Getting from Myanmar to the Philippines, I had a long, long trip. First, as mentioned earlier, I took a night bus from Mandalay to Yangon. A very nice bus, to be sure, but still a bus, and so I didn’t get much sleep. Next, upon arriving in Yangon (at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere), I sat around for half the day waiting for my flight out – though I did rent a bike and take a while around for a bit first.
Getting to the airport to fly out, I’m not surprised by how shabby and low tech the building looks. What does surprise me, is how tight security is. I thought the TSA was bad enough, but the security team at Yangon seems to think that the terrorists have it out for Myanmar.
What I really didn’t expect, is for the power to go off – for half an hour!
Continue reading Interlude: A Tale of Two Airports
From Mandalay, I took a small trip to visit Pyin U Lwin, a much cooler city in the northeast of Myanmar. This city was apparently the summer capital during the British Raj, and I can see why – whereas Yangon and Mandalay are blisteringly hot during the summer months, Pyin U Lwin is much cooler, much more comfortable.
The British even built a very nice botanical garden in Pyin U Lwin, the National Kandawgyi Gardens, which I very much enjoyed visiting.
Continue reading Travelogue: Pyin U Lwin
Mandalay, the old capital of Myanmar, is pretty hot, but it doesn’t have the excruciatingly blistering heat of Bagan, so after spent a single day exploring Bagan in the searing heat, I escaped to Mandalay to explore the old capital.
Continue reading Travelogue: Mandalay
After finishing my bike and boat exploration of Inle lake, I hopped on a bus to Bagan. Arriving around 10pm, the first thing I noticed was the overpowering heat. Even at 2am in the morning, the temperature hovered around 100 degrees. So lying in my bed, unable to sleep, I vowed to try and see all of Bagan in a single day, so that I could get out of this inferno.
Continue reading Travelogue: Bagan
After getting tired of getting endlessly sprayed with water in Yangon during the water festival, I hopped on a bus north to Inle Lake, one of the most scenic parts of Myanmar. I’ve heard it to be one of the best places to visit in Myanmar, and it did not disappoint – I enjoyed biking around and boating around Inle Lake and its accompanying city, Nyaung Shwe.
Continue reading Travelogue: Inle Lake
While I was in Yangon, I caught the tail end of Thingyan, the Burmese New year, which like the Thai New Year is celebrated with a huge water festival all throughout the country. Stores are closed, everyone goes home to visit family, and business grinds to a standstill as everyone washes away the burdens of last year and begins a new year afresh. And Yangon throws the best water fight of all of Southeast Asia – smaller than Thailand, less advanced than Thailand, but still the best.
Interestingly, this is the fourth New Year celebration I attended in four months:
– The western New Year at the Taipei 101 in Taiwan (Jan 1)
– The lunar / Vietnamese New year of Tet in Saigon, Vietnam (Jan 28 – Feb 5)
– The Thai New Year of Songkran in Bangkok, Thailand (April 13-15)
– The Burmese New Year of Thingyan in Yangon, Myanmar (April 13-16)
Continue reading Travelogue: Thingyan in Yangon
After getting quite tired of getting sprayed by water guns on every Bangkok street corner, I hopped on a plane and flew to Yangon (Rangoon), the capital of Myanmar. And I discovered, Yangon is a place like no other. Whereas other cities in Southeast Asia have their unique features, they all westernized to some degree, they all have the same convenience stores, the same big western brands, the same western dress. And then there’s Yangon.
Continue reading Travelogue: Yangon