Category: Myanmar/Burma


Yangon

After arriving 2 Canadians, an Australian and I got a cab for 2000 kayat each failed to find the Canadians hotel because it wasn’t open yet. Fail Agoda. We then listened to the Austrian who directed the cab to motherland which is supposed to be 7000 kayat for a single with free airport shuttle. Still free shuttle but 22000 for a single and far from everything. Paid 500 kayat  each to go to my area which looks like what I expect Kao San Road to be (it wasn’t). First place said 22000 kayat as well and no Wi-Fi. Finally found Mahabandoola which is 5 for single (sold out) for 10 for a double. I took it anyway. Free towel and soap. No plugs in the room but who wants my phone battery?

I walked outside to find the Austrian (the Canadians were having none of this area) and was asked to each English from 930-11. Okay, why not? Hopped on a truck, drove a block and talked to girls from 9-930 ranging from 16-42 and all ranges. They said I’m so dark I could be one of them. Then I thought with a mic and board for 40 minutes or so then more foreigners came and we talked in small groups. Then back to me and phonics for 10 minutes then I had each ask me 2 questions then class was finally over. So hard with so many levels and no books. I told them to watch local movies with English subs to help them learn. Called U Aung Hein Kyaw English Class. The monk was from Bahaddanata Dha-Maparala and said I can stay with him for free next time and his monastery has great views of the Shwedaron Pagoda. Not much to do in Yangon, so I was happy to teach.

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I went looking for the circle train and realized I needed sunblock. Then I fell and sliced my hand open.

Mailed the post card for 500 kayat each. They have yet to arrive after more than a month. Asked the same tour office for directions to the circle train station and he seemed annoyed I asked instead of booked anything with him. Sent me to the tourist info office who said it was now 2 USD to go on the next one was at 2:50. I felt like they should run more often but it wasn’t ever close to full except the one leaving after 5. It was still 1 USD.

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A monk kept asking for my number where I was going and saying he loved me. Can’t I tell a monk to f-off? He kept grabbing my hand and trying to play footsey. Once touched by boob. He left after 45 minutes. His friend didn’t even want to sit with him.

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The train was more dull than interesting but it was interesting to see that people dry their clothes next to /on the tracks, fly kites by the wind the train creates (or have teddy bears and are hugging them next to the train) and aren’t as aggressive as online says. No one came in the window to sell food. Kids even threw rocks at the train and some set off fireworks (one pissed off a pig bigger than the boy, causing the boy to run).  It took exactly 3 hours.

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Next I walked (got turned around once) to the Shwedagon Pagoda which is now either 5USD or 550o kyat (should be 4845 kayat) so they messed up the ‘updated’ price or just wanted to rip people off. Downstairs wanted to donation for shoe keeping. Halfway up was pointless security (I guess because they had airport like walk through but everyone got waved though) then you pay entry and I was told my shorts are too short which is incorrect because they go my knees and they wouldn’t listen to a word about making them longer. Had to leave my shoes and take a skirt making my goal of leaving though another exit pointless. I saw other people inside with short shorts on.

Pagoda is overrated. Very crowded. Wi-Fi. …lots of extra lights so every picture is over-exposed-crap pretty much.

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I then walked a bit to get a cab which was 2000 kayat back to the hostel. I tried to find chips but have had no luck and got egg cake and lime juice from Tokyo donuts. Cake was heavy and 500 kayat, juice was a confusing order, I guess and 1000 kayat.

Woke at 530 am for my 830 flight. Had to wake boys sleeping on the floor to open the gate in front of the door. I saw a cockroach in my room too. I got the most senior cab driver who had to wake the others. He told me the US decided to attack Syria (which they didn’t) and then asked tons of English questions. 7000 kayat.

Have to show proof to get in-inside, just like New Delhi (and a lot of Souteast Asia). Security level 1 is passed before going to check in and get your ticket. I was too early to check in though, Met Alicia from the US and Ken from Australia in line and chatted with them. Checked in, changed money to get 44USD back. Immigration with a new guy so it took quite a long time, breakfast of eggs and lime juice for 7USD, security and then waiting with Alicia and Ken again. Ken had a Bangkok subway map and seemed to know his way around while Alicia had stayed in my area before so it was nice to get to know them.

