Our first day and night in Yangon was surprisingly cosmopolitan, modern and not what we expected. Yangon appears to be a happening place. We thought the airport was nicer and newer than the Jakarta airport. The roads that we traveled on to our hotel (East) were well paved. Malayasia Airlines had given us the forms to fill out upon boarding in Kuala Lumpur, and they opened new immigration lines so that we didn't stand long in line. The money changers at the luggage claims area charged just about the same amount-981 per US dollar. They will change only a handful of currencies-us dollars, euros, singapore dollars, japanese yen are the ones that I recall, They wouldn't change indonesian rupiah. Our agency River Mekong was waiting for us with a sign outside luggage claim and we paid the remaining portion of our bill at the curb with US dollars. Our birding guide--Thet Win-was there and we were introduced to our driver for our time in Yangon. New and comfortable sedan. In fact, we were surprised by how many new cars were on the road. Traffic is very heavy-at least as bad or worse than what we had experienced in our short stay in Jakarta in the previous days. In addition to lots of cars on the road, there are people walking across the street, bicycles, etc. Not the motorbikes of Jakarta.
After checking in and dropping my husband off at the hotel for a nap, I was off with Thet and the driver to check out the three tailors that River Mekong had suggested. The first and the furthest away said that they would take three to four weeks to prepare the clothes. The second only tailored mens clothing. The third was the closest to the hotel (of course) and happily said they could accomodate me-Globe Tailors. I had brought a silk sleeveless top that wanted to copy, as well as two pieces of batik material from Indonesia to make into dresses. So, three silk blend tops (including material), and two knee length short sleeve dresses cost 66000 or maybe 70 dollars. I think quite a bargain. Will tell you how they come out. The measurements etc. was all very professional and the tailors English was very good.
We returned to the hotel to pick up my husband and went to the Schedagon Pagoda. Arriving about 445 pm, we had time to walk around the pagoda before arranging ourselves to see the famous bat exodus. If you are at all interested in nature, take your binoculars and camera and situate yourself at the entrance with the two large dragons where the three escalators are. Tens of thousands of bats come out of the pagoda just before 6 pm, with birds of prey waiting. We watched peregrine falcons fly through the swarm of bats to nab one for dinner. What a sight. In some cases, the falcons bumped into the bats but didn't get one. After watching for more than 20 minutes we left since were so tired after departing our Jakarta hotel at 2 am. But so glad that we saw the exodus. By the way, there are tons of birds at the pagoda. We saw a pergrine falcon waiting on the main spire itself, tree sparrows, drongos, black kite circling above, two differnt kinds of mynas, spotted doves, etc.
For meals, we had lunch at a restaurant that served Myanmar, Chinese and Thai cuisine which was very good--Golden Taste. After hearing so often on this forum we were expecting our food to be swimming in oil, or not very tasty. However, our guide when we told him we wanted local cuisine brought us here. I ordered fried asparagus, fried cashew nuts, rice noddles with chicken. My husband had a big bowl of soup with noddles and tempura shrimp and vegetables. The fried items weren't fried with breading--just sauteed. Yum. Our dinner was simple at the East hotel restaurant since we had heard it was good. Banana milkshake, and pumpkin soup for me. My husband had myanmar chicken curry, sauteed vegetables etc. He loved it. He said he is looking forward to lunch.
ok off to our first day of birding.