Expedition to Burma (Myanmar) 2011
All travel reports are translated electronically although minor improvements are sometimes made.
Expedition to Burma (Myanmar) 2011 – travel report
My trip: Yangon, Bago, Kinpun (Golden Rock), Bago, Mandalay, Hsipaw, Pyin Oo Lwin, Mandalay, Nyang U, Bagan, Mt Popa, Kalaw, Inle lake, Yangon, Shwedaung and Budda in glasses, Pyay, Yangon.
I also recommend the description of my visa trip to Burma in 2011, to the town of Tachileik in Shan state)
In addition to the detailed description of the listed places this report also contains many practical tips, personal feelings, curiosities and descriptions from the road.
Why Myanmar (Burma) again
(Description of transformations in the past 7 years)
The last time I was in Burma was already 7 years old and since then I always wanted to go back. I wanted to do better photos than before, but above all my plan was to know the best of this beautiful country. Since it was opened for tourists, every year attracted more and more guests. Golden pagodas are what attracts me to this country, but I got the impression that there are many more reasons. Interesting Buddhist culture, beautiful views, nice people and a thrill of emotion caused by lack of stability in the country ran by the regime.
On the other hand, in my view, the whole world is embroiled in a regime to some extent. In Burma this is the persecution of people of subordinate armies, and in Europe it is a regime based on political correctness, more and more on this subject in the chapter From the Author.
All these things make Myanmar one of the most attractive tourist destinations on the one hand, and on the other hand there is something that can be called a thrill ride. Although it has been very safe since my last stay here, there was a monk massacre in Yangon, freedom fighter Aung San Suu Kyi won the election and was released from house arrest. The first free elections were organized, although I treat democracy as just an empty term in the textbook. Also, on May 6, 2008, a massive NARGIS cyclone struck in Burma, which destroyed much of the country and some of the temples, and human losses were estimated at 22,000 people.
Another major event was the re-flagging of the flag that was in force from 1974 to 2010 although there were quite a lot of Burmese hostels. The military junta has also replaced many city names, although it is most important that Yangon lost its position as the capital of the country to the lesser-known city of Nay Pyi Taw. At present, the new capital is celebrated and it even has its first tourist attraction, the golden pagoda of course. The reason for this was better location, more space around the new capital, and the fact that Yangon is on the coast and according to them is more vulnerable to attack. Are they boring, I leave this decision to specialists. It is a shame that so many changes were not made to improve the lives of this very poor country.
As you can see in seven years a lot happened here and these are only things that ordinary citizens have the right to know because Burmese diamonds effectively close the mouth of the American media.
Nevertheless, Burma is a beautiful, very interesting, very poor country of the third world, and I want to tell it in my report. I intend to present Burma in such a way that future travelers are easier, giving also many practical tips.
(View of golden pagodas, border, road to Sule Pagoda, poverty, small chairs)
After several hours of flight and night at Bangkok airport, I finally got to Yangon. I was happy because at last I managed to get back here and I was waiting for it for 7 years. From the plane I saw a green country full of golden pagodas. The border crossing went smoothly and I did not buy a local currency at the airport to pay for a government / robbery course. When I left the luggage I paid a magic $ 8 and went to Sule Pagoda where there are many cheap hostels. On the way to the center I saw palm trees, people holding out on trucks going outside, inscription “Myanmar, golden country” and a lot of poverty.
To this day, used cars are designed for left-hand traffic, while in Burma I use right-hand traffic. This is dangerous in my opinion, but the Japanese are getting rid of their old stuff and the Myanmar government does not want the left-wing movement to break with the former British colonialism. It seems that security unfortunately does not match ideology, although in Burma no one is picky.
Yangon (Rangoon) – introduction and the first day
The driver dropped me off at the official center of Yangon, near Sule Pagoda. I went to the cheap Mahabandoola hostel where for a dingy room I paid $ 4 a night. But there was a bed, a windmill and a shower, so after going to bed I had to sleep for a few hours.
In the evening I went out to tea with one of the many pubs in the street. It was a waste of 200 kyat or practically free of charge for the first time I looked at Burma with my eyes closed and I liked it more and more. On the same day I strolled down to the center of Yangon, sat down for tea on small stools in the street and took the first photos. I avoided the stalls with food and all the goods from China, and the people responded most often with a smile at my sight. I also noticed that since 2004 there have been many Christian missions in Burma. Apart from the magnificent golden pagodas and monks I have seen several churches and nuns. Dirty, poor streets and their poor inhabitants created a typical Burmese character. Besides, there were typical British buildings and buildings with bamboo scaffolds, all in the background of palms and in a hot, tropical climate. On that day I was walking only a few hours but after a few minutes I was already sweaty afterwards. The sun that day was very tiring, and so many times I sat on the small plastic chairs for green tea.
Compared to seven years ago, not much has changed. I saw one renovated building near Sule Pagoda but poverty remained the same. In the evening, with fresh fruit, I returned to my ghostly hostel overlooking the trash to pick up my first day in Burma.
Characteristics of Burma (except golden pagodas)
Many men did not wear trousers but their traditional longi or plaid material was tied around their hips. They always wear ordinary shirts and flip flops. I noticed that most of the soldiers only wear trousers because they are here because of their uniforms. In this climate, however, wearing this kind of shawl instead of a trousers is not a stupid idea as they certainly provide better ventilation than trousers.
Women paint their faces and faces with bright paint called tannaka. It is a Burmese tradition and old folk cosmetics, which is prepared from the bark of trees. It was not only a cosmetic but also a perfume and a sun-reflecting cream.
Another thing that can not be ignored is the naive comedies in buses. The first time this is new so tourists also watch but then they become annoying. In addition, they do not have any connection with how Burma is real because they show wealth and the Burmese are whiter than they really are. I think these films have the same character as Bollywood in India and are also eagerly watched in Pakistan.
Yangon(Rangoon) – city tour
(Detailed description of the overall impression of the city and the most interesting sights of Yangon)
The next morning I got up excited because at last I had to see the Shwedagon Pagoda and much more. I walked down the long stairs of my lowest class hostel and sat down on a tree with great roots where tables were set. I drank tea with condensed milk for only 200 kyat and had a breakfast cake for 250. In the meantime I watched the passing monks and many victims of Burmese misery. I walked through the street and after a while I reached the first object or Sule Paya Pagoda. Sule Temple is located at the roundabout in the city center and is also a reference to any distance. If you ever get lost you will get to Sule Pagoda and there are plenty of buses that go in all directions. With a heavy heart I paid all $ 2 and got inside. At the entrance there was an altar with the face of Buddha and other saints, and still there were small golden stupas and Buddha statues. It is a very small temple and in my opinion not special compared to the absolute phenomenon of Burma and the whole of Asia, such as for example Shwedagon Pag Pagoda. The Sule temple will usually be the first to go to a tourist and that is why it is a good first experience. You can meet some monks here, see the people who make offerings to the Buddha and are in the center of Yangon (Rangoon). Around the Sule Pagoda are located shops where you can use very free internet and buy a mobile phone.
After leaving Sule I went to Chinese steamed chicken buns and shook the center. Previously I had St. Emmanuel Church and on the left the Yangon town hall. When I was here last year (2004) it was painted yellow but overgrown with dirt, so it fell into black. Now it has a light purple color which is a bit shocking. On the other side was the Mahabandoola Park where there was a well-kept green area and a central monument and four Burmese lions. This is a nice and secluded place for a change of view from the nearby buildings, including the red brick Supreme Court, built by the British. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to enter, so when I was drinking sugar cane on a noisy street, I looked at Yangon’s chaotic copy and an attractive court building. Of course I sat down homeless, who helped me get a drink.
I thought that day I would have the strength to explore but after a few hours I was very tired. The heat, the noise and the humidity made me have to go back to the hostel to take a shower. I understood that even if it was not for the climate, it would not be easy for me. After a break, after another tea on a small chair, I bought fruit at one of the many stalls and started my way. Then I walked down the Mahabandool Road and actually did not have a specific purpose. I think the most valuable thing for me was watching people and their many stalls where you could buy a variety of chandelier and “fried puzzles” on black oil. I did not know what they were doing and I did not see the toilets, so I ate mostly fruit. The traffic was as big and loud as it was, so it was quiet and cluttered side streets where there were tea rooms with small chairs and tables. During my many tea breaks, Yangon was in a bad condition. Many of the buildings looked like bombs and some did not even have front walls. That’s how I spent my second day in Yangon, a day full of impressions, good experiences, lots of teas and fresh fruit. On the same day and many times later, I noticed that in Burma very popular are swastikas and not just Buddhist. On many shirts I have seen swastikas and other signs that relate national socialism. Signs of this type can also be found on motorcycles, helmets and as ornaments in shops. I think the Burmese do not really understand it and every swastika treats it as related to Buddhism. I was also in the Indian district where there was a Hindu temple (kovil), a huge brick building in a terrible state and a Catholic church. All these interesting places had their unique atmosphere. They were always accompanied by palm trees, tropical heat, primitive stalls on the road, 50-year-old, dingy buses entering the bend with a squeak of tires, and great misery. That is Yangon. After an eventful day, after rice and chicken and tea I returned to my very cheap hostel with a mango bag and grapes.
Next morning, after a tea under the tree for 200 kyat, I went first to the skyscraper very close to the Sule Pagoda which is called Sakura Tower. At its very top, there is a restaurant, which is an observation point on Yangon. You can see the river, the Sule Pagoda, the shabby buildings that need refurbishment, and of course the Shwedagon pavilion. Then, finally, I went to Shwedagon Paya Pagoda. I could take the bus but decided that I would go for a walk to see the city better. I passed dirty stalls with food, fried bananas and food puzzles in the great traffic of the overflowing city, but also lazy people, fleeing from the heat into the shadow. After about an hour I got to the street from where I saw the Shwedagon pavilion, but first I turned right to see the Maha Wizaya Pagoda. This is a very pleasant property with a pond in front of the turtles and turtles inhabiting them. Then there is the impressive golden entrance and a pair of huge lions set on both sides. Then, on the marble, huge square is a large gold stupa, but it has four entrances inside. Inside there is a main hall and round corridor where you can usually meet praying people. In my opinion, paintings on the walls of the Buddha’s path to spiritual perfection are worth recommending. After leaving the stupa I walked around the square, rich in other interesting buildings on the style of oriental palaces and statues of the Burmese lions. The entire Maha Wizaya Temple complex is highly recommended and I think it is beautifully built. Huge, gold stupa, paintings, pond with turtles and palm trees in the background will delight every tourist. Unfortunately the Maha Wizaya Pagoda loses at a very close distance to the Shwedagon Temple and therefore many tourists who have only one day on Yangon (Rangoon) bypass it. At the exit once again I watched the turtles, admiring the magnificent view of the huge lions against the golden stupa, and then went to the magnificent Shwedagon pagoda.
