Thursday, August 10, 2017

Myanmar: A place that WARMS my heart.

     It was just a NORMAL WEEK for me and a normal day on that particular Tuesday. I know that there's a long weekend coming that week but I'm nearly broke so I'm not really excited or looking forward for a travel cause as much as I want to my pocket is in danger (hahaha). 

     Before that week we were discussing on going to LAOS cause it's near and cheaper, but then I got a message from XYZ that they've change plans since the others are not going in the Laos trip the two of them XYZ and JYC decided to go to Myanmar. I didn't have any excitement in me and I was like "I want to go but ahmmmm no". I'm too busy and nearly broke to be excited. A conversation with XYZ on the phone made me half heartedly agree with the trip but my mind was computing all the money that I have and stuff (hahaha) luckily I've got some spare and XYZ and JYC got my back. Well enough with my finances, moving on we had trouble getting my plane ticket (XYZ and JYC booked their tickets already and I lost my card that night so it was pretty like an omen for me not to go but knowing XYZ she was able to booked the flight cheaper than theirs (hahaha). So it was a done deal, I am going to Myanmar. Enough of the prologue...


     I would say that our Myanmar trip is the most exciting, we've been trough different situations in this trip. Starting from the airport where we ran like our life depends on it cause we where running late for our flight. We asked the people on the line if we can go ahead for the immigration they were considerate enough but we still got the death stares and the old man lectured us about being early. Then I got hold for a minute cause they found my cutter (hahaha), then after that we ran again like crazy, when we finally reached the gate they told us that it was delayed for 10 minutes and told us to wait. Relief washed over me and we sat down and wait for the plane. Lesson learned, not to be late on any flight.

Touched down in Mandalay. The airport is small but comfortable and clean and not crowded. We went outside and the first things we noticed are:

*the men and women are wearing their traditional clothes.
*the white powdery like on their faces, later on we learned that      it's one of their beauty secret and for sun protection, they call  it "Thanaka" 
*most of the men are chewing betel quid later on we found out that not just the men but also old women chew betel quid.

     We took a taxi and we decided to go to U Bein bridge before heading to the terminal for the night bus going to Bagan. 
U Bein Bridge is the longest and oldest teak wood bridge in the world. 

     When we reached the place a lot of tourist were there I didn't know about the bridge or anything about Myanmar unlike our previous trips I would search a little about the place but with so little time and busy schedule I didn't have the time to search anything about Myanmar.I know that it's on the list on a must visit country, that Bagan is one of the greatest archaeological site, that they used to be strict with tourist but now they are opening their beautiful country for the world to see. 

     While leaving the taxi and our things we had a little doubt if we were still be able to find our driver when we come back but with faith in humanity we went onto the bridge. 
The first thing that I noticed are not the tourist but the locals flocking in the bridge enjoying the sight, while some are just sitting and hanging out with their friends/family. We even saw locals doing a photo shoot on the field with all the gowns and stuff, and as always wherever we go there's always a prenuptial shoot (hahaha).

    So we walked and took photos and appreciate the beauty, the breeze, the people, and all that there is. We had our first taste of Myanmars KINDNESS when XYZ's hat flew downward near the lake, the girl saw it and she gestured to us that she would pick it up for us, but we said no cause the bridge is high and we were quiet far from the entrance we don't want to go back and go down, so we just go on with our sight seeing. When we went back the girl was waiting for us and she got the hat! we didn't expect that, that's an "awww" moment in there. We thanked her and she gave us her sweet smile.


     Next situation we got ourselves into is the night bus. On most blog and even our friend who went to Myanmar last year told us that there's a night bus, but when we got to the bus station people who work there said there's no night bus for Bagan. We experienced Myanmars KINDNESS again with our driver. Instead of leaving us in the bus station he asked many people for the night bus but still no luck. He even called someone to ask any information. Then we went to the train station, there he helped us purchased the ticket and even walked us to the train, it took some time to find our coach, he asked the people there and lead us to our coach, he made sure that we were okay before leaving us. I'm pretty sure he waited for the train to go. 

     You might think that we were SETTLED in, huh! far from it. This time we found ourselves in the most SLOW and UNCOMFORTABLE train ride ever, not that I'm complaining, for us it's one of the MOST GENUINE experience we had. We boarded their local train which means it's an old and slow train. There's a VIP coach but we were booked in an ordinary coach (The VIP coach is not posh but it's a bit comfortable than the ordinary one). When we finally settled in we were able to see the situation that we were in. Full packed coach with the LOCALS from children to old people, friends travelling together, family, solo passenger, monks, military, stuff like flowers, vegetables and rice and whatever there was. 

     I must say that though it was such a cool experience to be one with the locals I don't want to be in that situation again. I don't mind the slow and long journey, or the uncomfortable seats or the noisy locals, or the limited space, or the fact that I can't even move that much cause there's no room for any movements. I think what made me cranky that time was it was so hot and dumpy cause I was sitting on the opposite side so I don't get to have the wind or the breeze. But nonetheless it was a GREAT EXPERIENCE. 

     We had a GLIMPSE of what LIFE is in Myanmar. A glimpse of how FRIENDLY the people are and the simple way of living. 
What STRUCK me in that journey was how everyone are FRIENDLY with each other. There was these 4 old ladies, they talked and laughed with each other that I thought they're all heading to the same destination but it turned out they've went down to different stations. There was also this young lad when he went in, he sat down with one of the old ladies and they started a conversation and he even showed something on his phone and the old lady even use his phone. So I was like "ah, that must be his son",the young lad talked with the old lady and even with the others. 

