24 hours in Yangon, Myanmar!

Catching the first glimpse of Myanmar from the plane window, I was overwhelmed which a sense of achievement! A country I has longed to travel to for years and it was finally in the palm of my hand. The golden sunset lit up the west and the rain filled clouds created silhouettes, which matched the horizon of the beautiful fields of Pagodas in Bagan.

thankaka.jpgPacing through customs I noticed the many beautiful women dressed so formally in official uniforms, yet their faces still coasted in Thanaka! Other countries in South East Asia have lost or adapted a little of their culture from the overflow of tourists. But the Burmese culture was still so raw and strong.

To enter Myanmar you must obtain visas prior to arrival, I used https://www.myanmarvisaonline.org/ to apply online. Once submitted the visa will take between 1-3 business days to be processed, once issued, the visa is valid for 90 days, only allowing a 28 day stay. The visa is $80 USD and you must print and carry this on you for arrival. You must enter Myanmar either at Nap Pyi Taw International Airport, Yangon International Airport or Mandalay International airport.

rowanOnce we cleared customs, we looked for our complimentary driver that ‘Motherland Inn 2” had organized for us (one of the many reasons we choose this guest house.) There is always heavy traffic to and from the airport, this changes a 20min drive to more like an hour. One thing we noticed was the lack of bikes and scooters – It really does make a difference! The taxi fee is usually around $10USD from the airport to downtown Yangon. When looking for accommodation, I always ask if they offer complimentary airport pick up, as I’ve said before every cost counts!

Mother land Inn 2 was highly recommended to by me by a friend, and after reading many reviews, it seem like the crowd favorite for preferred Guest house in Yangon. This Guest house is $35USD a night for a private room with air-conditioning. Be sure to book in advance as it does book at all the time! bagan1It’s nothing very fancy, but the beds are really comfortable and the staff are extremely helpful! By far the friendliest place I’ve ever stayed, they were more than happy to go the extra mile to help you out whatever it may be. They even walked us out and waiting with us for the bus to make sure we got on the right one the following day!

We soon found out the next day that the traffic is just as bad everywhere in Yangon, it makes the trip anyway at least take double the time. The slow speed in travel  does make it a little hard to travel around Myanmar. And with so many place that we wanted to see, we decided to only spend one day in Yangon before catching an overnight bus to Madalay. We used the bus company JJ Express for $28AUD- this is by far the best bus company to travel with in Myanmar. The journey took 8 hours and you will arrive at about 5am.

child*TIP* -There will be many of drivers waiting to take you to your hotel -they will be asking double the price to what you should be paying. Walk a little down the street and you will find them at a more appropriate rate.

Something we haven’t been able to wrap our heads around is the price of taxis. Although we payed $10 in Yangon for a 90 min taxi ride, drivers were asking $15 -$20 for a 30min in Mandalay and apparently this is the standard asking price. The taxi drivers in Mandalay always seemed to tell you the trip is longer than what it really is.

wheels

Tactically planning our ticking clock in Yangon, we were up early and on a locals bus for 200kyat (20cents) to Shwedagon Pagoda. I felt like a child in a Candy store, or a dog on it’s first summer trip to the beach. I was hanging halfway out the window, eyes glued with camera in hand.

The city surprised me with so many built up, tall buildings that looked centuries old. In other bordering countries I had seen such ancient beauty but only ever one floor building. The buildings  were colorful and not at all like the natural browns I imagined. The streets were flooded with so many monks that you stood out if you were not a monk!  Shoes seemed barley an option for many and the hand made items of resembled nothing I had ever seen. the open affection between young couples also took me by surprise as it’s not something I’ve seen in any of the bordering countries. I had a little giggle when I saw our bus driver with hickies on his neck.

bow.jpgThe pagoda towered above the cities skyline, a glimmering gold bell laced with diamonds; literally! Hundreds of large diamonds and the world’s most precious jewels and gems! This is they’re offering to Buddah!and at the very peak of the pagoda  were hundreds of bells, sadly out of hears reach however.

temple

As we paced the grounds in awe of such marvelous detail, we waved at small children and spoke with them and their parents. Each person seemed so eager to speak to us, although they couldn’t speak great English, they were happy to practice their English. From what I could understand a large majority had only started to learn English within the last 12 months.

building.jpgSoon enough we became an attraction, with people giggling and pointing to us. Rowan had been Twirling his boisterous moustache each morning to raise awareness and support Movember – I think it was his charismatic moustache that has everyone giggling. I even Turned around to see him being asked to pose for photos with locals!

We wandered to the lake and around it’d bordering walk; which had definitely seen better days. This area seemed to be where couples would flock to in hope of a little privacy, however with so many of them having a similar idea, there wasn’t much space between them. ( especially with young boys gathering to very sneakily drink vodka out of plastic bags!) To wander around particular parts of the park you have to pay an entry fee, it was only about 1000kyat ($1).

palaceWe had lunch at the Floating Palace Restaurant (Karaweik Palace), it was good food, not great, but it was a very fun experience! Upon entry a lady blessed me by painting Thanaka on my face, and once seated we were greeted with a traditional puppet show and we were able to listen to some local instruments being played. Lunch time meals were around 6000 kyat ($6 AUD) not the cheapest meal but also very affordable- we didn’t mind because it had air-conditioning and cold beer, which is actually surprisingly difficult to find! There is a dinner buffet and show that would be great to see also! it is approxx. 35 000kyat ($35 AUD)

pray.jpgShortly after we took a taxi back to our guest house which cost about $10 (Try and catch the local busses for 20cents if you can) the journey was about 20mins, we got lucky with the traffic! We had a few hours to kill and went to the local grocery store, which is actually a quite a grand plaza!  And we purchased some snacks for the overnight bus, a few bottles of local beer and came across Myanmar whiskey! for a 750ml bottle is cost us 1200 kyat ($1.20AUD) Cheaper than beer! and I rather enjoyed the flavor! We then took a car ( which was organized by motherland inn 2) to the bus stop – which was 90minutes away! And it only cost $10. Another reason why I thought Motherland Inn was so great.

jade-and-rowan

 

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