Myanmar

Yangon

After a very very early morning and the luxurious personal pick-up service to the airport (thank you so much Mars!) the two friends arrived in Yangon without any trouble!

A very welcoming hostel made Schnagler and Peachy feel comfortable right from the start. One of the hostels benefits was a free ride on the circular train which the duo did the next morning. Bumpy, slow and long (3h) but also loads to see, meeting many people and quickly changing atmosphere made the uncomfy ride worth it. The blue paint of the seats is still remaining on some of Peachy’s clothes after a few washes and about 4 weeks time…

Schnagler and Peachy bought some delicious Mango Chilli after the example of two girls sitting opposite. Luckily the vendor insisted on giving double trouble less Chilli than usual, so they were able to enjoy it as it wasn’t too spicy.


Finally, after 3h it was time to get off the train and do some shopping. A traditional longyi for both of the girls was on focus. Step 1: finding the preferred colour, pattern and fabric, step 2: waiting for the vendors to sew it according to their measurements, step 3: pick up the longyi after half an hour and wear it straight away.


After a successful shopping session, the two were planning to go to Shwedagon Pagoda. However, the heavy rain made them change their plans and instead they treated themselves to a very relaxing foot, neck and shoulder massage which included Thanaka make up (not that the girls knew that in advance…).

The next morning the dream team tried their luck again at Shwedagon Pagoda and weren’t disappointed. It was sunny and (very) hot. The massive Pagoda was sparkling in the sunshine, in some temples local people were praying together by singing a repetitive melody and Peachy made it her challenge to discover all Buddha’s that were marked on the map the two recieved upon entering. 



A few hours and millions of pictures later Schnagler went back to the hostel and Peachy went to the governmental crocodile farm in Yangon.

This was a very good experience. A bit off the main track, no other tourists and about 0,60€ entrance fee were very promising. And straight from the first minute the farm was impressive and maybe a bit scary. The giant crocodiles sunbathing with open mouths, revealing their teeth and informative signs about different types and families of the reptiles were first impressions. When Peachy saw she could even feed these giants for another 1€ she completely fell for the farm. Some raw fish and the advice of a little girl: “aim for their noses, in between their eyes as these animals can’t see very well“ helped to make some jaws reach far out of the water to completely disappear again after a few seconds. 
Knowing how many crocodiles were hiding under the water surface made Peachy be very conscious about the ‘health and safety issues’ that didn’t seem to bother anyone. Holes in the paths just 1m above the water surface and the possibility to walk along a 30cm wide wall without any rails but therefore crocodiles left and right of it made the usually brave traveller very careful and a little scared. 

But isn’t that what you would expect from a day with the crocos? Besides not walking along the wall, Peachy managed to enjoy all offers of the farm and even treated the reptiles to some more fish just before she left to go back to the hostel, as it was time for the first night bus to Inle Lake.

Inle Lake

The first night on the night bus was more comfortable than expected. Schnagler and Peachy decided to make the most of their day at Inle Lake and signed up straight away for a full day boat tour. Arriving at 7am, breakfast at 7.30 and pick up for the tour at 8 was a tight schedule but totally worth it. The day was packed with exciting places to visit and amazing views. And sitting relaxed on a little boat with a fresh breeze was exactly what the duo needed after a bumpy night bus.

The tour started with almost an hour drive on the boat which was plenty of time to enjoy the views and to be excited about just being on a boat. 
The first stop was at a jewellery place where silver was treated from stones to powder to the metal and finally handcrafted to nice jewellery. Peachy bought a nice necklace and earrings with a round knot as a pendant which stands for peace and happiness. 
Back on the boat there were plenty of stops nearby with some being a lotus weaving place, a stop just to see the long neck women (made the two girls a bit wondering as these women just sat on a bench waiting for tourists to watch them), another stop for a temple and one was for lunch. After a full day tour the girls came back to the hostel and were tired but happy about the interesting and fun day they had.

