Myanmar Trip – A Stunning Place We Were Very Lucky To Go To.
Myanmar Trip – December 2015
So, this Myanmar trip was before I started doing Travel Wanker posts, and it remains one of my favourite trips, which I am so grateful we got to do.
As this is 8 years ago, I’m going mainly on the photos and the things they remind me of.
What I do remember is that I loved this trip!
It did feel like a privilege to go when we did, and with all the unrest & issues that have happened since, I think the luck/privilege is enhanced.
The Journey Begins
We flew from London to Vietnam, and then from Vietnam, we went to Myanmar.
One thing I remember is we somehow got upgraded to business class on the Vietnam to Myanmar journey, which meant in Vietnam, we managed to go into a business lounge and have some free beers and food.
We also were in the business class section for the 2-hour flight.
Nothing that special, except you got a drink before you took off! I think I remember ordering us both brandy!!
I am sure I had my reasons, but fuck knows what they were!!!
Arrival in Yangon…The Trip Starts!
Then we landed in Yangon, met our guide, and started our trip.
I vividly remember being met in the foyer by someone from the tour company and handing over the tour money in crisp US dollar notes.
The company was called Pro Niti Travel, and they were excellent! I couldn’t recommend them highly enough!
The first call on the tour was to see a reclining Buddha, which is a Buddha that is lying down.
So…the Buddha was fucking enormous!
It was housed in something as big as a hangar!
It was SO impressive & stunning!
Did I mention how big it was!? WTF!
Shwedagon Pagoda – Yangon
Then we went to the Shwedagon Pagoda, which is also fucking enormous.
This is on another scale.
It is gold and colossal.
It is surrounded by even more pagodas, temples, and shrines, each impressive and signifying something.
Everywhere you looked, there were more and more Buddhas.
A lot of monks were present.
This place was monumental in size.
In the evening, they lit candles all around it.
It was so special & unique that we’ve got a picture of this in our spare bedroom (the bottom picture, not the one where I look fat & utterly jet-lagged!).
Our First Internal Flight…
The next day, we took our first internal flight.
Now we’ll both confess to saying that we assumed there would be some sort of a shit aircraft & we would be putting our lives into their hands!
…but actually, we weren’t.
They were propeller-based and new, felt very safe, came with a little meal, and were spot on.
TBH, it was a good job! We were going to be taking a few on our trip!
Discovering The Stunning Area That Is Bagan
The second place we went to was Bagan.
Holy shit, what a place this was!
We would both admit this was one of the best and most impressive places we have ever visited.
It was stunning!
Our Myanmar trip was split into different areas, and a new guide came to each area.
I remember the guide for Bagan was quite funny and took us one morning for coffee at a local place; all we both remember is the coffee had lots of bits in it and that it would seem washing up in this part of the World was illegal!
The next stop was the Shwezigon Pagoda, another massive pagoda in gold with lions on the corner.
Again, it’s just so impressive and huge.
Eventually, we would get used to the utter size and beauty of these things!
The Magic of Bagan
The next day, we travelled to Began, just a vast area of land utterly covered in pagodas and the like.
It has the most extensive and densest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas, and ruins in the world.
Some are massive, some are tiny, but they are everywhere.
It is just so stunning. I know I keep using this word, but it was!
Once you go into these pagodas or temples, they’re full of even more Buddhas.
The place is utterly magic.
Next was the Ananda Temple, another enormous Buddha temple. This was getting refurbished. Just look at the size of it!
Next on the agenda, we did a boat trip to see the sunset. It was just us and the guide on the boat.
We managed to get a few beers for the boat, and I bought a T-shirt from someone on the way and paid too much for it!! The guide found it very funny!
Then we went to Mount Popa.
It is an extinct volcano home to a monastery at the top. Of course it is! Why wouldn’t it be?
It is supposed to house the most powerful spirits (Nats) in the Country, which is why it is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites in the country.
This place was great!
It was like a Pagoda/temple…but on top of a massive rock!! A bit like the Sigiriya in Sri Lanka.
You go up rickety stairs of different types (777 in total).
Funnily enough, there is another fully gold shrine at the top!
As you go up, monkeys are everywhere, which keeps you on edge and alert! They are the mean feral bastard types.
Exploring More of Bagan
The next day, we did a full trip around Bagan and all of the pagodas, which was superb.
Until you’re there, you have no concept of just how many there are, and then in the evening, we went up one to watch the sunset.
There were loads of people doing it, clambering everywhere to get a good view & health & safety were not given any consideration!
You could see for miles & they were everywhere. All different sizes, shapes and types. It was just so impressive.
I took a lot of pictures! But you just had to.