Shwedagon Pag Pagoda is a religious symbol and the most emblematic symbol of Burmese national identity. At the same time it is also the most sacred object in Myanmar, which according to historical data was created about 2500 years ago (588 BC) although some historians believe that the Shwedagon could have been built before the death of Buddha himself in 543 BC. Shwedagon is the oldest ancient pagoda in Burma and the world and is therefore a very popular place for pilgrims and visitors. According to the pagoda, the Shwedagon pagoda was rebuilt between the 6th and the 10th century and then again in the 14th century because it was in a terrible state. At that time, Shwedagon measured only 18m high and only reached the current height of 99 meters in the 18th century. The Shwedagon Pagoda is set up on the top and you have to go to its terrain after long stairs. The high point, and at the same time, the symbol of the city is a tall, 99 meter stupa, which rises apparently above the city skyline. As I know, the bell shaped shape of the temple is related to the influence of the Ceylon culture and is covered with 8688 precious gold plates which reaches a mass of 60 tonnes of pure gold. In addition, the whole is decorated with precious stones, such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires and others and at its top there is a great diamond. In the middle of the stupa there are other precious objects, which according to legend come from the Buddha himself and outside the temple, but on the premises are many smaller temples, monuments of Buddha, sitting lion and places for worship. The entire temple complex is also a great place to meet local people who are always keen to tour the whole area and tell a number of legends for a small fee. It is also the best place in Yangon to meet the monks living there and make some interesting photos with them.
From the start of the street, there was a gigantic gold stupa “guarded” by two huge lions. When I approached her from Maha Wizaya pavilion I had a very good view and I felt I had to see something wonderful. I was in this place exactly seven years ago but every time this is an experience. I walked on the first stairs and after crossing the great gate I walked inside where there were shops with Buddha statues and paintings and other Buddhist symbols. It was also sold lotus flowers, so I bought one to offer him the Buddha. Then I paid $ 5 for the entrance, put a sticker on my shirt, and in front of me appeared a wealth of Buddhist figures, many small chapels and a huge gold Shwedagon stupa. On this huge object I spent many hours circling the stupa, admiring the elaborate sculptures of the saints and trying to establish contact with the monks and the people who had come to pray. Around the huge golden stupa there were many impressive palaces with red, ornamented roofs and many palms between them. There was also a Buddha lying here and many of his golden monuments in seated position. In addition to the chapels and the golden stupa, it was also interesting to observe people circling with lotus flowers and praying touching the foreheads of the floor. The floor was also interesting because there was a place where they lived and did laundry in the Shwedagon monks. There was no crowd here but palm trees and banana trees. I sat down with a coconut in my hand and looked at the simpleness of the monks at the age of 7-8. They were used to tourists, they were looking for contact and wanted to see my pictures.
I went many times to the Shwedagon temple complex. I was here for example after dark when the main stupa and the area around it was nicely lit. Shwedagon Paya Pagoda is definitely an unforgettable experience to which I would recommend going back many times. Behind the pagoda is a pond, which is a pleasant and quiet meeting place for monks. I took a taxi from here and returned to Sule Pagoda, around my hostel. Then, after lunch, I headed for Strand Road on the Yangon River, where there are several important city offices, including the main post office. Strand Road is certainly a very special place as it lies on the river although on the other hand I advise not to expect a nice promenade. On one side of the street there is the Yangon River, the heaps of rubbish and the rusty ships, and the other buildings, which have their glory long ago. Some of the colonial buildings that I mention here are the Myanma Port Authority (not “Myanmar” as it may seem) and not far from the Inland Waterway office. I walked a bit, then sat down on the small chairs for tea, then took a bicycle rickshaw and arrived at another beautiful object. I arrived in front of the Botatung Paya Temple, which is quite impressive and is undoubtedly the most attractive property on the river. It is a pretty temple with a large golden stupa in the center, several chapels, statues and smaller stupas on all sides. The entrance costs only $ 2, in front of the object was a large, concrete gate and around the temple stretched out the body of a huge snake. I also liked the pond with turtles on the premises. By its center was a bridge with a decorated red-gold roof and another chapel at its end. Around the sacred bodhi tree there were also many Buddha statues covered by a great cobra and this motif repeated a few times. Botatung Temple was also the second square where there was a statue of a large golden Buddha. Here too were praying people, bringing gifts, including lotus flowers. On the outside, it was mostly possible to buy gifts for the temple in the form of fruits and various kinds of flowers. There were necklaces of beautifully fragrant flowers that the faithful bought and left on the Buddha’s neck. Overall it was an interesting ritual, a spectacular place and of course the pond with turtles was very relaxing. Once out of town it was dark but constantly loud. So I returned to the hostel with a bicycle rickshaw.
On my last day in Yangon I drove an urban bus to the Chaukhtatgyi Paya Temple built in 1907, where there is a huge, lying Buddha. This temple is often compared to the one in Bago, but the one who saw them is aware of the fundamental differences. Lying Buddha in Chaukhtatgyi Paya is 72 meters long and is longer than this in Wat Pho in Bangkok. The Buddha lies under the metal roof and looks at his faithful from below. It is painted in cream, has an expressive red lips, long ears and eyes with a blue effect. Very significant are its feet on which are carved characters are significant. Around the temple there are houses of monks where they live without the slightest luxury. These are just plain, overgrown dirt and covered with banana boxes, with pots and laundry hanging out. This is an interesting neighborhood to see where you can get in touch with the locals, but you should avoid the dogs in the middle of the road. The Buddha in Chaukhtatgyi Paya was beautiful even though I did not like the fact that the iron pillars ran through the center. Unfortunately, the photos do not come out well, because you have to either maneuver the camera or photograph the pillars in the foreground.
Besides, I was in a pretty park with a lake in the middle and in the zoo. The Yangon Zoo is a nice and quiet place. There is also a pond, a lot of monkeys, hooves and my favorite snakes. I asked the reptile guardian to let me play with the tiger python and he was so nice that he took him out of the terrarium and put me in my arms. Zoo would definitely recommend as a pleasant rest from visiting the temples and noise of the city. The next morning without regret in my heart, I left my cheap hostel and probably the worst room in Yangon (although I bet they are somewhere worse) and went to the next destination.
Transport do Bago
(Including the lousy bus station in Aung Mingalar, sellers of everything and a beautiful road, rich in typical Burmese scenery)
From Sule Pagoda in Yangon I got onto bus no. 43 and after about an hour I reached a lousy hole with a row of rusty, dirty outdoor buses. It was a transfer station at Aung Mingalar. I bought a ticket here and went to one of the many nice pubs in my own way. I admit that the place was great for watching people dealing with chaos and trying to make money. There were vendors of rambutans carrying their big trays on their heads, banana sellers and chicken legs on a bamboo stick. In the bus they sold wonderful ointments and shampoos and through the window they pressed corn and small birds caught on a stick. There were also duck eggs and other disgusting things. In the end, the bus started moving in black, and I went forward again. On the way I saw a few pagodas, monks, primitive bamboo villages covered with palm leaves and harnessed buffalo paddies. From time to time, on this route, vendors of snacks, sticky rice and shoddy toys were on their way. After about two hours, bumping into the pit on my way to Bago.
(Description of main sights and general impression of the town – part I)
Bago is a small, dirty city on the way to central Burma. Apart from poverty and trash in the wind, however, things are worth recommending. There are some very impressive temples in Bago and you can experience rural life in Myanmar. I have been here twice, on the way to and from Golden Rock.
When I arrived at the muddy square with a wealth of holes, surrounded by barracks on two sides and sprawling out, it came to me that I was in Bago, that is, according to some guides in the “Buddha World”. Immediately after I came out of the bus, a very polite, poor man approached me, who offered to drop me off on his moped by the most interesting objects in Bago. My trip lasted all day and cost 5000 kyat. For the first time I bought a ticket for $ 10, which opened the door to all the tourist facilities in the town. Firstly my driver drove me to the largest pagoda in the city, to Shwemawdaya Paya. This pagoda can be seen from almost every part of Bago because this huge gold stupa is 14 meters taller than Shwedagon Paya in Yangon. At the entrance are two huge lions, and then after buying a ticket and postcards from the most needy you have to climb long stairs to get to the top. Here stands a huge, gold stupa and carved on all sides. Small lions and chapels with the Buddha’s likeness are also on the edge, and small palaces with red and gold roofs, chapels, sacred trees, and Buddha again in other parts of the building. Walking around the pagoda, I saw many monks and other people offering Buddha’s gifts, though the most impressive is the gigantic gold pagoda. Then we went to Kha Khat Wain Kyaung or monastery, which is the most interesting experience in meeting with monks. This is the place I would recommend most to see how the monks pray, study, eat and wash their robes. Many are shy but always react positively to the view of tourists. The monastery itself is of course an interesting place but because of the presence of 600 monks it is not secluded. Here are also monuments with the face of Buddha, although in that case I advise to sit at the pillars of the monastery and wait for a good picture of the monks. I recommend this as a good cultural experience.
Then through the large gold gate we reached the large green area where was the Kanbawzathadi Palace and the museum, which was once the home of the 16th century king Taungoo. The Golden Palace of Kanbawzathadi is an impressive building consisting of three fronts, the middle of which is the highest and the most decorated. Inside, there is a statue of Buddha and the throne room, as well as many other chambers where the king spent his time. Inside everything is kept red and the roof is supported by red pillars. From the stone terrace in this house you can see palm trees, a museum, and a tree with large roots, nicely incorporated into the shore of the pond. The Golden Palace is certainly an impressive object, but I think it is too empty and there is almost nothing in the middle but the bare walls and pillars. Next to the Royal Bee Hall is also a nice but smaller, golden object. The name itself indicates the throne room, but I do not know why the bee. As with the building described earlier, here are also decorated, red golden pillars, bas-reliefs in the shape of ornamental birds and of course the throne room. This place would definitely recommend.
Then we went to the local bazaar, which was the most interesting place to observe people. Walking through the puddles and bypassing the mud, I made pictures of people and their accomplices. There were mainly fruits but also fish and meat. A wealth of oranges, pineapples, coconuts, bananas hanging on strings and vegetables of all kinds. I saw people looking for a job with me and often posed for photos, although the most embarrassing were women. I think a visit to the bazaar is a must. If someone does not have time, I advise to avoid one temple and yet go to the bazaar because it is one of the most realistic images of a given country. With a bag of fruit I sat on a motorbike and through the wooden bridge we reached the Bago business card, which is Shwethalyaung. There is a huge statue of a 55 meter lying Buddha in the open air. This Buddha is impressive because he is really great. It is bigger than the lying Buddha in Wat Pho in Bangok, has decorated feet, long ears, and a nice, even childish face. In the same area there is a pond full of aquatic plants and turtles living in it which looks very impressive. There is also a bridge at its center, and at the end of it there is a statue of Buddha sitting on the cobwebs, which protects him with his mantle from the rain (according to legend). The whole Shwethalyaung facility is in my opinion a necessity when visiting Bago. Lying Buddha is very impressive. In addition to the entrance to the temple area is built a large gold gate and two huge lions on each of its sides.
