Friday 10 April 2015

5 Days In Myanmar (Yangon and Bagan)

Day 1 - YANGON
(I was lucky because I have a friend who's based in Yangon. He offered to drive me around the city and here are the places we've gone to.)

  • Shwedagon Pagoda
  • Sule Pagoda
  • Bogyoke Aung San Market
  • City Walk
  • Independence Monument
  • Inya Lake
  • Eat local food!
He sent me off to the bus station right after having a sumptuous traditional Burmese dinner. I then collected my ticket at the counter, got seated and made myself ready for the 8-hour bus ride going to Bagan. (I booked my ticket online through JJ Express' Facebook Page. The First Class Ticket price was K18,500 (or 20USD) per person including life insurance.)

Day 2 – BAGAN

I arrived in my hotel around 5:30 am. It was still dark and my room wasn’t ready yet but the receptionist was kind enough to let me use one of the rooms so I could freshen up. I had my breakfast there too, left my luggage at the reception area and then started wandering the ancient City of Bagan.

Upon arrival, I paid 20 USD for Bagan Archeological Zone Admission Fee. There was a group of people who were checking the ticket at the entrance of the Shwe Sandaw Pagoda. However, nobody asked me to show the ticket when I visited the other temples. By the way, I hired a horse cart on my first day since I was not familiar with the place yet. (K25,000)

1. Old Bagan Temples
  • Dhammayan Gyi Temple
  • Sulamani Temple
  • Tha Beik Hmauk Pahto
2. Myinkaba Village Temples
  • Myazedi Pagoda
  • Gubyaukgyi Temple
  • Nanpaya Temple
  • Nagayon Temple
  • Sein Yet Ama and Nyima Pagoda
  • Ashe and Anauk Petleik Pagodas
  • Mingalazedi Pagoda
  • Bu Le Thi Temple (Sunset)
Day 3 – BAGAN

5:30am to 7:00 am. I hired a horse cart (again) to see the sunrise at Shwe Sandaw Pagoda.  The view was surreal, it was really fantastic! (K10,000)
7:00am to 8:00. I went back to my hotel and had breakfast. They served really delicious traditional Burmese food! I so loved the tomato salad I even asked for another bowl. The view at the rooftop where the restaurant was located was exceptional too! How can I forget the staff? They were really helpful and nice and kind!
9:00am  to 5:00pm. I hired an e-bike. It was my first time and it was a super awesome experience! (K3,000 per hour) It was a bit scary driving along the busy road of Bagan though that was why I took the dusty trails around the temples.

Tour around Old Bagan Temples
  • Htilominlo Temple
  • Thatbyinnyu Temple
  • Shwegugyi Temple
  • Ananda Temple
  • Mahabodhi Temple
  • Shwe Leik Temple (Sunset)
Day 4 – BAGAN

5:30am to 7:00am. I rented an ebike (again) to watch the sunrise. I was lucky to have found a place where hot air balloons  passing were visible too!
7:00am to 8:00. I drove back to my hotel to have breakfast.
9:00am to 1:00pm. I took a shared taxi going to Mount Popa with 3 other  travelers. That was suggested by the receptionist in my hotel since renting a private car would cost around K40,000. I climbed up the steps going to the temple for almost 30 minutes. Non-stop! There were monkeys everywhere and the view on top was phenomenal! It was indeed an unforgettable but an extremely tiring experience too.
1:00pm to 3:00pm. Siesta Time.
3:00pm to 7:00pm. I rented a bicycle and wandered around the ancient city again. (K1,000 per hour)

  • Traditional long neck weaving woman
  • Late lunch at San Thi Dar Restaurant (2014 winner and received a Certificate of Excellence from Tripadvisor. Awesome food and super friendly host! Located opposite the place of the traditional long neck weaving woman)
  • Ayeyarwaddy River
  • Lawkananda Phayar Temple
  • Shwezigon Pagoda
  • Khay Min Ga group (sunset)
  • Explored the tree lined roads
  • Eat local food!
I checked out and waited for the shuttle service going to the bus station. It was again an 8-hour road trip going back to Yangon.

Day 5 – YANGON

5:30am to 8:00am. I checked in early and had breakfast in my hotel.
10:00am to 3:00pm. City Tour. (Hired a taxi. The minimum rate they charged was K3,000 per trip)
  • Central Yangon tour
  • Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda
  • Sule Pagoda
  • Karaweik Royal Barge on the Kandawgyi Lake
  • Sunset at World Famous Shwedagon Pagoda 
  • Kandawgyi Lake 
  • Chinatown
The following morning, Andrew sent me off to the airport to catch my flight going back to Singapore.

The best thing I learned from that trip is to be happy and grateful of the things I have right at the moment, instead of wanting more. I've seen countless kids in Bagan, selling postcards and paintings everywhere. They told me stories about life which made me realise how blessed I am despite not having huge amount of money, despite not having those material things I once wished I had.

Life has its ups and downs. Life is meant to be lived, to be enjoyed, to be embraced. But for those kids whom I've met, life is an everyday fight for survival. The pagodas became a hunting ground for them. It was really heartbreaking and I admire them so much for being able to embrace the reality of their life in Bagan. I couldn't imagine a little Gianella doing those things. I used to complain a lot about things, simple things that don't even matter. And those kids taught me one lesson which I'm sure I will remember all my life.

Photos here :)

You may also check the hotels where I stayed at in Yangon and Bagan:

Yangon: Thanlwin Guesthouse
Bagan: Bagan Empress Hotel

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