A dream come true
30.11.2016 - 06.12.2016
I have been dreaming of traveling to Burma ever since I first read Rudyard Kipling's poem, Mandalay. If asked why I became attracted to this place, I can never explain it to you, dear reader.
I guess Burma plus Kipling is just one of those mixes that sparks a young person's imagination and won't let go. So decades on, I finally got to realize this childhood dream.
This trip was too short for my liking but despite the limited time I managed to visit the following places: Yangon, Bagan, Popa, Kalaw and Inle. Myanmar in December is a great experience. The days are sunny but cool and nights are cold. A little rain is to be expected but the inconvenience is minor. The cost of traveling in Myanmar is higher compared to, say, Vietnam or Thailand.
I had a great time tasting the food, shopping for gifts and most especially longyis that I also got to wear when we visited the temples and had dinner in the resorts we stayed in. Most of all I learned a lot of Burmese history and beliefs from well-informed guides who took pride in their work and their country.
Our first stop. We got in from Singapore just in time for a late lunch which we had at a local restaurant called Feels. It was a good initiation into Burmese cuisine. We were served spicy and flavorful dishes with lots of condiments and fresh vegetables which was kinda familiar to my tongue. To me it was a mixture of Chinese, Indian and Thai influences which are also found in my country's culinary landscape.
After lunch we visited Scott market (kinda like Ben Tahn Market in Vietnam) so we can look at the possibilities for when we did seriously shop for gifts and souvenirs. I immediately zeroed in on the long-yis which were sold in abundance at the market. At sunset we went to the Shwedagon Pagoda (aka Shwedagon Zedi Daw, aka The Great Dagon Pagoda and the Golden Pagoda), a gilded stupa. It is probably the most popular tourist destination in Yangon. We stayed overnight at the Esperado Lake View Hotel. The hotel had a pretty clear night view of the Shwedagon and the lake.
From Yangon my friends and I took an early morning flight to Bagan via Yandanaporn Airlines and were served breakfast on board. We were given the standard tour of the different temples that dotted the landscape of Bagan. We checked in at the Myanmar Treasure Resort Hotel. The hotel rooms were well appointed and clean. The staff were helpful and prompt in answering queries. One plus in Myanmar Treasure is their dinner cultural show (it was interesting but could use more polishing).
My friend and went on an early morning motorcycle tour to see the sunrise on Shwesandaw Pagoda and to take some pictures of the countryside before the heat of the day drove us indoors again. It would have been difficult for us to navigate around the temple complex in the darkness before sunrise so we were doubly glad that we took guides with us when we went for the morning run.
There are a lot of restaurants serving local dishes in Bagan and we had a great time tasting the local dishes and soon enough I noticed that we started to have our favorites. Mine was balachaung, tomato salad with peanut sauce, pickled tea leaf salad and the curried mixed vegetable dish.
WORK IN PROGRESS -- Let me get my pictures organized