"Brilliant Burma" Burma by into-thin-air
Burma Travel Guide: 3,805 reviews and 10,360 photos
I flew from London to Thailand and sorted out my Burma visa and return flight Bangkok to Yangon from there. This worked out Extremely well, I landed in Bangkok on Thursday 20th February and sorted everything out and was on an M.A.I. flight to Yangon on Saturday 22nd February ( total cost of return flight and a visa through a travel agent was approximately £150 )
I landed in Yangon Airport and after changing $100 into FEC's shared a taxi into town. I chose Daddies Home to stay, centrally located and reasonable priced rooms. That day I wandered around Yangon with Morten, the guy I met at the airport and took the first of several trips to Yangon Railway Station, I had heard that it was now possible to travel " Ordinary Class " to Shwenyaung ( for Inle Lake ) but no reliable information was forthcoming !!!!
Then after a Good Dinner at the " Golden Duck " I had an early night !!
Next day we went back to the Railway Station and found out that it was indeed possible to get the ordinary class ticket but that we couldn't actually purchase the ticket until the next day So off we went to visit Shwedagon, An incredible place !!!
An interesting Dinner at a Japanese style restaurant that night then a couple of beers and that was the end of another day !!
Sunday 23rd we actually managed to buy the train tickets $10 as opposed to $35 / $40 for upper class / first class as stated in the Lonely Planet and we were on our way North !!!!
Thirty-one and a half hours later we arrived in Shwenyaung, ok it was a Long journey but it had to be said that it was an incredibly interesting one !! 1 night in Shwenyaung and the next day on to Nyaungshwe by taxi.
We stayed at " The Little Inn " and I can give this place a BIG recommendation !! We ended up staying in Nyaungshwe for 5 nights, It is the sort of place where time disappears !!!! 1 day relaxing after the train trip, one Fantastic day out on the Inle Lake, one day hiring cycles and exploring the area and one day hiring a canoe and exploring the backwaters. We Both decided that it would be good to trek from Nyaungshwe to Kalaw so we organised this and set off on Sunday 2nd March. This was a Brilliant Idea and we had a fantastic trek staying overnight at Monasteries, the first one with Monks chanting away in the evening and again EARLY the next Morning the second one smaller and quieter !! The Guides cooked our food and excellent it was too !! The Countryside was Truly Beautiful and the People were wonderful, open and extremely Friendly !!
We arrived in Kalaw on Wednesday 5th March and stayed at " Winners Hotel " another good recommendation !!!
The next day we teamed up with another couple of lads and hired a taxi out to visit Pindaya Caves with over 8000 Buddha images inside them !! another great day out !!
Friday 7th March and Morten departed for Bagan ( we had started out by sharing a taxi from Yangon Airport into town and then travelled together for almost two weeks !! ), I decided to stay in Kalaw a little longer and the way things turned out I was pleased that i did !!
I was walking around town looking for the old Catholic Church, first I stumbled upon "Shwe oo Min" Temple, this doesn't appear in the guidebooks and is a smaller version of Pindaya, ok it's not as Grand but never-the-less is well worth a look at and has the Big Advantage that it isn't overcrowded -- in fact I was the only visitor !!!
Then I came across a guy called Winston Archard, his Grandfather was British who had come to Burma in the 1920's, married a local girl and never returned to the U.K. Whilst the Japanese invasion was happening he moved to India, returning after the war !! Winston took me to look around the family Home, pointed out the bullet holes in the ceiling that had happened when Japanese had occupied the house in W.W 2, showed me around the rest of the house and grounds and then played the piano for me !! A remarkable chap and a great story !!! He also pointed the way to the Catholic Church which by this time I had almost forgotten about !!
Another night at Winners and a Bus ?? the next day to Mandalay !!!
I arrived in Mandalay on Saturday 8th March and stayed at " Bonanza Hotel " the best deal I got during the entire trip !!!! I had met an American Girl, Deborah on the Bus and we shared a taxi from the bus station into town, the taxi driver " Myint " offered us a good deal to hire a taxi out for the next day to visit the Ancient cities around Mandalay so we agreed to do that.
So the next day we sat off, first visiting Stone carver's, Embrioderer's and Bronze caster's on the outskirts of Mandalay before crossing the Myitnge river on a rickety ferry to the ancient city of Inwa ( Ava ) here we hired a horse-cart to see the sights !! -- Fantastic !! after crossing back over the Myitnge river, unfortunately Deborah got herself into an argument with some local people who had some Owls in cages and were charging people money to release them, I advised her to leave it, be but she insisted on paying to release the owls !! well the owls had had their wings clipped so couldn't fly very far and the oldest one took a nasty clatter when it was released and Deborah got Very Agitated !! ( I tried to explain to her that we might not approve of all the local customs so it is best just to ignore the ones that we don't like, but she somehow couldn't see it !!?? ) then we went on to Sagaing and climbed the hill and finally to U Beins Bridge -- a fantastic day out in spite of the problems!!!!