The next morning Schnagler didn’t feel to well so Peachy went exploring on her own. A bicycle was the transport of her choice and Htat Eian cave the first destination. Considering the 30°C and the hills in which the cave was, the ride was a little bit challenging but still fun. Impressive about the cave was the amount of Buddhas in it. However, it wasn’t the most comfy to walk through it in the dark with all the spiky stones and not being allowed to wear shoes as it was treated as religious site…



Shoes back on, back on the bicycle and about 5km to go the next place was a winery in the mountains. The climb paid off totally as the view was stunning and the food good as well. Peachy didn’t try the wine though as it was midday and the heat at it’s peak. After taking in the view and half a pizza she went back to the hostel just to find a group of people who treated themselves to a full body massage nearby so she joined the group. The massage wasn’t as good as in Thailand or Hongkong but good value for money and a nice treat before being on the nightbus again.


Mandalay

With Mandalay being the shortest of their stations, time was rare for Schnagler and Peachy.   Daisy and Anthony who were on the same nightbus and in the same hostel, both had one day in Mandalay, too. So the four paired up together and went for a full day tour around Mandalay with a taxi driver. Stopping at the White Pagoda and a monkery to watch the ceremony of monks having lunch were the highlights of the day. 

Sagaing hill with a temple on the top and U Bein Bridge impressed with nice views and atmosphere. A very nice day overall, however Inle Lake had more to reveal. It was Anthony’s last night in Asia after a few months, so the group went to treat themselves to a nice indian meal at a slightly posh restaurant. A nice evening with good conversation and amazing food made the friends happy but also realise how tired they were. Coming back to a private twin room for Schnagler and Peachy felt like a luxury and made them have a good sleep. The next day it was time again for a fairly long bus journey to Bagan.


Bagan

The last stop in Myanmar was the ancient town Bagan with uncountable Pagodas all over the place. Daisy was still tagging along with the two friends and so the three girls stayed in a cheap hotel to share a room. Renting electric scooters was the perfect choice of transport as everything was nearby but too far to walk. 

The triple went to watch the sunset from the top of a Pagoda and enjoyed it very much. Therefore, they decided to get up at 4.30 the next morning for the pleasure of the sunrise. The atmosphere was even a bit better and a big breakfast was the treat to compensate their short night. Afterwards, the girls went to another Pagoda where they met two artists who sell their paintings. However, as there was no other tourists the atmosphere was relaxed and the girls listened to some stories of the painters and had a good and long conversation. After buying some (or rather loads) of the beautiful and really cheap paintings (they were made with some stonesand to make them have a little sparkle) the girls went back to the hotel for a nap. In the afternoon the scooters brought the group to a traditional village called Minnanthu. A woman offered to guide us around which was obviously a bit of a rip off but the information she provided was interesting and so a little tip was justified. However, the village wasn’t that traditional anymore as it was rather touristy and commercialised. Leaving the village also meant saying goodbye to Daisy as she had to catch the nightbus to Yangon. So Schnagler and Peachy were on their own again which they actually enjoyed after two days of company. 

The dream team went to Irrawaddy River to watch the sunset and then made their way to old bagan for some shopping on the night markets. However, getting there turned out to be a little bit difficult. Although Peachy’s scooter still showed 3/10 bars of battery it got slower and slower and uphill some manual support of Peachy was required to keep moving (in fact it was like being 2years old again and using a walking bike and a lot of fun until it got really exhausting). So Peachy had to call the emergency number and after 10min two guys appeared and swapped the scooter for me. How they got it back themselves remains a mystery…
A fully charged scooter brought the girls to the nearest market stalls fairly quickly and they made some good bargains. Especially the colourful umbrellas they bought are beautiful and a bit different compared to the souvenirs of the rest of Asia.

Back in the hotel it was time to sleep as the next day the bus back to Yangon was picking the girls up in the very early morning.

