Myanmar, Yangon - Story of my trip to Yangon (Myanmar)

Myanmar, Yangon - Story of my trip to Yangon (Myanmar)

Myanmar (formerly Burma)

Reflections on my trip to Yangon

Note 1

Zea was a very intelligent and well-mannered boy, he owned a toyota corolla and was a taxi driver in the poor and sad but dignified city of Yangon.

Panoramic view of downtown Yangon - Note 2

I had met Zea just two hours after my arrival in Myanmar (formerly Burma) at the exit of the Strand hotel, where I had gone to visit ruby ​​shops and the colonial style of the building. I took a taxi for a few days visiting the city, so much the ride cost nothing, but also and above all because I just couldn't find a decent place to eat; in the end I met the panda restaurant, large and popular, so I didn't move anymore.

The only thing I had heard about in Yangon, besides the extreme poverty, was the palace of the Karaweik, a splendid two-headed dragon and symbol of kitsch architecture, located on Lake Kandwagy; when I went there for an aperitif, the mosquitoes were about to eat me alive.

Karaweik Palace on Kandawgyi Lake - Note 2

It was February and the monsoon would soon arrive, the temperature was perfect and there was not a cloud in the sky, a clear, postcard sky.

Shwedagon Pagoda - Note 2

At night with Zea, wherever I went, I saw the beautiful golden dome of the Shwedagon Pagoda, a symbolic monument of the city and of Myanmar, with its 700 quintals of gold that shone in the sweet and quiet Asian night. I left my shoes outside in one of the many entrances and went up, admiring the beautiful "people's park" from above, the many monks with their orange cloaks and the silent people in prayer, it was also Sunday. A great perfume of incense among the hundreds of statues of the buddha then a lot of mysticism and dignity; an old pulley carried the miserable offers towards the "stupa", where only photographic services with permission could enter.

My very efficient taxi driver also discovered a wonderful swimming pool of an old hotel that was reflected in the waters of a lake, they told me that one of the two white colonial villas at the bottom belonged to Mrs. Aung San Suu Kiy, Nobel Prize winner and already in those days House arrest.

I wanted so much, really so much, to visit Mrs. Aung San, but it was only the second year that we entered Myanmar and I could not risk, for the Communist military junta, to finish my days right there. I was alone with a friend and the taxi driver, rich in my few dollars, in a country where men wore no pants but the "sarong", a blanket wrapped around their waist, and where east in the Shan was the famous production area of ​​the heroin called "golden triangle". I believe in Pegu I went to see the huge statue of a reclining Buddha, when an old man with a cage in his hand and a sparrow inside, telling me that by paying a dollar I could free the bird. I gave him two dollars and freed the sparrow thinking of Mrs. Aung San, unfortunately the bird had its freedom but the lady still hasn't.

south east asia


(1) Image taken from De Agostini Geographic Atlas, De Agostini Geographic Institute, Novara 1998
(2) Image not subject to copyright: it is allowed to use it for any purpose provided it is recognized as such. Redistribution, modification, commercial use and any other use are permitted.

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The sea of ​​Myanmar

Roads that lead you to the sea ...

Once in Yangon, now madly in love with this country, we decide to continue our journey to the coast.
I document a bit and I understand that the most accessible locations, eliminating the Mergui Islands, are three:

Ngapali Beach“, White beaches and turquoise waters suitable for those on a budget of $ 60 and up.
Finding small guest houses will be very difficult and it will be even more difficult to reach them since the journey seems very tiring, the plane is the most used way.

Chaung Tha Beach", Beaten by backpackers, is a cheap location,
the sea does not seem to be that great but it is easily reachable in six hours by bus.
We choose to reach the third and wonderful location, of "Ngwe Saung Beach”.

We book the taxi and the bus directly from the hotel, departure scheduled at 6.00, the station is about an hour from Yangon and the taxi will cost you $ 5.
I recommend that you write, destination, the name of the bus company and the hotel from which you booked in the Burmese alphabet, the station is a real chaos and no one will speak English.

The bus will take you directly to the chosen hotel, so if you want to book in advance, the tiny center is about ten kilometers from the seafront.
In addition, the resorts are few and expensive, for 30/40 $ you will find the "Shwe Hin Tha" and the "Silver View Resort".
However, we found the cheapest solution on the spot, on the side opposite the sea on the only road to Ngwe Saung, it has just been born the Hill Top, $ 25 for a very quiet bungalow with no hot water.

Tourism is almost non-existent for the moment, except for the Burmese one, so you have to respect some rules, no bikinis on the beach.
They told us that the resorts on the beach are owned by army generals who over the years have cleared the small guest houses that stood on the opposite side.

