Myanmar Travel Guides for Backpackers

Reasons you should go on a trip to Myanmar

When I first thought about my trip to Southeast Asia, countries like Thailand and Indonesia were the ones that came to my mind. They are totally worth the visit, don’t get me wrong, but for being very touristic already, we need to agree they won’t change much in the next couple of years. The same can’t be said about Myanmar, also known as the old Burma. Myanmar is bordered by India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand. To be honest, since I didn’t know much about this country, it wasn’t a priority for me to go there. I’m really glad I talked to a couple of travellers that made me change my mind, and I hope I can help you with some reasons you should include Myanmar on your next trip to Asia as well. Myanmar is still very untouched by external influences There is no point on lying here: it wasn’t after buying my tickets to Myanmar that I started researching about it. I got a call from my grandmother saying I shouldn’t go there because the country was going through a huge humanitarian crisis and it was very dangerous for everybody – that grandma style of worrying about you. I immediately reached out to those travellers that talked me into it, as they explained to me tourists can’t even tell there’s something going on, since the conflicts are not on the main touristic cities – and they were right, so travellers safety is not an issue. The first part of what my grandmother said is true though: a very complex subject involving Rohingya people, the military and the government takes place in Rakhine, the northern province of Myanmar. I really recommend researching about it on the internet before going.  For me, better than getting to know touristic spots – something you will see Myanmar has plenty of – is to know the way people in the country you are visiting live. Opening the doors for tourism The main reason I wanted to visit Myanmar was it’s very new tourism activities. Not so long ago Myanmar was ruled by a military dictatorship and its tourism was completely controlled by the government. In the 70’s, you would only have seven days to visit the country, with regulated tours to specific places. It wasn’t until 2012 that the country was officially open for tourism, allowing its visitors to experience a place still very untouched by external influences. Local woman praying at Sule Pagoda Differently from other asian countries, visiting Myanmar’s capital you can experience locals praying in the temples, instead of tourists taking pictures. Not many people speak english over there, so it can be a little more challenging to get around. But to see the burmese people living their daily lives and experience a country with very little western traits makes it totally worth it. Yangon Also known as Ragoon, Myanmar’s capital was my first stop in the country. As soon as I arrived at the airport I could tell it would […]

Top 7 Things to See in Myanmar

Myanmar is one of the most interesting countries I have visited so far. I didn’t really know what to expect before I went there. The border has only been open for tourists for about 8 years and I hadn’t met any people who had been there yet. With a lot of curiosity I arrived in Yangon and after only a few hours in this city, I was blown away. There is so much untouched culture in this city, but it is also vibrant and alive with travellers. You can have the purest local food for a few dollars but also splurge on trendy vegan food. I also visited Bagan, Mandalay, Kalaw and Inle Lake while I was in Myanmar. This is my top 7 things to do in Myanmar and I will warn you, there are many, many more!   1. Schwedagon Pagoda One of the main attractions of Yangon is the Shwedagon Pagoda; which is definitely worth the visit. It has a beautiful and incredibly large main pagoda (it’s 98 meters high!!). You can walk all around it and see the dozens of smaller pagodas, temples and statues. The entrance fee is 10.000 Kyats, which is around $7 USD. I spend the whole day there, wandering around and watching the locals. 2. Street Food Yangon is one of the best places to try the street food of Myanmar. I visited a small local restaurant which I cannot remember the name of, but there are many options out there. A famous street to eat on is 19th street, as well as the night market on Strand Street. Try the fresh fried Samosas, or the unofficial national dish called Mohinga. There is something for everyone’s taste.    3. Bagan and The Burmese Pagan Kingdom After Yangon, I travelled up to Bagan, which is in the Mandalay Region. It is one of the most magical places I’ve ever visited. I spend 3 days there and I still didn’t want to leave. Rent an electric scooter and wander around the countless Pagodas that scatter the surroundings. Watch the sunrise from one of the little hills and see the hot air balloons drift over the foggy landscape that is Bagan. This was truly one of the most beautiful experiences of my whole journey. If you find the right spot, you will be all alone watching the sunrise. Ask your hotel or a friendly local to point out the good spots! (Food tip: there is a great pizza place in Bagan as well, called La Pizza, and for amazing local food definitely visit The Moon).   4. Mandalay Temple Tour When I got to Mandalay, I was a little lost. The city is definitely not as fun and vibrant as Yangon, and I struggled to figure out where to go. Normally I walk everywhere but because Mandalay is a very spread out city, I decided to gather some people and ask a taxi driver to show us around for the day. If you’re good at […]

