack were provided too. Most importantly, there was a warm blanket 🙂

Thank you, Mandalay, for your warmth and hospitality.

Mingalabar, Bagan

Bagan is an ancient city in Myanmar with literally hundreds of temples, pagodas and stupas. I spent here one day only, and at the end wished could have stayed a bit more.

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The bus arrived at 5 am, and around 6 am the taxi brought us to the Bagan Archeological Zone.  It was freezing cold. The locals were wearing jackets and hats, and I was wearing a T-shirt and shorts. A guy from the staff made a small fire to warm me up.

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First tourists climbing the steep stairs of the Shwesandaw Temple. The temple name means  Shrine of Buddha’s hair.

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Dawn at the Shwesandaw Temple.

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Gone with the sunrise: balloon flight is a popular tourisitc attraction in Bagan.

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All levels of the stairs are packed with people. I was a bit disappointed as didn’t expect such a crowd. But the day would be rather rewarding after all.

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Overlooking the temples.

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In the dawn light.

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A hundred metres away – and there are no tourists whatsoever.

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Inside a temple.

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A hot noodle soup for breakfast warms up really well. 

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I met three wonderful people that day from Holland and China, and we spent most of the time together. We met in the superb Mingalar hostel run by a super active and positive local lady and her family.

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E-bike: our transport for the day. Can be rented for 5000 Burmese kyat (5 USD) per day and returned “after sunset”.

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Some of the temples are really old.

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And the views are breathtaking everwhere.

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Time to taste local food: chicken curry, pork curry, salads, and sugar cane drink.

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Yummie.

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And here we go again.

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Looks like a monastery.

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In this temple we were given a quick tour by two local ladies.

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Flowers. 

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We spent half of the day cruising through Old Bagan and stopping now and then to step inside, hide from the sun, and take photos.

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Mingalabar, Bagan!

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Some of the temples had old carvings of Buddha on the walls.

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Like this one.

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In the evening we biked to another temple to watch sunset. The stair leading up were covered with candles.

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Here goes the sun.

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Although it was just a sunset, in this ancient historical area it was not just a sunset. 

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The day is over.

Unforgettable and thrilling experience in Bagan with tons of good places and good people.

Mingalabar, Yangon: day 4

Last day in crazy Yangon.

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Morning in the inn.

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Time for breakfast.

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Came to the post office to send some postcards. The post office was empty. Turned out it was still closed.

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Cannot miss green tea in the “Modern Tea House” before leaving.

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Today I saw not only men, but also families …

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… and women. Maybe that’s why the teahouse is “modern”?

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Sun protection is essential in this dry season.

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Returned to the post office. Cute Myanmar postal stamps.

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Titanic? Considering the name of the mall: “Ocean”.

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Chilling out at a pond in the People’s Park.

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Time for exercise.

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Monks are also children.

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Towards the evening I went to the Aung Mingalar Bus Station to catch the 7 pm bus to Bagan. The bus station was absolute craziness: several streets (!) packed with buses, sellers, shops, and what not. I was grateful to the taxi driver who took me to the exact spot from where the bus was leaving.

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Simple food for dinner: fried rice with chicken, spices, and green tea.

Ce zu ba, Yangon.

Thank you, Yangon.

Time to to move on.

Mingalabar, Yangon: day 3

Good morning, Yangon!

Today I am exploring you from a suburban train.

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The 8.20 am circle train leaves from platform 7 of the Yangon Central Railway Station  It makes a loop around Yangon in about 3 hours. The ticket price is just 200 kyat (20 cents).

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The hustle-bustle during arrival/departure.

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Compared to Chennai the train is relatively “empty”. Women wear traditional beautiful long skirts.

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Market right on the platform of one of the stations.

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As the train goes on, local sellers hop on and hop off. This was a great away to observe the morning life, people, and just chill out.

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Moving from hostel to a decent inexpensive hotel for one night. The place is in a quiet lane away from the downtown noise.

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The rooms’s interior is made of wood.

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The room is nice, location is great, the staff is friendly and helpful. What else do you need?

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Taking a walk around the neighborhood.

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A side street leads into a residential area.

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Typical views in the neighborhood.

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As I took an afternoon stroll afterwards, I spotted many parents taking their kids from school.

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“Modern Tea House” – my best gastronomic experience so far! Refreshing green tea, delicious pastries, local vibe, pretty local girls serving, low prices. An absolute must-visit for anyone in Yangon. I would come back here several times.

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This is pure art and beauty.

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Cruising through the People’s Park towards sunset.

