“This is Burma and it’s unlike any land you know about.”
They say when the wicked travel bug stung your curious mind, it will change you as a person and how you see the world. For me, it’s true! Since my first travel, I did not go back but found myself always looking forward to the places I’ve never been, the people who I will meet along the way, and the countless experience that I will treasure and cherish in my memory for the rest of my life.
One of the best places in Southeast Asia that I had the chance to visit together with my family is Myanmar, also known as Burma. This country was isolated and hidden from the rest of the world for more than 60 years but have finally opened their doors to foreigners. When my family planned for our next holiday, we didn’t think twice to fly to Myanmar.
It was winter in Burma when we arrived in Yangon in January 2014. From Yangon, we took a domestic flight to get to the first city that we would like to explore, Mandalay.
Located in the northern part of the country, Mandalay is the second-largest city in Myanmar. We had a good time during our stay and have enjoyed sightseeing, meeting local Burmese people, and eating their local food. One of the best attractions that you can see in there is the Ubein Teak bridge. Travellers and local people say that it is the most photographed landmark in that place, especially in the afternoon where the sun begins to set.
After spending 2 days in Mandalay, we took a 5-hour ride in a van to Bagan. Bagan is the place where I am looking forward to visit again and it didn’t disappoint me. Here you can see more than 2000 temples that still remain standing. These temples are built between the 11th and 13th centuries and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We rented an electric scooter to roam around Bagan and do what most of the tourists do which is “temple hopping” or “temple running”. Waking up before dawn to see the sunrise at the top of the temple with hot air balloons flying at the background was so worth it… Everything was so worth it! We really enjoyed our two days stay at Bagan, we have explored most of the temple and learned about their history. We’ve also met new friends with the monks and nuns in the village and tried their Thanaka, a yellowish-white cosmetic paste made from ground bark that locals use to block the sun. I must say, 2 days in Bagan felt so fast and not enough that we want to stay more but we need to go and visit Yangon.
From Bagan, we took a domestic flight to go back where we have started in this country. Our last stop is Yangon. It is the largest city in Myanmar where the famous Shwedagon Pagoda is standing, that draws thousand of pilgrimage every year. It is also known as The Great Dragon, The Golden Pagoda and Myanmar’s most sacred Buddhist pagoda. It is best to see this pagoda at night where it shimmer because it is made out of genuine gold plates. In Yangon, life is different compared to Bagan where the atmosphere is more laidback. Here you can admire the colonial architecture, drink cocktails at the Strands Hotel, stroll at their own Chinatown, and buy the locally produced products in Bogyoke Aung San Market.
Myanmar is one of the countries that I want to visit again and again. It’s hidden beauty is impeccable and truly a feast for the eyes with locals that are warm and friendly. 6 days, 4 flights, 3 cities, 1 country, and armed with just two backpacks… I must say our experience in Myanmar is one of the books and memories that will last for a lifetime.