Where to Stay in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)

Bright colors, exotic aromas, and smiling faces will make a lasting impression when you visit Yangon, formerly named Rangoon. Myanmar, also known as Burma, is becoming more and more popular as word gets out about Myanmar tourist attractions. While the Myanmar capital lies farther north in Naypyidaw, Yangon hosts the international airport which means that anyone who is going to go traveling around Myanmar will likely spend a day or two in this growing metropolis. There are a number of hotels, hostels, and guesthouses available so it can be overwhelming to know where to start. If you want to know how to choose your Yangon accommodation, check out the tips below. Select Your Price Range Yangon is a place that can cater to all lifestyles. From budget to luxury, anyone can find a Yangon accommodation that fits their needs. Rooms in shared hostels start at less than $5 a night and sleeping off your jetlag in The Strand will cost you more than $200. In order to narrow down your options, it’s best to narrow down a price range and then decide where you want to be. Chose an Area There are so many different neighborhoods with their own charm. Depending on what your goals are while you are visiting Yangon, you may choose one of these three areas as a home base for your stay. Downtown The downtown area is the farthest from the airport but has the most going on. If you stay downtown, it’s likely you will walk out of your hotel and have various options available for food, shopping, and transportation. The only negatives are the noise and the traffic! But if you can look past those small setbacks, look for a place near Sule Pagoda, or Chinatown. Downtown Yangon streets are very crowded with traffic, pedestrians, goods, and local food for sale. What’s downtown Yangon If you stay in this area you will be able to easily walk to some of the main attractions like Maha Bandula Park, Yangon City Hall, and Bogyoke Aung Sung Market. One of the most famous luxury hotels in this area is the Sule Shangri La. If you are looking for a mid-range accommodation, Sule-Sapphire Inn is just a few minutes walk with a fair price and hospitable staff. There are plenty of hostels nearby like Backpacker Bed and Breakfast, or 30th Corner Boutique Hostel. Dagon Dagon, in the west side of Yangon, is one of the most flourishing areas of the city since it boasts the biggest claim to fame, the 2.500-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda. Gloriously lit up at night, Shwedagon is covered in gold and accented with precious stones like diamonds. It is the main attraction in Myanmar and tourists are drawn to it because of its incredible beauty and spiritual charm. Nearby you can also visit People’s Park and Kandawgyi Lake to enjoy a bit of nature in the city. For an upscale accommodation, check out Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake and Kandawgyi Palace Hotel. In the more mid-level […]

Local people's daily life in Yangon

  Why Myanmar? Myanmar is not as popular as Thailand, Singapore or Malasia in southeast Asia, that is the very reason that lots of backpackers choose Myanmar as the destination. Yes, that’s the thinking pattern we backpackers have. Why you want to go traveling, probably because you get sick of all your normal daily organized life.  You want to explore something you have never seen and experienced the life you can’t imagine. And a traveler who has the spirit of adventure must desire to avoid crowding around with all the tour groups. Myanmar is one of the best choices for people like me who want to see something traditional, unique, pure and real. Let’s go to Yangon first First thing first, you need the visa to go to Myanmar. According to my experience as a Chinese, you have to fill the form when you apply for the visa and you have to write down which airport you plan to enter. The reason why I choose Yangon as my first stop is that the flight ticket is the cheapest. As a backpacker, the budget has priority, right? And Yangon is in the south of Myanmar, later you can head to north to explore more. Let’s begin with Yangon first. The best time to visit Myanmar is from November to March since it’s dry season and the temperature is not too high. Coincidentally, the first day I arrived in Yangon is on the first day of 2018, and what’s the first thing I do? Circular City Train!   Way to train station, please walk   If your hostel is in the city center of Yangon, you can just walk to the train station within half hour. Besides, on the way to the train station, you can pass by the Sule Pagoda which is a quite famous one and Vandoola Park which is surrounded by city hall, Yangon region court, and Immanuel Baptist Church etc. It’s the local people’s favorite place to do morning exercise and go for a walk with family and friends. Probably because it was New Years Day, all the local ladies wore the decent traditional dresses with flowers on the hair walking around, very elegant and pretty. Some young boys played the guitars on the square (I think they want to attract girls’ attention), children chased dogs and big black birds and everybody took pictures (including me, so I look less like a tourist.) Wandering around the park is quite cozy and peaceful. Everyone is chatting and laughing, that’s the meaning of New year and vacation. The way to the train station is very straightforward, people like me who even get lost when following the voice maps can find it easily. The construction style of the train station is really vintage. Unlike train station in some other cities which try to decorate like the ancient style but actually really fake and cheesy, the railway station here is very real and classic. How dare I say that? Evidence 1: the stairs to the overbridge is accompanied […]

