A country at civil war for 60 years (and counting), a country divided between 16 different guerrilla groups (some places in Myanmar are still at war and do not welcome tourists of any kind), slowly trying to make steps towards a democracy. Where China meets India, where a smile and a hello are greeted by an even bigger smile and a warmer hello; this is Myanmar. A people so proud of where they come from that they want to show you every square inch, every buddha, temple, stupa, and welcome you to taste all of the flavors their rich culture has to offer. Burma, as the locals still refer to themselves as, was a British Colony until they gained independence from British Rule on January 4, 1948. In 1970, the new Burmese gov.t decided to separate itself as much as it could from the British. One such change was the direction of driving on the road. They went from driving like the British on the left to driving on the right side of the road, however, due to minimal amounts of money, and second-hand imports from Japan, the cars stayed the same, with the driver sitting on the right side of the car. To this day, around the country, some of the signs are still facing the wrong direction. Ah.mazing.
We ate from street vendors, ordered everything on every menu because we had no idea what anything was, we walked through markets, we learned that they still appreciate the handmade here – woodworking, steel, fishing, gold leafing, you name it they do it, often 7 days a week for more hours than they probably want to admit, just to make a few Kyat for their family. We rented bicycles, scootered on dirt roads between ancient stupas and temples, hopped from one moth ball smelling van to another moth ball smelling van, took a flight every 3 days to a new location (meal provided for each 45 minute flight), saw about 10,000 buddhas (not even kidding – most were gold, so that was ok), visited 1 of 2 wineries in the whole country, swam and danced in a river (probably not so sanitary….), climbed countless stairs – barefoot, gave alms to monks at sunrise, saw more buddhas (seriously.), and saw a country still true to who they are. The day we hot air ballooned over the stupas and temples in Bagan is EASILY, easily one of my top 10, maybe even top 5, days of my life.
our travel itinerary:
03 Mar : Arrival (Yangon). Transfer to hotel.
04 Mar : Yangon sightseeing by private van.
05 Mar : Yangon-Bagan (W9 141, ETD 06:20, ETA 07:40). A visit to Mt Popa and Bagan sightseeing by private van.
06 Mar : Balloons Over Bagan (Classic Service). Bagan sightseeing by bikes.
07 Mar : Bagan-Mandalay (W9 406, ETD 08:15, ETA 08:45). Excursion to Amarapura and Sagaing by private van and a visit to Inwa by horse-cart. Enjoy sunset at famous U Bein Bridge.
08 Mar : Boat trip to Mingun and Mandalay sightseeing by private van. Enjoy sunset at Mandalay Hill.
09 Mar : Mandalay-Heho (W9 425, ETD 09:15, ETA 09:45). Proceed to Inle by private van and Inle lake sightseeing by boat.
10 Mar : A visit to Nan Pam 5th Day Market and a visit to Indein village by boat and hiking around Indein village.
11 Mar : Excursion to Pindaya by private van. Fly back to Yangon (W9 129, ETD 16:55, ETA 19:10). Transfer to hotel.
12 Mar : Transfer to airport for departure.
Where we stayed:
had Spring as our amazing guide.