Just before Shwethalyaung there is another, smaller building and in poor condition called Maha Kalyani Sima. This temple depicts four large statues of Buddha with arms folded, standing on lotus flowers and holding his golden cloak. For each of them there is also a swastika as a symbol of happiness – I give a link to the article Swastika for luck. Next to it, there are many statues of the sitting, meditating buddha under the trees. This place had the best mood because the Buddha is built under the trees in a very secluded place.
There are still two interesting pagodas. One of them is the large white Mahazedi Paya from which the summit can observe the surroundings. I would like to enter this pagoda can only men. Nearby is Shwegugale Paya where there is a tunnel with 64 monuments of Buddha. At the very end I went through the bazaar to the Snake Temple where the pagoda itself was not very good but it was in the countryside, beyond Bago. There was a shortage of monks and poor little monks, but the most interesting was the huge tiger python that the monks here looked after. I patted him and gave a small donation to his meal. As in every place of worship there are also sculptures and paintings of Buddha, although the center of attention was obviously a great python. The snake temple was one of my favorites because I have some big strangers in my house and I missed them a bit. When I left, I sat in a cottage built of thick sticks covered with thatch. I drank tea surrounded by pagodas and looked at a peaceful Burmese village. On the way to the “train station” I have stayed many times to play ball games with children and other just to better look at primitive huts and people in their daily work. I felt I had step back at least 100 years – maybe not considering the cell phone that I had in my pocket. The whole village was surrounded by palm trees and in the vicinity there was a pond and another gold pagoda at the top. It seemed that the people, though, were not happy at all. In the evening I returned to the station and got on the bus going to Kinpun.
So far Bago has been full of impressions and full of new experiences. This time nobody asked me to adopt his son and took him to Poland to give him a better life. Misery is still here, but this time I did not have such a tragic situation in Bago as in 2004.
(I write this report chronologically, that’s why I also write about Bago after the adventures in Kyaitkiyo)
Transport from Bago do Kinpun and the Golden Temple in Kyaitkiyo
The the wreckage tip in the Bago came another wreck which turned into the road with a great squeak and stopped in one of the pits. At this point, I thought he was going to sidle, but he managed to get out of people. The road to Kinpun lasted 3 hours, three times too long. On our way we traveled through a few interesting holes and we drove between the rice fields and the bushes. When it seemed that I was already in place, yet it was still an hour and I reached the Kinpun at dusk in the great rain. For this route I paid 7000 kyat because I had to pay for the place from Yangon. On the way back from Kinpun to Bago I have paid only 4000 kyat though they wanted 5000. Price as usual to negotiate.
(Description of the town, 11 km from the Kyaiktiyo and Golden Rock)
Late in the evening, in the pouring rain, I reached Kinpun, the base for the Golden Rock. A monk with a large umbrella picked me up from the bus and took me to the hotel. It was actually a small hole with the walls of the plates where the electricity was like a medicine. In any case, I paid only $ 5 with breakfast and had access to cold water. The garden was very nice because the orchids were planted in coconut shells. When I was at breakfast I realized once again how lucky it was that I was from Poland. While drinking tea in the orchid and sweating in the heat and humidity, I saw poor Burmese children spilling concrete under the stairs. Unfortunately, in all third world countries it is so.
Kinpun is a small village that I share in two parts. One is where the cheap hostels, the main market, the bus station and the shops of dried fruits are located. The second part is more calm and pleasant. There is a square where cockfighting takes place, some trees with beautiful boughs, local banana fries and pudding under a palm tree and a narrow river. Next are wooden houses covered with thatched, trodden road on which are sold vegetables and fruits straight from the orchards of the hosts and a pub where the whole village gathers to watch TV. I started here many times for tea and to cut the mango. Green tea is free! Kinpun is a very pleasant and peaceful settlement that still retains its authenticity and the world has learned of it through the vicinity of the sacred pagoda on the Kyaiktiyo Golden Rock.
Compared to 2004 when I was here last time, unfortunately from the perspective of the traveler a few things changed to worse. There is now more concrete and unfortunately it will be coming. When I came to Kinpun in 2004, I saw only the ground with a few puddles and a pig running in the yard, and the children greeted me with bundles of dollars.
In any case Kinpun is still a nice settlement, which is the best accommodation for Gold Rock. You can also eat well here. Once I had the gesture I invited myself for dinner for $ 2. I got fried rice with chicken and vegetables and a salad with walnuts and tea leaves.
(There is also Kyaiktiyo village about 24km away from Golden Rock but here it does not make sense to go there.) I advise to go straight to Kinpun.
Trip to the Kyaiktiyo peak to the Golden Rock temple
(The plan of the expedition, difficult climatic conditions, the magic of the Kyaiktiyo temple complex).
A few minutes walk from the guest house is the place where trucks with boarders on the trailer depart towards the summit. The schedule is theoretically but in practice it is pure fiction. Trucks are leaving when they are full and the same way back. I was lucky because I waited only 1,5h for a truck that was “going to leave in 5 minutes”. I was just good to keep up because the bends were sharp and we were traveling at different speeds on uneven terrain and often braked violently. After a short while we reached Sapporo, which is the base half way where the trucks had their last stop. The distance of 11 km was about half an hour, with a view of the banana trees and a few waterfalls. From time to time there are human settlements of bamboo, covered with palm leaves and bridges. It was rainy season, and sometimes it rained and in the upper parts of the mountains a fog rose. From here I had to go on foot. During the rainy season many bamboo pubs on the edge of the mountain were closed and there were not as many people as in the high season. On that day, the combination of hot climate and high humidity made me stand several times for tea. Nearer the entrance to the temple area was more souvenir shops, as always embedded on the edge of the mountains and built from what you can find around. I like nature, not concrete and plastic. The entire family lived in the shops. Men tried to sell something and women breast-fed. Some of them were skulls of monkeys, tiger teeth and, of course, pictures of the golden rock. Right before the entrance I had to pay $ 6 although the Burmese entered free (since 2004 it was about $ 1), then I took off my shoes and walked into the temple grounds. The entrances were “guarded” by two huge lions and after crossing the gate there were plenty of ornaments and religious motifs. Surprisingly, there were no Buddha statues, gifts for him mainly composed of coconuts and bananas and the presence of monks. I will always remember in my mind a place where women were not allowed to enter because it would violate the sacredness of this place. The most important and the reason for which every year the masses of pilgrims and tourists are taken is, of course, the Golden Rock pagoda set on the edge of the cliff, which supposedly denies the laws of gravity. As with any place of this type, there is also a legend of this. Well, this rock is covered with gold petals, and optically it looks like it was about to fall into the abyss. Legend has it that there is no such possibility as the hair of Buddha is underneath it, so it keeps perfect balance.
From the top it was also a beautiful view of the mountains, rows of small white pagodas and wooden houses. As I headed for the exit, he began to rain, but this time the monsoon season seriously let itself know about himself. Immediately a thick mist appeared and I had to hide under a tree. After a while, I went down to Sapporo and sat down in a teahouse where the local crowd watched silly American films about killing. I wanted to go back to Kinpun but no one knew when the next truck would be down. Finally, after an hour, I lost patience and set off on an 11km road. But I was very bad luck because as soon as I set off fell apart and rained for many hours. On the way I stood several times to take pictures and tea in the cottages built of palm trees. At the beginning of my route, I tried to cover my raincoat. When this completely broke, I broke off the big banana leaf and tried to not even rain on my head. After some time, however, I realized that it did not make sense and I was stiff in the rain. I was tired and wet and really did not want to go any further but I could not just lay down on the road and die. Two trucks were running in the meantime but none of the assholes stopped to pick me up. At the last kilometer I was lucky because the local motorbike brought me to Kinpun. I was exhausted the whole day and still felt like a rainy rain all day. So I spent another last night at Kinpun. I took a cold shower and I would also like to go to bed but first I had to spread out my travel checks and money. I was finished.
Golden Rock is a wonderful, beautiful adventure that I have overcome this time in difficult climatic conditions. The entire temple complex I liked very much and I think the legend itself is also interesting. Definitely the beauty of this trip adds the way up the mountain, where are the wonderful views and you can spend time with the locals with a cup of tea.
The way back from Kinpun to Bago
By bus for 4000 kyat I drove 3 hours to Bago. The route was light and pleasant. On board were boarders of fruit vendors and clay chicken on bamboo as well as other snacks. Outside the window were mostly rice fields, primitive villages and occasional small gold pagodas.
Return to Bago
(Kyaik Pun Paya pagoda, closer contact with locals and more experience with real life in Burma)
As I mentioned at the beginning of Bago I was twice. The second time I had to come back from Kinpun to take a bus to Mandalay after 6pm in Bago. I thought that since I had 6h I would use them. I happily left one of the most tragic stations in my travel career (maybe in Bangladesh) and went to Kyaik Pun Paya, a few kilometers from Bago. From the train station it was quite a bit, so for a small patch of 200 kyat I was picked up on a moped. As I entered the large field, the face of a huge, sitting Buddha with smaller stacks on the sides appeared before me. At the entrance I made contact with women from whom I bought a discounted ticket. They also gave me old banknotes with the inscription “Bank of Burma” and I bought a small souvenir from them. Kyaik Pun Paya Temple built in the 15th century, unique “huge Buddha” world. The entrance leads through the golden stupas and then after the “hello” nice ladies at the entrance and after a portion of mango and papaya I walked up the stairs to the main square. Here is a 27m statue of the four seated Buddha, sitting with his back to himself. The impression is unforgettable and even though on each side the Buddha looks the same it is always unique. There are other chapels and sculptures around, but in comparison to the four Buddhas, they do not pay much attention. Definitely recommend Kyaik Pun Paya and a few kilometers distance from Bago should not alienate anyone. On the way back I had an interesting but sad meeting that talked a lot about Myanmar. I walked with a young girl who broke up in English telling me she was an orphan practically ever since. The father was an alcoholic and she beat her aunt so her aunt issued her to her at the age of 16. By hitting developing countries, I’ve seen and heard so many stories, but on the other hand, rich countries such as Poland and England are not colorful either.