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From here the majestic Shwedagon Pagoda can also be seen.

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Welcome to the kingdom of elephants. 

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Elephants, water, and Pagoda. 

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Love is … This park is popular with young couples.

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And here you can buy a loaf of bread to feed the fish in the pond.

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They are very hungry! Or just greedy?

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Another day in paradise.

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During the night I was invited to a rooftop bar called “Atlas”.

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What can I say? Nice views, including the Shwedagon Pagoda. Nice music. Nice atmosphere. At the same time clearly over-touristic, and a big contrast with most of the city. Yet I enjoyed the experience anyway.

Ta-ta!

(“Goodbye” in Burmese).

Mingalabar, Yangon: night 2

At night the heat abated, and it was much more pleasant to walk. This evening I dined out at a restaurant “Golden Duck” (pretty bad), had a Burmese foot massage (pretty good), and visited the world-famous Shwedagon Pagoda (stunning).

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Sunset views of the city from the hostel.

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Approaching the Shwedagon Pagoda, or the Golden Pagoda – the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar.

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Closer look. Photos cannot portray the magnificence of the Pagoda. 

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I strolled around slowly three times  (took overall about an hour), observing, listening, smelling, meditating. Very calm and relaxing place despite dozens of visitors. 

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What I also liked was the joyful atmosphere around – not just solemn as a religious site “ought to be”. Kids were playing all around, youth was taking photos, and people were having fun.

The first full day in Yangon is over – full in time and full of impressions.

Mingalabar, Yangon: day 2

When I woke up, it was dark, and I couldn’t make it whether it was morning or still night. It turned out to be 8 am already. Time to continue exploration of Yangon.

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The hostel provided a decent breakfast that included, among other things, a local spicy chicken noodle soup.

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Trendy wall in the rooftop area.

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“Backpacker” hostel: view from the 8th floor.

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Yangon in the morning.

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When I walked out from the hostel, I was immediately bombarded by the hustle-bustle of the city: noises, smells, sellers of what-not, crowd, yelling, dirt, dust. All in all, beautiful chaos! Such a contrast with Singapore. In the photo: the road leading to the Sule Pagoda.

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I passed by the Bandoola Park and saw quite a few people just lying on the ground. Asleep? Drunk? Out of job? No clue.

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Park architecture. A local man approached me soon and started talking about the park.

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Burmese chinthes (lion-like creatures) with the Sule Pagoda in the background.

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The Sule Pagoda from a different perspective.

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Yangon city hall is located just next to the park and the pagoda.

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Another piece of colonial architecture: Yangon Region Court.

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Street food sellers are everywhere. I noticed that many women have something on their cheeks. It turned out to be a natural (made out of trees) cosmetic paste called “thanaka”. I saw some men wearing it too.

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Sending postcards from a local post-office. Before that I was ripped off by a girl in the street when she sold me a few postcards. I paid 800 kyat / piece  while the post-office’s offer was 100 kyat / piece  I knew I was being ripped off, but didn’t care as the girl and her little sister looked in desperate need for money. 

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Bright and rusty local buses.

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Men sitting on small plastic tools along the streets and sipping tea is a common scene. No women. I had my cup of tea later on too. 

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A common way to carry fruit for sale.

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And this guy is selling birds. Don’t know the purpose.

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Many streets in downtown Yangon have numbers as names.   

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Walking along Maha Bandula street: very crowded, noisy, and bustling with life.

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Chinatown around the 19th street.

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Side streets are much quieter.

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The famous Bogyoke Aung San Market (bazaar).

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Holy Trinity Anglican Church next to the market.

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Colourful paintings along the stairs inside the market.

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Most of the paintings depict Burmese life.

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The market teams with various shops. Many of them sell bright traditional clothes.

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Jewelry is another popular item. There are dozens of jewelry shops both in the market and along the city streets.

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During my walk I was surprised to come across a Singaporean Ya Kun coffee shop. I stopped by for my favourite kaya toast and coffee C (with milk and sugar), but was disappointed with the quality.   

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A decorative tunnel along the bridge towards the railway station. 

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Yangon Central Railway Station.

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After having a street tea for just 200 kyat I walked past the lLuxurious Kandawgyi Palace Hotel  …

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into the park at Kandawgyi Lake.

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The lake with the most famous Shwedagon Pagoda in the background. I will visit it during the night. 

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For now just enjoying serenity of the nature. 

It was around 3 pm and got very hot, so I got back to the hostel to take a rest. More discoveries will come at night.