Welcome to Yangon: The largest city in Myanmar

The first image that hits your mind hearing the city Yangon, is pagoda, in fact, lots of pagodas. Yangon formally known as Rangoon marks the largest city of Myanmar. The city that used to serve as the capital of Myanmar is now the country's largest metropolis also its main commercial capital. Not only that, but the city hosts the largest number of British colonial buildings in Asia. However, they are poorly maintained yet they still reflect the colorful history and Culture of the city while providing a vibrant backdrop of Yangon's streets. On one side, Buddhist monks mingle around the crowded streets, grabbing attention during their morning alms walks. On another side, the pagodas stand as an immense, almost at every corner of those vibrant streets, feature a glimpse of the golden Shwedagon pagoda. I have arrived in Yangon indenting for a 3 days trip, to be honest, it was one of my travels that I haven't really planned much for. Yet, it was so easy and smooth to transport around and grab a taxi from the airport to the city center where my hostel was located. Day 1: The arrival day As I did want to make full use of my 3 days I'm staying in Yangon, I started off on the first day with visiting the main attractions as everybody was recommending, even my hostel's receptionist. Around 10 AM, I left my hostel and marched out for my pagodas tour, blasting off the nearest walking distance Pagoda, Sule Pagoda. Sule Pagoda It is said the pagoda is about 2,500 years old and streaks around 48-meter-high with its twinkling golden dome. I stayed around there for about an hour, I couldn’t get my eyes off from dazzling at the magnificence of that shining golden dome. PS. You are required to follow a specific dress code and also take off your shoes and socks when entering any of the pagodas. I happened to be wearing stockings, where it was a bit of trouble every time to access those temples. Travel Tips: Admission fee: 3$ Open hours: 4 am – 10 pm daily Rangoon Tea House I headed out later to Rangoon Tea House to grab my lunch. Where I also tried one of the most delicious and mouthwatering tea I have ever witnessed in my life. On a side note, speaking frankly, their chicken prata wrap is also a must try. Shwedagon pagoda I intentionally went there around 4-5 pm for the sake of catching the views and vibes of Shwedagon Pagoda during daylight and later catch some of the burnt orange golden stupa flames in the setting sun. There were four main entrances located around the cardinal directions, yet all of them lead to the main terrace. At the center, sits Shwedagon Paya on a square plinth. 12 planetary posts stay around the stupa’s base; locals pray at the post that resembles the day they were born. The fortune tellers are laid around in case you want to join the prayers […]

The Hidden Haven of Yangon, Myanmar: Kaba Aye

Kaba Aye at a Glance Kaba Aye or “World Peace” in English, is somewhere in Yangon with every feature of attraction you’d expect to find in a Myanmar township, but still keeping the magic balance of possessing those and not being overrun by tourists. The place is simply in three words “pleasant, prosperous and unique” and which I proudly call home.             Places to be and things to do in Kaba Aye Neighbourhood! For jewelry lovers VES VES gems in Kaba Aye can be reached right across my street and it’s arguably the biggest place for anything jewelry in Myanmar! The large building has 3 floors, with the first 2 occupied by around 80 shops and the 3rd is a museum where you can learn anything about gemstones if it’s in your interests. All of these can be accessed by a $5 entrance fee which may sound pricey but surely worth at a cut-rate, considering how premium the experience is the quality of the gems sold. Jewelry addicts or learners, you have to come here! For beauty salon hunters Evergreen Salon Amongst so many beauty salons and services available in Kaba Aye, Evergreen boasts qualities such as being the friendliest and cheap-at-twice-the-price but of professional quality. Friendly to all and to regular customers like me from the neighborhood, they’re like family. My sister and I get our hair and makeup done there quite often and they’d charge us less than $4 for hair washing plus styling! We truly enjoy how personal our experience can get and the family-like feeling around the salon we can’t get anywhere else. There’s just something about them, maybe the generosity of the salon owner Missus who is like a sister to us, or just the services which make every customer come back to the salon after their first visit! And they always come back! Heart’s Ease Spa Heart's Ease at night Heart’s Ease is the spa right next to my place which newly moved from Sanchaung Township and already built up its massive reputation before it moved to my hood. It’s most popular for its mani-pedi and body spa services but in my opinion, has just as impressive hair services also. I dyed my black hair to white just recently and while most salons would take six hours and more to get black hair paint white, they took three hours to do that on my hair with results that lassst! The salon is on the high-end side with a lot of class and comfort customers will delight in. You can get services from hair color retouching to armpits waxing there! For religious explorers Kaba Aye Pagoda Just a fifteen minutes’ walk from my house will take me to this go-to place for Buddha worship in the Kaba Aye neighborhood. The affiliation is Theravada Buddhism but it attracts people of all religions, Buddhists, Christians and Jews alike. If you are a foreigner, you do need to pay a […]

