Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Remembering Myanmar: Sunrise in Bagan


No matter how awe-stricken I was when I stood in the middle of the huge Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, it did not prepare me for the experience that I was to face the next day. 

We took the overnight bus from Yangon to Bagan and arrived in the wee hours of the morning. The group spent some time having coffee and tea at a shop which was luckily open at that hour. A few drivers and their horse carts were at the bus terminal, eagerly waiting for us to decide what we wanted to do at such an ungodly hour. I honestly cannot remember whose idea it was to watch the sun rise on top of an abandoned temple but I'm glad we did.

Out in the dark
The group patiently waiting for the sun

Imagine sitting on a loose brick atop an abandoned temple while watching the whole place come to life as the sun cast its rays on more than four thousand pieces of century-old temples, stupas, and pagodas scattered in every direction.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Eat.Play.Sleep. - A Panda's Version


Po from the movie Kung Fu Panda is adorable, but he comes nowhere near the charm of real-life giant pandas.

Meet Le Le and Ying Ying from Ocean Park in Hongkong! These 2 lovable giants are mainstays at the Amazing Asian Animals complex.

Pandas are proof that huge and cute are two words that go together. One look at them and you know you just can't resist that hug-inducing feeling. I could not stop gushing as I felt like a kid running towards these sleeping creatures. 

Le Le, the male panda
Ying Ying, the female panda
Is there any other animal out there that looks as sweet as these two when sleeping?

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Remembering Myanmar: Yangon


It has been a year since that trip and I still could not come up with apt words.

You know that quick judgment that you make the moment when you first set foot in a new place? That Ahh, this place is laid-back or This one feels busy and fast-paced.. that did not happen with Myanmar.

I could not put my finger on it at first. The country is poor but not depressed, quiet despite of people chattering, and a part of me wanted to think of it as uneventful but I could not dismiss the nagging feeling that there was something beneath the surface. Or maybe I was just being extra careful.  At the airport, my friend started to take a video but a guy came up to him and warned him to not do such things.

Looking back, I guess I felt an air of subdued anticipation and feigned obedience. The same way we behave when we know a secret and we're trying to hide the smile on our faces. Or that feeling when you just said yes to follow the rules only to break them.

I'm going to try and recount that surreal experience before a year passes by and I slowly forget.

First stop: Yangon.

In my mind, this is how Philippines might have looked like in the 80's. The rest of the world, with its neon billboards and bullet trains, have left Myanmar trapped in the past century. It felt like a trip back in time and I had no problem imagining Ferdinand Marcos as the ruler. I thought of Yangon as a cleaner version of Recto, with the throng of U-belt students replaced by men in longyi.

It is a country with a few skyscrapers in sight and hardly no ATMs.

ET Phone Home
It was a rainy day when we arrived. The streets were clean and litter-free but most buildings were dingy, to which I attribute the Recto-feel.


There were magnificent architectures in different stages of ruin. Below is a photo of The Minister's Building which used to be the home of the administrative seat back in the time when Yangon was still the capital of Myanmar. We walked around the block and was disappointed when we found out that the gates were closed. Then came another letdown: military men were washing and drying their clothes out in the vast lawn. Sure that huge structure can house troops but there seems to be other worthwhile things to do with a century-old edifice than let it crumble away. I bought a guava from a street vendor and munched on it on the way back.