Myanmar

April 30, 2016 at 8:16 am

Hello Darlings,

It’s just approaching 4pm in Shenzhen & I feel like a Blog Post is in order.

Something I’ve been really keen on recently is the idea of doing some retrospective blogging of my recent travels. I’ve done some pretty Hipster-y, off-grid moves in 2016 and finding reliable, up-to-date, comprehensive information is a lot of the time easier said than done.

I also really like the idea of trying to get a bit more authoritarian when it comes to the sort of travel that I primarily do right now: inexpensive, authentic travel where I pay particular attention to food, local sights and doing things as efficiently as humanly possible.
Myanmar

Myanmar was the biggie last month and is a location I’ve been keen to visit for a little while now. My Farfar was in Yangon around the time of WW2 and that’s added another dimension to the country as well.

Myanmar is a very new country in many ways: It looks as though official travel to the country was possible from 1992 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_Myanmar), however most people would point towards the last 5 years as the country really opening up and embracing tourism.

The country is transitioning from complete Army rule over to the green roots of democracy, and that in turn has changed the country from a destination you should avoid paying your army subsidies to.. to a country where people are being encouraged to visit. Tourism numbers are slowly increasing, but it’s about as untouched by outside influences as you’re going to get in the immediate region.

 

diverse ethnically, religious influence. history.. british > japanese > british > ‘independence’ under army rule > democracy.

 

It’s possible to enter the country via land crossing, but as I purchased the e-VISA (primarily to enhance valuable passport space) it was necessary to enter the country via Air.

Flying from Thailand, and Bangkok in particular is a no brainer as it’s cheap and easy. I purchased my flight maybe 3 weeks before I actually arrived in the country and ended up bagging a Nok Air flight for 1320 Baht / roughly £25.

The flight took around 90 minutes.. Myanmar is 30 minutes behind Thailand which is a bit strange (Especially if you’re North Korea – LOLZ MENTALISTS! http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-33815049). I arrived into Yangon just after 7am on the Tuesday morning.

I then walked for approximately 30 minutes to the train station and jumped on the train to Yangon centre. It was a real immersion straight into the country.. the vast majority of travellers would take a Taxi, but as I love doing things on the cheap I walked in the baking sun & then jumped on the train. It’s certainly not the easiest way to get to central Yangon, dragging your wheeled suitcase through the sand by the side of the single track road which is being used by traffic going both ways. But it was a work out. I took some cash out at the airport, got a map from tourist information & then set out on my walk. I ended up having to point, do the charade for ‘Train’ and ask a few people, but I eventually found myself there and a train was just about to depart.

The short journey on an old Japanese Train took around 60 minutes to central station, but was a really wonderful immersion into the country, the people and the immediate vicinity outside the window.

I headed straight to my hostel, which was around a 30 minute walk from the station with my bags, thin pavements, lots of cars, the hot hot sun and lots of fannying around. The wifi was utterly appalling in my hostel, so if you’re looking for good wifi check this article (http://yangon.coconuts.co/2015/06/27/free-wifi-hotspots-yangon).. I can vouch for Alfa Hotel as a good wifi location and did 2 days of work there when I was in the city.

I personally didn’t love Yangon.. it was decent, it was an experience (old colonial remains are pretty beautiful), but I found the best moments of my trip were those spent outside of the 2 big cities (Yangon & Mandalay).

Restaurants:

999 Shan Noodle House https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g294191-d2432577-Reviews-999_Shan_Noodle_House-Yangon_Rangoon_Yangon_Region.html

#1 on TripAdvisor which doesn’t normally bode too well, but it’s excellent. Tasty noodles, inexpensive and they speak English. Good mix of tourists, locals and monks.

 

Shan Yoe Yar (https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g294191-d4492468-Reviews-Shan_Yoe_Yar-Yangon_Rangoon_Yangon_Region.html)

Definitely geared towards foreigners, but a good, safe option. Pretty inexpensive, but ‘up-market’ Burmese food. A good, safe zone to try some authentic, good quality Burmese food.

 

Sights:

Shwedagon Pagoda (paid), be aware shorts probably won’t cut it so you might be asked to purchase a ‘skirt’ for a small amount at the entrance. As with any temples in Myanmar or Thailand, you need to leave shoes outside.

 

I took a night bus from Yangon to Bagan.. leaving around 20:30 and arriving into Bagan around 5ish.