3-day Trip to Yangon, Myanmar

Yangon-A Hidden Gem Myanmar, a place where pagodas are at birds-eye view. Yangon, in particular, showed a contrast where the old coincides with the new – where tradition and culture can still live amongst the gradual development as the capital city of the country. My family and I had the opportunity to visit Yangon (formerly known as Rangoon) for 3 days, and we were pleasantly surprised by the city has to offer even for such a short period of time. To think that Myanmar has always been overshadowed by other more popular Southeast Asian countries, this will be a great time for you to explore this hidden gem. And I can be quite certain that there is no need for taking many days off your work schedule, because 3 days around the city is all you need.   Accommodation and Transportation Yangon city isn't that big, so it will be easier to look up any cheap and affordable budget hotels around. we managed to find a good deal of a budget hotel in Bo Aung Kyaw Street, which is very close to most of the tourist destinations such as the Sule Pagoda. Our strategy was to spend a little on accommodation and save the rest for the other activities and souvenirs. AirAsia Go has many great packages of flight and hotels which offers very reasonable deals so that we make sure we do not overspend on flight and accommodation. As for transportation, the taxi is available at all the tourist attractions. There are also cab booking services if you wish to book and tour around for a few days in the city. The prices charged are also not too high, but make sure to ask the price before entering the cab. Public transportation such as bus would be a little difficult to travel around and it may take a longer time to arrive at your destination.   Day 1 – Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, Bogyoke Market and Shwedagon Pagoda Kyauktawgyi Pagoda We had a taxi driver contact upon arrival. He basically planned our itinerary and maximised out time here in Yangon for the next three days. We were first brought to a nearby pagoda to look at the scenic view and structure of one of the many pagodas in Myanmar. Note: All shoes and socks must be taken off while entering the pagoda premises. Men and women are also not allowed to wear shorts and tank top inside. This is a sign of respect and practice. Kyauktawgyi pagoda isn't one of the famous ones but their interior and ancient structure is also something to boast about. We could feel the heat from the ground as it was around 11 in the morning. That was when we knew why there were so few people visiting the pagoda at such an hour. We decided to have a quick lunch and rested in the hotel. Bogyoke Market Later that evening, we were brought to the famous tourist market called Bogyoke Market. This market is well-known among the […]


MYANMAR DURING THE WATER FESTIVAL AND BUDDHIST NEW YEAR April 2016: “Some groups of people are just, inherently, cool! The Burmese men are such people. I never would have imagined that men could look so masculine in what we would call skirts (Longyi’s)… and many of them are very handsome to boot! The red, betel-nut stained teeth that some now possess detracts from this unfortunately… but many a foreign girl can be seen longingly staring after a Longyi-clad Burmese man in the streets of Myanmar! Streets that I have been prancing down in delight all morning. The preparing of betel-nut Yesterday was the last day of Thingyan (the water festival, held for a week over Buddhist New Year), and I cannot explain the joy I felt from being able to walk around Nyaung Shwe, Inle Lake, today without jumping every time I heard a person talk, or the sound of running water anywhere! We all became such twitchy weirdo’s over the past few days, doing swift direction changes whenever we saw people in the road ahead of us with buckets and hoses. We were fully aware of what snobby, spoilt travellers we sounded like whenever we moaned about not wanting to get wet anymore… but trust me, it’s really difficult to not get tired of it and to, after a few days of not being able to take even a few steps without having a bucket of water upended over you, just want to be dry for a few minutes! One of the lovely ladies travelling with me fears she may have muddied her karma a little yesterday when she hid behind a monk to avoid getting water-blasted, since monks, babies/toddlers, pregnant woman and the elderly are the only ones spared from the drenchings!” MANDALAY – THE BIGGEST THINGYAN CELEBRATION The night before we left Mandalay for Inle, we splashed out and bought a $5 day pass to the pool at Ayerwaddy River View Hotel to hide out from the madness in the streets for a while. Yes, I see the irony in hiding out from getting water thrown at you, for free, by paying to soak in a pool all day! But donning a bikini and taking leisurely swims in the pool in-between cocktails is very different from having whole troops of people running after you in the streets in order to upend buckets of water over a fully-clothed-from-head-to-toe you (since “respectable” dress here is a lot more conservative than back home, and includes covering the shoulders and upper arms). No matter if you’re cycling, on foot, in a car or on a scooter, the hoses and buckets of water get turned on you all the same. It’s hard for me to fathom how anyone can stay on their scooter or bicycle when a hose (and often not a normal hose, but a fire hose!) gets blasted at you, or a 20L bucket full of water gets thrown in your face!