In Yangon there was no time left besides for a good night’s sleep in the same hostel as the first night. The next day it was time to leave the country. Double trouble were on the same plane to KL. 

Arriving there it was time to say goodbye as Schnagler flew back to Frankfurt and Peachy was on her way to Sydney.
A delayed flight made the farewell more easy as Schnagler had to run to catch her connecting flight. Peachy joined her but at the gate there was no time for a proper goodbye. A quick hug, a ‘take care, see you soon’ and a few quick tears had to be enough.
And then she was alone, a solo traveller again. Next stop: Peach Down Under!

Philippines

On the 14th of June it was time to fly again for Schnagler and Peachy. First stop Manila, second stop Puerto Princesa on Palawan. Besides some fog (or whatever it was) on the second plane, everything went well and both bags reached Puerto safely and on time.

In the hostel the duo met up with two friends of Schnagler, Inez and Denny. They are on an around the world trip and planned to be on Palawan at the same time. After a nice catch up and a good night’s sleep, the four started their journey to Port Barton. The first night without aircon paid off in the next morning. The group decided to go to a remote island called Cacnipa for a couple of nights and ended up in paradise. 

Crystal clear water and the lovely coconut garden island resort all to themselves made their stay unforgettable. Incredibly good food, excellent service and for being on a remote island moderate prices were part of the experience. For 2 nights, 6 meals, all drinks, boat transfer and the exclusive private beach (that’s the advantage of low season travelling) they spent 50€ each and felt like kings and queens.

The only drawback was the mosquitos who they had to share their beds with and the missing AC. Two nights later the four left the island heading towards El Nido.

Heavy rain was welcoming the group in El Nido. This still didn’t stop Schnagler and Peachy to sign up for a ‘Discover Scuba Diving’ tour for the next day. They found a welcoming diving school, ‘Deep Blue Seafari’ where both felt comfortable and looked after at all times. The next morning their alarms went off at 6.45. Shower, breakfast and then meeting at the ‘Deep Blue Seafari’ at 8.00. Due to coastguard issues (it was a Monday morning which is apparently the time to change regulations) and due to a drunken boat crew memeber (the chef) the tour started with over 1h delay. Peachy got more and more nervous – a bit longer and she might have changed her mind. Luckily she tried keeping herself busy with buying a ‘Deep Blue Seafari’ T-Shirt as a memory. Then finally all divers were asked to please board the boat. They did as they were told and found themselves at the first diving spot, paradise beach, fairly quickly. The two friends were the only ones without Open Water License so they had two guides all to themselves. Nicolas showed how to jump in from the boat and then Peachy had to follow. Her nervousness was at the maximum but when everybody started counting, she jumped in at 1 😀

This was the step over her fear and from that moment on she was just able to enjoy. Ayn and Nicky were very caring and thoughtful so there were no dangerous moments. The first of three dives was only instructions near the beach Peachy thought. But as the two got on super well with everything they went to practise what they learned in up to 10m. Peachy was not scared at all as she didn’t even notice how deep she had been.

Back on the boat there were refreshments and not long after it was time for dive number two near helicopter island.

This was probably the best dive. A photographer joined Schnagler and Peachy and made so many nice pictures (Also have a look in the gallery under Philippines 😉 )! Peachy felt like she was flying under water. What a great feeling 😀

After 43min and up to 15m it was time to come back to the boat and have lunch. Fish, chicken and some vegetables with rice was all they needed and very delicious.

The third dive followed pretty quickly, at the small reef of helicopter island. Maybe a bit too soon after lunch but again it was fun and the two enjoyed it so much. Back on the boat, the two friends realised how exhausted and tired they were. Time for a nap and an early night. Peachy went to bed soooo proud and happy with herself….

The next day was farewell time. An early goodbye breakfast with Inez and Denny who had to catch a ferry to Coron at 8am was followed by a rather lazy day with some shopping and a pedicure. 

