at peace in the Shwedagon Pagoda

Arrival Yangon Airport

I am in Yangon, Burma as I write this. Life is full of surprises and so is this great nation. I arrived into a brand new international terminal building last night. All signs were in English and everyone spoke beautifully and with warmth in their welcome. Getting through immigration was a breeze and so was getting to my hotel. Did I expect something out of the Stone Age? Well yes actually. When you consider that there are no credit card facilities due to sanctions these past years, you think that you are heading to a place that barely has electricity or running water. No ATM’s? No civilisation.

My room at MiCasa Yangon

Oh how wrong I was. The Hotel I have found on trip advisor is just a miracle.  There is a lovely pool area and my room is actually a small apartment with a kitchen and living area. All this for $100 US a night. It is the standard of a 4 star American hotel and I have been told that American advance teams for the Embassy are here with me. There are many business people from all over hanging around in the lobby.

Within 15 minutes after checking in I headed to a major pagoda that is plated in gold and adorned with rare jewels on its spire. This was a big shock.

It was beautifully lit with quiet surroundings and monk’s occasionally walking about chanting. I felt energy throughout this place that was of peace and serenity. Many others were in deep meditation around me. I believe from this initial experience Burma is going to be very spiritual.

After a few moments of prayer and meditation I headed back to the hotel and had a western dinner that proved to be another shock.

This Hotel has a restaurant named “tapas” and last night was a seafood buffet.  The spread was of sushi, imported crab and lobster, a grilled fish selection and a salad bar that had all the western accompaniments. You were also were given a choice of a French wine or beer that was topped up continuously as part of the buffet. This drink and dinner feast was $23 US! The chef is from Malaysia and all the tables were packed with Americans and Japanese and Chinese accents. I was in amazement that here I was in Yangon and eating a perfecty grilled lobster with a hollandaise accompaniment. To add to the strangeness of this setting there was a live band of Burmese men that were singing country western tunes. I listened to Johnny Cash … and these guys were very good. Yep … I had lobster with French white wine and Johnny Cash in the background yet I am in Yangon, Myanmar in the 21st century.