Friday, January 24, 2014

Myanmar Now Compared to a Year Ago

Over the past two years, I've been traveling with various people who has various travel styles. And during that phase, I've begin adopting styles that I was most comfortable with. Mostly it were things that I learnt about myself. Here are the things :

1. Traveling between cities during daytime wastes a lot of time. Unless of course you have no other option than to travel during daytime. Nowadays, I opt to take overnight bus/train rides which in turn saves lots of money on accommodations and of course time. It also helps me to cover a whole lot of places!  :)

2. The usage of a backpack is very convenient. It enables me to move from one place to another with less hassle. And not forgetting that I still have a strong back, muscular legs (blerghh!) and "kudrat", I'll continue to travel with this style until it breaks. I might start using a trolley bag when I'm 40 but then again my favorite traveler, Ms Naked Traveler whom I suspect is above 40 still uses a backpack. :P

This is thus far the most beautiful sunset ever experienced this year!! At Upain bridge of Mandalay! 
That being said, I again traveled to Myanmar last week with these adopted travel styles thus gained more local experience and hardships than last year! Haha!

The Map of Myanmar and the route I took in 7 days
This trip was totally different from last year's trip because my travel-mate and I decided to do no booking whatsoever before flying into Yangon from Kuala Lumpur. We only had routes to take and estimated a rough budget so that we could bring just enough money to survive 7 days in Myanmar.
I opted to rent a bicycle when in Bagan. Costs only USD1.50 per day and rented at the guesthouse I was staying at. Very convenient.
All transportation and accommodations were bought once we reach the destination. To me, I called it the suicidal trip! Hahaha. I brought with me a pillow and blanket just in case we had to sleep outside due to fully booked hostels/guesthouses. Thankfully that never happened. :P

Myanmar Now Compared to a Year Ago

  • Ever since Myanmar became the host of one of the biggest, international sports game in ASEAN last year which is the 27th SEA Games, the roads and infrastructures in Myanmar has made a drastic change for the better.
  • Roads were better with tolls and proper rest areas for the long journeyed buses between cities. 
  • Bus Stations - basically rows of offices owned by various bus operators. And yes, there are actually a structured bus route schedules with fees (applies differently for both local and foreigners). So fret not! Just buy a taxi coupon from the airport and the taxi driver will bring you to the right bus operator office to buy your tickets to your preferred destination.  
  • Clean toilets were everywhere. I had to pay 100 kyats to use and bath at the Mandalay bus station. :P
This sign was spotted at Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon.
  • FREE Wi-Fi was also available at most major tourist sites.Well, in Yangon at least sponsored by redlink. No passwords required.
  • Hotels, hostels and guesthouses are in bloom all around the hot tourist spots in Myanmar. Even in Inle lake, I lay witnessed to many modern looking buildings on the rise and under construction near the hotel I was waiting at.
  • Prices for archaeological zone tickets for entering Mandalay, Bagan and Inle has rise from USD 5 last year to a whooping USD 10 - 15 this year! They even do occasional checkups to see if you bought them! (Thankfully I didn't have to buy one in Mandalay)
  • Many Signboards has English writings on it. And many of the taxi, cart horse drivers and even the sellers at the markets knows basic English. So Myanmar has indeed become very tourist friendly indeed. 
  • Tour agents are everywhere!!! Almost found in every corner! Hahaha! So if you want to book a tour, bus, train, hotel and such.. just drop in any tour agent office and they'll do the job for you. :)

Memorable Moments in Myanmar

  • Out of the USD 600 we brought to Yangon, only USD 400 was accepted to be changed into Kyats. (USD 200 were mine and rejected because it had writings on it. Thankfully Alid lent me his USD. Ngee.) So we had to work around a USD200 budget for each person to survive 7 days in Myanmar. Hahaha.
  • Teaming up with an American to share boat costs in Inle Lake. All three of us overslept on the bus from Bagan to Inle and missed our stop to Inle. We had to hire a taxi to get back to Inle. Ciss!
  • Sleeping at one of the pagodas in Bagan to await sunrise. Accompanied with only a flashlight and a woolen mat lent by our generous horse cart driver, Alid and I waited in the cold for an early sunrise. Nobody was around during that time and we both ended up sleeping on the mat instead with my hand-phone blaring out loud music! Hahaha. 
  • Gold Rose Hotel in Inle generously let Alid and I stay at the receptionist area. Even lent us a room to use to pee-pee and bath if needed without extra pay. They also let us join the buffet breakfast prepared for their guests by just paying 1,500 kyats. Lovely people indeed! We booked our next bus tickets and boat tour with them.
  • My bicycle broke down near a market in Bagan. Two locals came to my aid and helped me. I tried paying them money for their kindness but they refused to accept it. Ahh.. first class local kindness experience. :)
  • Entered Shwedagon pagoda as a local.... lalalala... we were saved from paying up the USD8 for the entrance fee!! :P :P :P
That's all I can think of now. And boy there are so many memorable moments!

The super annoying travel-mate... Mr Alid. 
We stayed at Shwedagon Pagoda (without paying anything) until nightfall... just to view it during the night. It was definitely worth waiting for!

So until next adventure, happy traveling peeps!
Yes... am  planning to buy a new camera soon so bear with me with the bad shots taken from my old one. I actually fixed my old one that broke down in Switzerland. It takes bad pictures during the night. :P



Alid Abdul said... [Reply]

OMG foto guweeeeeh hensem gilak :p

Jard The Great said... [Reply]

@ alid abdul... arghhh!! get over your handsome self!! :P

hlga said... [Reply]

aduh itu foto u pain bridge-nya cantik sekali kak... *.*

Khai said... [Reply]

so Jard, what's the secret to look like a local? Hahaha.

Aku tak pernah pergi Myanmar, tapi satu benda aku risau kalau pergi lambat2, bila dia dah jadi too touristy. Ahhh bila nak pergiii. heheh

deekay said... [Reply]

Salam,awak!! bestnyer baca experience awak! sy suka melancong tapi selalu x der geng! nk join geng ngan awak bleh? ^_^