After seeing all the facilities in Bago I had another 5h to leave my bus, not including the delay. So I went to seek contact with the Burmese people and therefore I shuffled down the side streets. I strolled through the treaded paths, on both sides with wooden thatched roofs and palm leaves. Children played ball and munched me while women were washing in the river and grilling bananas. I was once again at the bazaar and in parts of the city where there was a ruined, colonial architecture. I also sat in the pub for tea and so on small plastic chairs, sitting near the monks spent about an hour. I was also on a local volleyball match where Bago played with the dedication. Wherever I went, I got interested. The young women looked at me secretly turning around when I wanted to take a photo and the others just looked at me and commented. I was also in a dirty pub for dinner where the dollar gave me a delicious dish. I got fried rice with vegetables and chicken and in front of me had a poster of miss bush. Excellent! It is a pity that next to sat a rickshaw driver who spoke too much and had not brushed his teeth for a long time. Well….
When my departure time came, I returned to the tragic but realistic bus station with a bicycle rumble. I also met my new traveling companion from France with whom I had already traveled together. After a few hours delay, a first class bus arrived and finally I went to Mandalay.
Bago is definitely a great tourist attraction, which I recommend to travelers who do not have much time. Bago is located just 80km north of Yangon, where you can eat and sleep in cheap places, while temples and rural life guarantee that you can not be bored. The guide says that Bago is a good break between Yangon and Kyaitkiyo Golden Rock, but I think that you can stay here for at least 2 days. Compared to seven years ago, things have changed. They built another bridge so now they are two and 7 years ago the main road was covered with sand and stones, so that each passing truck caused dust and coughs on pedestrians. Now Bago had asphalt. It is still very poor, but still ….. it has a bus station.
Road to Mandalay
This time I was very pleasantly surprised because it was a decent, air conditioned coach. The price was unfortunately high as I paid $ 16 / 10h and unfortunately in Burma it worked so I had to pay for the place from Yangon to Mandalay. On board I also got a bottle of water and cookies. This time, there was no veranda as we drove along the new Yangon Highway connecting Mandalay. In the morning around 5am I arrived at the place.
(Arrival to the bus station, the city of returns, Chinese businessess, The Palace and the Mandalay Fort, school of monks, Shwe In Bin Kyaung monastery, helping people, currency exchange, Mahamuni Paya and the Golden Budda, the rich elite -poor nation and comparison to the West, Sandamani Paya, Mandalay Hill)
Mandalay is one of the major cities in Burma where it is worth staying for a few days. There are several interesting temples, a palace surrounded by a moat, a temple on top of the mountain and the famous golden Buddha in the pagodas of Mahamuni Paya. Besides there are smoking cars, chaotic traffic, lots of good Chinese pubs and poverty everywhere. Mandalay is definitely a vibrant, dynamic city, partly due to the Chinese investment that has taken Mandalay. It is also worth mentioning that the streets do not have names here but numbers. For instance, it’s a 27-way and 83-way intersection that often helps find the right street. Also Mandalay is a very good base for other interesting places in the mountains where it is much cooler because the city itself is very hot.
I came back to Mandalay several times. Once on your way north to Lashio and another to spend the night here and go to Bagan.
I arrived at the Mandalay train station about 7km from the center with my French colleague around mid morning. The crowd rushed over to us to offer a ride to the city for a lot of money, but after learning in India I learned to calm down. So we sat down for tea and when the emotions had cooled we boarded this collective taxi and got to the center for a pittance. I booked a cheap hotel for $ 5 per room plus only $ 1 extra for a good breakfast on the veranda. True, the rooms looked like prison cells and the bathroom was dirty and I had only cold water but on the other hand what price. On the first day I did not visit too much. I was exhausted by the bus trip but above all the heat. So I slept for hours and in the evening I went to dinner with a Chinese. Pubs on the street of this kind are many in Mandalay and this Chinese specialized in soups which were great and cost only 1000 kyat. As always, being in Burma ended my mango day.
The next day, we rented a bike for 1000 kyat from the art for the whole day, bought water and hats and went to explore. I also think that especially in Mandalay to be a satisfied tourist must first rent a bike because the distance is quite large and from walking the heat can more finish. We first drove around the moat behind which was the Palace and Mandalay Fort. All the objects inside are surrounded by a wall creating the perfect square, of which each wall is 2km. Riding the bike around the moat can be seen also covered with red, pointed roof observation towers, which are a typical show of Burmese architecture. In the middle I entered the east gate, the only open for tourists and after paying $ 10 I had access to the main tourist attractions in Mandalay. The eastern gate is as white as the rest of the wall and is also covered with a roof similar to the observation towers. For this it is guarded by armed soldiers and after getting in the inside tourists can not ride all the way and only for them laid out. The reason for this is the presence of military units there, which does not interfere with getting into the palace. The guide did not recommend this place but I liked it. Even without visiting the monuments, it was possible to stay with locals, eat mangoes, watermelons and papayas for a penny, and right next to the palace was a pub open to the open sky where they served fried rice with chicken and vegetables. It was one of those places where you could relax and in the shade of a tree forget about the whole world. The dinner usually takes me about half an hour but here I spent two. However, returning to the subject of monuments, the palace inside the fort is the last Burmese palace belonging to the last Burmese monarchy. Although originally built between 1857 and 1859, it was rebuilt in the 1990s. The reason was the invasion and robbery by the British, the destruction caused by the Indian army and the bombing of the palace by the Allies during World War II to rid the Japanese of it. Only a few objects remain intact here, including the wall surrounding them. All the rest is unfortunately only a copy. As for the facilities themselves, I think the most special is the Mandalay Royal Palace (Mya Nan San Kyaw), where there are several other buildings. The main entrance consists of a high, pointed gate and the characteristic feature of the other are several levels of roofs with golden ends. Unfortunately, all these objects are copies because during the Second World War the Japanese used this area as their garizon and therefore the Allies were completely bombed. One of the very few survivors is the high observation tower, which offers good views of the entire palace complex. In conclusion, I consider the whole fort, the walls around and the huge 8km moat for the true symbol of Mandalay. More about the history of this place will tell the local museum and hungry to recommend many local pubs and fruit stalls under the banana leaf.
Then I rode my bike around the city and looking for the right street numbers, I became part of the chaos around me. Shortly after, I reached the school of monks where they lived, prayed, did laundry on the river, etc. I witnessed all these activities and I made many contacts. I think that the characteristic part of this building is the clock tower resembling Big Ben, although for me the most interesting was the experience of the monks. For an hour I participated in their daily lives and activities. Unfortunately, when “Big Ben” started beating everyone ran for prayers and that’s why I also left. All in all, this area was a “monk area” which guarantees an unforgettable cultural experience. There were a lot of young people, but for me the most interesting are the very young boys with shaved heads and orange robes and old and wrinkled, often without teeth. The Sri Lankan monks told me that a monk in India should live without any desire and no addictions but unfortunately I happened to see a monk with a cigarette, which shows that not everyone is so deep. In Tibet and Thailand, I’ve seen monks with good cell phones, which put them a little differently in my eyes. The whole area is far away from the tourist route so it is all the more interesting because you can enjoy realism; ie poverty, dirt, begging (also by young monks) and the everyday horror of the developing world. The beautiful wooden monastery, Shwe In Bin Kyaung, built in 1895, is one of the most magnificent examples of 19th century sculpture. Approaches are made of stone but the rest is wooden. This building which used to be a palace is very small but you can spend a lot of time admiring art. All parts of the roof, walls, doors and most of the elements abound in beautiful bas-reliefs.
When I came back from a bike ride through the city we found a night and unfortunately I lost a little. Luckily, people ran me straight to the Chinese pub, where they served good soup. From there, a little further away was my cheap hostel. I thought it would be the end of my day and I would just go to bed but before I changed the currency. I swapped $ 150 for kyat and I wish I had done it in Yangon because the course is always the best. Unfortunately the money changer did not have anymore to replace the Frenchman so I sold him $ 50. In Burma, it must be assumed that the black market is the only good source of exchange because banks do not pay half the price they ask questions and give headaches.
The next morning we left on our bikes a few kilometers south of the center. On our way we had a few small temples where there were obviously no beautiful lions and white and golden stupas. All were beautiful and all offered a rest from the helpless sun. The highlight of our trip was the famous Burmese temple of Mahamuni Paya. The entire temple complex consisted of three interconnected buildings and numerous art studios. Coming to the main gate to the left was a pond surrounded by white and gold stupas and a tall clock tower with gold, carved ends. This place was by far the most secluded and fish ponds and turtles that could be fed. The highlight was the main entrance, which led through a corridor full of shops. Before I got to the chapel itself, I spent a lot of time here because for $ 1 I managed to buy a hand-made sandalwood comb. Besides, there were many Buddha images, hand-painted caskets and boxes. The temple itself was not very beautiful. I had the impression that it was a plain roof supported by a row of pillars and the poor were lying around. But at the end of the corridor there was a chapel and the most famous and one of the most sacred religious sites in Burma. It was a golden Buddha, weighing 6 tons and covered with over 15cm of gold petals. It comes as it seems from the first century. There were many prayers before the Buddha, and some (including myself) entered the altar to touch him. But before that happened, the policemen put on my sarong because in short shorts I could ignore the Buddha. Obviously it was a unique impression because I was standing near the most sacred symbol of Myanmar covered with 15cm gold layer. There were also pictures of the military leader Burma, General Than Shwe, praying in front of this Buddha, which was to indicate the unity of the nation. It was interesting here that the general and all his uniform helpers were gold-plated, and the Burmese people often lived in poverty. To a moment of reflection also forces the fact that many of the cultural and religious goods are covered with gold and precious stones, but many times I saw Burmese children running hungry, dirty and covered with rags. On the other hand, in the western world, the essence of the problem is exactly the same, although the contrasts are not as extreme. There are also workshops where sculptures of Buddha statues and nice furniture are located. Here the environment is no longer so colorful but it does not matter as you can see the interesting art and drink cane juice or coconut. I also have to admit that I admire the patience of artists, especially with the fineness of the smallest elements. What these people do is a very slow, painful process and the fruits of their work are beautiful. On the opposite side of the studio and past the chapel with the Golden Buddha, I reached the marble square surrounded by greenery, where it was quite an impressive building in the Burmese style. In the middle of the square there was also a four lions column that looked exactly like the symbol of India-Ashok Pillar. The piece was still a bazaar where I sat for some time, watching people, eating cheap mango and tempted the fried grasshoppers. After all, standing in smaller temples along the way, I reached the vicinity of Mandalay fort where I lived. Here we went for dinner inside the fort and then took a nap for a few hours because the sun did not give me peace. Mandalay is exceptionally hot and the sun is very dangerous !!!