To eat, just walk to the risorantino of "Silver View”Where cooking is truly special or rent a moped for $ 8 per day and reach the village.

The beach is golden and the sea is crystal clear, take the bike, wait for low tide and run on the beach in the opposite direction to the village, don't worry they use it just as if it were a road.
Those glimpses of real life that you will find along that endless stretch of sea you will never forget.

Temples and natural landscapes of Myanmar

Paul's trip to Myanmar

How nice to see the beautiful Myo again after three years! We tell each other a lot of things while we have lunch, and then he takes me to see the art gallery that has just opened before taking me back by car to Shwedagon Paya, from which I take a nice walk to the hotel. When we met in Brunei, Myo was a simple student while now she has become a mother (with a beautiful girl) and even an entrepreneur!

I stay in the hotel to rest, read and enjoy that beautiful relaxed and sleepy Southeast Asian atmosphere that I like so much until it starts to get less hot, then I go out again for another round: I go to visit the old synagogue (the second one I see in this part of the world: there is one also in Singapore) frequented by the small Jewish community of Yangon of Iraqi-Indian origin, then I continue to the Chinese quarter to see hundreds of Chinese celebrate the Chinese New Year by guzzling in the streets invaded by stalls and plastic tables or visiting the Chinese temple.

I continue my tour in the Indian quarter passing in front of beautiful illuminated mosques, and then go to look for the restaurant recommended to me in the hotel, where I have yet another feast of excellent Burmese food in the company of a couple of nice Canadians sitting at my same table who, from Bangkok, where they currently reside, came to spend the weekend in Yangon.

And so comes the last day of my Burmese stay. Since the plane leaves in the late afternoon, I still have plenty of time to wander around the center a little longer and to make the last few purchases in the Bogyoke Aung San market, located in a gigantic English colonial building, where it is really located. all. I also return to Mahabandoola Gardens and Pansodan Street to buy myself a couple of novels set in Burma at one of the many book stalls lined up in front of the large colonial buildings lining the street (they won't be as comfortable as ebooks, but what a satisfaction to browse a real book!). Then I go to have lunch in an Indian tea house, where I finally manage to try a mohinga, a fish soup, various vegetables and rice noodles, cheap and delicious!

Around three o'clock a taxi picks me up at the hotel, where I greet the very nice Chinese managers to go to Yangon airport. Before leaving to go back to rainy Malaysia (how I will miss this clear sky!), One last nice episode: at the table where I am having a coffee while waiting for boarding there is also a nice family of Vietnamese who return from their vacation in Myanmar: father, mother and daughter. And with the latter, who speaks excellent English having also studied in the United States, I begin to converse about this and that, until after they have dinner and I have my coffee, we say goodbye. A quarter of an hour later I cross them again from another part of the airport, we meet again and the girl approaches me, asking me if I need the kyats she has left to buy me something in the shops in the departure hall. I already have some advanced kyats which are more than enough for me, but what a kind thought!

At seven the plane leaves and shortly after 11 Malaysian time we arrive at the Kuala Lumpur airport, and luckily it's not raining!

Travel to myanmar / former burma

I have just returned from a holiday in a wonderful place to say the least: Myanmar, formerly Burma. For those who don't know where this country is, close to Thailand
What is there to see in Myanmar, the country of golden pagodas? Let's say not only pagodas. Yangon, the former capital houses the Shwedagon Pagoda, a golden splendor, a marvel visible from every point of the city, and the very beautiful and huge reclining Buddha.
In Pindaya you can visit, a beautiful cave that contains in addition to enormous stalactites and stalagmites (in one point even the two formations touch each other creating a huge pillar), more than 8000 golden statues of Buddha. Mandalay, the second city of Myanmar, has several pagodas and a very beautiful teak wood monastery where I witnessed the offering of the meal to the monks by the faithful, a long procession of monks with their purple robes and straight eyes (it seems that it is forbidden for them to look donors in the face). In Bagan there are many places of worship, very ancient pagodas and temples, of a red color and with the most disparate shapes, one looks more like a pyramid than a Buddhist temple and admiring the sunset from the top of one of the Pagodas with the others in the background is an indescribable emotion
The most beautiful place for me, however, is Inle Lake, on whose shores there are an infinite number of villages made up of skillfully woven bamboo stilt houses, fishing villages and artisans who use long and narrow boats as a means of transport. Seeing the fishermen at work is very beautiful, in fact they are positioned on one of the two ends of the boat, and use their legs to row and their hands to throw and collect the nets while sailing on the lake you can admire the floating gardens, composed mainly of In the middle of the lake there are also artisan workshops, monasteries and, of course, pagodas In short, a wonderful, safe country (in 15 days I never felt in danger, on the contrary) where despite what I thought, you can also eat well, the kitchen is a bit monotonous but I assure you that you will not be left with an empty stomach Soups of any kind, very proposed that of lentils (excellent), very good and very tasty vegetables (my husband ate them too, who usually does not eat them at home), stew beef, pork, chicken, etc. And obviously rice, sweets made of rice, and excellent fruit, bananas, pineapple, melon, watermelon, papaya and so on and so forth. Chinese, Thai restaurants etc. The best thing about this country is that it is not a built place, an artifact to please tourists, on the contrary the place is really authentic, original and unique unfortunately in fact the poverty of this people is always within reach hand I must say that in their poverty, they tend to share with others what little they have Visiting the villages I always brought with me some soaps, shampoos (such as those of the hotel), and mignon lipsticks, and when I left them as a gift I often received one too The regime unfortunately oppresses the people, but, in spite of what the famous guides say, speaking of ethical question, in my opinion it is not not going to visit Myanmar that hinders the regime indeed I believe that tourism is the only thing which could raise the population
If anyone would like some information do not hesitate to contact me, I can also provide you with the number of our guide who can organize your tour according to your preferences
However visit and you will not regret it I assure you.

