Tag / Myanmar
One one of the last days in Myanmar, we decided to take some time off and visit one of the very few tourist attractions in this once vibrant South East Asian City, the Shwedagon Pagoda.
an alternate childhood
There is a US $5 entrance fee for foreigners, but interestingly, the local currency is not accepted. There was no guide books or brochures given, all you get is a place to place your shoes (no shoes allowed in the pagoda) and a sticker to indicate you are a paid “customer”.
the main pagoda
The main pagoda is 98 meters high, and is at least over 1,000 years old, with some believe that it was actually built before the death of Lord Buddha, some 25 centuries ago. There are multiple structures and probably hundreds of statues, some with gold plating.
gold plated Buddha statues
roof of the gallery from main road
the Singu Min Bell
The pagoda was filled with quite a lot of pilgrims and visitors alike, with many monks as well.
monks and pilgrims
It was a gloomy and rainy afternoon that makes for a very miserable condition for photography. The fact that I only had the camera for a few days didn’t help the matter either. The photos you see here do not give justice to the magnificent structure that is Shwedagon Pagoda, a place really worth visiting.
During the trip Off-shore at Yetagun, we received a request to head to the FSO (Floating Storage Offloading) to do some minor work. That was all well for me since I was already there, I might as well jump on the chance to visit another oil and gas facility.
the FSO, and the transfer boat
FSO is usually a retired super tanker converted to become an engine less vessel used solely for storing hydrocarbon produced by a nearby oil or gas platform. In this case, gas condensate is stored from the Yetagun gas platform, transferred by an underwater pipeline. The FSO is securely positioned with 9 anchors.
the transfer basket
A transfer boat (also served as an emergency escape vessel) goes between the FSO and the gas platform, and that would be our mode of transport between the two facilities. The interesting bit was the way you get to and from the smaller transfer boat to the bigger platform and FSO.
Instead of a nice bridge or walk way, a transfer basket is used. This is basically just a round basket with nettings on 4 sides where you place any cargo in the middle, and just stand outside holding the nettings while being swung around by the crane operator from the height of the platform all the way to the sea level. It was a rather thrilling experience for a first timer, considering the top deck of platform A where we took off was at least 10-15 stories higher than sea level. This was better than roller coaster.
transfer basket swung around by the crane
the nice chap who helped us and ensured our safety
FSO is equipped with a heli-deck as well
We used the same method to get on board the FSO and greeted by the very friendly Captain James.. This retired vessel is huge, some 200 meters long. Inside the living area is a maze of walkways with offices, kitchen, dining areas, dormitories, etc. Although physically bigger, it probably has less recreational areas for the working crews as compared to the more modern gas platform. Everything was pretty crammed as well, but the rooms were slightly bigger and more comfortable though.
Even with the tanker this size and a relatively calm sea, you can feel the gentle rocking of the ship and it can be quite uncomfortable if you’re not used to it.
the nine anchors
view from the front of the super tanker
the body is some 200 meters long
We got a permit to snapped a few pictures on the facility before heading back after a few hours of work, experiencing the thrill of using the transfer basket a couple more times.
our host, Captain James
This is the reason I have been absent from the blog for the past week. I was fortunate enough to have a chance to go to the Yetagun off-shore gas rig, located at the Andaman Sea.
the driver of modern economy
We took an early flight on board a Twin Otter propeller airplane from Yangon airport to Kanbauk, a small village at Southern Myanmar. From the small airstrip in the middle of nowhere, we transferred to a chopper and flew a further 1 hour plus to the platform. Both the flights weren’t atmospherically sealed, and they were loud, we needed to wear ear muffs the entire duration. No in-flight entertainment, no stewardess, and no talking even. On the chopper, the twelve of us were required to wear life vests too.
