Myanmar, also known as Burma is the second largest country in Southeast Asia bordering Thailand, Laos, China, India and Bangladesh covering roughly the same area as France. The country has been plagued by internal conflicts since their independence from the British in ’48 due to a large number of ethnic groups with various religions and beliefs and was only recently opened for tourism. The entire gallery from the trip including pictures from Thailand is available here.
Yangon is the former capital of Myanmar (Burma) and the largest city in the country with a population of over 4 million. The city is located in the lower part of the country at the convergence of the Yangon and Bago River and 4 days was planned in the city before continuing north. In hindsight I would say that 2 days is enough as the air is polluted, it is hard to get a decent room without paying an arm and a leg and it is very quiet a few hours after sunset.
[ABOVE] The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is a 99m tall glided Pagoda and Stupa dominating the skyline in Yangon
[ABOVE] Short stop at one of the 39 stations served by the Yangon Circular Railway
[ABOVE] Dinner time at the Bogyoke Market in central Yangon
[ABOVE] The Sule Pagoda in down town Yangon also acts as a roundabout
It will take you around 1 hour to fly from Yangon to the Inle Lake which is the second largest in the country and one of the most visited tourist destinations in Myanmar (Burma). Word of advice; it’s very cold here during peak season and you should bring warm clothes as once there it is hard to buy anything that fits.
[ABOVE] Leg rowing Intha fisherman submerging a his net and then shortly after asking for money for the photo. They row and stand on one leg giving them a better view due to the shallow lake floor covered in tall grass
[ABOVE] Slow train from Shwenyaung (Inle Lake) to Kalaw and Mandalay. Make sure you get seats on the left side facing forward as the view is fantastic and you will have plenty of time to enjoy the scenery. Worth adding is that the train and tracks are not in a very good condition and thus the ride is far from comfortable.
[ABOVE] Chewing betel nut is an imported custom from India and is said to give you energy and minimize stress. The betel nut is distinctively red coloring teeth, lips and the floor as people chewing the stuff constantly has to spit. There is a very informative page on it here
[ABOVE] Sweetened creamer is basically sugar made to look like milk and is added to tee in a 50/50 fashion. Worth trying but it’s healthier to zip on a cup of green tea that is usually available in thermoses at places that sell food
The city of Bagan is located in the Mandalay region and was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan from the 9th to 13th century and between 11th of 13th century you could find as many as 10.000 temples and pagodas in the area. Present day there are around 2200 left and that is more than enough and it is easy to overdose after a few days.
[ABOVE] Sulamani Temple built in 1181 by Narapatisithu (1174-1211). If you walk outside the walls you will find another building with stairs allowing you to get some elevation for a better view of the landscape
[ABOVE] The Shwezigon Pagoda is the most important reliquary shrine in Bagan and was build by King Anawrahta A.D 1076. Today is has one of the most stubborn group of women selling souvenirs I have ever come across. Take your shoes with you in a bag and say no to anything that is free such as the butterfly stickers or brooches as that’s how they get you. Once they tagged you through putting your shoes neatly next to their stand or though colored brooches there is no escape until you left the place with a lighter pocket
[ABOVE] Normally monks would use the traditional umbrellas made out of bamboo and cotton where the bamboo is submerged in mud for a year and the cotton is coated with oil from the Tae Fruit making it resistant to rain. The two monks pictured above selected a more modern approach
[ABOVE] If you decide to wash your clothes in Myanmar and have been traveling in Southeast Asia then you are up for a surprise as here you pay per piece and there are no modern washing machines i.e. someone will be brutally beat up your clothes in a river or lake until they are clean and without color
The second largest city in Myanmar and named after the nearby Mandalay Hill and the last royal capital of Burma. The city is the main commercial hub in the region and the large population of Chinese migrant has put a destinct flavor on the city with a population of around 1 million.
The island of Phuket is the largest in Thailand and around the size of Singapore with a population of about 350000 and a place I could not recommend to anyone as the island is plagued by a tuk-tuk mafia, traffic congestion, corruption, gang wars and other unpleasantnesses. If you are planning to visit Thailand then take my advice and go anywhere else then this godforsaken place.
The capital city of Thailand and with a population of over 8 million and the last stop on a three week vacation. Pictures from previous trips to Thailand and Bangkok is available here.