In the evening the two friends left Palawan and flew to Manila. El Nido was definitely the smallest airport they have ever been to. Security staff was more interested whether the two were single and had facebook instead of in their bags….

In Manila it was just time to get to the hotel and sleep as the next morning it was time to fly to Singapore 😀

Hongkong

Luckily, Schnagler and Peachy booked a hotel in advance and got to a small room with two big beds. Dinner and an extremely good foot massage for Peachy helped double trouble to relax. After a good and long sleep they started their first morning in Hongkong. A light cheesestick breakfast helped to adjust to the culture. 

The hotel was on Hongkong Island. So the two took a ferry to cross over to Tsim Sha Tsui to walk along the promenade and to see the Avenue of stars. This was closed unfortunately but the garden of the stars was open and a lot of fun 😀


On the ferry the friends received very very good news. The hotel called to say that Schnagler’s backpack was delivered by a courier from the airport. This made them soooo happy.

Next stop was the Ladies Market. After 15min getting used to the haggling it started to rain heavily. Some stalls closed and said there would be a typhoon coming up. Double trouble escaped to an indian restaurant and thought the rain would stop soon. However they needed to face reality and understand that the typhoon would only move on around midnight and there would be a week of thunderstorm and rain afterwards.

Schnagler and Peachy decided to still make the most of it. So they went to Hongkong Timesquare Shopping Mall. However, all shops were closed due to the typhoon. Next trial was to find a massage. First they took a funny old tram to the hotel and couldn’t wait any longer to find out whether the backpack which was delivered to the hotel was really Schnagler’s backpack.

And it was….


After a long walk the friends finally found an open massage place and let themselves being treated. A foot massage for Schnagler and an acupressure back massage for Peachy let them forget all about the typhoon. 

The next morning the friends tried their luck again after a very rainy night. Back to the Timesquare all shops were opened. A couple of hours of shopping let the time pass quickly until the rain stopped. This is all the two waited for to then try going up to Victoria Peak. The tram ride was funny, the pizza expensive but delicious and we found a new family 😛 

But the view….well the view….which view actually?


Back down the weather was stable and the team started their way to the night show in Victoria Harbour. Reaching the bay they were overwhelmed by the skyline with it’s millions of lights and the sea. But let’s let the pictures speak for themselves:

The evening ended with a nice shopping tour on the night markets in Temple Street. Back at the hotel it was time to pack and to find out how to get to the airport in the very early morning. And of course, double trouble needed some money again, which took a while but finally worked out in the end…

After a very short night (no night in fact) it was time to leave Hongkong and to fly to Puerto Princesa (on Palawan) with stop over in Manila and without disasters. The flight to Puerto Princesa was a bit weird because of dust or fog on the plane. 


We still don’t know what it was, maybe gas to make everybody sleepy 😛 However, we both arrived safely and woke up again 😉

Aeroflot – NEVER ever again!

To keep you all updated, Peachy and Schnagler would like to share their full Aeroflot experience with you. You all know the two friends missed their connecting flight from Moscow to Hongkong from the last post. Here is what happened next:

Boarding the flight to Beijing from Moscow, everything seems fine. Mr. Aeroflot promised that Schnagler and Peachy bags would fly with them on their plane. They were all relaxed and full of trust. Being asked for a visa they said: “We don’t need a visa, only transit.“

So far, so good. After 7.5 hot(!) hours of flight with only one meal, Schnagler and Peachy leave the plane and are in China. Everything seems to be better, the people much more friendly. The duo was welcomed by a chinese lady telling them to hurry up for the next connecting flight to Hongkong. And there it was back: stress and rushing! They were running all the way to the transit counter, just to receive the next shocking news: “you will have to collect your bags and check them in again, because the chinese people here don’t care about your bags“ said the only ‘English’ speaking girl there. “You will have to check in before 11“. Bäääm! Shock! It’s 10.25, double trouble need to get through immigration without a visa first, then collect their bags one level below and check in the bags to the next flight with Hongkong Airlines with only a booking confirmation of Mr. Aeroflot….Panic!!!
Chasing through the whole airport to collect the bags, the two find Peachy’s backpack quickly. But where is Schnagler’s??? Only 10min later the competent Mr. Baggage claim promises that Schnagler’s bag is on it’s way to Hongkong already. Great! One less bag to carry and to worry about.

