Myanmar (Burma)

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 (Rangoon)

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.

DSC_5512.JPG[ABOVE] The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is a 99m tall glided Pagoda and Stupa dominating the skyline in Yangon

DSC_5404.JPG[ABOVE] Yangon Circular Railway is the local commuter rail network that serves the Yangon metropolitan area and it takes around 3 hours to get around the entire track

[ABOVE] Short stop at one of the 39 stations served by the Yangon Circular Railway

DSC_5552.JPG[ABOVE] Dinner time at the Bogyoke Market in central Yangon

DSC_5569.JPG[ABOVE] The Sule Pagoda in down town Yangon also acts as a roundabout

DSC_5258.JPG[ABOVE] Yangon is somewhat different from other Southeast Asian cities which is particular noticeable in the evening where things quiet down considerable and because scooters are not allowed

Inle Lake

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.

DSC_5665.JPG[ABOVE] The remains of the Air Bagan Fokker 100 that crashed during approach killing three people two days before landing at the Heho airport

DSC_5760.JPG[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

DSC_6005.JPG[ABOVE] Another fisherman and here you can see how they paddle using one leg. Only men do this and women paddle the traditional way sitting down with their legs crossed

DSC_6347.JPG[ABOVE] Locals feeding seagulls

DSC_6564.JPG[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.

DSC_6652.JPG[ABOVE] Farmers close to the city of Kalaw

DSC_6744.JPG[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

DSC_6782.JPG[ABOVE] Kalaw is a small hill town 1300m above sea with some good opportunities for hiking

DSC_6802.JPG[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

Bagan

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.

DSC_7023.JPG[ABOVE] Novitiation ceremony – In the Myanmar Buddhist tradition it is compulsory that every boy over eight years old to twenty has to enter the Buddhist Order for at least a full week.

DSC_7065.JPG[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

DSC_6999.JPG[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

DSC_7168.JPG[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

DSC_7250.JPG[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

 

Mandalay

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.

DSC_7347.JPG[ABOVE] Buddhist temples breaking the tree line a very early and foggy morning

DSC_7285.JPG[ABOVE] U Min Thonze Caves from the outside at Sagaing Hill 20km outside of Mandalay

DSC_7291.JPG[ABOVE] U Min Thonze Caves from the inside

DSC_7280.JPG[ABOVE] Your health and safety representative worst nightmare and the poor guy on the picture is bound to get silicosis if he does not already have it

Phuket, Thailand

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.

DSC_7367.JPG[ABOVE] Four in a row is a popular game in Thailand

DSC_7375.JPG[ABOVE] Kathoey’s (Ladyboy) dancing in one of the many bars on the Soi Bangla road. Here you can see everything from prostitution, drugs, endangered species except the police

DSC_7427.JPG[ABOVE] Kathoey on Soi Bangla

DSC_7473.JPG[ABOVE] Two what seems to be bored Thai ladies trying to pickup customers for a bar

DSC_7442.JPG[ABOVE] Kata Beach is one of the better on Phuket

Bangkok, Thailand

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.

DSC_7585.JPG[ABOVE] What would Bangkok be without the tuk-tuk’s? Expensive (compared to metered taxis) but fun way of cruising around the city after sunset

DSC_7627.JPG[ABOVE] MBK is Bangkok’s legendary shopping mall and packed with thousands of small shops selling mostly pirated clothes, DVD’s, shoes and suitcases

Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand ’13
44 votes, 4.86 avg. rating (97% score)
  • Yangon Circular Railway
    Yangon Circular Railway
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    Christmas Holiday – Myanmar (Burma)

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