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The Massons World Adverntures

Myanmar (Burma) Jan 21st - Feb 16th 2015

MYANMAR | Monday, 16 February 2015 | Views [244]

Myanmar what a beuatiful country.

This country is truly magical. Every thing from the people and with such uplifting smiling faces to incredible pagodas on every corner.

Our trip started in Mandalay, here we spent three days visiting different places. Palace, monastery’s, pagodas and just walking the streets watching the Burmese life go by.

We hired a taxi to take us to 3 places outside of Mandalay, Amarapura, Inwa, & Sagaing. Amarapura is where the famous ‘U bein’s bridge’ is. This is the world’s longest teak bridge at 200 years old. It is amazing to see life going over this beautifully made very old teak bridge. You get a real sense of Burmese life around here as you watch the Monks coming back & forth over the bridge going about there daily life. A real feel of total tranquillity.

Inwa is a little island in the Ayeyawardy River. There is a beautiful Monastery on this Island, which you can get around by horse and cart. Unfortunately we got over to the island and realised just how many horse & cart where there. I saw the panic on Dave’s face as it set in. Dave is really allergic to horses. Last time he was around lots of them he ended up in hospital!!! As you can imagine a little long boat and tuk tuk wouldn’t be an ideal way of getting to a hospital fast! So we left that island as fast as we got on it.

Sagaing is a hillside full to the brim of pagodas of all shapes and sizes. Really is beautiful to see.

We were lucky enough to go to the second largest monastery in Burma during this day out. We met a fascinating monk who told us all about his life in the monastery. He is studying for a degree in Buddhist teaching. We watched the monks all line up and go in for their lunch it was a magical experience.

At some point pretty much all boys and men out here have a period of time in a monastery to learn Buddhist traditions and beliefs. They believe it helps boys as they grow up with temper and patients! 

From Mandalay we took a 3-hour bumpy bus to Monywa. It is 3 hours north/west of Mandalay. What an incredible place this is. Again we hired a driver we took a 6-hour tuk tuk drive (which I will never do again!!!). We have both got a very very sore bum now. But I have never seen temples like it in all my travels. They literally have fields of Buddhist statues. Rows and rows of them. Quite breath taking.

In Monywa there is a street market every night, which is great.  It is so buzzy. But we can’t even begin to make out what any of the food is. We did by a poppadum earlier though so we are getting there.

We have had some funny experiences with food. It isn’t as easy as one would think to get food here which wont involve a night on the loo! I think it is just chance weather you get a meal or settle for a noodle pot in the bedroom for dinner. 

After our time in Monywa we took another 4 hour bus to Bagan.

Well this place blew us away. With 2000 temples and pagodas it really is like no other place on earth. We hired E – bikes which were great fun and very much helped in the 30 degree heat. We spent most of the day going off road down sandy tracks finding pagodas everywhere we looked. Some were big some were tiny.  Every evening we took the chance to climb one of the taller ones to watch the sun setting over bagan. Magical. Likewise we got up extra early one morning and went out on our e-bike to see the sun rise. In Bagan it is a big area for hot air balloons if you have an extra $300! We didn’t so we took the chance to see this beautiful sight of them all flying over Bagan as the sun was just creeping up from behind one of the tall pagodas. (Temples). What a chilly but breath taking experience. 

After a 8-hour very very very bumpy unusual bus ride we made it to Kalaw.

The bus driver was very much a shady character. We stopped at the village about half way. He seemed to have no clue where he was going the whole journey. We had to rely on a local guy telling him what way to go! Anyway we stopped in this town, and a lady just came up to the bus with a rucksack and a blue baseball hat. Didn’t say anything to each other and we carried on. The bag was there in the front. We carried on to this other place where we had a lunch stop. After lunch he was fiddling around with all the bags on top and then put his bright blue cap on. So our theory was it was  a bag of drugs and the blue cap was to show the people at the other end who he was!!!

Kalaw is just really a base for treks to go. We signed up on a 3 day trek to Inle Lake. 67k.

We set out early morning and trekked to a beautiful place for lunch over looking the Shan State.

We stayed in a home stay, which sounds so great, really felt like a true traveller. Until you saw it!!  It was just a wooden room on stilts. On the floor lay our beds all in a line, like solders on little wooden matts like you take down the beach. The cracks in the walls and roof just shouted out SPIDERS!!! So the first night was nice we had dinner and played cards. All tucked up in bed by 8pm just waiting for the attack of the spiders. None of us slept overly well. We had a water buffalo sleeping below us farting and grunting all night and the cockerel rising at 4.30!!!  But hey it’s all in the experience.