Myanmar; The Unknown Entity

Although Myanmar has had open boarders for foreign tourists for a number of years, there is little on the internet that is clear an d complete to help you plan your trip around one of the least well trodden South East Asian countries. After the comfort of 4 months on the backpacker trail from Thailand through Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia back to Thailand, the prospect of exploring Myanmar solo was incredibly daunting and I spent hours trawling through blog posts trying to get an idea of what to expect. So here I have compiled the ins and outs o f my journey in hope that it will lend some courage to any other travellers in my position.   The Visa   Myanmar doesn’t offer visa on arrival, but visas can be sorted very swiftly. An online visa is available for around 50$ (US) if you plan to fly in the country via Yangon, Mandalay or Nay Pyi Taw airport and, as of September ‘16, for the land boarders Tachileik, Myawaddy or Kawthaung. They weren’t an option for land crossings when I made my trip in early August ’16 and as I intended on making the journey by bus, I opted to visit the embassy in Bangkok.   I took a meter taxi from Khao San at 7AM (150B) which got me to the embassy a little before 8AM, surprisingly quick in Bangkok’s early morning traffic. I sat patiently in the queue until the doors opened at 9AM and was glad I’d made it so early as the queue was fairly substantial by this point and I was close to the front. I had with me my filled in application form which I had printed from the internet, two visa sized photos, my passport, a photocopy of it and exact cash, but there is a van which waits just up the street from which you can buy application forms (5B) and have your photo taken and passport copied if you’ve forgotten anything. We filtered in and each took a ticket number, as number 6 I was in an out in around half an hour. Applications are accepted between 9am and 12pm Monday to Friday. A lady sitting behind a filthy, barred window took my form and passport, enquired which route of entry I would be making and in how many days I would like to collect my visa. I opted for next day, handing over 1,340B (you can pay slightly less for 2 day collection, and more for same day) and my passport and receiving a receipt in return – do not lose this! I had heard you needed a good excuse for the same day visa but a girl in the queue before me was granted it just by asking politely. I took the bus number 15 back to Khao San for 14B, a lot cheaper than the taxi but the journey took at least an hour.   Visa pick up is from 3.30pm to 4.30pm, again I predicted a queue […]

Myanmar: Preparing For Your Trip

Myanmar is a mysterious place. The country has been free of its military junta for five years now and tourism is just beginning to shift into a profitable and exciting new facet of the economy. Having recently opened its doors to foreigners after a long struggle in political power, there are many wonders waiting for the travelers wandering eye. But first, one must prepare. 1. Apply for your visa This should be your first step, after planning your traveling timeframe of course. Surprisingly, the visa application process for Myanmar is rather easy. All you have to do is visit the Myanmar eVisa website. There you will find the simple form to fill out, pay your 50 USD application fee, and wait for the embassies reply! They will reply with your online, printable visa within a matter of hours. [caption id="attachment_31397" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Myanmar evisa application page

