Alive at dawn. Best phrase to describe Myanmar. One of the most beautiful country i’ve visited. Filled with picturesque scenery and friendly people.
Destination: Yangon -> Bagan -> Inle Lake -> Hsipaw -> Pywin oo Lyin -> Mandalay -> Yangon
Dates: 17 Dec 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Before Trip Expenditure
Air ticket from Sin to Yangoon (Jetstar) = $108
Air ticket from Yangon to KL (AirAsia) = $69.64
Air Ticket from KL to Spore (AirAsia) = $36.48
[i was trying to save money as it was really expensive to fly back directly from Yangon at that time]
Total expenses before trip: $319.12
Total expenses during trip: $560
Total expenses for 16 days in Myanmar: $880
1. Some of the buses number are written just in Burmese. To prevent yourselves from getting lost, record down the bus number and location that you are heading to in Burmese. Take a picture of the bus. Remember the bus company name/logo
2. Bring along a plastic bag for your shoe when visiting temples.
3. They are extremely strict when accepting USD. Ensure no crisp, no torn, no ink. Must be clean and new. Bring extra money!
Day 1: Yangon
Not a fan of big cities. Arrived at Yangon at 10.40am. Our bus to Bagan was at 6.30pm so we had plenty of time. Thought we should at least visit the famous Shwedagon Pagoda and Bogyoke Market.
Took a cab there for 6500 kyat ($8.50).
Entrance fee to Shwedagon Pagoda is 8000 kyat ($10.50). Remember not to wear shorts! Or you would have to pay to buy a scarf from them.
Took a cab to the bus station for 5500 kyat ($7.20). The bus station is very near the airport.
Day 2 - 3: Bagan
In terns of scenery, Bagan is definitely one of my favorite place in Myanmar. The weather was perfect at the time i was there. Sunny but chill. It’s a touristy place but not overly crowded. Lovely place to visit!
How did we get there?:
What did we do?:
Rode from Nyang U to Old Bagan and to New Bagan. Stopped at whichever Pagoda that attracted us. There’re just too many Pagoda, i am not gonna bore you by listing down those that i went.
The best one to me was Shwesandaw Temple where i had the most amazing sunrise ever. But i’m sure there’re many other spots. Heard from some backpackers that it’s better to view the sunrise from a shorter Pagoda, as you will get to capture the sun right on top of the bigger Pagodas. We also heard that sunset view at Shwesandaw Temple is even better than Sunrise. Didnt get the chance as we were busy finding some other hidden Pagoda to have a quiet nice view of the sunset. We met a couple who told us about Kiasin Pagoda. Apparently there’s a boy there with a key who will help open the gate to the Pagoda if you give him a small tip. It has one of the best view ever. We went there, found the Pagoda, but couldnt find the boy. So disappointing.
One of the most delicious lunch that I had in Myanmar was at Be Kind To Animals, The Moon. It’s a vegetarian restaurant. The guacamole is heavenly. Myanmar has the best Avocado. I have no idea why but avocados are so huge there!
We had a really awesome dinner at Shwe Ya Su. Oh the food is so good. You have to try the Fried Chicken with Chili, mixed vegetables and the Butter Fish! Oh my the butter fishhh. so damn tasty. Cost us about 8050 kyat for two ($10.55). We also had a good lunch the next day at Weather Spoon, they have free wifi there, a great place to chill!
Day 4-5: Inle Lake
Inle lake is the most touristy place among the cities i went. But it’s still a nice place to visit. Pretty.
How did we get there?:
Rented a bicycle and toured around Inle Lake. The scenery was so beautiful. We also went around comparing prices for our boat trip. Managed to get a packaged at 1750 kyat ($22) for the 5 of us.
Rented a boat to cross the lake, cost us 1200 kyat ($8). We arrived at a place with long bridges, very pretty. There is a restaurant opposite the bridge that looks really nice. We wanted to have our lunch there but we thought that it will be expensive. I found out later from other backpackers that the food there is extremely good and it’s not expensive at all. Damn!
Continued our journey cycling to Red Mountain. Best place to enjoy a few glasses of wine while watching the sunset. The journey there was so tough, up slope all the way. Horrible.
