Can I Show You a Bit of Myanmar?

And we’re back. And I’ve been floored with a tummy bug that whacked me over the head sometime last night, after we got back into Shanghai in a taxi that thought it had a jet engine. After 7 white-knuckle flights in a month (3 of them on Yangon Airways, whose motto is, unnervingly, “you’re safe with us!!”), I didn’t want my death to come in a taxi.  Anyway.  The tummy bug is making sure that my updating isn’t going as quickly or as easily as I’d hoped. I mostly just want to go back to bed and sleep.

But anyway. For now, this.

I’ve been busy uploading photos all day and editing them to fit into coherent albums. Until I can find a good photo gallery plugin for WordPress, I’ll be simply posting a lead photo here with a link to my corresponding Facebook album. Feel free to comment here or there. If you are in China and haven’t got a VPN or reliable proxy, I do apologize.

First, we have Yangon. We were in Yangon 3 times: When we first arrived, then when we came back from Moulmein, and then finally just as we were leaving.

These photos are from all three visits, in approximate chronological order.

 

Click me!

 

After we left Yangon the first time, we took a train down to Mon State, to Moulmein, Kinpun and Kyaikhtiyo.

There were few if any tourists down there and the monsoon season kept the air soft and the evenings explosive. It was lovely. Disclaimer: Kinpun had the worst food we encountered on the trip. If you fancy seeing the golden rock on the edge of the cliff, you might want to pack a lunch before reaching the Kinpun base camp village.

 

It’s a long way to Tipperary

 

We made our way back up to Yangon by any means necessary- on the backs of motorbikes (with backpacks and day bags balanced carefully), in trishaws, in pickup trucks (both front and back), rattly mini buses and rattly full sized coaches.

From Yangon, we flew to Mandalay.

Even though Mandalay city wasn’t a particularly interesting or even walkable city, we did explore it in great depth and spent more nights there than anywhere else in Myanmar, partly because it has interesting places around it and partly because it was a handy hub for Hsipaw and Bagan.

 

On the Road to and From Mandalay

 

Hsipaw

From Mandalay, we rode in a bare bones shared taxi through tightly switchbacked mountain passes at speeds previously unfathomed to Hsipaw, in Shan State. Our co-passengers included a mother and her two children, who were not used to riding in cars and so spent a lot of time throwing up, and a young woman who, surprisingly, had a mobile phone. These are rare in Myanmar, as a sim card alone is said to cost $1000.

In Hsipaw, only the children still shouted hello at us: the adults were sweet but reserved. Deservedly so. A few years ago, huge numbers of townspeople were arrested for having the wrong kind of contact with tourists passing through. What that means, exactly, I’m not sure. But the energy is definitely more guarded. In Hsipaw, we walked a lot. We looked for hot springs that were inaccessible due to monsoon river swelling, and we successfully found a lovely big waterfall. It rained heavily. Every day and night, children chanted their lessons from open classrooms all over town. It formed a steady, rhythmic beat to all walks, all rests.

After three nights, we got another shared taxi back to Mandalay with another mother and her two carsick children.

 

On the Road to the Waterfall

 

Finally, after a few more nights in Mandalay, we flew to Nyaung Oo, the town nearest to Bagan.

We had thought about taking a shared taxi again (in spite of the puking and white-knuckle speeds), or the Ayerwaddy river slow boat (which in Monsoon season was very slow indeed and frequently cancelled anyway), or a coach (which left at 5am and was likely to be as rickety and slow and painful as all the others we had taken in the south) but we found a flight for $32 that magically landed a mere 5 minutes after it was scheduled to take off, and we found ourselves checking into our hotel before we were meant to even have landed.  I can appreciate that. We spent 5 nights in Nyaung Oo and we explored every bit of Bagan. It was awesome.

 

Ain’t too proud to Bagan

 

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About MaryAnne

I live in Hanoi. I used to live in Shanghai (hence this blog’s title) but I left in 2013. I tend to travel. I cook stuff. I read a lot. I try to scare myself silly with regularity. I write about it all. A lot.