Next stop: Hongkong Airlines Check-in counter. Oh dear, a very long queue and it’s 10.50… Schnagler asks at the Business Class counter and surprise, the chinese were probably too polite to say no. Boarding passes were printed and after a short explanation, they accepted Peachy’s backpack. It only needs to get through security. Easy one should think as it passed the German security check. But this would be too easy. After 3 failed trials (Powerbank, lighter and guess what, another lighter) and many annoyed chinese people and an annoyed Peachy who had to carry her backpack back through a narrow gate all the times, the bag finally got through. 


Now it is 11.15. Boarding is at 11.40. No time for a rest. Quickly through immigration (24h is allowed without visa luckily!) and through security. Peachy’s powerbank was allowed in the carry in bag and all went fine. Arriving at the gate the two friends had enough time to visit the ladies room and to realise – almost 12 o’clock and the last they ate was dinner. So it was time for a expensive shitty sandwich and a water each and. For a bargain price of 20€!! Now quickly on the next plane.

A croissant to share because we couldn’t get any change for our 20€ bill. Why did this delicious looking croissant have a sausage in it?? Whyyyyyyy???

On the chinese plane everything seems better than on the russian one before. Nice and friendly people around us. At least they smile and nod no matter what. Probably because none of these chinese understand English. Schnagler and Peachy fall in a deep but weirdly non refreshing sleep. God knows what was in the air on that plane, everyone on this plane was asleep……maybe it was just the long journey. 

Getting off the plane in Hongkong, the dream team felt tired but happy – finally reached their destination.

 But the happiness wouldn’t last long. Peachy’s bag is the first one to appear. But Schnagler’s was still missing. Shocking news at the baggage claim: the backpack is still in Moscow!! How unlucky can 2 people be on one day?? Unfriendly staff promised to deliver the bag to the hotel of the two friends. Luckily they booked in advance and had an address ready to state on the form which needed to be filled in. No apologies, no compensation, nothing which one could call ‘service’. 

Reaching the hotel was easy, public transport in Hongkong just perfect! 

Summary of this journey: disappointing and shocking all way through! Nobody apologised, the most unfriendly airline staff and the team lost all believe and trust in the staff and in what they promised. Whether the bag would be delivered the next day or not – nobody really new. The only sure thing was:

NEVER ever Aeroflot again!

3, 2, 1 Hongkong here we come! Hang on – double trouble stuck in Moscow…

It all started so well for Schnagler and Peachy in Germany. No.traffic jam on the A5, the private deluxe airport shuttle of Peachy’s Mama and her friend Wilma and even enough time for a nice drink before the farewell.

Boarding the plane to Moscow the duo didn’t think anything bad. Half an hour delay but surely the plane would catch up on the way. The flight itself wasn’t the best already. Loads of drunk and disrespectful russians who got a final warning of the airline. One of them even tried to stick his hand through our seats to grab the Peachy boobs! Unbelievable! (He didn’t manage though as Schnagler reacted super quick… 😉 ) All not the best experience and the friends were hoping to be a bit more lucky with the seat neighbours on the next plane.

The next plane is the buzz word. Reaching Moscow 40min before departure of their connecting flight, the dream team didn’t think it was too bad. But Schnagler and Peachy were awaited by an employee of Aeroflot who’s first words were: “The good news: it wasn’t your fault!“

Obviously they had missed their connecting flight, didn’t get any compensation or upgrade (not yet…) and are even struggling to get a free soft drink with the sh**** voucher they received.

Next stop now: Beijing!