Had a couple of beer at Ever Green Restaurant, recommended by Lonely Planet. But we found out after which that the bar opposite had cheaper beer and it’s draft beer instead of bottled beer. When there the next day but sadly they ran out of draft beer. Their Inle BBQ fish is yummy!
Boat trip on day 2 was fun. The scenery is very pretty indeed. The only thing that I didn’t like was that the boat driver brough us to so many expensive shops hoping that we will buy something. Totally unnecessary but ya I get it, they are trying to rip some money from tourists.
Bid goodbye to my lovely friends, Anita and Manuel from Austria, and Mikulas from Czech Republic. I really hope to go eastern Europe again someday to visit them. Would really like to go skiing with them. I have a snowmaker friend now, how cool.
I fell sick that night. Went to the toilet for more than 10 times throughout the night. Was shivering so badly too. I starved myself the next day because I had to take a 12 hours bus ride to Hsipaw.
Bid farewell to Seng. That sweet boy surprised me with a lovely book for Christmas. I was extremely touched yet guilty for not preparing anything for him.
My solo trip begun…
Day 6-10: Hsipaw
Hsipaw is my favorite place in Myanmar! That small town is filled with extremely nice and friendly people. I met so many friends there. It felt like home. A town with Mr and Mrs something everywhere, so cute.
How did I get there?:
What did I do?:
Day 1 at Hsipaw, i rented a bicycle with an aim to cycle to the waterfall together with my Israeli friends and a Germen friend. On our way to the waterfall, we spotted a sign saying “we welcome all foreigners”. It’s an English school – Shan Youth Network. The teachers there are volunteers from all over Myanmar. The principal and teachers are so welcoming! They served us tea and snacks, asked us where we are from, shared with us about their school. They asked if we were interested to check out their lesson, we exclaimed “sure, of course!”, Our intention was to just have a look for awhile, but we ended up spending 3hours there interacting with the students. They were so happy and excited to see us. I felt like a movie star with them coming to me one by one asking to take pictures with me. The teachers were so afraid that we wouldn’t make it in time to the waterfall so they offered to drive us there. How nice! It’s things like that that brightens up my day. Kind people are everywhere. The visit to the school was 10 times better than the waterfall. How glad I am that we pop in.
In the evening, I followed my Isreali friend to Mr Book, where they celebrated Hanukkah. I learnt so much about Isreali during my trip, didn’t know that they are so tight. How nice. We had dinner together, the few of us from our hostel. Lovely people.
Went for a 2 days trek (cost $20USD) with Ivo, Mara, and Guus, my Dutch friends. Extremely nice people, how fortunate I am to know them. The route up to the Shan village was tough. It was so steep! Okay, maybe I am just weak. I had a hard time catching up with them, they are so fit! That’s my conclusion, that they are fit, not that i am weak. The scenery there is so pretty. Though I heard that if we went up a little further from our destination, the view there is even more spectacular. But I am satisfied. It will be better of course if I weren’t sick. Yes, I was sick again, puking non-stop. Anyway, the kids there are so adorable!!
After bidding goodbye to my Dutch friends who set off to Mandalay and my Israeli friends who were up for a 5 days trek, I spent my 4th day touring around the town with Chris, from Munich. It was really nice traveling with Chris, he is so knowledgeable and observant! He is always like “look at that, can you see that?! It’s a tree coming out of a pogoda, how fascinating?” Fascinating indeed, and I would have totally missed that if not for him. We often joke about pretty girls for him and open-minded guys for me. It’s funny. Anyway, we went to little bagan, there are so many little pogadas there, little bagan indeed. We were surpised that there weren’t any tourist there except us, it’s such a lovely place to visit. Tried the Tea from Mrs Popcorn, refreshing! Oh we had super good coffee at Pontoon Coffee! The brownie there is delicious! Went to the Shan Palace, one of the teacher from Shan Youth Network is the Shan prince. I met him again at the palace and he introduced his grandma to me. His grandma is at the palace everyday sharing about the Shan Empire story with tourists. I don’t know how she can do this every single day. It was lovely to meet them.
