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 DAY 20-21 - Yangon and Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)

Previous Blogs: Day 1 Tokyo | Day 2 Tokyo | Day 3 & 4 Singapore | Day 5 Singapore | Day 6 Ho Chi Minh City | Day 7 Ho Chi Minh City & Tunnels

Day 8 Can Tho | Day 9 Floating Market | Day 10 Flower Market | Day 11 Hoi An | Day 12 My Son Temple | Day 13 Hanoi | Day 14-16 Halong Bay

Day 17 Luang Prabang | Day 18 Temples-Waterfalls | Day 19 Mekong River | Day 20-21 Bagan | Day 22 Bagan | Day 23 Inle | Day24-25 Inle

Click photos for a larger image...

Day 20 dawned as you can see above to yet another dismal cold day of rain. But we were leaving Laos for Myanmar (Burma) which is supposed to be dry and warm. A kinda circuitous trip as there is no direct flight from Laos to Myanmar.

We had to fly with Lao Airlines in an ATR 72 to Bangkok, where we picked up a Thai Airways Airbus A330 to Yangon (formerly known as Rangoon).

We were then picked up by our Tour Guide and driver and taken to a local restaurant which was included in our tour.  We had the opportunity of sampling our very first Myanmar beer....Called MYANMAR!!!   Woot Woot!

Vietnam and Laos were French colonies, but Myanmar was a British colony and you can immediately feel the difference.

Myanmar has only been open for tourism since 2012 and up until now the government was run by martial law - a military coupe back in the 60s.

They had their first election in 1990, and even though the opposition won the election in a landslide victory (80% of the vote) the ruling military junta refused to give up power.  Only in 2015 (LAST YEAR!) was another election held and the government will be handing over to the winning party in March this year. This is due to the economic sanctions that were placed on them. It is said that the ruling general only has one chair in his mansion - that is for himself, everyone else has to kneel!

We only arrived at our hotel at 9pm and had to be up by 4.30 next morning so not much time for sightseeing.

We did, however, notice that the hotel catered for Muslims as there was an arrow on the ceiling pointing to Mecca!!  Interesting as there are about 10% + - Muslim in the country.  We saw this in EVERY hotel in Egypt but somewhat was surprised here in Burma...I mean Myanmar!


Flying out of the domestic air terminal in Yangon was like being in a time machine and being sent back to the 70s! or 60s or 50s...take your pick!!  Hysterical!

You arrive and porters grab your luggage and put handwritten labels on the bags with your destination. You get issued with hand written boarding passes that don't even have your name on.

Then when the flight is ready for boarding a guy (pictured above) runs around the waiting room waving the board with your flight number on.

The domestic airline was "Asian Wings" who proudly announce in their in-flight magazine that the airline has as many as THREE aircraft (ATR 72s - which are actually very modern planes) serving the whole of Myanmar.

On arrival at the destination, it is no different. Porters bring the bags out one by one into the waiting room which you claim using the hand written claim ticket they gave you when you checked in.

What a treat!!!

We were picked up by our private guide and driver in a very comfortable and large Lexus. What's really funny is that even though they drive on the right like USA and Europe, all the cars are RIGHT HAND DRIVE. This is because most the cars are used models imported from Japan (who drive on the left). Makes it a little difficult when you need to overtake on a single lane road! The guide lost no time in taking us temple hunting.

The first temple had a lot of very steep stairs that lead up to a narrow platform but with a wonderful view!

Yeah, it was THAT steep - I am not the only one who is going down backwards!

In this area of 38 square miles it was estimated that there were over 13,000 temples of which still more than 2200 remain today!

There was a parade for the initiation of children

The area was settled in the 9th century

Most of the temples range between 800 and 1100 years old

You easily loose count of how many temples you see!

They cook rice in this bowl - it takes ELEVEN of those 20lb bags you see!

We got to see how they make the fine lacquer-ware

The plates and bowls are made from bamboo and receive many coats of resin and lacquer taking weeks to make


Interesting transport options - where's the hood, dude?

They hold produce too!

Our tour guide who is kinda wimpy...

Wendy having fun ringing the bell!

We did not find the vendors very pushy at all in Vietnam and Laos. Myanmar, on the other hand, is a TOTALLY different story!

The stretched necked people, we saw them before when we were in Cambodia.

Strange thing in Myanmar - all the restaurants set the tables up with the plates upside down!

Their written language (Burmese) is unusual, seemingly made of different half circles.

Lovely river front 5 star garden hotel with free (sloooow) Wifi

Our room had a porch and this is the view from it.



And finally...

You KNOW how repressed and backwards a country has been when they still put a copy of the Yellow Pages in your hotel room!

Google? What's that?