It was a good, if fast, ride to Yangon for the twenty-six dollars it cost me. I found the behaviour of the people along the narrow road amazing. They gave no heed whatever to traffic and finally I realised why. Their attitude was that it is not for them to look out for vehicles, but it is the vehicles responsibility to avoid them They wander, stand or even sit on the road, as do the dogs, who have obviously taken their cue from them. I saw up to six dogs together at a time just standing in the middle of the road. Like the rubbish thrown everywhere, they didn’t seem to be seen as a problem
In Yangon once, only once, I saw a rubbish collector. He wore heavy gloves and a mask as he wielded a witch’s broom to sweep litter up and shovel it into a wooden push cart. Then he probably dumped it somewhere, possibly in the river.
Burma Map And Flag Photo Gallery
I received a great welcome at Motherland, like a long lost relative returning. This time my room was a floor higher and I had a treetop outside the window and a view of the bush-enshrouded train line below.
Next day I set off to see the gem museum. Wow! There is some amazing loot in there. It is housed in an enormous squeaky clean place, a marked contrast to the grot of the streets outside. Loads of attendants stood about and two guards at a desk outside made me cough up five dollars and my passport, the details of which were copied.
On the ground and first floors were countless stalls and shops selling gems, jade and jewellery. I bought some jade, I hoped. But I hoped in vain. By the time my sister the gemologist tested it, it had metamorphosed into dyed quartz. It was super cheap if that’s a consolation.
The top floor contained the museum collection that was understandably not for sale. There were stupendously valuable and beautiful articles encased here, giving a glimpse of the fabulous riches this country has had in the past. There was the world’s largest sapphire found north of Mandalay, a mere trinket of 63,000 carats, also the largest jade boulder, rough ruby and star sapphire. But what I would have taken home if it had not been under the eagle eye of a guard, was a foot-high apple-green jade elephant caparisoned with gold and jewel-bedecked howdah and trimmings.