Myanmar is one of the least developed countries in S-E Asia, least touched by tourist hands. I was curious about this unexplored land and had it on my bucket list for some time. I planned my Myanmar trip for 2 weeks, to make sure I cover all the beauties the country has to offer.
I landed in Yangon, expecting to see a well-developed city but I was quite disappointed. The city is filled with grey buildings, quite dirty and smelly. Very busy with people and cars. It’s not so pleasant to just walk around and get lost on the small streets, an activity I usually enjoy.
But Yangon is home to the most impressive pagoda I’ve ever seen: Shwedagon Pagoda. Here you need to take off your shoes and cover your arms and legs. If you don’t have anything to cover, don’t worry, they have clothes you can borrow for your visit. The platform is huge, with the shiny golden pagoda in the middle and many temples and sculptures surrounding it. There are many people praying and resting, some even having food. It gave me the impression the temple is not only for pray then leave, but also to hang out. I’ve also noticed people washing the temples and putting fresh flowers to the gods.
I had a few days to spare in my Myanmar trip, so I’ve also tried a few restaurants in town, walk in the park and wrote in my diary while enjoying tea and cakes.
Bagan is the most touristy place in Myanmar and no wonder why. It’s an ancient city comprised of thousands of pagodas, from small to big, from ruin to shiny. The best way to explore the place is by scooter, I’ve seen many tourists riding them, but I’m afraid to do it. As I visited Bagan in rainy season, the sun was not too hot, so I was able to walk around, taking tuk-tuk whenever I was feeling tired. But the downside was that due to the same rainy season there were no hot air balloons in the air.
The accommodation is more expensive in Bagan than any other city in Myanmar. I’ve stayed in Old Bagan, as I wanted to be closer to the temples. It came with a nice surprise – sunset over the river.
From Bagan I took a day trip to Mount Popa, which is a bit of a disappointment. It’s a temple on top of a mountain, which from afar looks great. You have to take the stairs up to a small temple, which looks like made from pieces, each room built to crowd the other. Friendly monkeys keep you company throughout the journey.
Tired of exploring by foot, I decided to take a “guided tour” of Mandalay. The guide was a taxi driver who didn’t speak any English and who drove me around to all points of interest. The city is rich in history, with the royal palace and many beautiful pagodas. I had a stop on a street where marble pagodas were made. One after another, there were many stores selling white marble buddhas. And to make it complete, I also had a stop at a store selling wood buddhas and other gods.
Throughout the Myanmar
I didn’t have high expectations from Inle Lake, and it was the only one which exceeded them. It’s always the case, isn’t it? I was thinking it’s just a fisherman village. But the lake is so beautiful, with mountains mirroring in the blue waters. You sit comfortably in a wooden boat while admiring the views, spotting the fishermen.
The village next to the lake is very laid back, and the food is nice and cheap. There is not so much to do except for visiting the lake. I had a few days here as well, just relaxing and enjoying the nice food. My accommodation staff prepared fresh pancakes every morning.
Overall, my Myanmar trip was quite interesting. 2 weeks is quite a long time, but it takes 10h bus rides to move from one city to another. I wanted to travel slow and enjoy the local experience. It was also my last solo trip, I had plenty of time for reflection.