I bought three birds on the market square in front of Shwedagon Pagoda, they costed $1 for a 3-pack. The birds caught my eye as Kelsey and I were strolling through Yangon and taking pictures of huge marble lions with golden assholes. Dozens of little brown birds were trapped inside cages, sold to tourists and anyone else who’d love to set them free to fly towards the Pagoda. Maybe it is supposed o bring you a prosperous year or something. In fact, I was having a helluva great year anyway, without the help of birds, but I wanted to set at least some of little buggers free, even though it meant that the next day they’d be caught again and sold to someone else. Maybe some of them, the smartest, will escape out of the box.
That evening Kelsey and I decided to take a ferry to the south from Yangon and reach the Andaman coast. Just because nobody usually does that. The boat was a squeaky metal and wooden bucket that floated slowly but surely along the great river. The ticket vendor watched us as we occupied a space on the deck to spread our sleeping bags and pass out until the morning. Then he approached us and proudly declared that we’ve been upgraded to First class. Which meant sleeping at the bow of the boat, under some kind of roof, and with less crowd around.
The ticket guy kept entertaining us for few more hours, saying how he loves everything American and asking Kelsey to sell him her watch, phone and other items from her great country.
The morning after we saw misty sunrise on the rural road, embarked on a bus going into nowhere and finally ended up on the coast, where despite our attempts to set a tent, the locals kept telling us that it’s dangerous.
The day after we arrived to Kyaktio, a gateway to the most famous pilgrimage site, the Golden Rock Pagoda. We spent the night in a community house where other pilgrims lay their heads before starting he ascent at 3am.
We even got free makeup from local ladies. We met them in the ‘bathroom’.
So did we, walking in the dark for the first two hours. Surprisingly, a vast amount of teahouses along the mountain path were already open. Around 7am we were almost there. Or so we thought. A monk in bright brownish red robe was resting on a rock next to us, puffing a cigarette. Seeing our sweaty faces, he smiled and remarked: ‘Two hours to the top, baby’.
I don’t know where they learn their English but I hope it’s the great work of expat teachers.