Bye bye Burma

My fears from my last post now seemed silly. They have Internet in Myanmar.

Myamar has been amazing. I’ve been to Mandalay, Bagan and now just killing time in Yangon before I leave for Kuala Lumpur. The people’s devotion to their faith is astounding — shiny, sparkling golden stupas everywhere. Don’t even get me started on Bagan; thousands of temples dot the horizon as far as the eye can see.

It’s not just the ancient temples that caught my attention. Yangon has a lot of colonial buildings. Gothic style cathedrals, brownstone buildings and Victorian houses are found throughout the city. Sadly, most are in a state of disrepair.

Traveling to other cities by bus isn’t as bad as was written in forums. The overnight buses were in good condition, with the air conditioning blasting out frigid air throughout the night. The 16-hour trip from Bagan to Yangon was cut to 11 hours thanks to the new highway. Exiting from the highway is a totally different story altogether. The road from Bagan was narrow and there aren’t any street lights. Driving was made even more interesting with right-hand side vehicles driving on the right side of the road.

Myanmar cuisine is not as exciting as Vietnamese or Thai, but it’s not so bad. Traditional Myanmar restaurant is something similar to a turo-turo (canteen). You go up to the counter and pick a dish that you want. They’ll serve you rice and a slew of side dishes and a bowl of broth. Last night’s dinner with the Pinoys I met at Shwedagon Paya was a lovely preview of what’s waiting for me back home: a soup reminiscent of sinigang (even comes with sliced radish!), a spicy dipping sauce made with bagoong isda, and a pork curry that can almost pass as adobo.

The Burmese are a friendly bunch, even when they’re not trying to sell you anything. They’re also very generous, even when they don’t have much.

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I had a blast here. Yesterday, I was unusually friendly and ended up hanging out with a group of Filipinos who are just starting their Myanmar trip. It was great getting to converse in Filipino again and sharing stories from previous trips.

I haven’t even left and I’m already thinking of my trip back to the country. Bagan is just too beautiful of a place to easily forget. I can’t say if I’ll return next year or the year after next, but I’m definitely heading back.

Article by Nina Fuentes

Nina doesn't aim to travel to every country in the world -- she just wants to travel to the places that means the most to her. She started traveling in 2006, and hopes to travel for as long as she can. Her travel blog, Just Wandering won the Best Travel Blog in the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards and in the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards.

This Article Has 15 Comments
  1. carlo says:

    wow burma sounds so interesting. congrats! i think you’ve completed all the countries in asean already?

  2. Marky says:

    When someone mentioned Myanmar or Burma, the image that comes to mind was Stallone in “John Rambo” machine gunning Burmese soldiers of the Military Junta, thanks to your blog entry I saw a more romanticized, welcoming, interesting place in Myanmar. Like the rest of the Filipinos I wish their country good luck and hope I visit that place someday. 🙂

  3. carlo says:

    noon ko pa narinig about the beauty of bagan. someday…:-)

  4. flip says:

    me too… someday.. ill visit… I tried to enter Burma overland last year via Mae Sot-Tachilek but they say I could only go as far as 2km away fro the immigration border and I have to fly in if I want to explore the country…

    thanks for sharing your insights…

  5. ivan man dy says:

    your post makes me want to seriously go to Burma. Can’t wait for the next post to whet my appetite!

  6. pinoy boy says:

    how did you travel to Burma? Which airline did you use? and do you mind sharing how much it is? sorry, so many questions! he he

    • nina says:

      I flew in via Malaysia Airlines from Kuala Lumpur, then Air Asia back to KL. Thai Air Asia also fly from Bangkok, as do Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines from Saigon.

  7. ron says:

    That’s it! I’m scouting for cheap flights now!
    thanks for the tips Nina… can’t wait to see Burma!

  8. Mark says:

    I remember exploring the ruined temples of Pagan , ruined by the Mongols and the attack was witnessed by Marco Polo no less ! I entered one temple, statues of The Lord Buddha set in niches along the walls , then one moved ! It was a monk that had finished his meditation . lol . You can imagine how high I jumped in fright .Our ride from Pagan to the railway for the train to Rangoon was in the Burmese version of a jeepney ,in the dead of night , hurtling along narrow roads , ox carts parked for the night , no headlights ! the driver flicking on high beam no and then At one stage I foolishly looked at the speedo…80K/h . We made it though .LOL.

  9. rheeza says:

    i have been to myanmar (burma), i attended an asean folk art festival five years ago… we are on able to visit yangoon but i still cannot forget my experience in myanmar… the pagoda, the food, the people and the arts and crafts… hope i can go there again… missed myanmar!!!

  10. Abisha says:

    Nina, can you please share with me the names and contacts of the guesthouses you stayed at Myanmar. I and my hubby is going there this last week of january for a 4-day trip. Can you share your itinerary. Thanks for your time. God bless you and your family.

    • nina says:

      I stayed at Ocean Pearl Inn in Yangon, Garden Hotel in Mandalay and New Heaven Guesthouse in Bagan. Unfortunately I don’t have their addresses as I only picked them out of the Lonely Planet guidebook and my book isn’t with me right now.

      If you only have four days, I suggest you just stay in Yangon and explore the nearby towns. If you want to go to Bagan, it’s going to be a very tight schedule.

  11. FaithRuthEV says:

    hi Nina. just happened to stumble to your blog and i find it a refreshing take of Myanmar from an ASEAN perspective (unlike other blog written by ‘whites’ who obviously have some biases on third-world countries). i am planning to travel via cycling in Myanmar (yup, i am that crazy) so i want your opinion if that a wise choice. also, is it true that burmese only accept crisp american dollars? i am also planning to travel to their new capital, Nyaypyadaw (i hope i spelled it correctly). is it open to foreigners? do they also scam other asian tourists as much as they scam the ‘white’ guys?

    • nina says:

      Hi Faith, not sure about Nyaypyadaw because I only went to Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan. It’s true about the crisp US dollar bills. It has to be new, with no folds. Bring smaller bills na rin for small payments. I hear that the airport offers pretty good rates.

      I think for the scams, all tourists are equals. Maybe they just try to fleece more from the Caucasians. But yeah, no immunity.

      Regarding cycling, if you’re doing it within the city, it’s okay, I suppose. But for long range cycling, maybe not so much. Good luck on your trip! 😀

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