Category Archives: Yangon

A monk gets dunked

I took a selfie with some Muslims (or they might've been African ghosts, it's hard to tell)
I took a selfie with some Muslims (or they might’ve been African ghosts, it’s hard to tell)

After the nine-hour trip from Yangon to Bagan, I never wanted to ride on another bus again. But there I was, two days later, climbing on the Bagan Minn Thar Express once again to make the return journey, this time overnight. And it wasn’t too bad, actually – for me, at least. There was a monk who didn’t have such a great time.

For the return trip I shelled out an extra four bucks to take the VIP (very infected penis) service, and was stoked to discover that not only did I not have to sit next to anyone, due to the coach having only three seats across instead of four, but also that there was no Myanmarese music to piss me off the whole way. Score!

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I ate a burger-like product from this shit roadside cafe that gave me the squirts. It was bad for me, it was worse for the monk

Sadly, the air conditioning was turned up so far that it was like Canberra in winter as we rolled along. I dunno, maybe we had some penguins on board or something.

After a few hours, we stopped and picked up a monk by the side of the road. Don’t ask me what he was doing in the middle of the desert, in the middle of the night, wearing nothing but a robe, but the plucky little chap climbed aboard, all smiles. And then the driver PUT THE MONK IN THE TOILET.

Sure, there were no spare seats, but it seemed weird for the monk to be made to sit in the toilet, rather than on the floor. I forgot about it and watched some shows on my laptop, until I was interrupted by the bus lurching violently from side to side. I don’t know if we hit something or blew a tyre, but we were rocking and rolling like Meatloaf on a bouncy castle. And then the toilet door banged open.

The monk staggered out, covered in shit, with only his big, smily teeth visible through the crud. I don’t know if he’d fallen into the brasco, or if all the turds had sorta exploded upwards when the bus went wonky, but he looked like a frozen banana dipped in chocolate. And he wouldn’t stop grinning, as if getting splashed with the arse juice of a thousand passengers was a blessing or something.

And then he just walked off the bus and into the night.

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That’s the only way he’s getting clean

As for the rest of today, it’s been garbage. I got into Yangon at 5am and have been at the airport ever since. And Yangon Airport ain’t a fun place to be stuck. There are no restaurants, no beer, and definitely no strippers. It’s now almost four in the arvo and my plane’s been delayed by three hours, so I’ve been sitting around watching endless loops of wacky Burmese TV ads. Seriously, every bloody ad they make is basically a high tempo pop song, whether it’s about noodles or hair care products.

Now I really wanna wash my hair with Galanz
Now I really wanna wash my hair with Galanz

Ahead of me I still have two flights, one to Kolkata and a connecting flight to New Delhi. I’m already half-mad with exhaustion, so by the time I get there I’ll probably be so tired I’ll pass out in the Ganges and wake up looking as filthy as my monk friend.

I’ve just gotta keep telling myself, “This is meant to be fun, this is meant to be fun, this is meant to be zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Things to do in Bagan when you’re dead

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Today was a day that I probably didn’t need to spend in Bagan. I saw a bunch of temples yesterday, and didn’t have a burning urge to see any more today, but I’m stuck here till 8pm, so what did I do?

I looked at temples and got drunk. Shit, it’s Bagan, it’s not like I spent the day riding rollercoasters and dancing with robots or anything. As I said yesterday, one day is enough here. There’s really nothing outside of the temples to see or do, and nobody really needs to be climbing through ruins two days in a row unless they wear a stupid had, carry a whip, and made three good movies and shit one with that fuckhead Cate Blanchett in it.

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Pro tip: Go for the Mandalay Red. It’s got a higher alcohol content and costs 75% of a Mandalay Lager. That means you can get (counts fingers) 25% drunker for the same price. Dad, correct me if I’m wrong on this

I’m talking about Indiana Jones. If you’ve done all that but aren’t Indy, please don’t be offended.

I also crab danced in one of the temples, in front of a Buddha who was trying to sleep. But it’s cool, right? Buddha ain’t one of those angry gods, he’s a pretty cool dude. If he was any cooler he would listen to John Legend and wear one of those hats with the sticker still on the brim.

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Please don’t kill me, Buddha

Bagan has ace temples and is great to wander around, but the other highlight is the food. The local dishes aren’t anything amazing, but this is the first place I’ve been to in Asia where they’ve done western food properly. Last night I had Thai (I know, I know, it’s in Asia) and it had actual pieces of cooked chicken, rather than a bunch of legs chucked into rice, as I’ve become accustomed to. This afternoon I had a hamburger, and then a chicken burger, and they were proper burgers. Some of the burgers I’ve had over here were closer to arseholes on toast.

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Oh, and after a day of walking around in 40 degree heat (in clothes that haven’t been washed in weeks) I smell like shit, which is an unfortunate situation for the poor Burmanian who has spent the last six months saving up to afford the bus trip to Yangon, only to get stuck next to me for nine hours. Guess what? I don’t think I’m going to have a happy fun time, either.

But as long as they don’t put the balding paedophile on the screen again, I just might make it through to India.

Mission of Burma (that’s when I reach for my Myanmar Lager)

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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.

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No, not that one.

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That’s better.

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.

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I think this is where John Laws lives

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.

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Sweet and sour flying rat

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.