Adventures in Burma

1st May 2013
Photo of Adventures in Burma 1/8 by Magdalene
Shwedagon Pagoda
Photo of Adventures in Burma 2/8 by Magdalene
Karaweik Palace
Photo of Adventures in Burma 3/8 by Magdalene
Pagan's Thousands of Temples
Photo of Adventures in Burma 4/8 by Magdalene
Bagan (Pagan)
Photo of Adventures in Burma 5/8 by Magdalene
Mandalay Hill
Photo of Adventures in Burma 6/8 by Magdalene
Photo of Adventures in Burma 7/8 by Magdalene
Inle Lake
Photo of Adventures in Burma 8/8 by Magdalene
Kyaiktiyo’s Balancing Rock

When you talk about getting off the beaten track, you have to be talking about Burma: Hill Tribes who've never seen foreigners, one legged rowing fisherman, 2000 temples in one valley and a balancing rock held in place by Buddha's hair. Did someone say bragging rights?

Shwedagon Pagoda is made from 8688 sheets of gold and encrusted with 5448 diamonds and 2317 rubies. That’s more bling than a bunch of rappers at a Mr T convention. We spent the first day getting acquainted with this unique destination. On the second day we took an orientation tour around the busy streets of Rangoon, visited the Shwedagon Pagoda and shopped at the Bogyoke Market. We then went to the central railway station and board a train for Bagan

Photo of Yangon, Yangon, Burma by Magdalene

The rooms were large and there is internet in the lobby you pay for. The buffet breakfast was quite extensive with both Burmese and Western style all tasting great. There is a nice swimming pool too welcome after a day of sightseeing. Staff were attentive too.

Photo of Yuzana Garden Hotel, 44 Alan Pya Pagoda Street, Yangon, Myanmar [Burma] by Magdalene

We jumped on bikes to ride around some of Pagan’s 2200 pagodas. We love the Buddhas at Ananda Phaya, whose expressions change depending where you stand; and Tayokye Pyay with panoramic views. Spent a whole day here on bicycles, exploring the temples. We also explored the Nyaung U market and another local Bagan market - some of the more interesting markets in the country.

Photo of Old Bagan, Old Bagan, Burma by Magdalene

This hotel was perfect for us while we toured around Bagan. Nice staff, decent breakfast, clean rooms, quick internet, and a salt water pool. It was within walking distance to new Bagan restaurants. Biking from here to the temples in Old Bagan was within a day's work too. Great value for money.

Photo of Arthawka Hotel, ပုဂံ, Myanmar [Burma] by Magdalene

Toned up our bingo wings as we cruised along the Irrawaddy River (ie. we spent a lot of time waving to locals). Watched the sunset from Mandalay Hill and did our bit for the local economy by sampling Mandalay rum over a bowl of khout swe (coconut noodle soup). Boarded our public ferry before dawn and cruised up the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River to Mandalay. The next day we set off on an excursion by boat, on the Irrawaddy River, up to the village of Mingun, home to the world’s largest unfinished pagoda. We also took a half-day trip up to the hill town of Maymyo

Photo of Mandalay, Mandalay, Burma by Magdalene

This hotel is well positioned and the girls at the reception are kind and try to help with their level of English. However, I wouldn't recommend this hotel to anyone

We have been wondering about the yellow face paint everybody's wearing. It’s called thanaka, a paste made from ground tree bark which works as both a sunscreen and a beauty accessory (judging by some of the creative patterns). We took a hike in the hills and rewarded ourselves with a raksi (Nepali-style homemade liquor) from one of the teashops. En route to Inle Lake, we stayed in the chilled town of Kalaw. There were plenty of "teashops" serving raksi ( nepali-style home made liquor).

Photo of Kalaw, Kalaw, Burma by Magdalene

It's nice, clean and tidy. Good value for money.

The roads to Nyaungshwe are terrible. But we made it up with a boat trip on Inle Lake where we met the famous leg-rowing Intha fishermen. Some of the fun things we did here were: Haggled over some of Burma’s famous silverware at the Ywama village. Journeyed to the highlands of the Shan State to spend a couple of nights at the township of Nyaungshwe Took a full-day lake tour, by long-boat, and visited some of the local villages, explored unique temples and monasteries, and met the famous local leg-rowing fishermen from the Intha tribe

Photo of Inle Lake, Inle Lake, Burma by Magdalene

We were very surprised and pleased when we arrived at this resort: a glorious location, beautifully maintained grounds, warm welcome ( traditional musical welcome on arrival and Chinese tea in Reception). Impressive Reception building and even more impressive dining room, with big balconies overlooking the lake, which, itself, is stunning.

Photo of Hupin Inle Khaung Daing Village Resort Inle Lake, Nyaung Shwe Township, Inle Lake, Myanmar [Burma] by Magdalene

This was a five-hour drive to base camp at Kinponsakan, open truck drive to Rathedaung, trek along a Buddhist pilgrim trail and sleep in accommodation fit for a pilgrim (read between the lines). Best bits: Kyaiktiyo’s balancing rock and Bago’s 55-metre reclining Shwethalyaung Buddha Spent a night near the Golden Rock Walked up a path following groups of Buddhist pilgrims, to one of the holiest sites in Burma Visited the reclining 55 metre-high Shwethalyaung Buddha in Bago

It’s a little quieter in Rangoon than the other cities. That’s because it’s illegal to toot your horn unless it’s an emergency. This gorgeous, crumbling, charming, dilapidated city is like an ageing beauty queen (without all the botox). We found our owned way to the monastery of the Reclining Buddha (Chaukhtatgyi Paya), visit the National Museum and did some further shopping at Bogyoke Market

Photo of Yangon, Yangon, Burma by Magdalene