Journeys » Burma-Myanmar (Journeys) » Burma-Myanmar - 2016
BURMA-MYANMAR - THE GOLDEN LAND
It was my second visit, and the changes since 2013 were very visible. In 2012/13, there were no cash machines, no banks, no hotels, no mobile masts, no wi-fi, heaven! And I had no camera.
This in 2016 was not a photo trip. But my Nikon D500 came along and I enjoyed it to bits.
The 300mm and the ultrawide lens came along too.
This time, streets were full of young and old, traffic jams, bars, and restaurants were packed with happy looking people. Sites I could not visit before were now open. The newcomers were a dreadful plastic pollution now a National Emergency and …. Mobile Phones…. what else!
Admiring Mount Popa over lunch from a magnificent hotel right across the mountain was a lot better than trying to make our way to the top “barefoot” walking on monkey’s smelly droppings.
Mandalay still famously dense with mosquitoes. Visited monks at the Amarapura Monastery, and Buddhist Nuns. Buddhist nuns wear pink and keep head shaved.
By boat in Mandalay, and by cart, we visited the colorful village of Inwa, famous for its ancient teakwood monastery, the leaning tower of Ava and the colorful carts and horses.
The famous U-Bein Bridge was so packed with school children. Best photos are taken from a boat. The highlight of Mandalay was the Zegyo Railway Market. We got on the train for a few dollars and virtually railed through kitchens, gardens, of the many wooden shacks along the railway. The train leans right down on its side, like a boat. It’s part of the fun.
Inle Lake was as magical as ever. No plastic. By motor boat, we sailed uphill through a system of waterways and reached the marketplace of the mountain people: the PA-OO ethnic group, recognizable for their head towel. DO NOT MISS IT!
We couldn’t miss the Intha people (the ladies with the long neck, or Giraffe Ladies), now no longer hiding in Thailand but living on the lake.
On our way to Inle airport, we stopped to admire Shwe Yan Pyay. This ancient monastery is the essence of simplicity. The sight of young children studying was magical.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
In 2013 the women asked us for lipstick, in 2016 they asked for perfume!. Monasteries are open to adults and children. They welcome people back for short/long periods. The women shave their hair when they enter the retreat. Age limit for a first time in the temple is 30. Everybody is expected to spend some time in the temple as monk/nun. Sum go at very young age.
Intha children start from the age of 6 wear rings around their neck. A ring is added every year! The weight pushes down the shoulders making the neck look longer. They say it was to protect the women from the attacks by animals….a man’s excuse?
In Asia, people believe and depend on spirits. Even the Army Generals consulted the spirits and changed the driving from left to right overnight. To this day they drive on the right in left-hand drive cars bought cheaply in Japan. They do have the highest number of road deaths in Asia...hardly surprising.
WHERE TO STAY - 2016 - Limited Budget
- Yangon, Best Western Chinatown Hotel, good restaurant, good coffee.
- Bagan, Zfreeti Hotel, small, very good and well located.
- Mandalay, Yadanarpon Dynasty Hotel, not great but next door to good restaurants.
- Inle Lake, Inle Resort & SPA, superb. Bikes available for excursions inland.
WHERE TO STAY - 2013 - Good Budget
- Yangon, Traders Hotel- shangi-la.com - amazing, old British Colonial style. Fab food.
- Yangon, Kandawgyi Palace Hotel, gyipalace-hotel.com, destroyed in 2018! Don’t look at me!
- Bagan, Aureum Palace Hotel Bagan, amazing, infinity pool
- Mandalay, Mandalay Hill Resort, not great…
- InLe Lake, Aureum Resort & Spa, amazing, next door to the InLe Resort
- ABU DHABI, BANGKOK, YANGON, INTERNAL FLIGHTS (by the Agency)
- Internal flights are very safe, well organized, run by the army and on time.
- No Tea in Burma. Leaves are marinated and served with local peanuts.
- We did a street food walk that I did not particularly enjoy.
- Buy your Ruby in Mandalay.
- Zegyo Market (Railway market} quite a sight. If on the train don’t lean out the window.
- The children run out to give you the High Five.
- Internal flights will land in back gardens, no panic. Look for “Languages Waiting” sign.
- Huge numbers of stray dogs producing puppies, puppies, more puppies.
- The Japanese have been hired to organize the rail system in Mandalay.