My bus to the huge city of Yangon would arrive at 2pm, which meant most of the day was already gone (days start very early here, seriously). Plus, the bus station was fairly far from everywhere else. So I managed to barter for a taxi and I got a bit annoyed that the taxi driver was waiting to get another customer from another bus, but I understood when I saw that there were more than 15km separating my destination from the bus station. At the end, it was almost 4pm by the time I did the check in and I was quite rushed because this was a huge city and I wanted to leave it the next day. That meant firstly, that I had not much time; secondly, that I needed to get tickets to get out. And lastly, that I was getting too stressed and nothing works when I am.
The main attraction to do was the Swedagon Pagoda and it was the perfect place to hit at the perfect time as I wanted to see it during the day and during the night. I love how they lighten up all their pagodas and I headed there.
The pagoda is quite cool, I had the chance to take a look at it from the taxi before and it wasn’t really impressive. What impressed me was the amount of shops on the way in, the amount of people walking around and around it and the amount of temples surrounding it. It seemed that every one of them had a different purpose even when they were all pretty much for the same. After one whole walk around it, recognising the grounds, I realised that there were a fairly huge amount of Monks and some of them were quite open to talk to people. At my entrance to one of these temples surrounding the pagoda, I interacted with a couple of Monks sitting down outside the temple of the Buddha’s footprint. They seemed nice, they were asking me nice questions…I started trying to lead the conversation to some key questions I had on this type of Buddhism they practise… They were asking me if I was travelling alone and how free I was because of that (very true, uh). And then, they started telling me how Buddha’s footprint, inside the Temple, was containing some water that was good for protection and I started smelling something fishy. Obviously, one of them, insisted very much on going with me inside the Temple to show me how I was supposed to touch the water three times and touch my head right after, for protection. As if I needed protection…especially of this kind! The monk opened a notebook and asked me for a donation to study English and improve his English. I knew that was coming. He did it that way as Monks are not supposed to touch women or take anything directly from them. I gave him the smallest note I had, tough he was asking for a 10$ donation. When we came out, the two monks talked in Burmese and I already knew what they were talking about. The other Monk asked me about my donation and asked me very much and laughed at it. He told me 10$ what was lunch would cost me in my country and then I feel really offended and really didn’t explain anything, just left. Because I made the donation with the feeling behind of wanting to do it, maybe for the first time. I was open and trying to be kind and share a bit of this and that and started to feel goodness inside me. But that money I was donating had cost time and effort and was been taken away from something else for them, and even if the amount donated was ridiculous, they had no right to laugh at it or ask for more. I give up, I don’t like monks, I have tried but nope, the Buddhist Monks are not my friends anymore unless they are Tibetan. I made an effort to understand them and converse with them and find out more and all I find is monks with fancy phones or tattoos or everything plus smoking and on top of everything they laugh at a donation you make without putting understanding in the effort it takes me to do it. To be honest, it ruined my visit to the Pagoda and I was annoyed for a while more so, all I could do is take another walk around to calm down. Unfortunately, that day I didn’t do anything else but eating in the markets of Chinatown and as much I love markets and food markets, that remained to be the anecdote of the day which is sad for me.
The next morning I woke up with an enormous list of tasks to do and very stressed, to be honest. But the day went by and as I walked around the city I was able to get a bus ticket for that very night, get a dirt cheap backpack for my trekking (although really ugly, but it does the job), get food and nice food and also some fruits to cheer me up, have a couple of conversations with locals that I loved, get a couple of compliments on how pretty I am (nothing we don’t know dear reader, but in the condition I am lately and considering I don’t hear it much, it is a big deal), apply for the letter I need to get the visa for Vietnam and finally I found out the way to get out of Ho Chi Minh and got a flight out to another city in Vietnam that will warranty me that I won’t spend there more than a week dying out with nothing to do or see. The feeling of getting things done is fantastic and this feeling built up along the morning between pagoda and pagoda. When the time came, I repacked my things to get ready for my overnight bus. When I got to the bus I understood the slightly higher price I paid for this bus. This was luxury, man!