2nd day was a long day but we saw some beautiful things. Stopping in local schools and villages.

The home stay looked so much nicer on the 2nds night, really clean. Very basic still and sleeping the same way, but clean. We had dinner and strip washed and I thought id settle down and relax and read my kindle. Suddenly the biggest spider crawled up my arm on my hand. Well you have never heard a scream like it. I stripped all my clothes off and was just screaming. Every one rushed in. The old guy who owned the place came up and could not understand what was going on until we showed him the beast. Black with yellow spots!!!! Well that was it I was a jittering mess. Sonja a girl on our trek who I slept next to was so sweet she checked all my bed and calmed me down and said ‘sarah I don’t think you are going to sleep at all tonight now. I think you should have one of my valium’ I said that’s the best idea you have had all trek. Popped one of those and had the best night sleep. Spiders and all!

We finished our trek at Inle lake where we took a 1.1/2 hour long boat ride across the lake to Naungwanshe to where the hotels are. In the evening we all took a tuk tuk up to a vineyard to watch the sunset over the beautiful lake. 

From Inle Lake we took our first over night bus (VIP experience) to Pywn oo lwin. This is a very charming place. Quite up market for Burma. It is a place that used to be a summer holiday place for all the wealthy army general’s! So it has big houses and very very beautiful plants and gardens everywhere. We went to the botanical gardens.

From Pywn oo Lwin we took the very old extremely bumpy train to Kykume.  Were you go over the famous Gortick viaduct. It was rather scary but well worth the experience.  We later heard from a couple that their train was so bumpy it de-railed itself!!! Glad I got told that after our train ride.

In Kykume we arranged a 3-day trek. I think Dave left out the Motor bike/trek bit!! I hate bikes and we had to drive them to get really far into the Shan State. I very much surprised myself it was so much fun! I was on the back and after I relaxed into and stopped turning round to check Dave was still up write I felt a lot more chilled and very much soaked up the stunning scenery.

The northern Shan has been closed off tourists up until last year due to all the fighting with the Shan rebel army fighting. They want their own independence.  Burmese politics is very complex and for such a beautiful country gosh do they have their problems.

Thura our trek guide was one of the kindest people Iv truly met in a long time. He has earned the locals trust by coming to these places. He brings them medicine and vitamins. We were having lunch one afternoon and a little old man a bit doolally came up and asked if he could have some of our noodles. Instead of just shooing the man away he asked the lady to make him some. He sat quietly in the corner and very much enjoyed his noodles. I’m not sure the boys were to impressed as that was there seconds but what a kind thing to do.

We stayed in-home stays on our trek. Local very basic houses much like the ones on our last one. When we arrived at the first one, there was an old guy sat on the floor making a basket out of bamboo. Thura went over to him and gave him a new pair of shoes. They were red and black plimsolls. He smiled from ear to ear with only 1 front tooth remaining in his smile. But what a warm feeling it gave us all inside. He put them on and stood up so proud of these new shoes.

We went to local villages, had green tea stops in many house's on the way. People were so kind, and the children were just so cute. A very enjoyable trip. Defiantly a highlight of our time in Burma.

We are now is Hsipaw. A river side town. A very relaxed town, but full of hustle and bustle. We stay here for a few nights and then we make our way back to Mandalay for our flight to Bangkok on Monday.

Burma is a beautiful place. One of the nicest things both Dave and I have said is we have enjoyed a lot of places which haven’t been ruined by western culture. I have NOT seen one Mc Donald’s! It is lovely Lets hope beautiful Burma stays that way.

This place is truly magical. Both Dave & I are totally blown away by the Buddhist culture. I have always had a real interest in it, but I have never been to a S.E.A county where it is the biggest religion or belief. You can see it in them the way they are. Dave even said you can see why people follow this belief!!! There are so many Monks always around which gives such a sense of peacefulness. The chanting from the monastery’s and the kids all running out of class when you come by just to say ‘Hi’.

It is funny because a country that has had so much unrest seems just to be so the opposite now! But the unrest still goes on, I just hope it never gets as bad as it once was. For the people sake.

This is all our news from this beautiful part of the world.





Tags: bagan, hsipaw, inle lake, kalaw, kykume, mandalay, monywa, pywn oo lwin, sunsets, trekking


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