The next day I was up early and Myint took me by Rickshaw to the ferry landing where I caught the public ferry to Mingun, another ancient city 11k up the Ayeyarwady, this was another unbelievable place, Mingun Paya which although unfinished still stands 50 metres high ( if it had ever been finished it would have been 150 metres high !! ) and the Mingun Bell. the largest ringing bell in the world !!!! This is a HIGHLY Recommended day trip from Mandalay, and shouldn't be missed !!!! In the afternoon I climbed Mandalay Hill and had a quick tour around Mandalay in Myint's Rickshaw before spending another night at the Bonanza Hotel and up Very early the next day to catch the Posh Chinese built ferry down the Ayeyarwady to Bagan, The river was quite shallow and the crew were often to be seen testing the depth of the river using long bamboo polls !! but never-the-less we arrived safe and sound in Bagan after nine hours !! I shared a horse-cart into town and stayed at the " Inwa Guest-house " which was ok, then after dinner headed for bed and an early night !!!!
I stayed at Nyaungu for five nights. spending three days visiting the temples of Old Bagan -- this Really is an Incredible place, there are over 5000 temples in a relatively small area.
After two days of temples I took a day out and along with Britta, a German Girl and Catherine from France and we hired a taxi out and went to visit Mount Popa., Again this is something that shouldn't be missed as it really is a spectacular place and the Centre of " Nat Worshipping " in Burma !! It also gives you a day off temples and helps you appreciate them all the more when you return after having a day off !!!!
On my Final day in Bagan Britta and I hired a small boat out and we visited some unbelievable temples up-river from Bagan, again something not in the guidebook and a truly remarkable day out !!!
From Bagan Britta and I caught a bus to Pyay, The roads were in far better condition than I had previously come across, although still basically only single track they were at least relatively smooth and so the journey was much more comfortable but it still took ten hours. We arrived in Pyay around 01.30 and the first guest-houses we checked out were either very expensive ( by Burma standards ) or very poor but after an hour we found "The Myat Hotel " which was Excellent !!
A fairly Relaxing day the next day, Visiting Shwesandaw the main temple, almost like a mini Shwedagon !! and then catching up with post cards and diary and generally relaxing!!
The next day we Caught a pick up to Hmawza junction and walked into the village, here we hired cycles out and went around the ancient city of Thayekhittaya, A Great day out but Very Hot !! the ancient city is spread out over quite an area so it takes a while to get around it but it is well worth the effort !!
from Hmawza we caught the evening train back to Pyay. Another Great Burma Experience !!
The next day, Wednesday 18th March I said good bye to Britta and caught the bus back to Yangon, This Really was a Luxury Bus and luxury Roads too, said to be the best in the whole of Burma, two lane highway all the way back to Yangon and the bus reached speeds of up to 50 MPH -- practically flying by Burma standards !! Six hours and we were in Yangon !! A taxi back to " Daddies Home " and when I walked in Morten was there so we started and ended our travels of Burma together !!
Thursday 20th March was my last full day in Burma, I spent the day shopping, using up my Kyat's and generally relaxing
Friday the 20th and a last look around Yangon, an early lunch and a taxi to the airport for my M.A.I. flight back to Bangkok,
I spent a Total of four weeks in Burma and all though I didn't manage to get around all the different places that I thought that I might because of the time involved in simply getting from one place to another, I never-the-less Really did Enjoy what I did see, I felt that what I did see I saw properly and didn't rush around like some sort of headless chicken ticking places of a list !!
Burma is a FANTASTIC Country, Beautiful scenery and without doubt is inhabited by some of the Most Honest, Friendly and Open people that I have come across anywhere in the world.
OK Burma isn't without it's problems, Bad regime and poor infrastructure BUT I for one THOROUGHLY ENJOYED MY BURMA EXPERIENCE !!!!!!!!
- Pros:Burma is inhabited by some of the Most Honest, Friendly and Open people that I have come across anywhere in the world.
- Cons:Bad regime and poor infrastructure
- In a nutshell:I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED MY BURMA EXPERIENCE !!!!!!!!
If you are travelling Anywhere and using a Rucksack / Backpack as your luggage then I would Strongly recommend that you... more travel advice
At the end of my time in Burma I was left with $50 in Kyat and wondered what best to spend them on !!?? I had already... more travel advice
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