Another new country to tick off, and it would be Myanmar that marks number 62 on my list. A 9am departure out of Dubai, it was a lovely and easy 4 hours and 50 minutes into Yangon International Airport. With just one service and time to squeeze in a trip to the flight deck and a cuppa tea, we were landing just before 5pm.
Making our way through immigration as quickly as possible, we then ended up stuck in rush hour traffic on our way to the hotel. However, many crew agreed to meet 45 minutes later in the hotel bar to conjure up a plan for the rest of our evening/layover.
A couple drinks later, we decided to go across to Shwe Dagon Pagoda around 10/15 minutes cab ride from the hotel.
Shwe Dagon Pagoda is a gilded stupa located in Yangon, Myanmar. The 326 foot tall pagoda is situated on Singuttara Hill, to the west of Kandawgyi Lake, and dominates the Yangon skyline.
Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, as it is believed to contain relics of the four previous Buddhas of the present kalpa. These relics include the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa, and eight strands of hair from the head of Gautama.
We paid entrance into the Pagoda and myself a couple other crew had to cover our shoulders and legs before we entered this holy place. We rented clothes for 8,000 Kyat each, and had someone wrap us in some funky prints before entering.
We strolled around the outside of the pagoda, taking in all the golds and all the lights. It looked magical lit up in the night sky, and it was packed out with both tourists and people coming to worship.
We were all stopped numerous times for pictures, it seems a group of cabin crew stuck out like a sore thumb!
Moving on, we wanted something to eat and drink and we’d been recommended the night markets. So we jumped into two cabs and made our way over.
Jumping out at the side of the main road there was a lot of hustle and bustle as we delved into the markets. There were stalls selling all sorts of fruits, vegetables and even more edible dishes to eat. None that seemed that appealing to me though, they more seemed to scream out “food poisoning” at me as I pondered how long they’d been sat out in the hot 25 degree evening air.
We stopped at a bar called Terminal 5 for a drink which seemed apt for a bunch of cabin crew, before myself and Jade called it a night and went back to the safety of hotel room service where I ordered Tom Yum Soup and pork noodles.
The next day I was going to get up and tan by the pool before we did our shuttle flight to Cambodia and back, but I was that exhausted I actually spent all morning in bed and woke up feeling incredibly refreshed to head to work. It’s been a tiring few weeks having all my friends visit me, so I think I needed that 14 hour sleep to recharge my batteries!
Landing back at 00:30am, we went back over to the hotel and a fair few crew went to the Captain’s room for drinks and pizza as the bar was closed and we had a lovely mellow evening chatting away before I called it a night ahead of our early start.
I met a couple of the girls, Jade and Lianna downstairs to take the Circular Train around Yangon. I’d been recommend this by a few crew who said it’s a great way to really immerse yourself in the local culture and get a feel for what daily life is like. Excited to get a more local approach, we made our way to the train station and purchased tickets for just 200 kyat each. This was for the regular coach which didn’t include AC. We had to cross the tracks and walked up along the bridge to the other platform. We watched everyone stare at us as we did this, thinking it was just because we looked different we paid no attention. But actually, it was the fact we used the bridge and didn’t just stroll across the open tracks as everyone else did. It is hugely frowned upon back home to do this, and it emphasised the lack of health and safety within Myanmar.
The train was late, it seems they aren’t very punctual with timings here and upon arrival it had to beep it’s horn numerous time to warn people away from the tracks. We jumped on, and hoped for a seat, but the train was quite busy and we ended up sat on the carriage steps which didn’t have a door. It was all completely open with no windows. Better this way, as if it had been enclosed, people would have been passing out due to heat exhaustion.
As the train pulled away from the platform, the only difference I noted from sitting on a train in the UK was the fact it was more like a market. People kept jumping on and off with goods and products to sell. Offering water, fruits and garments. Other than this, I’m not really too sure why crew recommended this. It was hot, it was smelly, there wasn’t a view other than rubbish at the side of the tracks and if we wanted to do the complete circle of the tracks it would take just over three hours. Time I wasn’t bothered for wasting when I could do this anywhere in the world.
So after 30 minutes, we jumped off and took the train back in the other direction to go back to the hotel again.
The weather was gorgeous and I was happy to lay out and tan. So I threw on a bikini and grabbed my suncream and went out to the hotel pool. Lathering myself in suncream in the 40 degree heat, I ordered a coconut and finally got settled to sit and take in those rays, when the heavens opened and the loudest thunder I have ever heard started.
It seems it wasn’t meant to be, and I went back to my room for something to eat before sleeping in time for our wake up call back to Dubai.
A wonderful trip ticking off country 62. It was very relaxing and not at all rushed. Having two layovers with great timings made such a difference and I wouldn’t mind seeing this pop up on my roster in the future!
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