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I want to go back there.
I have been back for 15 days, it is a truly magical place. I still have Myanmar sore. But you traveled with Teo by accident.

Daniela Santocchia

Hi Han,
Regarding my comment I try to write you something below: every time I decide to take a trip with a local agency, it is always a risk because you do not know what awaits you both in terms of guide, companion and the whole tour itself. We are a couple who like to travel alone, not in a group, but we always rely on a local agency.

We were in myammar in October 2013, a country that I have always dreamed of visiting as it has always fascinated me. Culture, architecture, people's faith, people, colors, etc. And I must say that our journey was fascinating. We had a nice ride and thanks to the friendliness and helpfulness of han, our handyman guide, we had a great time.

It allowed us to discover many aspects of that magical country, live the habits of the people, be among them and share with them even small things of everyday life. It was such a wonderful experience that I always have in my heart those children out of school who shook your hand and made you feel important and all with true sincerity and love.

I thank Han for letting us live this magical experience in the best possible way, for having fulfilled even our smallest wishes such as making the car stop (thanks also to the driver) when we liked the moment to capture with the camera. Then one thing I will never forget: the surprise of finding a cake with candles in the room on the occasion of my partner's birthday.

What guide would have done such a thing? For me, as well as a guide, he was a friend and I still have one even though two years have passed since our trip. I recommend to all those who want to travel to myanmar, to rely on han because you will not be disappointed because in addition to introducing you to the wonders of this people, their strong religious faith, their courtesy and the beauties of this country that make them fill the eyes and be amazed you will find in him a true travel companion,
Thanks han….

Temples and natural landscapes of Myanmar

Paul's trip to Myanmar

They wake me up after less than an hour since my room is ready, and then I go to continue my siesta on one of the two beds in the beautiful bedroom.

I wake up a couple of hours later, finally rested, and go back downtown to have tea in the tea house at a corner of the main intersection I had spotted in the morning. I stop there for almost an hour, sitting at one of the tables in front of the restaurant, enjoying that excellent milk tea and Indian sweets while I observe the people passing in front of me, the majority of whom move on foot, by bicycle or by moped, mostly Burmese or of Shan ethnicity (Nyaungshwe is located in Shan territory, which extends between Mandalay and the border with northern Thailand), but also many tourists. Then I continue my tour of the town, I head towards the river, full of the long and narrow boats that the next day will run around the lake, which is about three kilometers to the south, and wander around a little more before returning to the hotel. A little later I go out again to check the internet (which three years before was exasperatingly slow, while now it works perfectly) and then I go to a restaurant serving local cuisine and try a potato curry with rice, a delicacy.

The next morning at 8.30 am the departure for the trip on the lake is scheduled, offered at a more than fair price from my hotel, which I share with two other guests, one English and the other Canadian, who work in Singapore. From the hotel we walk towards the pier on the river and finally off we go! After ten minutes of sailing along the river, we flow into Lake Inle, a placid and huge expanse of water, with the silhouette of the mountains that can be seen on both sides. And as we head south, we pass several fishing canoes, which have become a bit of the symbol of this lake, balancing on the left leg resting on the front tip of the canoe while the right leg helps to push the large oar that controls the movements. of the boat.

And so, as the sun approaches its zenith and gets warmer, we pass through villages of high wooden stilts and past the extensive floating gardens, where local farmers manage to grow various types of vegetables on the lake's surface. And here and there we stop to observe the local artisans who work iron, silver or gold, weave on looms, build the typical wooden and paper umbrellas or produce local cigars, all with ancient, manual methods, as was done by us once, before we industrialized.

