Travel – Yangon and Bagan

Myanmar has recently opened up to Western tourism following the lifting of economic sanctions placed on the country against the former military government.  I didn’t really know what to expect due to my lazy lack of research however I’m happy to report that Myanmar is amazing! 

The country shares it’s borders with Bangladesh, India, China, Thailand and Laos. Yangon is a melting pot of cultures and religions and to my surprise is much more developed than I expected however has not yet been corrupted by big budget Western tourism though I imagine it will not stay that way for long.  At the moment it’s a very expensive time to visit.  The lifting on the sanctions have meant an influx of tourists from the West however no sufficient infrastructure to host them.  I met up with some colleagues working the Yangon and they reported a 400 – 500% increase in hotel costs in the past 9 months!

My favourite part of the trip was Bagan which is famous for it’s vast plains which are covered with thousands of temples. It was like stepping into a time machine.  Just booking the flights from Yangon to Bagan was a trial in itself which meant meeting a random “travel agent” at the airport and handing over large sums of cash in exchange for the old school carbon paper tickets.  Once there, the main forms of transport are hiring a driver and car, bicycle or horse and cart!  The roads are free of traffic aside from dodging cattle that have strayed too far.  There were no ATM’s, no credit card facilities, no mobile roaming.  Locals still use the barter system.  What I loved most was the genuine, welcoming nature of the people.  They are so eager to help you, ensure you have a good meal, see all the great sights.  What an amazing and resiliant people.  I’d highly recommend a visit before things change too much.

Monk at Shwedagon Pagonda

Gold plated Shwedagon Pagoda

Burmese baby, so cute!

Downtown Yangon
Village kids in Bagan, so curious!
Purchasing hand made umbrellas
Cycling in Bagan
A storm rolling in over the field of pagodas
Climbing Mount Popa
Hand made puppets, a bit creepy!
Food Coma

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