Myanmar (I love to call it by its old name, Burma) is one of my dream destinations. After decades of being under the rules of the military junta, it was opened to tourists in 2011. I was always daydreaming of visiting this country. When I saw those photos of Shwedagon Pagoda and the golden hours in Bagan, I promised myself that one day, I’ll go see them right before my eyes.
I made it this year and I guess the world is really full of surprises. I found love at first sight.
Lack of sleep did not lessen my excitement for my early flight to Burma. I arrived early morning and took a cab so I can reach the hotel on time for my volunteer job. Due to tiresome, I fell asleep in the car. What? Why the hell will I sleep in a stranger’s car in a foreign country? Are you kidding me? I guess I was just exhausted. The driver woke me up telling me that we were already at the hotel. I arrived safely and was able to get an hour of sleep! He even charged me lesser than what I was supposed to pay because I had no lower bills. I insisted having my money changed somewhere near but the man refused and told me to get some rest. At that point, I knew that I am going to love the country and its people more than I love daydreaming about it.
Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon
It was massive! Not to mention, beautiful. I was surprised by how huge this place is. The whole place looked very clean and well-maintained.
Pyin Oo Lwin/Maymyo, Myanmar
This lovely town in the north of Myanmar is a lot different from Yangon. If you are a nature lover, the north of Burma is a place to go. Transportation is not a problem here as you can just get a bike and surprise yourself. I went around and the next thing I knew, I was already on the lakeside. There’s a Defense Academy in Pyin Oo Lwin (former name: Maymyo) that I accidentally went to. If not for the “Foreigners Are Strictly Prohibited” sign, I would’ve continued biking around the area filled with trees. LOL.
You can also find three waterfalls in this town. I tried to go to Anisakan Falls but my bike won’t be able to make it on the rough road so I did not proceed. The next day, I decide to go to Pwe Gauk Waterfalls. Quite a challenge for me with those uphill and downhill parts I had to go through but it was totally worth it.
This part of Myanmar has a lower temperature that you won’t even need an air conditioner in the room. The hotel actually does not have any AC and it’s all fine.
Myanmar is one of the cheapest I’ve been! You can get a meal for as low as 1USD! A pack of cigarettes for just 50cents. It’s cheap. You can even use free bikes at hotels. Accommodations can get a little pricey though.
Archaeological Zone, Bagan
I have to make my dreams a reality so to Bagan I went. It did not disappoint. Staying in the Archeological Zone of this town was surreal. As expected, there were hundreds of Pagodas. I did not stop to all of them but I’ve got no choice but to see them – they are everywhere!
The stay in Bagan won’t be complete without experiencing the golden hour on top of one of the Pagodas. It was unfortunate the season for hot air balloons is in the first quarter of the year (I think I am going back to see it next year), but it did not make the experience any less. It felt magical. I closed my eyes and felt the fresh air at 5 in the morning. Seeing those tips of the Pagodas with the sunrise as its background as I opened my eyes made me feel so calm. The feeling was so good.
Most Burmese do not speak English. Who says language is a barrier for kindness? Definitely not Burmese. I actually find it beautiful that they speak their native language and still able to send their message across. They are one of the nicest people I’ve met and very accommodating. Burmese are very polite. I love them!
Also, I love the fact that most people who were able to fly out of Burma are coming now to help their countrymen. They just show so much compassion. They teach other Burmese what they have learned overseas, put up businesses, and provide jobs. There is actually quite a number of Burmese who are into tech start-ups, arts and crafts, hospitality, etc. These people who were able to get an education abroad acknowledge how privileged they were to escape the chaos and they are more than willing to share their knowledge.
I love Myanmar and everything about it. It is refreshing to know that its tragic history did not transform the country and its people to monsters. Oh Burma, I will come back to know you more. Whenever I think about you, I feel happy. It was really love at first sight.
Have you been to Myanmar? Don’t be shy, share your story! If you haven’t been there, you should!
More photos on Instagram!