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.
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.
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.
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!