I expected Myanmar to be extremely poor, backwards and run-down, but have been surprised to discover that the city of Yangon is a modern, progressive place that is a joy to walk around and overloaded with things to see and do.
The streets are wide, with plenty of trees and footbaths big enough to actually stroll down without having to dodge traffic. Unlike Jakarta, the air isn’t dirty enough to kill a full-grown midget, and there are heaps of nice, quiet parks to hang out in (and get drunk on the cheap beer). The people here seem less kill-happy than the Indonesians (I wonder if it has anything to do with them being Buddhist rather than Muslim? Nah, can’t be it. And yes, I do know that Myanmar has pretty much had civil wars since it became a country, so go fuck yaself) and there are also plenty of colonial buildings from when the British ran the place.
No, not that one.
I spent the day with a bunch of stupas, which sounds like what I used to do Monday to Friday before receiving my Nazi gold payout from the goosestepping knuckleheads at Bauer Media, but was actually a lot more interesting. Stupas, or pagodas, are basically these big, pointy, shiny gold building things built to honour either Fatty Vautin or Buddha, I can’t remember which.
When I visited Shwedagon Zedi Daw, the most important of the stupas, something odd happened. As I walked in, the young chap at the door asked me to pull my pants down. I was sure I’d misheard him, but he demonstrated by pulling his own pants down a few centimetres. I shrugged and dropped my duds to the floor and gave him a little wiggle. That was obviously the wrong thing to do, because a stern-looking fellow in a security guard uniform came over and pulled them up for me, before explaining that they just had to be low enough to cover my knees. Settle down, I kept my reggies up.
I was a bit disappointing, though, because I’d been led to believe that The Monkees would be in there. I knew I wouldn’t see Davy Jones, but even Mickey Dolzenz would’ve been cool. Instead there was just a bunch of bald dudes wearing towels, looking like they’d just climbed out of the shower.
Yangon has provided all the wonder and wackiness that I found lacking in Indonesia. Today felt like an adventure, whereas so much of Indo was either too touristic (the majority of Bali) or boring and inaccessible (Jakarta). This is a fun place to just walk through, finding fun stuff down alleyways and following trails of gold.
Myanmar is a bizarre pace, though. On the trip from the from the airport, I sat in the front passenger seat, which turned out to be terrifying because they use right-hand-drive cars and drive on the right. I felt like I was going to crash into oncoming traffic the whole way.
I’ve seen at least five people chase and catch pigeons, which is a little disconcerting seeing as I had chicken for lunch. I’m guessing I actually had city chicken, but that’s cool because it was delicious and extremely cheap.
I was also getting strange looks every time I pulled out my
penis camera to take photos, which struck me as a bit off because Myanmaese people are constantly taking selfies. Then it hit me – they had very little access to technology until four or five years ago when the military government decided to play nice, so they probably went straight to taking photos on their phones and never used cameras. Or maybe they were looking at me strangely because I kept taking photos of myself with my knob out.
But wackiest of all is the way the teenage boys interact with each other. They tongue kiss, cuddle and fiddle with each other in public, then play wrestle, then start kissing again. I couldn’t believe it the first time I saw it, but I saw dozens of young chaps pashing off. I went to school with heaps of fully sick homos who sucked each other off all the time, but perhaps they weren’t gay after all, maybe they were just Burmese.
This is a brilliant place to explore, and I wish that I’d cut a few days out of my Indonesian adventure to spend here instead. As it is, I’m only here for three nights, which mainly comes down to a lack of finances and a desire to get back to Australia and do some paragliding before I die of old age. Oh yeah, and I kinda wanna get into the three of four weeks I have planned in India. And Sril Lanka. And falling asleep because I’m very fucking tired. As they say over here in Burma, konichiwa.