MYANMAR WAS GREAT.
Our first stop was Mandalay, where we had a few days to chill out before our next round of travelling. We spent the first night searching out a nice Burmese meal, and later ended up at the cinema. No judgements please, when you can see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for £1, you jump on it!
The next day we hired a taxi and went on a tour of the city. We started by visiting a monastery, where we met a monk called Aeyarwadi Naymin, who took us round his monastery as he wanted to practice his English (which was already really good). He taught us many things about the life of a young monk, we didn’t know that they can leave the monastic life whenever they choose, for instance if they want to start a family. We then continued on to U Min Thonze Temple on the side of Sagaing Hill, which overlooks the city. We climbed to the very top, and found hundreds of butterflies, we even saw one that was as big as a (small) bird! Unfortunately we had our first injury of the trip, when Amie trapped her finger in the hinge of the toilet…cue frantic washing and hand sanitizing to keep any mean Burmese germs away.
The next stop was Inwa, only reachable by boat. Once we arrived we took a crazy horse and cart journey to the temples and ruins on the island. (This I would not recommend as the horses were treated quite badly. If you can, walk a little further and hire a bicycle instead. We would definitely have done this if we had known). Bumpiest ride EVER. For sunset we headed to U Bein Bridge, thought to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world. Unfortunately it was fairly cloudy, but still not something to miss!
For our last day in Mandalay we:
- Visited Mandalay Palace.
- Spent an enjoyable half hour mucking around on the strange public street exercise machines.
- Enjoyed the view over Mandalay Hill for sunset.
Next stop was Bagan, which is just an amazing place, but the highlight had to be watching the sun rise over the many pagodas. We found a nearby temple, climbed up and grabbed ourselves a seat from which to watch the hot air balloons rising (and take many photos for the gram like the basics we are). Definitely one to tick off the bucket list!
Later on we hired bikes and set off (after having Kasia’s chain snap after a grand total of 20 metres) and spent the day exploring as many of the thousands of temples as we could manage, stopping for a break at a vegetarian restaurant and grabbing a mango lassi while having a cuddle with the tiniest puppies I’ve ever seen.
We then boarded our ‘Joyous Journey’ (not quite the adjective I would use) bus to Inle Lake. On our first day we hired bicycles and set off on a circular route that had been recommended. This included a boat trip with our bikes to the other side of the lake, a lovely ride with views of sunflower fields, rice paddies and the usual lines of women walking the side of the road carrying huge loads on their heads.
On the second day we went on a boat tour of the lake and visited a number of floating fishing villages. We saw many locals working on their crafts, including producing materials made from the fibers of lotus plants, silver jewellery, and boat making. We also saw our first snake, when Kasia almost cycled over it. V exciting. Inle Lake was such a relaxed place with loads of really nice cafes/restaurants to eat and basically just chill out in. We all agreed it was our favourite stop in Myanmar!
After a pretty disrupted night’s sleep on the overnight bus (Myanmar is almost as bad as India for constant horn beeping!), we arrived in Yangon, for our last few days in the country. We downloaded an online tour of the city, and basically engineered our own walking tour for the first day. The highlight of Yangon was the huge Shwedagon Pagoda. This was pretty expensive compared to other attractions we’d visited, but definitely worth seeing.
The Burmese have been the loveliest, kindest people we’ve met so far, I know we say this every time but genuinely so sad to be leaving Myanmar (…ignoring how late this blog post has gone up, whoops!) and would highly recommend anyone to travel there if possible!
A & K