After a nap and another mango for refreshment we reached Sandamani Paya. I parked my bicycle in front of the entrance of the long-lost brakes, and I woke up sleeping in front of the temple people. Next to the entrance we were dealing with an obnoxious monk who wanted to guide us for a small fee. I think Sandamani Paya is the easiest to describe as a few rows of white stupas, though there are a bit more here. The central pendant contains a high and massive gold pagoda and the largest iron Buddha weighing over 18.5 tons. Around it is a forest of white stupas with golden ends, which are geometrically arranged and characteristic of this object.
Another similar temple to it is Kuthodaw Paya. Previously, I also described the wooden Shwe In Bin Kyaung Temple. Near Sandamani there is a similar Shwenandaw Kyaung, which is also wooden and abounds in interesting sculptures. I think, in this area, the most recommendable and one of the symbols of the city is Mandalay Hill. The entrance is very impressive here because there are two huge white lions. Climbing is reasonably pleasant, but unfortunately you have to go to barefoot. On the way you can not get bored as there are many souvenir shops of all kinds. You can buy pictures for 1000 kyat or even three for 2000 kyat and big and heavy Buddha near the top. During climbing some of the stairs can be challenging because they are tall and very narrow. I also admit that I was walking a long time and it seemed that there was no end. Along the way, in addition to shops and sculpture workshops, there were temples with stupas and chapels with Buddha in the center. When I thought that I was near the summit, it turned out that I only reached the next temple with a huge Buddha or a row of stupas. At the top, there was a very good view of the Shan hills, the Ayeyarwady river, the fort surrounded by the moat and another part of Mandalay with the highlighted golden pagodas. Mandalay Hill is definitely one of the city’s major assets that I highly recommend. From the attractiveness of the monuments and history it does not take a breath of breath, but it is a nice climb to the beautiful views, and on the way you can buy souvenirs or just look at interesting objects.
After going down I picked up my bike where I paid 100 kyat for watching, drank with the French after the coconut and went to the Chinese again for the soup.
That evening we went to see Mandalay at night, walking one of the streets. We sat down at a Hindu temple for a cane drink and Indian sweets. All that evening I saw was the great misery of the Burmese people, the junk of trash and, despite all that, not giving up, nice people. Mandalay was a wonderful experience.
As I mentioned before, to Mandalay I returned because I had other interesting places to see later in the north.
Transport to Hsipaw
(Local transport filled with crap which tested my patience)
This time again I had the pleasure of going on a local bus which means that for luxury there is nothing to count on. At 5am they had me on the trunk at the bus station and then I saw a beautiful wreckage that we were driving for about five hours. The seats were one on the other and they did not break apart and under my legs I had boxes of vegetables because people and all the goods go together. After all, it was so uncomfortable that I lay down in a wooden box with sauerkraut. I was still not comfortable and jumping from time to time but at least I could stand up straight. For the Frenchman, however, this was not a problem as he had just arrived from Indonesia and said he was going there for two days and all night with a much worse bus, with very hollow roads and having his knees under his chin, as there was even more goods. He told me that he was bent over the Chinese paragraph and it took him a long time to get to him. So the transport to Hsipaw was not bad at all. Well … Viva France!
(Description of the mountain town, Little Bagan and hospitable monks, Bamboo Buddha Monastery, Waterfall Trip, the hill of 5 and 9 Buddhas)
Hsipaw is a quiet, mountainous settlement situated nicely in the background of the Shan hills. Getting to Hsipaw is not always pleasant but the village itself is very. Travelers who have more time to Burma, are eager to come here to stay away from the noise and heat of Mandalay to rest for a few days. Although there is virtually nothing to do here, it is so peaceful and nice that you can spend a lot of days here. Hsipaw is also a good place for trekking and therefore the owner of each hostel will be happy to organize tours of the surrounding area and typical Burmese villages.
Upon arrival the bus got rid of us in the main bazaar area and then we went straight to dinner. As in Mandalay, there are also Chinese pubs. So we went for fried rice with vegetables and chicken to one of the many rather clean burgs. There for only 1000 kyat we had a real treat although the Frenchmen still took a dessert. Then we found a hotel where I paid only $ 5 plus $ 1 for breakfast. I was happy. Beautiful setting and great value for money.
The next day we went on a bike tour but before we left Hsipaw we first went to the local bazaar to stock up on the mango for the whole day. After going through the rice fields we looked at the primitive bamboo hut covered with thatched or palm leaves. Of course there were people plowing the field with a buffalo and laughing and curious about our children. Shortly after, when we were traveling on a very uneven rocky road, we reached Little Bagan or the order of a hundred years old white stupas. They were not as impressive as Bagan itself, but the weight of Shan history and the stupas themselves were not wasted. One stupa was built in such a way that the tree was in its center and the boughs were growing from above. There was a beautiful weather and a monastery where the monks let us rest and served us green tea and durian. I just praised the weather but the shelter of the monks was also a refuge from the heavy rain that ended as soon as it began. Then we went to the nearby Bamboo Buddha Monastery (Maha Nanda Kantha), which was not an attractive visual but there was a 150-year-old painted Buddha, built entirely of bamboo. There were monks in the temple who gave directions to the directions but only the language of the gestures. In the same grounds was also a lovely pond covered with water lilies and lotus flowers, which added to this beautiful place. At the center of the pond, there was a bridge and at the other end there was another chapel with the Buddha. I also liked the fact that occasionally the lotus flowers moved as fish and turtles flowed beneath them. I was standing on the platform, looking at the stacks of Little Bagan and the wonderful surrounding vegetation. The bananas on the trees were not yet mature, but the Frenchman after a few attempts to get rid of the papaya from the tree. It was beautiful!!! On the way back, it was already dark and it began to rain for good. So I went to dinner, but this time it was a little soup on one of the stalls on the road and then I used the slowest internet in the world, who seriously tested my patience.
On my second day I wanted to be more wild because after the morning rain I visited to the Buddhist temple and then we went to the waterfall few kilometers behind Hsipaw. As we drove the asphalted road, it was easy, but as we turned into endless rice fields, we drove on a rocky road dotted with dense mud. It was getting heavier though, as usual, beautifully and adventurously. We passed the overgrown cemetery and buffalo, wooden carriages. In the end we turned to the valley and here it was not enough that the road was narrow it was still full of holes and ruts. We had to drive our bikes but when it rained we were already in the water after the ankles so we left them at the hosts in the yard. Despite the huge downpour, many farmers in straw-tipped hats still forced their buffalo to plow half a rice with simple wooden plows. We were in the rain forwards because we were going to assume that the buffalos are still heavier. On the way we also passed primitive human settlements. These were wooden houses on high bales, and around them were paddy fields and buffaloes bathing in them. Especially in the monsoon season, the color of the rice stalk had a distinctly green color, which appeared from the gentle mist. After climbing, we reached a picturesque waterfall where we stood for a moment to admire the view from the mountain to the picturesque countryside. On the way back I plunged into a natural pool hidden between the vast boughs of trees to which a waterfall fell. I also did not bother to disassemble because I was still wet. Then we headed for Hsipaw, but it was a long way in the rain and dark. Several times I also fell into the mud, which further added to the taste of my expedition. When we pushed the bike uphill, only by the moonlight we reached Hsipaw. The manager looked at us but asked us to remove the shoes before entering. After a shower in cold water I came to myself but my shirt was to be thrown away. But I think the trip to the waterfall was very successful and I recommend it to travelers who have a better sense of adventure and want to save $ 10- $ 15 a day on trekking fees. There are many routes.
The next day I went to the shrines on the hill of 5 Buddhas and on the hill of 9 Buddhas. The mountain walk is about a half hour walk on the way to Lashio, just after crossing the bridge to the left. At the top is a stupa, monuments of Buddha and a small temple with a monk living there. It is a secluded, peaceful place where the views of Hsipaw and surrounding areas stretch. On our return we had to leave Hsipaw but there was no place on the bus so we stayed one more night. I was better prepared to leave but apparently I wanted to stay here longer. On the last day I was at a bazaar where people stared a little in town and where I did a good deal on buying a mango. I was also in the temple and in the evening I went to an Indian pub on a banana chapati. It was a quiet, lazy day in nice natural circumstances.
Transport from Hsipaw to Pyin Oo Lwin
Luckily painless. After less than three hours on the local bus I reached the place.
Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo)
(Post-colonial hill town, British architecture, pleasant bazaar, poverty, Kandawgyi National Botanical Garden)
Pyin Oo Lwin is known as “Little Britain” and although it is a very pleasant town, from Britain it differs considerably. Pyin Oo Lwin lies below the Shan hills and was actually founded by a British general. To this day, there is a colonial architecture, including the Purcell Tower, a local Big Ben, and a very impressive horse-drawn carriage ride. There are also a lot of poverty and working children, as in Burma. Besides, Pyin Oo Lwin has the great advantage of being much cooler here than Mandalay, which is a huge relief. For this reason, during the British times, in the hottest months the town was a popular holiday resort.
When we left the bus we went to look for a hotel. Mostly there is no license for foreigners, so we took the Dream Hotel, which was not a dream but cost only $ 5. Considering my poor budget I enjoyed the room with the grills and siphon around, but as usual, the best was the toilet. The damp, black and even white places were decorated with cobwebs and the plaster barely held. For many years of my travel career I have become accustomed to this kind of conditions. It was still better than in India and Bangladesh, and the gentleman turned on me even a tap with hot water which was another great experience. All this “luxury” in the hotel “dream” for only $ 5!
In Pyin Oo Lwin I spent two days and it was very nice. On our bikes we visited, among other things, a vegetable and fruit market where tailors sewed on sewing machines for crank and pedals. We are only in museums, but in Burma we still use them. The bazaar was a very colorful, merry and social place. I made a very good contact with people, bought fruit supplies and chilli samosha, which was fine, although obviously made without preserving any hygiene rules. Unfortunately, there was also a very tragic place full of poor people who spread the fruit from their own orchards on the newspapers between the asphalt and mud holes. Whenever it was raining and it happened often, we stopped at the coffee shops for tea and for a very good dinner for $ 1 where we were served unfortunately little boys. I always went out of my dorm called Dream Hotel to the pub for tea and cookies at a bargain price. For me Pyin Oo Lwin is an interesting experience worth the stop for every traveler but for the locals it is not so colorful.
I think the biggest attraction of the town is without doubt the Kandawgyi National Botanical Garden where unfortunately the tourist entrance costs as much as $ 5. My friend French and I for a long time complimented the lady at the counter but unfortunately this time did not succeed. I had to pay. The garden of Kandavgyi occupies 176 hectares and is a very pleasant place to relax. Inside there is a large water area with birds living on its grounds and a gold pagoda on the island, in the middle. This garden is first of all rich in plants on the back of the lake, though there is also a small zoo, slow-living gibbons and deer, a museum of petrified trees and a butterfly salon with many huge species. This park can be seen from above, from a high tower built in Chinese style.