Went to the sunset place with Chris. Walked all the way there. Not that far, but not near either. The view was okay, kinda nice. Met Pawel! Omg Pawel! I see him everywhere! I first met him on the bus to Inle Lake, met him again at Hsipaw, and then again at Mandalay! How fated ;) Had milk shake together with Pawel and Chris at Mr Shake. Awesome shakes indeed! Met a guy from Penang who is traveling alone for a year. How rare it is to see a Malaysian guy doing that. I have all my respect for him and I hope I can do the same in the near future.
Day 11-12: Pyin Oo Lwin
Pyin Oo Lwin is the city that I spent the most money, unnecessarily. But it’s also the place where I met so many kind-hearted and helpful people.
How did I get there?:
Where did I stay?:
What did we do?:
Fu Chang brought us to Pwe Kauk Falls. It was packed with locals as it’s a popular picnic spot for them. I am always a fan of waterfalls. I wanted to go to Anisakan Falls [the bigger one] but it’s too far and it wasn’t convenient for Fu Chang. I value spending more time with nice people than anything else. Went to National Kandawgyi Gardens, huge garden. It’s a must see if you visit Pyin Oo Lwin. Nice place. I bid goodbye with Chris as he made his way to Inle Lake while I head to Mandalay by shared taxi with Fu Chang.
Day 13 to 15: Mandalay
Mandalay is a big city, much nicer than Yagon but still, I am not a fan of big city. I like it less there as compared to the other places. But I did had some good time there.
How did I get there?:
That night when I arrive, Fu Chang went to borrow a motorbike from his friend and picked me up from my hostel. He bough me to this bbq place for dinner. Very delicious! He then brought me for a tour around the Royal Palace. He kept saying that he’s very sorry that he had to leave Mandalay for work the next day so he couldn’t bring me around. How silly. I was already extremely thankful for all the time he had spent bringing me around, I couldn’t ask for more. I am really lucky to have met him.
I woke up the next day by a surprised visit from my Dutch friends! I was delighted to see them! They actually came to look for me! I cant describe how happy I was. We cycled to Amarapura, to the famous U Bien Bridge. It was quite a distant. Ivo was so nice to exchange bike with me. See I really meet extremely nice people there. Lucky me. We then went to catch a movie (3000 kyat) together and went for a massage (6500 kyat). Oh massage, I needed that! My leg was aching so badly from all the cycling. We had a super yummy dinner together at a Chinese restaurant.
It was so sweet of them to send me back to my hostel. We bid farewell sadly. We definitely have to meet up again! In Holland, Singapore, wherever!
I spent the next day traveling around Mandalay alone. Didn’t do much, just cycled around. Went to the “Biggest book in the world” and Mandalay Hill. Went back to U Bien Bridge in the evening because I wanted to catch the sunset view. But to my disappointment, it was too cloudy that day. Such a pity! Wasted my motorbike taxi fee of 7000 kyat ($9). Reminder to myself to look at the sky before i think of making a trip to see sunrise or sunset.
Bump into Pawel again. Haha! Had dinner together. And off I hopped into the bus to Yangon.
Day 16: Yangon
How did I get there?:
Arrived at Yangon with my 2 new found friend, Dan from Korea and Tini from Germany. My flight back to Singapore was in the evening so I had plenty of time to travel around. But Yangon is boring… haha. So we decided to take the circle line train which cost us only 200 kyat that goes around the city (3hours in total). We took a taxi from the bus station to the nearest train station, cost us 3000 kyat. We then took the train to Bogyoke Market as Tini and I wanted to shop for some souvenirs. We deposited our backpacks at one random hostel [they are so kind to allow us to do so for free] and started walking around. We walked till we were kinda lost, we almost coudnt find the hostel where we left our backpacks at. Hilarious. Took the train again to the nearest station to the airport and cabbed there for 2500 kyat. I went there earlier because there’s really isn’t much to do.
Overall, I LOVE MYANMAR. It’s definitely a must go like RIGHT NOW because it’s changing so quickly. Go now before things gets more expensive and before the children start asking you for money.