Arrived at 4:15, paid $5 for entry and bought my ticket to Yangon for 22,000 kayat. Were technically in Nyungshwe. Met 4 others, JS (French) and his Chinese girlfriend (Spring), a Dutch girl and Swiss girl. The Dutch and Swiss girls are staying elsewhere (after we tried to all find a place together) but JS and his girlfriend and I are at Gold Star for 13USD a night (single) which is government discount (was 15USD). I tried not to stay in hotels as they pay more money to the government, but there were no guest houses left under 30USD.

We went for a walk to see the town and ask about boats. The best plan was the first guy we talked to and only 1000 kayat more at 5000 kayat each (15000 kayat for a full boat of 5 but there is only 3 of us). We talked about how we just wanted to go out on the boat, not go to the cigar shop or anything like that because we wouldn’t buy anything, and the guy at 2 Thumbs Up agreed that it was best because he didn’t like the cigar shop.

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Had dinner of Shan noodles and watched K drama and Thai vs. Myanmar football. The noodles were different from everything else that I had in Myanmar and great. Only 2000 kayat for 3 people to eat with 1 coke and 1 sprite. I asked for lime soda and got sprite. Oh well.

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Had some issues with the shower here but I guess the one that’s blue and red is hot, not the two that are just red.

Two beds, towels, soap, shampoo, TV (air force one, bandits, here after) fan in room.

When I woke up it was raining and JS and Spring and I were worried about the boat ride but didn’t have anything else to do so we decided to go for it. I went and told the guy at 2 Thumbs Up (the first place we stopped at) who remembered me. Breakfast was eggs and toast but there were other options.

The guy was supposed to meet us at 8 but he didn’t come in so I went outside at 8:15, saw a guy who didn’t say anything and went back in. then we all went outside to walk to 2 Thumbs Up and he said hello. Not a great start. Walked to the canal.

The boat ride was about 20 minutes before we got to the lake (it stopped raining by then).

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Then we didn’t get to the market port until 9:55 and we told we had 1 hour there but we knew it was a 20-25 minute walk which would take longer due to mud. Seemed silly that we had just a short time. We didn’t get there until half an hour had passed. I didn’t think it was special other than the fruit and vegetables I didn’t know I couldn’t be explained to me, so it was unhelpful. Standard Asian market but with mud (many people bought flowers and they are obsessed with Psy).

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From there we went to a shop which we said  yesterday we didn’t want to go to, then another shop with girls with long necks. Odd to take pictures of them like it’s a human zoo. They were sewing and the fabric wasn’t nice because it was very rough. Next he tried to stop at another shop and we said no!

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Then was lunch of tofu curry (not curry by any standard) and lime juice which was 3500 kayat. After we walked to the Paung Daw Oo Pagoda where we made fun of a ‘gang’—the boys were wearing the same pants. 500 kayat camera fee. I thought the chipped floor outside was cooler than anything inside. Inside there wasn’t a Buddha but jars to put gold takes on (but girls couldn’t). A guy was reading into a loud speaker we could here from the restaurant.

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At this point the sun came out so much we all used the umbrellas because we didn’t have sunblock (due to the rain in the morning). Silly, because I knew I should have put it on. We kept going south which worried us (we knew thanks to Springs’ phone) and we went to another weaving shop! I don’t care about discount I don’t want to be here! We talked to our driver though translator and found out next was the cigar shop which even the guy at 2 Thumbs Up said was bad. When we said no more shops the driver was annoyed but whatever guy—we have to be back by 5 thus your day is shorter! He must get commission from the shops.

Next JS jumped in and said there was tons of algae that essentially helped him float. Then onto the jumping cat monastery which we knew did not have jumping cats anymore but I guess some thought it did. It’s still a nice old building which great views and gold. The cats are very lazy now.

Then we had to talk to another guy to tell our driver that we didn’t want to straight back because then we’d be back too soon. They kept trying to tell us all the markets were closed today but we said we want to one. Turns out they were closed by this time. Said we wanted to visit another when we booked it and wish we knew better.

We went to a town on the east side which had a school that was letting out a great view for sunset but we couldn’t stay that late.

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Docked at 5:00. I’m not too impressed with the fisherman. I’m sure using your legs is easy once you’re used to it and they’re probably stronger. Not sure what the slapping of the water was though.

Hung out at the hotel for a bit.