I highly recommend Pyin Oo Lwin. It is a nice stop on the way back from Hsipaw.
Return to Mandalay and road to Bagan
(Misery, horror train, Burmese tragedy and the great suffering during my journey)
From Pyin Oo Lwin near the clock tower was shared taxi to Mandalay where after two hours I reached the place. On the last day in Mandalay I walked around the city, was at a nice pub and drank lots of juices because it was so hot. All the time I saw a lot of poverty, but the biggest railway station. People lived here under the material that was dropped on the trees so that they did not overhead and protect themselves from the sun. In the same place they had litter and pots and the kids ran naked on the dirty street. These were the wealthy poor because the poorest lay on the concrete with children, in the heat. The train station was also an image of misery with scroll bars and music in the background. For the ticket I only paid $ 4 that is 10 times more than the Burmans. It only explains how poor Myanmar is. Same train was worse than usual in India and Bangladesh. Wooden seats and syf the train itself was like a cell on iron wheels. I think the trains and stations in Burma are a great setting for another horror movie, “The nightmare on Elm street”, but this horror accompanies people here every day. Me and the Frenchman were traveling with the wretches of the lowest to Bagan and the wagon moved sideways as if he was about to derail. People were nice because the mangos were provided by us, but the journey of the trip was known to us. Finally I spread the towel on the dirty floor and tried to sleep. It helped me at least for a while, but the police in the police department, who also made up the beggars only in uniforms, woke me up with my foot. From Mandalay we left at 9pm and arrived at Bagan station finished about 5am. This is a sort of macabre night in transport, and I’ve had a few in my travel career. Normally they are India and Bangladesh although Burma is also one big tragedy.
Bagan (Pagan) and Nyaung U
(Detailed description of what Bagan is, description of the most interesting temples, arrival and how and where to do it cheap.)
When I left Bagan Station, I saw that it was built in the style of an ancient temple. It was morning and only sun rose, which gave even better effect. So I had a large, decorated object against the background of the red sky. Unfortunately, the drivers wanted to take me as much as 1000 kyat for the ride to Nyaung U which was definitely too much. 1000 kyat is still only £ 1 but at that moment i did not think so. I came with a Frenchman traveling to the main road and we paid only 300 kyat for two people. The open pickup was a blanket so it was comfortable. We had to stand up and pay for the $ 10 ticket, which allowed me to enter all the antique objects. A few minutes later we reached Nyaung U.
Ancient Bagan is one of the most popular destinations in Burma and throughout Asia. It is not surprising that the government is trying to make the most of it. So for example; Sleeping in a good hotel in Old Bagan is rather for rich on organized trips or lonely travelers with thick wallets and New Bagan is a place where there are many mid-range hotels for the average lavish. My favorite option for the poor is for me here is Nyaung U. It is the cheapest accommodation near the temples where they also cheaply feed.
What is the ancient Bagan and the way of sightseeing
Whether it is New or Old Bagan, Myinkaba or Nyaung U, together is a beautiful ancient area that competes for the most impressive temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. At about 42km2 there are about 4400 huge and smaller temples, many of which are just like Angkor Wat dating back 800 years ago. These temples are remnants of the Buddhist dynasties that have long since passed away, but fortunately their cultural heritage has remained and attracts thousands of tourists every year. There are, of course, a lot of history and legends, some temples are very small stupas, others have chapels with Buddha statues in the middle and the most magnificent ones are even 1000 years old and you can climb up to their summits to admire the view. You can also watch the rural life, the mules harnessed to the car and the magnificent sculptures. There are many types of temples in Bagan, and many souvenir shoppers also have a lot of time to spend and think about staying longer.
I think all over Bagan, in need of three days in a hurry and it is necessary to rent a bike to explore at your own pace. I do not know anyone who sees all 4400 temples, so I think that a good way to explore / cross over the whole area is to choose the most spectacular temples on the map, and I also advise stopping at places that we find interesting. I stopped at the moment because the temples themselves are not all that. There are also temples on the background of magnificent landscapes, vegetation, black or red earth and farm animals. All these things are a great subject for pictures but it takes time. For all that time, even in the rainy season, we were accompanied by tropical heat, which is not easy either.
In my travel report I will describe more precisely only certain temples because I can’t describe 4400. I mean that I’d rather present an overall impression of Bagan as a whole rather than a description of each temple alone.
Me and my traveling companion in the way of savings we shared the room. As usual we were driven by the price and this time we got a room for $ 6 “from the pool” with air conditioning and shower. But before we started to explore first all of us had to sleep after finishing a night trip (described above). Around the afternoon we went out for fried rice and to explore Nayung U. There are many hotels, cheap bars, bazaars, souvenir shops and bike rental which is very convenient. As mentioned above, Nyaung U is an option for the poor. As for historical wealth, we first saw big trees in front of us, and around it a few brick, destroyed stacks of medium size. There were local children playing, adults doing the barbecue and next to the cows grazing. I felt it was an introduction to beautiful Bagan. Next to it was the most impressive temple in Nyaung U called Shwezigon Paya. Of course, as always in front of the Burmese temple there were two lions, and then in the corridor a bazaar with souvenirs and a plethora of poor people. Then I went to the main square where a huge, bell-shaped gold stupa, the original of the Burmese pagodas, was located at the central point. There are also many other interesting ornaments and figurines as well as poor children and mango dealers. In the Shwezigon temple I spent three hours a day, because it is also a very nice social place. I took pictures of the golden bells and other objects and spent time with locals at a banquet with mango. The women fed me fruit and I took pictures of them in my hat against the background of the golden pagoda. I also had the lesson of a strong bargain at the bazaar. The rest of the temples in Nyaung U were not so impressive. If someone had extra money to spend, I would recommend also a boat trip to see three other temples, one of which is about 1000 years old.
Nyaung U was my base so every day I came back to take a new bike. Hence I also left and had an organized transport to Mt. Popa.
The central area
In my opinion, part of Bagan where are located the best temples that offer the best views and best sunsets and sunsets. It is also a good place to buy souvenirs from the doorstep sellers or drink juice under a straw hut.
We rented bicycles and in the heat we drove through a dirt road. As usual, I had a specific purpose, but I stopped by to take pictures of the seemingly unmistakable 1000 year old temples against the background of empty landscapes. The effect was spectacular cacti, cows grazing, emptiness, peace and quiet. Many times I also went to small temples where between them slept guarded woman, living in a hut under the thatch and sleeping on a bamboo mat. I personally enjoyed every corner of this expedition, but the nail of the program is here, among other things, the Buledi temple. It is a high red temple that can be accessed on steep stairs and stop on any level.
Another huge building here is the Dhammayangyi Pahto, which is almost everywhere, a large body with massive walls. It was built in 1165 and its great advantage is that you can go inside. As we walk through the corridors, we reach the chapels with the statues of Buddha, which are at the end.
In the central area is also one of the prettiest, great temples, built between 1170 and 1300 called Sulamani Pahto. This temple was just one of my favorites. Entrance to it is located among the vegetation is a massive, brick gate with a sophisticated shape and then walking through the stands with pictures and sculptures we have in front of the main object. It is a multi-storey, massive building finished with a gold carved spire. You can enter the temple by the stairs and on each floor there is a terrace with golden stupas. In the middle is also a large statue of Buddha. The weight of history, the solidity of this building and the horse-drawn carriages combined with the surrounding vegetation give an interesting effect. There are also barns under the roof, which in particular is a blessing in the heat.
Next to it is Thabeik Hmauk, which is very similar to Sulamani Phato but smaller, very nice temple. You can climb.
This part of Bagan should be visited more carefully than the others and I advise to not to hurry. Also because riding a bike on a muddy path is great fun.
Near That Bulb is that Byin Nyu Pahto, which in my opinion is the most spectacular object in this part of Bagan. It is a huge and extremely massive temple of white color and a golden spike on the tip. It is over 66m long and was built in 1144. The highest in Bagan, the object would have been a magnificent scenic spot but unfortunately could not be climbed. I recommend paintings by local artists as well as baskets made of wolf in front of the temple.
One of the nicer temples in this place is in my opinion Shwegugyi built in 1131. There are beautiful bas-reliefs and frescoes and a large statue of Buddha in the central chapel. This object is not so huge in comparison with others but you can go inside this “Great Gold Cave” (another name) to admire its interior. From the outside, on the edges and at the top, the stupas are built.
Another interesting temple in this section is Nathlaung Kyaung. It is the only Hindu temple in Bagan built between 931-964. When Bagan was born, people were followers of Hinduism and hence this temple. Inside there are some interesting bas-reliefs.
Making a great impression, given the size and great golden spike at the top, is Gawdapalin Paya. It was built in the 12th century, is 60m high and in the middle is a large statue of Buddha and a couple of other chapels with Buddha. At the entrance there are two white lions and then there is a souvenir bazaar. Then through the garden filled with greenery enters the main temple.
In addition to Old Bagan, there are many other interesting sites, an archaeological museum, and a $ 5 Golden Palace, which houses a museum.
The northern part
In this section there are also many beautiful temples, but I will only describe one more exactly than usual. A temple that you do not need to specialize in because it is an absolute hit even in the wealth of Bagan hostory, is Ananda Paya. It was completed in 1105 and is 55m high. This huge, massive temple is located on a large area where you can find a large canoe and under a huge tree with extensive roots you can drink a cane drink. The entrance is very massive and after we pass by the girls offering postcards we get to the corridor full of souvenir shops. Then there is a large square where you can see a white, massive building with stupas on its sides and a sculpted golden crow at the top. On the square I would like to take a look at the sculptures of the Buddha and the lions but also the entrance to the temple, the bell, the small palace and the vegetation. The central point is the four large statues of the standing Buddha of golden color, each one looking at another part of the world. This is the reason why every year Ananda Pahto attracts many pilgrims, not just tourists. Around the four Buddhas is a corridor where there are 80 small chapels telling the life of the Buddha, from birth to the passage of the nirvana.
Ananda Paya is the most spectacular object in this part, although this does not mean that it is the only temple worth recommending. Around there are other, also beautiful.
In this area there is also a wealth of many temples. One of the better known and offering good views is Mingalazedi built in 1274. At first glance it is not as beautiful as Ananada Paya because generally speaking, Mingalazabedi is a humble brick temple with a bell-end. But there are stairs that can be climbed and some interesting crystals. Getting to it is an adventure in itself, because the road leads through ruts, cacti, and unexpected turns.
