Myanmar (Burma) Reviews
Back to the future Oct 18, 2012
I've been to Myanmar on August 2012 for 2 weeks.
I'm a backpacker the only way to meet real people and enjoy real life I think. I've been to many places in Asia but this one is very special.
Forget what you know about Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand,... Myanmar is another planet. Get ready for it.
I did the usual trip, Yangon, Inle lake, Mandalay, Bagan.
You can skip Yangon, the Brits built it and since they left the country nobody maintained anything. It's dirty & polluted and not much to see or visit. Night life starts at 7pm till 11pm. There are only 2-3 nightclubs open later.
This is fantastic, the quality of your visit/stay at Inle lake will depend on the guide you will select. The guide is your boat driver. My recommendation is select an old guy, don't bargain too much, what you save on one hand you will lose it on the other, you depends on your guide. Be nice with him he should be nice with you. What you will see depends on your guide remember it. Like a girl treat him well and maybe you’ll get rewarded. "Floating" hotel on the lake are amazing, expensive but it's worth it. Don't expect any nightlife.
It’s amazing, beautiful city, so many temples, the surrounds are also so beautiful. Go anywhere at anytime. Try to find a good motorbike taxi driver / Guide and you can go anywhere. He will show you so many things you can’t find in the travel guide. Night life is an issue, officially there are only 2-3 places and at 11pm they switch of the light you have to rely on your taxi driver/guide again or people you met in the bar / restaurant. But anyway you’ll have fun.
What you saw on the guide, TV, you will have it for almost free. You should go to Bagan before going to Angkor in my opinion.
You will enjoy the people, the culture, temples, the countryside but not the road or buses, travel by plane it’s cheap and much faster & confortable believe me. I’m a big fan of Asian food but I’ve to say I’ve been disappointed numerous times, Perhaps it’s not my taste.
Myanmar is for experimented traveler only in my opinion if you travel by your own.
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Oct 13, 2007
from my journal, last january...
not writing has been a good thing. i haven't even thought about doing it. that's a good thing. yet now i am writing, and it's a good thing. it's good because i am in a great mood. i am completely relaxed, at peace, patient, happy. my three weeks here so far have been some of the best traveling in my life. i don't even know how to start telling you/me about this country(myanmar). it's weird.
ever since the country was an english colony, they have held strong to the tradition of driving cars with the steering wheel on the right. but unlike countries where they have cars with steering wheels on the right and drive on the left side of the road, they drive on the right. some years back, one of the kings had a consultation with his astrologer who advised him to move his country to the right, so, in a single day, he changed the law and made everybody drive their backwards cars on the right!!! you can imagine riding in the passenger seat on a curvy road, next the the center line and seeing oncoming traffic that the driver has yet to recognize.
there are no atm's, credit cards, or foreign companies or products other than that made in china.
there is the omnipresence of the longest reigning military dictatorship in the world. the country is even more isolated and economically stangled than north korea. there is forced labor, surveillance, and the real possibility of being sent off to prison for something you say let alone do. and once in prison, you will only survive if your family brings you your food supply. yet the people are the most friendly, warm, and generous i have ever met. they all seem to be content and utterly happy.
time stands still here. it is more like the 1950s than 2007. there are only a few places in the country to check email. it is monitored and hotmail and yahoo are banned. the cars are all broken down 1970s toyotas and the trucks behemoth piles of mufler-less piles of shit. the only phones are at little stands in the street that have cheap plastic phones in a thin plywood booth with an attendant and a little phone wire leading up to the tangle of wires above. all other equipment, tools, gadgets, whatever are from yesteryear. it's cheap, it's very, very, cheap.
i'm on the covered deck of a three story river boat chugging down the mighty arawaddy river from mandalay to Bagan. i knew i would love this place from the first day, i barely made it through the second(all day and night with food poisoning and third world fatigue), and from the third on it's been one long photo session. monks smoking, farting, spitting and kicking dogs while perched on a hill watching the sunset. tattooed monks smoking. monks at the internet cafe listening to headphones that leaked nirvanna, weazer, and green day songs done in burmese. monks shopping for the latest chinese imitation fashion at road side stalls. the kids in small villages who come running along as you walk or ride an old bike and wave and yell "bye bye" instead of hello. kids laughing, playing with nothing but rocks and sticks, hugging each other, all of them have on clown faced make up. young women/girls blushing, smiling, and giggling at me, actually saying hello. men ridding by on bikes or walking, yelling hello, with clown faced make up. cows wondering the streets of mandalay after dark, a city of one million. a boat ride on a small river at 5:30 am with a guy standing on the bow searching for the way with a flashlight. half of the population with teeth stained blood red from chewing beetle nut root. a river side with grass huts and ox carts with wooden wagon wheels. the giant german lady on the government boat who put on sunscreen while eight burmese women sitting on floor mats watched with utter fascination. she ignored them. i gave them a sample of mine and the passed it around and slabbed it all over themselves thinking it would make their skin white. in return they gave me a sample of a palm full of brown powder that is supposed to make you cough. at dusk, the valleys fill with smoke from the evening fires creating a erie morning mist effect and when you get home you smell like you have been standing at a camp fire. erie morning mist. bicycle taxi rides at pre dawn with only the light of a few candles, the stars, and a few small fires getting some morning tea going. everything carried on the head of women. clown make up, clown make up, clown make up! it is part make up, part sunscreen, and part moisturizer. women and girls of all ages where it, as do many men. most men wear longies(surrongs). everybody wheres flip flops. some little kids wear tweed jackets. many girls and women wear bright colored pajamas.