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Friday, February 15, 2008


Nice people, decent food, great country side and so on...
Too bad they have such a stupid government!!!

Sorry for the delay in updating the blog, but I was unable to add pictures in Myanmar so I decided to wait a couple of more days. The trip was great. After an uneventful flight I arrived in a very wet Yangon. During the flight I met Tim, an American student, who had exactly the same time as me to spend in Myanmar, so we decided to travel together. At the airport we took a taxi into town (paid for by Tim in US$) in order to exchange money.
And that right away is the most irritating thing about traveling in Myanmar, the money!!! The official banks only exchange foreign currency for terrible rates (i.e. 1 US$ = 400 Kyats), so you have to deal with people on the street and markets (a rate of approx. 1200-1250 Kyats per US$). Besides being plain sketchy, Burmese people only accept crisp new bills. No stains, folds, little tears or anything... Tourist fees (like the US$ 10 to enter Bagan) have to be paid in these new US$ bills as well and it seems that when you want to pay in Kyats they use a random and ridiculous exchange rate!
Oh well, after getting annoyed by that a couple of times you just accept it as one of the flaws of country dictated by a bunch of assholes in a hidden, "secret" government city.

Then the good things :-) The highlight for me was the three day trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake. Tim, I and a French guy called Michael hired a guide for three days to take us via a bunch of villages to the lake. The guide (called Kyi), a chef (called Chef, for our food), all the food and the accomodation for US$ 8 pppd. The hike was great, the people we met were amazing and the weather was optimal (maybe even a little hot). No more talking about it, just take a look at the pictures!

After the hike and trip over the lake, we were supposed to be picked up by a bus. But that bus thought we were somewhere elso so totally skipped us :-( A few "stressful" moments, a couple of phone calls and a 45 minute taxi ride we caught our bus after all. It simply waited for us :-)

That bus took us to Mandalay. A decent, small city that has a lot of history to offer but in itself is not that spectacular. I spent one day walking around the city and together with Michael hired bicycles the next day to go to some towns around Mandalay. We visited Saiging Hill and Amarapura, where they have world's longest teak wood bridge. Sounds great, but is also more a tourist thing than anything else.

Not that Mandalay was bad, but I was really looking forward to go to the temples of Bagan. The slow boat went on the wrong days and the tourist boat was a rip-off, so I took a bus. A very long, bumpy and hot 10 hour bus ride later I arrived in Nyuang U, the town where many backpackers stay when they visit Bagan. Bagan... well, to be honest, it did not fulfill my expectations. It is an amazing sight when you stand on top of a temple and all you can see is a plain with nothing but more temples, but that is it... Not as impressive as Angkor, because the temples are way smaller. And all of the smaller temples look alike. But probably I am also a little spoiled when it comes to temples, so that adds to my not being too enthousiastic about Bagan.

After Bagan it was time to head back to Yangon. After one whole day of sightseeing I was glad I did not have to stay there any longer. Big city, few places of interest, so only worth a short stay.

Myanmar is great and I would not mind going back there, especially to the less traveled parts. The people are amazingly friendly and it is incredibly cheap (US$ 2-7 for a single room with good breakfast). Totally worth another visit and I would recommend it to everyone. On Tuesday I flew back to Shoshannah in Bangkok, but more on that and our China trip will follow soon!!!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Schitterende foto's Ruud. Dat gaat je nog een hoop werk kosten: al die mooie koffietafelboeken die je nog moet samenstellen!

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