Broad avenues are lined with decrepit colonial-era buildings. Yangon City Hall is one of a handful that have been restored.
All roads in Yangon lead to the Sule Pagoda!
It's hot as hell here, so let's get down to business!
The interior of The Strand represented faded British elegance.
The 2500 year old Schwedagon Paya dominates the Yangon skyline. It is among the holiest sites in Burma.
A pilgrimage to Schwedagon is a must for Burmese!
Monks are ubuquitous and revered in this Buddhist nation.
We watched the sun set over the Golden Rock, an enormous boulder painted gold with a pagoda rising above.
To get to Mt. Kyaikto we were crammed onto a 2 ton open-air flatbed truck with rows of narrow slats across the rear.
As darkness fell, I saw the broad plaza beneath the rock flooded with children and their families hunkering down for the night. What an adventure for them!
In Mandalay our first stop was the Amarapura teak footbridge at Taungthaman Lake - world's longest (says Lonely Planet).
I hired a guide and rowboat to ferry us across the lake.
At the Thirty Cave pagoda a row of Buddhas stretched off into the distance along an enclosed semicircular walkway.
I bought several local watercolors from an old man near the Mahamuni pagoda. I don't know what I'll do with them but they were a steal at $5!
According to the legend, this god will heal whatever ails you if you simply rub the relevant anatomy.
The Kuthodaw pagoda is surrounded by more than 700 marble-slabbed mini-pagodas sequentially engraved with the entire Triptaka (the Buddhist screed).
The riverboat from Mandalay to Bagan floats at a leisurely pace in water that is only about five feet deep. When it got hung up on a sandbar the crew told the men to get off the boat and lighten the load! After realizing that they were not kidding, I grabbed my book, notes and camera and stepped into a small life boat, and we headed to the shore!
In Bagan, we were taken through numerous pagodas in rapid succession including Pyathada, Sulamani, Dhammayangyi, Kubyaukgyi and Manutha, all built between about 1100 and 1300. If you look closely you can see them in the background. (By the way, no shoes or socks were allowed!)
The evening performance at the Mintha Theater in Mandalay was memorable because of the five man back-up orchestra in which one member played the hneh - it looked like an oboe but sounded like a crowing rooster!