Our trip to Myanmar
I was very excited to go to Myanmar for a second time as I had been five years ago and I was sure there was going to have been lots of changes.
I was going with a few friends form school we wanted to have a rough outline of what we were going to do for the three weeks so we didn’t miss any important places. Thanks to Burma Travel Australia we certainly saw some amazing sights in Myanmar.
We planned to meet in Yangon and hang out there for a few days while we got our bearings. This was sensational as out first day in Burma we got on the back of a few motorbikes and went exploring the countryside around Yangon, meeting lots of locals and trying local products like the beetle leaves and Burmese cigars.
After Yangon we caught a bus to Bagan where we going to spend about 4 days. This was plenty of time to get around and see the biggest most impressive temples, as well as the more remote pagodas which were not as overrun by tourists. The freedom of hiring an E-bike and being able to explore the massive area known as the land of Pagoda’s which contained over 2000 some over 1000 years old was amazing!
After Bagan we took a boat to Mandalay, which in itself was an experience. We chugged along the river, and caught glimpses of river life, as well as a massive logging boat with over 40 monks standing around and waving at us! Mandalay is an impressive city, very large and hot with a range of important colonial buildings. A trip to the Mingun bell is well worth it, and the ferry (4000 chat there and back) you catch from the central ferry wharf is an adventure on its own.
Leaving Bagan we headed into the mountains to escape the interminable Mandalay heat. We took a bus to Kalaw and then the slow train up to a small town near Inle Lake. Other people we met had trekked this route but we were feeling lazy and had planned to do treks in other parts of Myanmar (Hsipaw). Inle Lake was interesting, though the local way of life has somewhat been modified to accommodate the massive tourism boom, it is still a very beautiful place. Taking a gentle bike ride around the Lake and jumping in a traditional long boat for a tour was a fantastic experience.
After Inle Lake we headed to Hsipaw which is a bit further north into Shan State. Hsipaw sees less tourists that the other cities we had been to, and for this reason it feels less synthetic. A popular spot for avid trekkers, we did a two day trek with an overnight homestay that was enjoyable even though it was raining. I’d advise doing a longer trek so you can avoid the well-trodden routes that a variety of trekking companies offer.
After Hsipaw we wanted to get a train to Pwin Oo Lwin, however the track has been damage in a landslide. Resultantly we caught a taxi to “The Goteik Viaduct” which is the highest viaduct in Myanmar, built in the early 1900’s, that was a ripper; I can only imagine going over it on the train would be even better. Pwin Oo Lwin was a former Hill Station and escape of the British nobility seeking to get away from hot Mandalay nights, and as a result has plenty of charm; old Colonial buildings, tight nit terraces and narrow streets, as well as the Purcell Clock tower. A great place to relax for a few days, you can walk around the Botanical Gardens, sip on a local tea or sample the fantastic Indian and many other traditional foods in the area.
On the way back to Yangon we stopped in the ‘new’ capital Nay Pyi Taw which was a hilarious experience. A must see for the politically inclined, Nyapitaw is an empty city that the leader of the former Military regime built on the suggested of a palm reader. All the government servants were forced to move there in the mid-2000s but unfortunately not many other people did. A comedian (who was then imprisoned) famously quipped when they decided to move the Yangon zoo to Nyapitaw “Now they are moving the rest of the animals to the capital as well”. Below is some of the pictures we took of this amazing country the call The Golden Land and we must thank again Burma Travel Australia for making sure we seen most of the highlights that Myanmar has to offer. Look them up at: burmatravel.com.au
Riley's Burma Adventure