I was nervous about arriving in Myanmar. I had heard rumors. I was not sure what I was going to encounter. But, Myanmar exceeded my expectations. I spent five days in this Asian country I had never heard of before joining Semester at Sea.
On the first day, I went to a hotel to plan the rest of the week on the $2 Wi-Fi- I had for an hour. All I wanted to do at some point on this voyage was to see elephants up close. After not having luck surfing the web, my friends and I walked to a travel agent. We planned a day trip to see elephants! Those who know me well, know that my dream had become a reality. So far, this has been the highlight of my voyage.
However, I had to wait a couple of days before this adventure would happen. During the meantime, I went to Scott’s Market. There, I bought a lot of elephant pants. You can see me wearing them in every photo taken in Myanmar. I love them! I got all different styles. The market was huge! It had handmade jewelry, paintings, clothing and more. I was impressed. A local painted my face with a natural sunblock commonly worn by women in Myanmar. It kept my face cool for the rest of the day. I needed this especially since I had decided to go to an amusement park after.
At the park, we rode all the rides! My friends and I were the few, if any, foreigners there. We had a great time. Between rides, we had ice cream cones. Several ice cream cones. We kept going back for more. Worn out, we headed back to the ship. Later that evening, we went to the Shwedagon Pagoda. We had gone to a different pagoda during the day in the city. But it was suggested we go to the Shwedagon Pagoda at night. The Shwedagon Pagoda is breathtaking. I strolled through gazing at the architecture, sky, stars and moon. It was very relaxing to walk alone and listen to the Burmese conversations around me. I observed monks of all ages practicing. It is one thing to learn from a presentation or text book about Burmese traditions, but it is more intriguing to witness it with the naked eye. Pagodas are seen throughout the country.
After much history absorption, seeing elephants with the naked eye was relieving. From Yangon, it was a two and a half hour taxi ride to Bago, Myanmar. We interacted with the elephants by bathing them, watching them do tricks and caressing them. For an hour, we had the opportunity to take a ride through their natural habitat. Along the way, the elephants stopped for food, water and potty breaks. It still amazes me how well behaved, trained and loyal elephants are. They are my favorite. I am so happy to have had the chance to see them and learn more about their daily life and routine.
To end this adventure, I went to a Yangon orphanage. However, it was not only an orphanage, but also a local school. The 200 children ranged from 2-15. Us SAS students had the opportunity to play, walk, teach and learn with these children. I personally had 6 little girls follow me everywhere! They loved it, but I loved it more. They were adorable. We communicated well. No, I do not speak Burmese. All you have to do is smile. Never forget to smile. With a smile on all of our faces, we created memories.
I am pleased with my discoveries. I have a better understanding and appreciation of Myanmar. I would like to return and explore the places I was not able to.
Enjoy the photos! ☺
Cee at Sea