The gas rig is a maze to newcomers. Stairs everywhere, and every structures look pretty much the same. We spent most of our time in the living quarters. This main area houses the shared bedrooms (4 person), a dining and recreation room with huge 50″ plasma TV and pool table, as well as offices and a clinic. If you are a smoker, there’s a smoking room housed outside the living quarters, you’ll need to walk outside and brace the weather a bit.
a guy heading to the smoking room
two rig workers having a discussion
The rooms are pretty small, and reminded me of college dorms, except you have 4 adults sharing the facility. However, the beds do come with privacy curtains and a personal light, so it wasn’t so bad after all.
the 4-men bedroom at the off-shore rig
Workers here run a 12-hour shift from 6am to 6pm daily. If you do the calculation, that comes to an 84 hour work week compared to our 40-45, I don’t think it’s a luxury for these guys to have 2/4 weeks on 2/4 weeks off arrangement. After all, there is no such thing as public holidays around here, everything is 24/7.
the dining hall and recreational area
Breakfast is served at 5:30am, and there are food served almost every 2-3 hours. The chefs actually cooked up pretty decent meals, and there are fruit juice, sodas, as well as coffee and tea for the taking. Nothing costs a single cent.
snapping pictures on the heli-deck
On the last day at the platform, we requested a permit (everything needs a permit) to take pictures outside the living quarters. A gas detector accompanied our mission, and no flash photography allowed.
the stairway leading to the heli-deck
We took the next chopper back to Kanbauk after our tasks were completed. The two nights at Yategun platform were certainly an interesting experience that I actually don’t mind repeating. The guys were friendly and always made us feel welcomed. On the second day we actually visited the FSO (Floating Storage Offloading) facility, but that’ll be another post.
This is my second working trip to Yangon, Myanmar. The pictures from last trip was taken with my now retired Nokia 7610. I have, however, decided to jumped onto the DSLR bandwagon and got myself a brand spanking new Canon 400D as an excuse that I need a better camera to document the stay at the former capitol of Myanmar. Furthermore, I will be traveling to a couple other interesting locations within Myanmar as well.
Dyna bus, only 100 kyats to board
Nothing much has changed since I last visited this place about 2 years ago, with the exception of the new Yangon airport that was opened just 3 days prior to our arrival. The city still looks the same, I haven’t spotted any new big buildings, Dyna buses are still roaming the busy streets, carrying at least 5x more passangers than those trucks are designed to.
the day market, bustling with people
The main street outside Traders Hotel are still bustling with people and merchants, some of them more energetic than others. Here you can find anything from
a high energy merchant selling cloths
a tired shop keeper
Myanmar’s very own satey celup?
The scene at downtown Yangon at night is similar to day time, but with more food stalls selling variety of local delights that I haven’t find the chance (or courage) to try yet. Among the usual offerings such as food, cloths, and watches, I changed upon this street artist who employed a pretty unique style of painting by using a brush and a knife to draw up beautiful landscape pictures, very impressive.
an artist at work
one of the many pagodas in Yangon
These are among the first pictures taken using the new gear, many more shall come, stay tuned!
my new gear, Canon EOS 400D
That’s right ladies and gentlemen, they serve nasi briyani at Yangon, Myanmar. With a little ASEAN geographical knowledge you’d know that it is just natural. Myanmar borders with India and Bangladesh to it’s west.
It actually tastes alot better than it looks
This particular nasi briyani place (they spell it nasi biryani) is located down the next turning from Traders hotel in Yangon. While there are quite a few nasi briyani restaurants there, you can’t miss the place, it is always the one with the most customers.
The rice is served with a single piece of 1/4 chicken. Since this is Myanmar, a highly unindustrilized country, we get real tender kampung type of chicken. It was awesome. A small bowl of soup and some fresh lettuce accompanied the meal. We ordered some extra gravy too. Except for the soup tasting a little too salty, the meal was very good. Easily better than most all of the nasi briyani served by mamaks here in Malaysia.
Drinks is a little bit tricky, the drinking water came in a bottle that looks like those we use for car battery, so that was a bit odd, to the tune that my friend brought two bottles back to Malaysia. The local Star “coke” was pretty bad, do not feel too compell to try it.