After breakfast, we ’ll venture downtown to explore the diverse city center with its range of architecture, ethnicities, and religions. We will walk through the lively streets of this neighborhood. You will likely pass by a mosque, synagogue and Hindu Temple. We continue by witnessing Sule Paya-a golden stupa built to enshrine a hair of the Buddha. You will get the chance to meet with a palm reader near Sule. Many Burmese consults with a palm reader or astrologist regularly and especially before a big moment such as a marriage, exam, and the childbirth.
Then take a short walk to the Post Office, passing many colonial-era buildings, including the famous Strand Hotel.
Time to have lunch now (pay on your own). A recommendation: Sofaer & Co., styled as serving “Modern Mekong” cuisine, Sofaer & Co is in the Sofaer Building.
Early afternoon, we will continue to Shwedagon Pagoda. Standing tall above 300 feet, the bell-shaped Shwedagon Pagoda is the landmark of Myanmar. Following the tradition, we go around the pagoda on a clockwise direction-learn about the 2,600-year-old history of the pagoda-be blessed by pouring water on Buddha statue-and enjoy the sounds of prayers chanted by the individuals or groups of Buddhist devotees. We will offer you the chance to interact with a monk and get to know his lifestyle, the monkhood, or share any point of view.
Transfer to the train station for a fabulous journey to Mandalay from Yangon. The train trundles out of Yangon at just 15mph with the local children trying to hang on to the outside, accelerating to 40-45mph once clear of the city, clickety-clacking past small villages of palm-thatched cottages built on stilts, ox carts trundling slowly along dusty roads, and occasional white or gold stupas. Burmese children love to wave at trains, especially if they see a western face at the window. You'll be traveling along a railway initially built by the British - look out for the old-fashioned semaphore signals and mock-Tudor signal boxes at Bago.
Even when night falls, you'll see the palm trees silhouetted in the moonlight, and the smell of the village cooking fires will drift into your sleeper compartment through the open window. Make sure you have a jumper or fleece handy if you travel overnight, as it can get cold a few hours after dark. The track is not the best in the world and in places it will put your carriage suspension through its paces, but you stand a good chance of arriving at the other end within 5 or 10 minutes of the advertised time. However, delays of 30 - 60 minutes or more are not uncommon, so make allowances.
We will provide you a prepared meal for dinner.