Burma to Bangkok to Kuwait to London to Uppsala, Sweden

On February 24th, after almost four weeks in Burma, it was time for me to leave. Having flown from Bagan to Yangon on the evening of the 23rd, I took a friend’s advice to stay at the Gardens Guesthouse in order to take some night photos of the Sule Paya roundabout:

In the morning, I flew to Bangkok and returned to my hostel of choice there, Soi 1 Guesthouse. I picked up my laptop and a bunch of clothes I had left with the owner, grabbed a nice shoewr, and in the afternoon I took off en route to London via Kuwait.

A snapshot of the dorm room in Soi 1 Guesthouse in Bangkok:

Because of the time difference, I landed in Kuwait on the afternoon of February 25th. Here’s a shot taken as we were coming in for landing:

I sat beside a really friendly Scottish girl who, incidentally, knows a couple I met in Mae Sot, Thailand months before. After a number of hours in the Kuwait airport chatting with the Scottish girl and watching the Japanese animated movie, “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,” on my laptop, I caught my onward flight to London.

After I arrived in London, I went for a coffee and some alone time, read a few of Checkhov’s short stories, then headed to my friend Aidan’s house. Aidan wasn’t home, but his flatmates immediately got me involved in a fun activity: filling his room with crumpled newspapers and phone book pages. We spent a fair bit of time doing it, and would have continued if we hadn’t run out of paper and run out of neighbours to ask for more paper. Aidan was slightly overwhelmed when he arrived home. Here he is, enjoying the new decor:

The next day I took a walk through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park:

I sat down on this bench to take a break and eat a sandwich, and after a while noticed the inscription in the wood:

After my long stroll, I walked over to the Museum of Natural History and spent an hour and a half checking out their interesting exhibits. I’ve never before been to a museum with a full dinosaur exhibit, so this place was kind of exciting for me! A few random photos from the museum:

This is the caption for the photo that follows:

That afternoon I headed back to Heathrow once again, boarded an SAS flight to Stockholm Arlanda airport, caught a train to Uppsala, missed my bus even though I was ready to board, standing looking at the driver through the door, walked half an hour on ice to my old apartment, brushed my teeth, and went to sleep.

Yangon, Burma

On January 29th I took an overnight bus from Mae Sot to Bangkok, spent the day trying to get my computer working properly, met up with my friend Nick for tasty dinner at an Indian restaurant, spent the whole night trying to get my computer working properly, didn’t sleep at all, then caught a flight to Rangoon, Burma in the morning.

Trying to set up and configure Linux on my laptop:

I spent the next three and a half weeks backpacking around Burma (Myanmar), an experience I highly recommend. My first few days were spent in Yangon (Rangoon).

Shwedagon Paya is massive, and can be seen from pretty much everywhere in Yangon. I went at night on my first day in Yangon, when it was nice and cool outside and many Burmese people were praying and such:

A Buddhist monk came up to me after a while, and even though he didn’t speak any English I figured out that he was inviting me somewhere so I went with him. He paid for the ride on the back of a pickup truck and then a bus, and we ended up at a monastery with a huge reclining Buddha. Although it’s mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide (which at least 90% of non-package tour travellers seem to follow religiously), it gets few tourist visitors. Neat place.

On February 1st, I drew a line on my map of Yangon that I estimated to be a 10km loop and followed it. Although it was terribly hot, I quite enjoyed walking around town and seeing areas where tourists don’t generally walk (simply because there’s nothing to ‘see’ there, just as you won’t find many tourists exploring average residential streets in Vancouver). But my photos are from more frequented areas…

Sule Paya, the centre of a roundabout in downtown Yangon:

City Hall looks like some kind of fortress:

An old building (I believe it’s the Ministry of Finance & Revenue), with a colonial architectural style quite typical of Yangon:

This level of building maintenance is not uncommon in Burmese cities:

Another colonial building (I believe it’s the High Court), with Mahabandoola Garden in the foreground.

I passed by the Defense Services Museum on my walk. This old jet has a few people living underneath.

Random old colonial building:

This centipede was in my bathroom:

There are an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 Buddhist monks in Burma, so this is a very common sight:

The railway station, with many unhelpful and clueless staff members inside:

After a couple days in Yangon, I was ready to really get my trip started, and set off by bus to Mandalay, the subject of the next post.