I also recommend the temple of Gubyaukgyi. I do not consider it the most interesting, but it is beautiful from the inside. There are beautiful frescoes and a well-tended, colorful Buddha statue.
Summary of Bagan
Bagan is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful experiences in Burma. I saw many more temples than I have described, and most of them I have unfortunately no names because there were so many that I only weighed the most important ones. Besides, local people and their products are also of interest, as well as landscapes, landscapes, and views from the peaks of the temples. Bagan is much more than just concrete buildings. This is a vast area that is chaotically scattered across the fields and what we will see depends only on our inventiveness.
Bagan joins other ancient places of this type that I have seen before. They are Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Great Chinese Wall in China, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, Khajuraho in India, Ayutthaya and Sukhotai in Thailand and many others. Each of these places is very unique.
Trip to Mt Popa
Getting Mt Pop is not a problem. Once a morning pick-up departs, picking up passengers from under the hotel. In theory after 2h, but in practice after nearly 3h, driving on a bumpy road we reach Mt. Seeing the whole town is only 2h, which is basically enough because there is so much to see here is not there. Talking to the driver about getting an extra hour does not make sense because “he is not going to wait!”. This pleasure cost 3000 kyat per person in one direction.
Mt Popa is a narrow mountain with a height of 737m on top of which is built monastery. Two large white elephants are standing in front of the entrance, and then there is a 20-minute climb, because they are not very demanding stairs. I think the problem here is the monkeys who pee in places where they fall and fall into the sand. Mahagiri monastery at the top is admirable on the grounds that it has been so highly built but in itself is not so attractive. There are a few golden stupas among which yawn monkeys and statues of saints on which are imprinted Burmese banknotes – while the Burmese people barely have a bowl of rice. But there are beautiful views of the surrounding area, including Bagan in good weather. Mt Popa is very small but also very nice. There are several scenic spots for colorful houses, tiger sculptures, palm trees and of course Mt Popa. I got the impression that today it is a very commercial town, as evidenced by the shaking of pubs in such a small area, while tourists are few.
A trip to Mt. Popa is recommended only after spending at least three days in Bagan.
Tansport from Nuayng U to Kalaw
I did not have a choice here so I had to take a local bus at 3am. Fortunately the pick-up picked us up from the hotel but that was the only convenience of this trip.
The bus was terrible (maybe it was 40 years old), we drove on bumpy roads and trembled tremendously. Finally after 10h we reached Kalaw.
(Description of popular mountain station and jungle expedition, bamboo as a “life saving plant” in isolated living conditions)
Kalaw is a popular mountain station between Bagan and Inle, which travelers often miss. I suppose there is a lack of time here, and the fact that most travelers still prefer to take the main places (Bagan, Inle, Mandalay) than to explore the country deeper.
Kalaw is located on the Shan plateau at an altitude of 1320m and is the starting point for all trekking trips into the jungle. Kalaw is also a nice bazaar, a main road full of holes, a couple of pubs and cheap hotels, a good temple, poverty, lack of electricity and the slowest internet in the world. Immediately after getting off the bus they approached us locally by offering cheap hotels. We were lucky enough to find a room with breakfast for only $ 3 a night. Great price and pleasant (as per my financial compartment) locum.
We went on a jungle trip that took two days and one night. First we went with a guide to the bazaar to buy some fruit and chicken and then went on the road. After leaving the town and passing through the tracks we moved up the red land. On all sides we were surrounded by vegetation and from time to time we encountered on the local carrying chrust. In higher parts of our expedition we passed through paddy fields and farmers who dug them with buffalo and primitive wooden plows. The picture of me who was spoiling the field and standing behind the buffalo was obligatory here. The guide explains what the plants are and shows the differences between the rice species. He said he is plain rice, dressed and very dressed. There is also a special variety that grows only at higher altitudes, and all this can be said not only on the basis of the same grain of rice but also on the plants growing out of the field. All the time there were of course beautiful views, and especially those up to the vast rice fields and banana trees were the most beautiful. The guide prepared food for us and from time to time we also encountered small, primitive villages from which always laughed to us children. In the evening we reached the village, which was entirely built of bamboo. All houses, bridges, farmsteads and animal shelters were bamboo. Stairs, for example, were dug in the ground, which is also an ecological solution. We stayed in one of these bungalows and slept on the floor and for dinner we ate chicken pieces, plain rice and super sticky rice with bananas, which is a local delicacy. All this expedition was a beautiful adventure in nature, which gave me insight into rural life in Burma and its charms and difficulties. We were also in the mountain railway station, which was a real show of poverty and how people are doing well in such conditions. We got in here fruits that I had not eaten before and saw a smile on the faces of the locals when the “rich” White man paid.
Trek in the vicinity of Kalaw gives a better picture of Burma and therefore I recommend it. Unfortunately, after the expedition I had a fierce adversity with the boss of the office because he ordered to pay double after we fixed the price. Obviously not only did he not get that money but he also apologized because he was afraid he would shut it down. As far as I remember we agreed on 8000 kyat for each day.
On the day before we left Franzuc went to the pub by the road and it was a sad experience. Young people gathered around us, sat down at the table and talked about how bad they were, and there was no prospect. They said they spend their life on smoking grass because they have so much pleasure in life.
Interesting conversation with a guide from Kalaw
(Regime, „empty” map of Myanmar)
When I was in Burma in 2004, once in a while the locals in great fear spoke of true Burma. They talked about the regime and the lack of any freedom. This time, sitting in the jungle guide asked a few questions. For example, Myanmar (Burma) is the only country in Asia where there are no foreign mobile phones and mafias do not have roaming. Because the government is afraid of spies and does not want people to contact the outside world. For the same reason many internet portals are blocked too, though the internet in Burma is so slow that no one would have patience with him.
I think the most interesting thing was the tourist map of Burma, which is always in the guide. These maps always show roads and cities but only to a certain point. Most of the country is not only inaccessible to tourists but also instead of traces of any cities and roads are only empty places. It looks as if most Burmese are filled with nothingness, neither human nor animal or plant. The guide said that these are military areas where ordinary people can not ride and tourists do not even have the right to know about the existence of these places. I also mentioned something about concentration camps and where they are located. The guide said that they were probably located in the north of the country, which does not actually exist on the map and near the border with Thailand. This is the reason why Burmese people frequent Burmese journeys to Thailand through the Burmese jungle, and those who have failed to locate somewhere. For this reason, there is no land crossing between Burma and Thailand.
Transport to Inle
This way even easy. Local bus 3h and then pick-up from junction 20 minutes to Inle.
Inle Lake and its surroundings are a beautiful area that is in the strictest of the most visited places in Burma. In addition to the lake itself, of course, it is also an area full of temples and huts on stilts projecting from the lake where there are, among others, silver factories, cigars and many others. Inle is an area where I sailed between vegetable fields to reach remote villages. Inle is also a great way to observe how close people are to a lake.
This is a wonderful, joyful and informative adventure, the details of which I will tell below.
Before I got to Nyaugshwe, I had to pay $ 5 for Inle. Nyaungshwe is a town on Lake Inle where there are cheap hotels where you can buy bus tickets, arrange a lake tour and more. Nyaugshwe is also a very nice town where there is a cheap bazaar with mango and souvenirs and a few old temples with monks living there. I found a cheap room for only $ 5 with breakfast. My first day was spent in the vicinity of the town. We were with my traveling companion on fried rice with vegetables and chicken for only 1000kyat (over $ 1) and then took bikes and drove Nyaugshwe. We were at the bazaar where we had a very nice time with the nice ladies that fed us mango. I also bought a souvenir in the form of a traditional Burmese lion. In the town itself there are some interesting temples, which we did not fail to see. I personally liked the old stacks surrounded by bushes and trees, which were already blown away. Next to them were new, beautifully refined but not as moody as 1000 years old wrecks next. On the other side of the street was the Yadana Man Aung Paya Temple, surrounded by a white wall, with an impressive entrance and a large golden pagoda in the middle. There are, of course, a couple of Buddha statues and some interesting paintings on the walls. Unfortunately it was raining so the conditions for taking pictures were very poor. Then we drove over the lake where we saw the port of goods of all kinds being loaded on long and narrow boats, to the limits of their capabilities. By the way, the harbor is a great place to plan a full day cruise on the lake and try local, not always fresh delicacies. Crossing the bridge, I saw new hotels emerging from the rice fields. This means that Burma is developing very well, at least in those places where there are tourists. We often encountered children returning from school and local shoppers trying to sell us a lake cruise or at least a banana pancake. Coming on, on one side having a lake and after the other shipyards and shops I reached a very extensive rice field. The beautiful view stretched on a lot of meters and the sun made the rice stems sharp. As often happens here, people were doing laundry in the brook and the kids were bathing next door. What an idyll in comparison with developed countries, where there are full bans for every occasion and every possible thing is taxed to the limit. At the end of the field, behind the small wooden bridge, was probably the most spectacular temple in the Nyaugshwe area. Unfortunately I do not know the name, but it was a large sitting Buddha, and around it stood several rows of stupas and a white wall with a wealth of sculptures. The whole was painted white with golden elements. Behind the temple was a pond with water lilies and lotus flowers and fish swimming in it. I think that the whole facility, located near the huge rice fields was very noticeable. It is also one of the few temples here that is not neglected.
At the end of the day I was still in the grilled, deliciously seasoned fish for only 1000 kyat (over $ 1) and then I sat on the hotel balcony and listened to the rain at dusk.
The next day I got up after 7am as I and my friend from France went on a day trip on Inle Lake. I paid for the fun of 9000 kyat or about $ 11 but it was worth it.
First, we went to the farthest corners of the lake, or to Theung Tho. This is a great place to indulge in Inle character. From the mainstream of the river, after about an hour we turned into dense scrubs until we reached the storage yard of the boats. There is a typical bazaar under trees where you can buy mostly vegetables and fruits, but there are also meat besieged by flies and mules harnessed to wooden cars. Theung Tho is also a great place to observe rural life, thatched cottages and the way people live in close contact with the lake. People come here for shopping, although more appropriate here is the saying that they come to replenish supplies. They loaded the bags of goods to the limits of the boat’s buoyancy and sailed to their pile-huts, which were only accessible by water. In Theung Tho was also an interesting monastera, but it was necessary to work a little to reach it. After a long staircase, we climbed to the top of the hill, where in my opinion the most beautiful were the old white stupas and the view from the mountain to the picturesque countryside.
Then we went to In Paw Khone, a wooden hut on the bales where the silk factory was located. On two floors there was a workshop where women made materials in the way they did at the beginning of the twentieth century. This work is very tedious because everything from the beginning to the end is hand-made and the need for full concentration. You could also buy locally-made pants, shirts, tablecloths and other things. The factory itself lay in beautiful open air, and from the terrace made mainly of bamboo it was possible to look at other houses on the promenades, vegetation, passing boats, and this time, even to the hairdresser on a small island that cut the boy’s hair. It was beautiful and quiet.