Truck picked us all up around 6:10 and I got straight on the bus for my solo seat 😦 but a creep next to me who kept staring. Water, Pepsi, 2 pastries, and a cold cloth is not unlimited tea and cake like De Anne said. The person in front put their seat all the way back and never moved unless I did to get out after them. Rude. Food stops but since an Austrian guy said he was 2 days bedridden because of food from Bagan to Inle I didn’t try it. Bought some spicy chips and an apple which I lost the next day trying to find a hotel. Slept a lot even though there was a strange French movie playing called District B13 about drugs and guns.

Woke up quite early even for Busan time but just waited because it was too early. Woke up for real around 7:45 for breakfast just after 8:15 of toast with butter and strawberry-sugar jam, watermelon and tea and terrible coffee.

Left around 9 for a day for temples. I can’t begin to describe how beautiful they are. When you think it’s the same as the last you will find something new. Pictures hardly do it justice. Many you can climb to the top via steps or find your own way (climb).

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One where I could see the tallest temple (that you could not climb) had 4 Buddha’s (like most) but the main one was original except the hair, the next original but it was black more recently turned gold via donations, the next was teak wood with original body and the last was new because of fighting in the 70s. This was seen after an AMAZING lunch at Be Kind to Animals. Mostly Indian flavors but with Myanmar tourists. Next to us were a hilarious Sigapourian-Indian couple who got all the recipes. I had a wrap which was more of Dhal with a tortilla around it which you needed a knife and fork for. Magda had a Bagan special dish that was the best of the group using a special leaf (curry). I decided the spiciness of low because it was so hot out. Also had lime soda. 5,000 kayat.

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It started to rain a bit around 3:30 so we stayed in the biggest temple hoping it would stop but it did not so we went onto the main road back, stopping once to check out some deserted temples and walk to one where you climbed the outside. Koreans were there! Then it really started to rain (5:00?) so we headed back and arrived around 5:30 to be soaking wet L shower was silly but washed my underwear (from squatters with no toilet paper) and sweat handkerchief.

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Had dinner at wonderful Tasty which had Nepolise food which I’ve never had was quite good. Lime-Ginger-Juice for 800 and 10 veggie dumplings with soup and spicy sauce for 2,500. Just soup was 1000 it took quite a while but you knew it was fresh because you could hear the chopping and frying.

Woke up at 6:30 to be ready at 7:00 but found out the bus will come to me after 7:30. Oh well. Our bus got stuck in mud for about 30 minutes a truck got stuck when it pulled over to try and help us. We went through beautiful mountains and forests but the road was so twisty I almost got sick. Almost got sick also because an old lady was smoking on the bus (cloves). Lunch was horrible veggies and rice with no flavor.

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Met Sophie and Magda on the bus from Mandalay (Germany and Poland) who were also solo and we decided to stay at Shwe Na Di Guest house for 2 nights for 40 total (13.33 each). It had AC and fan and breakfast and no bathroom.

Went outside while Sophie had tea and rented a bike with Magda for 2000 kayat for 2 days and set off! Well first we tried to get a better map (than the one in Lonely Planet) but ‘BEST Information’ had no one inside. We took Nyaung U Kyaukpadaung Rd towards the airport turning west and going north toward Bagan Viewing Tower but that is private and cost 15000 kayat to go up. No thanks.

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We then then backtracked to nearly the main road, turned the other way and went to a small temple, met a nice monk at a small monastery who spoke really good English and said we were going the wrong way. Oh well. Went somewhere different!

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We then walked to a bigger monastery with caves that people had made for the monks which were a bit creepy dark inside. There I bought 10 postcards for 2000 kayat. After we saw Leimyethna Pahto, Payathonza (which the monk said was really 3), Tayok Pye Paya, Thambula Pahto, Kyat Kan Kyaong, and Nandamnnya Pahto and many more which I’m sure lonely planet cannot fit in the book (again, we were using Lonely Planet).

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For some we had to go through the monks fields (which the monk we spoke to said was fine) and dense spikey brush. My legs burnt a bit for days. I’m sure I saw some that many other foreigners haven’t because of this.

A man in an official looking blue shirt pointed us to one quite far away because the paintings on the walls inside were original. After getting there it was amazing, especially because the paint was original. Hardest one to get to I think. None of the Burmese tourists went that far.

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We met two nice girls, one spoke great English and guided as to her restaurant for water. I think we would have gone there anyway because we thought it was the right direction to get home and it was only 2 minutes away. 400 kayat for water there. She told us the white pagoda (last for the day) was the main one for her village for 6000 people. It was the wrong way, but they helped us get back.

