Myanmar (4 weeks)
Only because we had to leave the country after the fully used 28 days of our tourism visa we did. We flew out to Bangkok because land borders weren’t open at that time and it was the cheapest way. With sad heart full of beautiful memories and the assurance: We would come back!
We arrived in Yangon the 8th of March, a Tina and a Toni with us, both from Germany. We found a crappy and expensive guesthouse where I was scared to even take a shower and spent the rest of the night in town and were already confronted with the stunning friendlyness of the burmese people. They invited us, laughed, were interested, asked a hundred questions without having words in our language, and laughed again. We explaned with our hands, sounds and single english expressions and laughed and drank togehter. That was pretty much how it worked the whole time. We ended up that night with a couple of young guys who had a guitar and many songs to sing.
From Yangon (Rangoon) we went to Bagan – the area where over 3000 Pagodas (temples in every shape and size) dot the plane dusty landscape. We went with a nightbus (be prepared that busses in Myanmar rarely stop for a pee in hours and that even the socalled “main” roads can be really bumpy) and arrived in Nyaung U for sunrise. We got black tea and sweet pastries (which is, unfortunately, for my taste the only really tasty burmese thing to eat. Most of the flavours in burmese Couisine are pretty strange. ) and started wandering round the village and into our first and beautiful huge Pagoda. The following days we rented bycicles and explored the Pagoda-landscape, met an incredibly hostile man and his family and tried to sleep on top of a deserted Pagoda (the friendly man recommended that to us) which ended with a very angry monk who sent us away at midnight to sleep in a expensive guesthouse instead…
From Nyaung U we went with the bus to Mandalay (now only Toni, Philipp and me, Tina had left for a different route) and swichted into the train going north to Hopin. A burmese train! It runs on narrow tracks so it only reaches a max speed of 30 miles p.h. and swings like a small boat in a big storm! After laughing our asses off plus being scared at the same time we got some melon and beer from some locals and managed to sleep a couple of hours partially on the small wooden benches and on the floor. From Hopin we took a Jeep (nothing else is running there) to the two hours away Lonton at the side of the Indogyii Lake. Lonton was a great experience! There was only one guesthouse in the village (with not even an english sign on it) which had a terrace to the lake. Only for one hour we had electricity per day. At that time everyone was running to plug in chargers and cables and the kids of the guesthouse owner ran to listen to loud techno music and to watch a chinese movie until the electricity was switched off again.. In the onliest restaurant we met “Mama” who spoke quite good english. She was running a library and many projects to protect the environment in their area to make people understand how to treat the nature. She was very proud of it. One day we “rented” a boat (with a big leak so I had to shovel the water out permanently) and went to the big pagoda in the lake. The other day we went to another village nearby to visit a new friend “buffalo boss”, a police man came after us and was highly enraged because he thought we would leave and he had to write down precisely everything that the foreigners did.
There was an absolute control, well they had to and they tried to but most of the police and military men were really friendly and easy going in fact. Two times they helped us to get a lift and put us on top of a Jeep or truck and waved goodbye. They just needed to know where we were and where we would go.
With that truck we went back to Mandalay. 31 hours. For 250 miles. Almost no sleep and real pain from that sandy “main”road covered with potholes from start to end. But we arrived. And went to Hsipaw from there, an area with hills which is supposed to be good for trekking. We tried that. But the landscape was massively burned and the last villages were all out of drinking water so at the end of the day we had to return. After some days in Hsipaw we finally went to our last stop: Inle lake. Nyaung Shwe is a nice but very touristy town (for Myanmar at least). We stayed about a week, the guys went for another trek and for a boattrip to the floating gardens. I unfortunately had a kidney infection and explored the next two hours away hospital plus, on the following days, the nice yard of our guesthouse.
After exactly four weeks Philipp and I left from Mandalay airport (which is really cute). Still stunned by this amazing country we arived back in Bangkok with not much of a plan where to go. So we just stayed.