     But then the old lady went down to some station and the young lad to another station, so I was like "whuuut???", even XYZ noticed it. Then two guys came in, talked with the young lad, SHARING music and all, LAUGHING and just having a normal conversation. So it struck me how at EASE they are and COMFORTABLE they are with each other even though they're STRANGERS. You don't get to see that in other places. Moving on, our train broke down, so we had to stop and they fixed it, took 30 minutes I guess, see we were in different kinds of situation in this trip (hahahaha). We get to stand up and stretch, others went down but we were scared cause it was dark outside. We were so hungry!!!! The last meal we had was lunch at Don Muang airport and that was 9 hours of no solid food. Good thing we had chocolates and crackers and water. I didn't get to sleep a lot cuase I was worried that we might go pass Bagan, but the teenage group said that the train will stop in Bagan. The time was achingly slow during the train ride. Well I noticed that time in Myanmar is painfully slow. 

     The train was slowly running and passengers come and go. We said goodbye to our 4 ladies one by one as they go down to their stations. Finally I get to sit on the opposite side and get to feel the breeze. Nothing much to see outside since it was dark, but the moon was spectacular. It was a full moon and the shadows of the trees add some mystery to it. It's always a downer how a simple camera phone cannot capture the beauty of the moon.


     We arrived in Bagan (can't remember the time but I think that was 4 O'clock in the morning). Taxi drivers/ guide was waiting there at the station. We decided to go with the taxi cause the price was good. We went for the sunrise at one of the pagodas ( I cant remember the name! mian, gomen, kotoot, sorry!). It sure was a view, but we didn't get the sunrise that we expected, the driver warned us about it, something about rainy and cloudy days.

We met a fellow country girl up there, and we talked and took photos (hahaha)

     We head to our hostel OSTELLO BELLO, our friend recommended it. It's famous in Bagan, it's quiet far from old Bagan cause it is located in New Bagan. The place is very comfy, clean and they made sure that their guest are well taken care of. For more info just search them up on google and all the info's are there and good reviews too. 

     We had a deal with our driver, for a good price we went sight seeing for the whole day. Check in time in Ostello Bello is 2 o'clock, they have a toilet, and shower room, and a waiting room  for those who are waiting for the check in. We took a bath and change clothes and off we go. 

     We went to the pagodas, it was their Sabbath day, so there was a flock of locals from other cities. 
It's amazing how these pagodas were built thousand years ago. We learned a little bit of history and their culture and stuff from our driver. Again the TIME in Myanmar is so SLOW (hahaha) or maybe we were really tired and we just want to check in and hit the bed 
     We just drove around and visited some pagodas and ate our lunch. Most of the tourist drove bikes and e-bikes and go on group tour together, but XYZ can't drive and JYC's cannot be bothered with it I guess (hahaha). Besides we got the taxi with a good price so we went on with that. Finally we decided to go back to the hotel and checked in. We slept the moment we hit the bed (hahahaha).

Ostello Bello is KNOWN for backpackers so when we went down for dinner time there were a lot of people there. It was a chill atmosphere, you get to talk and make FRIENDS with people. We ate our dinner, and also they had free pasta in a small portion. It's a good tasting pasta. They had a show to entertain the guest. It was a good evening indeed. 

Entrance ticket to all tourist attraction


     Back to Mandalay the next day. We decided to book at OSTELLO BELLO Mandalay. We had a good stay in Bagan so that made us decide for another OSTELLO BELLO stay (hehehe). Surprisingly the bus ride going back to Mandalay was just 4 HOURS (hahaha). We walked to the Royal Palace it's near the hostel. The palace is huge! we walked for 30 minutes or so. Then another "awww" moment came, we never thought that we will again witness how kind Myamars are. Cause of the long walked we decided to sit down and took a rest. The old man (taxi driver)approached us and talked about some tour and all, we don't have any plans so we said no. His English is not that good so somehow we had a hard time understanding him, while we were talking to him this younger guy approached us and explained the tour better cause he can speak English better the the old man. So somehow we decided to go with him, though we felt guilty with "Uncle" that's what we called the old man. But as we go inside the taxi the younger guy stopped and told us that we should go with uncle cause he's the one we talked to first. That my friends is a good example of being a GOOD and DECENT human being! really an "awwww" moment. 

     So off we go with the tour just within the city. We stayed longer at Mandalay Hill for sunset but then again we didn't get to have a good sunset it's because it was cloudy. We met two fellow tourist from Israel, hang out for while and decided to eat dinner together. We had a nice dinner at a Thai restaurant. It was a lovely evening, we head back to the hostel, we bid farewells and the hope of meeting again in the FUTURE. 



Final Thought

    Myanmar doesn't have a SAGADA effect on me, but it's a beautiful country and beautiful people. The simplicity of the people and their way of life reminds me of how life should be. I saw people gather together talking with each other, others are in picnic, while most of the teens are playing guitar and just hanging out.
I experienced good things in Myanmar, and in general people are nice and kind, but that doesn't mean everyone are, we should still be careful and not to be so trusting. The only bad experience I had was when the people at the train station took my peso money (150) inserted on my passport holder. They took our passport for information and when they gave it back my peso bill was gone. I could have taken it out before giving my passport but I want to see how honest they can be and well that's what happened. There's always good and bad in this world, but that experienced didn't stop me to appreciate Myanmar and its people. I hope that Myanmar and the people get to preserve their tradition and the their kindness as they progress and as they grow as a country.

"Myanmar - the land of warm hearts" -XYZ

"My Myanmar experience is not as spectacular as my other travel but one thing is for sure, Burmese are one of the nicest ad kindest people I know. They leave a mark in my heart. Warm and kind soul" 


" In a WORLD where you can be anything, be KIND"

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