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After water at her shop we headed back going past the watch tower again and seeing our mistake–don’t go down the gravel road to the hotels and tower, keep going straight from the main road.

Missed the hostel because of a delivery truck.

Shower was cold but that’s fine.

Went to dinner next door and it wasn’t great—neither was the beer but it was better than Cass (Korean beer). My prawn curry had unshelled prawn and the green beans were bland. Only 15000 kayat for 3 meals (each with multiple dishes) and 4 beers though.

Took a car with Mr. Linn and Felix and Kris around the towns around Mandalay.

First we saw a very famous temple and almost got lost in it. It was called Mahamuni and cost 1000 for a camera fee. It was quite beautiful but easy to get lost in.  I bought an onion (?) paint paining for 2,000 which he made in less than 5 minutes which I think was quite amazing.

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Next was more towards Amarapura to where the monks live that we can visit anytime, but lunch is best because most came out and wait. Felt kind of bad, except that people take pictures of me all the time. Some of the monks looked to be five years old.

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Next was straight to Sagaing…well if you count the huge traffic jam for the nut festivals last day.

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To get to Sagaing we had to cross a bridge and then climb a hill to reach another very famous pagoda with many Burmese tourists who wanted my photo. This temple was larger and just as beautiful. They had rabbit and frog statues too. Also clothes stores at the top which I found odd. A smaller shrine was to the right but that also looked like a care takers house because there were clothes (non monk) hanging to dry. On the way up and down there are many other pagodas and very points.

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Next we drove to the boat point for Inwa and had lunch (noodle soup) for 2,000 kayat. Many girls harassed us to buy jewelry. I said I had some and one girl said hers was more beautiful so I acted offended which made her laugh. One looked 4 but was 7 (malnourished?).  The boat was 800 kayat there and back. Once there you need a horse cart for 2000 per person. I liked our guy and horse a lot.

First were ruins which I thought were amazing, but the whole ‘island’ is basically ruins so it loses its special-ness. In this one Buddha’s face had been rubbed off or fallen off.

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The monastery was made of teak wood and you can still smell it very strongly. This one is so old it has something’s in it that you don’t see elsewhere because of changed times.

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The clock tower was sad because you could no longer go up although it looked like the leaning tower of Pisa.

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Next, and last, was another old temple, but this one was white. Great views.

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Then we took the boat back but first we saw a girl getting off who wanted nothing more than a handshake and to say thank you. I bought 2 bracelets for 1000 kayat (originally 1 for 2000) and mine were more expensive because of the elephants.

Sunset at U Bein bridge was not too special (maybe because of a cloud) but the bridge was neat and I had my photo taken a ton more. It’s the longest teak bridge in the world. A sign there for locals sounded like a threat to treat tourists nice or else. The boats were beautiful.

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We learned that government jobs pay 40,000 kayat a month which is only good for poorly educated people who have no family to support.

Booked the bus for 8:30, pickup at 7:30 for 12000 kayat which is more than De Anne paid

The truck/taxi was a few minutes late to pick me and some others up but we got to the bus at 8:00 and left shortly after 8:30 making more stops to pick up some locals. Classic rock and strange movies played in the morning and hip hop after our 20 minute lunch stop.

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At the hotel I made some friends and, in the end, we booked a taxi tour for tomorrow. At the same time I found out that the slow boat to Bagan is looking like a no go because the front desk said its only Wednesday and Sundays.

Walked around a lot looking for exchange places and an ATM, finding delicious (300 kayat) noodles along the way and ending up at the royal palace.

I was told it’s not great but I liked it, even though I felt sick after getting there. Lots of gold and the one very tall building that you could go up (I couldn’t) but you only really saw greenery up there. The lady who sold the tickets said it was under construction but I didn’t see any. The military feel around it was different, as De Anne said.

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Kris and Felix went onto the hill but I didn’t feel well enough so I took a motorbike to ET for 1,500. Shower wasn’t great because someone else stole the water, but it was hot and they give you a towel (and toilet paper). I’m said I missed the sunset but I would have been unhappy, tired and maybe thrown up or gotten really sick.

I woke up many times because of heat and sand but felt a lot better. Breakfast was eggs, 3 pieces of toast with strawberry jam or butter and tea or coffee.