Then we went to the Nam Pan, the same house on the bales, thatched and bamboo-wrought walls, but there was a cigar factory here. You could buy cigars and even whole sets, but I did not burn so the Frenchman did the shopping. Interesting for me was the observation of old women who were rolling up the snuff leaves in the middle and tying them with the rythmica.
Then we went for lunch to the restaurant overlooking the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda. Dinner was good but a double price for Nyaugshwe. The views from the terrace were also beautiful as we ate at the river under the passing boats. Monastera was built in traditional Burmese style with a few-storey red roof. It lay on the marble square, and inside was a statue of a great Buddha and some interesting paintings from his life and attain spiritual perfection. The object itself was very nice but also very new and therefore in my opinion he did not have such value for me as a few temples and stupas. Right next to this place was also a silver factory where the girl working there showed us the whole melting process of steel and processing it into any shape. It seemed simple, but I think the greatest patience needed to make a chain.
Shortly thereafter, we also reached people from the Karen tribe where women traditionally wear metal hoops on their necks. It was very strange but it was quite normal for them. I also got the impression that these women’s hoops are just for tourists so they can feel that they have discovered something new and that they can take a photo. In their bamboo hut there was a shop where young girls were making silk stuff, though many other souvenirs could be bought.
The market on Ywama River closed that day, so we went to In Dein. This is a place away from the lake and therefore you have to get to the canal. In Dein is a small settlement on the edge of Inle where not all tourists reach because of the tight schedule and distance from the lake. However, the visit is worth the time spent in the boat because it is a very small village with nice views, though unfortunately very commercial. Immediately after leaving the boat on the bamboo, the shifting bridge shows a sculpture workshop and then several salon paintings under the thatch. I admit that this part is also occupied, but the point of the program is here the temple on the mountain where there are rich in sculptures, old stupas. Many of them are already blooming and drowning in vegetation, but that is their charm. Alongside are built new, with concrete and unfortunately they no longer give up the mood, in which the effect In Dein loses on the weight of history. Temple In Dein is a place very secluded, even lonely. If it were not for the rain and waiting for me, I could look at sculptures and other formations on old stupas for hours. As a souvenir, I took papaya straight from the tree, which I later shared with the French.
Then we went to see Nha Phe Kyaung also called the Jumping Cat Temple. The temple itself is quite neglected but it does not matter because traditionally in Inle, it is an object built on wooden balls, though this time it covers the dictate and not the thatch. This temple became popular because monks living there, probably from boredom, taught cats to jump over a metal rim. Hence the name.
Our last place to see was the nearby, vegetable and fruit fields on the lake. This was so that, for example, the tomato field was set up on a long and narrow area of land where a woman came on the boat and broke off the ones that had already matured. The long and narrow fields of this kind were stacked between the houses. Some were among the water lilies and others were a bridge between the houses, but it was always a nice looking and ecological solution.
In the evening after an exciting day we reached the shore at Nyaugshwe. It was one of my best days in Burma and probably during this trip.
On the last day in Inle we rented bicycles and drove along the road as far ahead. It was another quiet day where the sun was intertwined with rain. We drove on a bumpy road, between puddles and paddy fields. We also sat in bamboo huts without a front wall to drink tea and try to make contact with people. We were also in a small, primitive but also charming village – Kan Hlaywa. In addition, we saw women doing laundry in the canals, farmers running buffalo, children returning from school (sometimes three on one bike), all against the backdrop of beautiful open air, rice fields and no silence.
It was the end of my magical time by Inle Lake.
Transport from Inle to Yangon
Inle left in the heavy rain, walking around the ankles in the puddles. Almost at the last minute took us pick-up to the junction and from there about half an hour of waiting rode our bus. Our drive started at 3 pm and in Yangon we were at 6am, including a change in the station at Aung Mingalar. I fell asleep but it was cold because the air conditioning was turned on. This experience was not pleasant.
Return to Yangon and road to Pyay
We returned to Yangon for a while. We needed to use the internet, buy flights to Thailand and take a shower. We were helped by the head of the cheapest and what was the best hotel in town for us, because we threw luggage for a few hours and took a shower.
The trip to Pyay was quite uncertain, but finally came to an end thanks to my persistence. The road was easy because the bus was empty but as usual in the Burmese buses a little TV and local comedy tied me.
First we travelled 45 minutes to the station from Sule Pagoda and then 6.5 hours to Pyay.
(Description of the town, cheap hotel and temple)
Pyay is a small town on the Ayeyarwady River. We got off at the bus station where fish grills were set up and fried banana pancakes in the open air. After a small and cheap meal the rider drove us a few miles to the hotel specially for us. This was a hotel for $ 3 a night which was pretty good for our poor budget. There was a cold shower and at my request they finally screwed up the light bulb. However, when we ran out of electricity we went out for tea to a nearby pub. There are not many tourists in Pyay and that is why everyone is staring at us. First in the hotel and then in the pub. They even stopped watching TV because they watched as we drank tea. That day I went to bed early.
The next day we went through the line of a neglected, dirty town. I talked to some people, I was at the roundabout where Aung San monument on the horse stood and I went to Shwesandaw Paya temple. It is 1 meter higher than the Shwedagon Paya in Yangon, stands on the top and is rumored to be from 589 BC. The road to the temple was very interesting as I walked side streets and saw among other things the unemployed rickshaws trying to sleep on board his vehicle and the homeless, grilling bananas. Another interesting sight was a bamboo hut covered with thatched roof and a big pig sleeping in front of him. Two huge lions stood at the entrance of the temple, and at the top were of course standart, a high gold pagoda and several chapels with a Buddha inside. The whole place and people praying there were very exotic but there was nothing I would have seen before. Some other things were, for example, a bridge that was a very good point of view for the city and the Ayeyarwady River. One of the attractions of the city is Sehtatgyi Paya, a huge, 10-storey, sitting Buddha. I also spent a nice time on the river where the locals took a bath and then I was also for a good dinner and flower bazaar. Each of these places is good for photographing people.
The return trip to Yangon was not adventurous. First we walked on foot through the dark streets full of devastated homes and then we reached the town where people lived in wooden houses under the thatch. In the courtyards there were buffaloes and they were lying on the bamboo beds and reacted with a smile on our sight. After some time I realized we were lost so we went back to the small temple on the river to ask for the train to the station. The trainers were so bored with life that they did not want to talk, but fortunately there was someone who helped us. We drove on a motorcycle in the dust, sometimes jumping from one hole to another. Then after visiting the sippy tea room with a view of another sip, at 10 pm we left for Yangon. We were at 4.30 in the morning.
Shwedaung and Buddha in glasses
The reason I came to Pyay was my excursion outside of Pyay to Shwedaung. About 14km away from the town is the Shwemyetman Paya Temple, and in it the only Buddha in Burma with glasses. In this temple there are several paintings, the history of the emergence of this unique Buddha, and the figures of monks with jugs to collect gifts. Besides, I had a nice time here. There was another sunny day during which I waited for rain for salvation. I lay down in a pub on a wooden bench, at a windmill, and interrupted my mango and watched the women of monks. It was another beautiful, interesting day in my travel series.
Getting to Shwedaung is very easy. Just take the pick-up or bus going towards Yangon and get off at 14km. The driver blew me off on the main road, at the sign leading to the temple and then I had to walk about 200 meters.
Trips to Pyay and Shwedaung should be treated as a nice addition to the expedition, not as one of the mandatory goals. I recommend those who have the time and will find themselves busy while driving a bus.
Last day in Yangon and transport to the airport
(Where to shop before you leave, hygiene on the streets)
The last day in every country is usually sad, because I feel that I leave behind my beautiful adventure. This time it was not bad because there was a big expedition in Thailand but I did not want to leave Burma. Last day in Yangon I left my backpack at a cheap hostel and went to buy gifts at Bogyoke Aung San Market where you can buy souvenir t-shirts, pictures, refrigerator magnets and all sorts of other souvenirs. It is also a very good place to exchange currency. I was at a dinner in a nearby pub where the lady serving rice in the vegetables pityed me and smelt me a bit because it was so hot. Then I walked down the streets of Yangon stopping at fruit stands and drinking sugar cane juice, which they squeezed in place. For a few hours I walked down the ruined streets of Yangon. I stumbled across the pavement and crossed the dogs in the middle. I saw buildings that either were burned or looked like they were blown up because their condition was so tragic. Before picking up my backpack I sat down for tea under a tree on one of these streets. Among the sweaty, filthy poor people, the banal sellers of bananas and the tragedy of this country, I said goodbye to Burma. I also have to admit that in Burma, however, it attaches importance to hygiene. On one of the wall was broken pipe and water was flowing from it, so the woman who poured tea washed her cups with her dirty finger. After those beautiful moments I headed to the hostel for my backpack.
The airport can be reached by bus but I was with a Frenchman so that together we paid 5000 kyat and arrived at the place within 20 minutes. Here, after paying the $ 5 tax deduction, I got a stamp of departure.
By the way, at the airport in Yangon is not at all expensive and it is good to buy a souvenir over there. There is a wide choice.
The summary of Myanmar (Burma)
My second trip to Burma was very successful, and apart from some of the heavy transport experience it was great. It was a beautiful, instructive adventure in the land of golden pagodas although Myanmar has of course much more to offer. I loved Bagan and Inle although each of the places I saw would be very nice to mention. The paradox is that on one side you can see oxen plowing the field with a hand plow and riding on horrible roads, and on the other hand, from the misery of local people, the temples are draining with gold and precious stones. Even the poor Burmese seem always happy to see a tourist. There were always smiling people welcoming me to a new place and willing to talk. I think there is also some kind of magic in Burma. Every temple and every climb to the top of the mountain to pay homage to the Buddha is always covered with a 1000 year old legend. In Burma, we can forget that we are already in the 21st century and move to the fairy tale world for a moment.
- Aung Mingalar station
- Bagan (Pagan)
- Bagan temples
- Burma Buddhism
- Burma land of golden pagodas
- Burma's poverty
- Chaukhtatgyi Paya
- Golden Buddha
- Inle lake
- Inle tobacco factory
- Kalaw jungle
- Karen Inle tribe
- Kyaitkiyo Golden Rock
- Maha Wizaya pagoda
- Mahamuni Paya Myanmar
- Mandalay Fort
- Mandalay Palace
- Mt Popa
- Myanmar country of golden pagodas
- Pyay Buddha in glasses
- Pyin Oo Lwin
- reclining Buddha
- Shwedagon Paya Pagoda
- Sule Pagoda
- Tannaka makeup