A Touch of Home
We also found a Wetherspoons pub in Bagan…
Exploring Mandalay…Our Next Stop
Here we went to see, funnily enough, more temples!
We also went to a particular temple with a massive gold Buddha – MKo Moeahamuni Buddhist Temple.
But only men were allowed near it – women weren’t allowed to enter the chamber.
You can buy gold leaf there, and you go and put gold leaf on the Buddha’s body. Mental!
The next stop was Mandalay Palace
It was impressive and massive (no surprise there!).
Then we went to a wooden Buddhist temple.
It was an old temple with lots of carvings – Shwenandaw Buddhist Temple.
This was where one of our guides was young and quite opinionated, not in a bad way, and he told us all about the temple’s history…but then he went on quite a bit about the Country’s politics, etc.
Lisa still mentions it to this day 😂🤣.
A Series of More Temples & Pagodas…
Kuthodaw Pagoda – Massive. I’m running out of words.
An enourmous pagoda surrounded by lots of smaller white ones.
Then we went to the Maha Gayaon Monastery.
This was full of training monks, and we were lucky to witness them all walking to go and eat (I think). There were hundreds of them! The streets were lined with people watching.
All the monks held bowls in front of them, and as they walked past, people were putting money and sweets in their bowls.
I assume this was for good luck, and the Chinese tourists seemed obsessed with handing money out!
Yadana Hsemee Pagoda Complex
Yadana Hsemee Pagoda Complex – This was a miserable day in terms of weather. It was pissing down, but in amongst this was just a fantastic ruined temple where there was once an entirely white Buddha with 2 really eerie-looking boys looking like they were hiding behind pillars!
This was one of my favourite places on the trip because of it.
All of these places were so stunning it was ridiculous.
They were also mostly dead regarding visitors/tourists & it seemed like we had some private, exclusive access.
The next stop was the Umin Thonze Pagoda, another one of my favs.
It was a massive circular room that was full of Buddha – it was great for pictures.
Water Hotel Experience
The next stop was Inle Lake and a really cool hotel – Shwe Inn Tha Floating Resort.
You have to get there by boat – When we first went there, it was pissing down, as you can see from these pictures & my happy face!
When you arrive at this floating hotel, you go through a little gate – impressive and unique.
We were here for a few days and explored the area with our guide, boat and driver.
What is mad is how they deal with what I assume are power lines in the area.
We stumbled across a festival while out and about on one of the days.
Again, this was another unique experience, and to see the number of boats parked so people could attend the festival.
We saw plenty more Pagodas and a few women with necks stretched with bands (as you do!).
This video shows what our daily commute to the hotel was like.
It also shows that the weather wasn’t shit all the time!
Shwe Inn Tein Pagoda
This was an area with loads of pagodas and Buddhas, but they were all in quite bad nick and were slowly getting refurbished.
This offered such photo opportunities; it was ridiculous.
Even In Myanmar, We Get To Do Wine Tasting!!
Yep, another excursion was to a vineyard.
We took a couple of bikes, riding through the countryside and then to the Vineyard, where we did a bit of wine tasting.
Another bizarre experience.
Flight To The Beach…
To end our trip, we had arranged to spend a few days relaxing on the beach.
We took an internal flight to the country’s west coast & Ngapali Beach.
This is where I also found a place (Silloda Restaurant) that did deep-fried hot and salty chicken with fresh chilli. It was utterly gorgeous!
We went back a few times & I wrote on their wall about it (I was allowed!).
We did very little on this part of our trip except sunbathe, drink & eat. Magic!
This is also where the picture comes from that I use for the TravelWankers website header:
Some of the sunsets here were beautiful.
Whilst here, we also missed my Mum’s birthday! The only time this has ever happened!
Return to Yangon
After our time on the beach, we flew back to Yangon, ready to take our flight home.
We still had a day sightseeing around Yangon, which included a temple that, in theory, housed one of Buddha’s teeth.
As with many things in this Country, the temple was all gold.
We wandered around Yangon with our guide, looking at various old colonial buildings that were now run-down or derelict.
This was a time filler.
We eventually went to a restaurant with an outside area for our last meal before our flight home.
It was a lovely little garden with many paper lanterns hanging from the trees.
For some reason, I remember this well.
Final Thoughts About Our Trip To Myanmar…
Our trip was fantastic.
It was so well arranged and went without any hiccups.
It’s such a shame that nobody gets to go at the moment because of such things as alleged genocide!!
But I’m so pleased we got to go.
It had only just opened up when we went, and not long after we returned, it got shut down again.
But it’s undoubtedly one of my favourite places we have ever visited & one of my most memorable life experiences.