This type of artisanal production will not enrich those involved, but it has great advantages: it gives work to everyone and does not alienate or stress. You work a lot but without pressure, there is a lot of room for personal creativity, and it allows you to follow the production process from start to finish and above all to work close to home, in a family environment, with friends and relatives, with which you chat while working. In one of these stilt houses we also see a group of long-necked padaungs that are weaving! In fact, the women of this ethnic group lengthen their necks with brass rings that they begin to wear from an early age. In Europe for the moment we are satisfied with tattoos and piercings, but who knows one day.

We also stop to visit a couple of temples on the shore of the lake: the Phaung Daw Oo Paya and the Nga Hpe Kyaung, the latter really beautiful, all made of wood and with splendid Buddhas, also famous for its feline acrobats, or cats trained by monks to jump through hoops.

We return to the base that it is already four o'clock, happy for the beautiful and relaxing day on the lake. Among other things, my two excursion companions turned out to be very nice and easy-going. In the evening, another hearty dinner still based on one of the excellent local curries, tasty and not very spicy.

And so comes the day of a new departure, this time to return to Yangon. But this bus is also nocturnal, and until half past six in the afternoon I have time to take another nice ride with the bicycle rented from my hotel. But first I take a stroll through the colorful Mingala market, full of vendors of fruit, vegetables (where I see the biggest avocados of my life), meat, clothes, etc., with their traditional clothes, sitting cross-legged in front of the their products: a show! After that I take a nice ride to the beautiful Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung temple, also all made of wood, and then I head to the other side, just outside the village, to see the Yan Aung Nan Aung Hsu Taung Pyi temple, all white and gold, with its slender stupas and large open-air Buddha over eight meters high. Then I go back to the market and to my tea house at the main intersection.

Around six o'clock the lain ka passes by my hotel and goes around that part of the country to collect passengers headed to Yangon (service included in the ticket price) and half an hour later we arrive at the agency in the center in front of which the bus will leave. . I like to watch one of the clerks tasked with checking our name on the passenger list and putting identification tags on luggage, doing her job carrying her little son on her back, supported by a large sash tied at the front. And the little one seems to enjoy his mother's movements and being able to be so close to her: there are no nurseries here, and few can afford a pram, which in any case is more bulky and somehow isolates the baby. I am more and more convinced that many of the traditional methods are much better than those invented in modern times, even if they clearly go against the logic of the market, which requires that you continuously buy things that most of the time are not necessary and that pollute, both during production and when they are thrown away, because in any case they are made not to last.

We arrive at the Yangon bus station about 12 hours later and a taxi takes me to the hotel booked four days before, the one I had stayed in for the first time, located right in the heart of the central part of Yangon, between the Indian and Chinese districts. . How happy I am to be here again, in a simple room on the top floor but with a beautiful atmosphere, and with a window from which you can see the splendid stupa of Shwedagon Paya on the horizon. As soon as I settle down, I call my Burmese friend Myo and they agree to have lunch together at 12. At that point I am very tired and I throw myself on the bed to take advantage of the two and a half hours I have left before the appointment to rest a bit. '.

There are so many things to see and, even if you don't have a lot of time, try to include these stops in your itinerary. My journey lasted 12 days and, thanks to the help of two internal flights (at a moderate price), I was able to see all the most significant destinations. I put them in the order in which I visited them, because making a ranking of them would be a profound injustice!

Many of the cities you will visit in Myanmar were once the capitals of a kingdom that has a turbulent history. Yangon (or Rangoon) was the capital of Myanmar under English rule, from 1885 to 2006. It is the most populous city, the largest commercial center in the country and is home to the most beloved pagoda by Burmese, the Shwedagon Paya. 98 meters high, it stands out over the city and characterizes its skyline.

Legend has it that its large golden stupa is more than 2,000 years old and is so famous that all Burmese hope to visit it once in a lifetime. Here you will immediately encounter two fundamental customs of the lifestyle in Myanmar: meditation and the habit of posing gold leaves on sacred monuments, until they are completely covered. Not far from the pagoda, there is a gigantic statue of Reclining Buddha, in the pagoda of Chauk Htat Gyi. You will see many others, but they will never cease to amaze you. This is 66 meters long and 12 meters high!

If you visit Myanmar in April, you may come across Water Festival, that is the celebrations for the new year. In Myanmar they adopt a different calendar from ours: New Year falls in mid-April and is celebrated with a week of water balloons!

To learn more, click on What to see in Yangon

Video: Luxury Yangon, Myanmar, Travel Guide