06.12.2013 - 06.12.2013 32 °C
D-Day, Departure Day. Definitely the saddest day of every trip is to leave a fantastic country, with the friendliest people, greats sights, too many pagodas and malaria tablets (of more concern).
Breakfast is so early this morning, as I am to be at the airport by 0700. A sad farewell to my Aunty who is returning to the UK and the parents who will be flying back to Perth later in the day.
I thought I would try and sum up the trip with a few of the most frequently asked questions I was asked when I arrived back in Perth:-
What was your favourite thing about Myanmar?
The People and the Culture. This is magnificent to see and experience as I found it was still relatively fresh as the Country has only opened its boarders recently. You feel like to get to experience true, untouched Myanmar, and the Myanmar People are some of the friendliest folk around.
What was the most impressive sight?
The Pagodas/Stupas throughout Bagan, it’s impossible to choose just one as there are literally thousands. A preference goes out to the one that have not been covered in gold leaf I must say. I hope Myanmar’s restorative efforts to not see the historic archaeological, ancient temples turn into impressive modern monuments.
What would you not do if you had your time again?
The day trip to Kakku (3 hours from Inle Lake) and the Pa-O village. I did enjoy the destination, however a 3 hour drive each way felt a bit like a waste of a day. Would have loved to spend it cycling around Inle Lake.
What was the most amusing thing from your time there?
I absolutely loved the lady selling bananas from the shore to people taking the boat ride from Bagan to Mandalay. Seeing the hands of bananas thrown up and then patrons trying to throw scrunched up money down without getting the paper notes wet or floating away down river. I was such a perfect sales tactic. A closer runner up would be seeing huge bags of fresh produce being shoved through train windows on the Yangon Circle Route.
Best tip for travel?
Dont make amendments to any of the items on menus. In our experience the dishes do not come out tasting good. Trust the chefs to make their home countries dishes to perfection. Also, if your coffee mad, be prepared to have powdered milk and 3 in 1 instant coffee for a lot of your travels.
Where would have you liked to spend more time?
Inle Lake, I felt a bit rushed having 3 days and 3 nights. Would have loved to spend more time cycling the lake and back streets. Time can be sacrificed from your Stay in Yangon which I think with some relatively careful planning you could get done in 3 - 4 days (not including any day trips to Golden Rock (Kyato).
Was it really cheap?
In country expenses I found were very cheap, such as food, beer, drinks, sight-seeing, tours etc. I think over the 3 weeks i spend a little over $650USD. However, compared to the rest of South East Asia, accommodation is overpriced for what you get. I think this will improve as more tourist accommodation is constructed (a lot of development was happening in 2013.
Shopping, any good?
I try not to shop too much, but I couldn’t help buying longees (man skirts). My one regret was not finding a neck ring, worn by the hill tribes to extend the length of your neck, although would one have sufficed? Not sure.
Best Food? It is very hard to decide where the best food in Myanmar is as it’s so diverse dependant on the Country closest to the City you are in. Street Food everywhere was delicious, the freshness and the fact that you watch it get made adds to the experience. The Mutton Curry in Bagan was pretty hard to beat as best sit down meal. Worst food would be the cold chicken curry we had in Mandalay.
Regrets? Not going longer, could have easily stayed twice as long and explored a bit off the beaten track. Furthermore, would have like to be a little more independent, rather than being driven around (my pet hate is drop off - pick up sightseeing) but the compromises we make for family.
In conclusion, Myanmar is a definite RECOMMENDED travel destination.