Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Back to Yangon

Twenty five minutes on a boat and another half hour in a car brought us to Helo Airport for our flight back to Yangon.  As our guide predicted, the flight was delayed a couple of hours due to fog (our arrival was delayed by fog also) and we arrived in Yangon later than planned.  At that point all I wanted to do was visit the synagogue but we asked our guide to take us to Chinatown and Little India first.  We walked around looking at more markets, more stores and a Hindu temple until it was time to go to the synagogue.  I was unable to get into the synagogue in 1996 and I had been really looking forward to seeing the inside and learning more about the Jews of Yangon.*  

Inside of Musmeah Yeshua synagogue

Although we didn't get to meet Moses Samuels, who has taken on the responsibility for keeping the synagogue open, or his son, Sammy who runs Myanmar Shalom (our travel agency), we enjoyed the time we spent looking around the synagogue.  The building is beautiful and Moses and his family have done a remarkable job maintaining the synagogue and the Jewish cemetery.

We were on our own for our last full day in Yangon and we spent time walking around downtown looking at the remaining colonial buildings, visiting the Strand Hotel, and shopping at Scott Market.  We had time to make a second sunset visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred site in Myanmar, and yet another truly remarkable place.  It was amazing to see how the colors of the various structures changed as the sun went down.

Yangon has very affordable cabs so we were able to easily get around the city.  Unfortunately the restaurants we wanted to visit had closed or relocated or we were given the wrong address by our hotel or ... take your pick.  This resulted in two wild cab rides around Yangon on our last two nights.  We ended up having Indian food at a place recommended by our cab driver ($1.20 for both of us) one night and Burmese food at a lovely outdoor restaurant on our last night in Myanmar.

* The most current article about Moses Samuels is in the Winter 2013 issue of B'nai B'rith Magazine which is available online as a PDF file.

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