Yangon/Rangoon

The British couldn’t pronounce Yangon so the spelt it how it sounded to them,  Rangoon.  Burmese People was too long as a translation of Myanmar so they changed the name to Burma.  And so it goes.  The “ugly Brits” preceded the ugly American by a century in making things sound their way.  Today we are struggling with the Burmese people’s pronounciation of English and we plan on doing so for the rest of the week. 

Everyone has a smile,  except for the immigration officer who snatched my passport out of my hand and practically threw it back at me after prolonged study. Traffic is insane.  They drive on the right,  sort of,  but most of the vehicles have right hand drive,  steering wheel on the right. We haven’t walked unescorted yet,  but I fear for my life and sanity when I try.  Private cars have only been permitted for a decade and no allowance had been made for parking much less highway space. Thus it seems half the cars are in continousl circulation looking for a parking place.  Everything moves a walking pace,  but at least the interior of our tour van is  air conditioned.

We started our tour from the airport with a visit to the Reclining Bhudda, I know we just saw one in Bangkok a couple of days ago,  this one is different,  much bigger,  68 meters head to toe. Also less gold and more colorful.  This one replaces an ugly predecessor that was neglected and destroyed by the environment.  Then we went shopping in the market,  one name of the market is Aun Saun Market. To much good stuff and a bit travel weary we bought nothing.  I do want a loungy, no idea how to spell it, it is a skirt like wrap worn by most Burmese men. It looks very comfortable for this climate and would make a nice table cloth when I decide not to wear it.

The meals have been wonderful.  Myanmar curries are quite varied and subtle in their shadings.  Many have strong spice heat with underlying flavor notes that ride over (under?) the heat. We took a meal off and had counter for in the restaurant lobby,  curried chicken stuffed in a pastry. Very nice.  Oh yes the hotel,  we are staying at the Chatrium, where Hilary stayed when she called on Myanmar as Secretary of State.  Obama is reported to have complained that on his visit here he didn’t stay long enough to use the hotel.  Looking out my window as I write I see the staff setting up the grounds around the pool deck and every place else for a wedding party of 900 guests!  It is hard to find anything to complain about.  The hotel is definitely at the top of the class of OAT hotels, the guide is wonderful even if this is his first OAT tour.  Having only four of us on the tour really is beyond expectation. Heddy and Carol (her name is Carol Ann) seem quit compatible and good travel companions.  We’ll know better tomorrow as it appears we need to be at the airport at 5 AM give or take. At least traffic should be light,  I hope.

We are watching the news from Ukraine where we started this extravaganza with some horror. Looking at the news from Bangkok, which we left 1 day ago, is scary,  especially since we need to go through there two more times,  in five days and again on December 31 on our way to the US.

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