Myanmar Travel Tales

One of my closest college friends celebrated his birthday in Myanmar. I decided to join his trip since we have never seen each other for the past four years. The last time we’ve met was in Bangkok, Thailand in August, 2014 when I had a work-related trip. My friend Sonny Lim Jr., who is a creative director in Vientiane, Laos, went to Bangkok just to meet me for half-day. To make our meeting productive, we filmed our quick trip in the city and he made a poetry video out of these materials.

Heres the poetry video titled “Sa Kawalan at Kawalang Hangganan”


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I know that our Myanmar trip is something special to him. Let Sonny tell his Myanmar tales.

Sonny Lim Jr. in Yangon Travel Tales in Myanmar
Sonny Lim Jr. in Yangon. – Travel Tales in Myanmar

Out of Town Blog: Why did you choose Myanmar as your vacation destination for 2018?

Sonny: This was my last country to visit on my Indochina bucket list.

Vista Bar in Yangon where you can have a good view of Shwedagon Pagoda at night with a couple of Myanmar's local beer.
Vista Bar in Yangon where you can have a good view of Shwedagon Pagoda at night with a couple of Myanmar’s local beer.

OTB: What did you expect before going to Myanmar?

S: My bad that I did not know much anything about Myanmar. There were only two things in my mind at that time, the Shwedagon Pagoda and the sunrise and sunset of Bagan.

Gold-plated ceiling and walls in Botataung Pagoda in Yangon.
Gold-plated ceiling and walls in Botataung Pagoda in Yangon.

OTB: What are those things that you did not expect that you will see or experience in Myanmar?

S: I think that I underestimated Myanmar so much. This country actually has many to offer from classy bars, upscale restos with a good view of Shwedagon, posh hotels and malls. I also did not expect their hospitality and kindness, it was so heartwarming.

Clock Tower of Yangon's High Court built during the British colony.
Clock Tower of Yangon’s High Court built during the British colony.

OTB: How did you prepare for your Myanmar trip?

S: For the itinerary, I just easily made a quick draft and that’s good to go. I remember coming so prepared on my first travel to Vietnam (that was in 2013). I over-researched and overplan my itinerary that the excitement was already gone. It’s better to just do a quick plan and explore the other things when you arrive at your destination.

For the things that I have to bring, I always pack light. I carefully choose what I will really need for the trip and anything that I can buy in Myanmar (such as toiletries) I just buy it from there. It is easier to move around that way.

In Ananda Phaya in Bagan
In Ananda Phaya in Bagan

OTB: Which places in Myanmar you visited during your trip?

S: We only have a week in Myanmar, but me and my friend decided to make the most of it. We started at Yangon, took an overnight bus to Mandalay, move to Bagan and went back to Yangon. During my first and second day I just let my self-get lost in the city without any plan. It was fun! Here’s a quick list of places we visited.

Roof of the entrance gate of Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon
Roof of the entrance gate of Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon
In Shwedagon Pagoda
In Shwedagon Pagoda

Yangon:

  • Botataung Pagoda – It houses what is believed to be a sacred hair of Buddha
  • Sule Pagoda – A 2,600-year-old pagoda
  • Maha Bandula Park – Public park next to Sule Pagoda
  • Shwedagon Pagoda – The most sacred pagoda of Myanmar
  • Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda – Houses the most revered reclining Buddha image
  • Kandawgyi Lake – Literally called as Great Royal Lake
The world's largest book in Kuthodaw Pagoda. This is a UNESCO-listed site.
The world’s largest book in Kuthodaw Pagoda. This is a UNESCO-listed site.

Mandalay:

  • Mandalay Palace – Last royal palace of the Burmese monarchy
  • Mandalay Hill – Known for its abundance of pagodas and monasteries
Kuthodaw Pagoda
Kuthodaw Pagoda
  • Kuthodaw Pagoda – Contains the world’s largest book
  • U Bein Bridge – Oldest and longest teak wood bridge in the world
Sunset in Bagan
Sunset in Bagan
A neighborhood of stupas in Bagan
A neighborhood of stupas in Bagan

Bagan:

  • Shwezigon Pagoda – It is believed to enshrine a bone and tooth of Buddha
  • Ananda Temple – Temple built in 1105 AD
  • Gubyaukgyi – Houses well-preserved frescoes painted during 1113 AD
  • Bupaya Pagoda – A distinct gourd shaped landmark over the Irrawaddy river
Burmese food in our Mandalay Trip
Burmese food in our Mandalay Trip

OTB:. What was your favorite part of the trip? Why?

THE FOOD – it was unexpectedly delicious! I’m so clueless about Burmese cuisine and it did surprise me. There was never a day that I got disappointed with what I am eating, be it Burmese fish curry, Mohinga or Shan noodles. I can say that their food are flavorful. They really know how to cook their thing!

THE PEOPLE – I deeply appreciate their hospitality and kindness.

A soup served in Mandalay. It tastes like Sinigang with a bit of curry.
A soup served in Mandalay. It tastes like Sinigang with a bit of curry.

OTB: What did you learn from this trip?

Just to take things easy. From my first solo travels in Indochina, I was always anxious about what I want to do with my life that I forgot to enjoy and live at the present moment. It was a good experience to learn and know about the life of other people I met during my travels and most of their advice is “this is your life, you are the only one responsible for it, it’s up to you if you want to be happy or miserable.” Now, my ultimate goal in life is to maintain a peace of mind and seek for inner happiness. There is no need to rush or seek validation from other people.

OTB:. One word to describe Myanmar.

S: Surprising.

Touring Yangon with Nay La Aung, a Burmese singer and actor
Touring Yangon with Nay La Aung, a Burmese singer and actor

OTB: One word to describe your experience in Myanmar.

S: Unexpected.

Sonny and I in Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda in Yangon
Sonny and I in Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda in Yangon

OTB: Will you visit this Myanmar in the near future?

S: I think that I left my heart in Myanmar. I will definitely come back. That’s for sure.

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Comments

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Yep, pictures look great! IT does seem tempting, however, is the political situation stable enough to start planning a 6 months ahead trip from Europe? There is a lot of information in news but I don’t really trust in that kind of guidelines… Always want to here the story from the perspective of someone who actually visited the place. Is it safe there right now?

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