Remember: Your tourist visa is only valid for up to 28 days in country, whereas a business visa is valid for up to 70 days. Also, once you are approved for your visa, that visa expires in 90 days from the time it is approved. When I applied for my tourist visa I wasn't exactly paying much attention to the dates in which the visa expired, so I had to rearrange my travel plans to go before my time was up! 2. Buy your flight tickets It is said, by some mystical travel agent guru that the best time to buy a flight ticket is 6 weeks prior to the flight, on a Tuesday afternoon. Now, I don't know how accurate this is, but it sure is worth a try. Depending on where you are flying from, there are many wonderful Asian airlines that offer promotions, pretty regularly. I have the best luck with AirAsia. A roundtrip flight from the Bangkok Don Mueang Airport to Yangon Airport only cost me 70 USD. Which, I gotta say- on a Thai Baht budget is quite a hefty sum, but in USD it's really not that bad! This is just one example of the low, low prices. (in Thai Baht 1 USD = 35 Baht) 3. Get that Myanmar money The country of Myanmar uses the Burmese Kyat (MMK). 1.00 USD = 1,219.44 MMK   Now, it's gonna feel like your a high roller when you exchange your dollars for Kyat and end up with thousands upon thousands of those Burmese bills. You usually get the best rates of exchange in the airport, but there are ATMs scattered across Yangon city (they accept Visa and Mastercard usually) and throughout its big tourist attractions.  Just remember that although you have thousands of bills, that Kyat money won't go as far as you may think. A short trip in a trishaw can cost one thousand Kyat alone. So, just be weary about your budget and you'll be golden. 4. Your Stay in Yangon As you can imagine, a rare gem attracts great numbers. Yangon and the country of Myanmar is a rare—rarely seen gem. […]

Myanmar: a hidden gem in South East Asia

Yangon Where you meet one tourist every hour Upon arriving in Myanmar it was clear that this wasn't a country like any other  in South East Asia. Where as in Thailand it's sometimes impossible to find an authentic Thai restaurant, in Myanmar it will seem impossible to even find a restaurant. Coming out of the airport our first mission was to find a taxi to take us to the center. That's where we met our good friend, mister Sai. If you're staying in Yangon for a few days, I can only recommend finding a good driver and hold on to him throughout your stay here. A good way to explore the city and it's surroundings is to take the Yangon circle line train. But do keep in mind to not take this train if you are in a hurry, you can never rely on the scheduled time. Outside of the station we found people lining up. Must be something worth visiting! As we came closer, people all around us were smiling and laughing out loud. Reason for all this laughter was the opening of the very first ''Kentucky fried chicken'' restaurant in the country. And as if it was on purpose, they placed it right next to a pagoda. The very first KFC in Myanmar   Another great thing to visit while in Yangon is ofcourse the Golden Rock Pagoda, and that's where your driver will come in handy! Leave on time as it will be a 4 hour drive to one of Myanmar's most famous pagodas. However, the way to get there is as exciting as the rock itself, if not even more! People are placed in load trucks of what seems like an army jeep. Where there is room for 6 people on a bench, the Burmese will squeeze in 8. Make sure to wear your rain jacket and while going up, close your eyes for a few seconds and you will feel like being on one of those breathtaking, mind dazzling attractions in your favorite theme park. Do not worry, as you can read on the sign at the entrance, you have a life insurance included in the price of your ticket. Golden Rock Pagoda Before saying goodbye to your driver make sure to visit the Nagar Glass Factory. Located just outside the center of Yangon, but destroyed by a cyclone in 2008, this place is a must see for everyone visiting the city. While the factory was completely destroyed, the business is still up and running. Find your way through broken glass and dense forest, collecting unique pieces of Burmese glasware. Long sleeves and a mosquito spray will be your best friend during this visit. After collecting your favorite pieces, hand them over to one of the owners of the factory. They will make them as new, ready to use. One of our most memorable souvenirs from this beautiful country. Nagar Glass Factory   […]

For the love of Yangon

Around noon I arrive at the airport of Yangon. I haven’t showered and I smell of beer and smoke. A heavy headache makes it impossible to think clear. Khao San Road leftovers. It takes a while before I am finally able to withdraw money from the ATM. Every five minutes there is a power outage of max. half a minute, which causes a bit of panic amongst the travelers. Generators take care of the luggage scan and other facilities for national security, but obviously the ATM is not a part of that. I have no clue how much money I can withdraw from the ATM, so randomly I choose 30.000 kyat. That’s about 23$, by far not the maximum amount. So far my good preparations. I must have looked as a down-and-out, but luckily an older British couple took it as their good deed to ask me if I want a ride with them. I take the offer, but immediately when I’m in the cab I regret my decision. I can smell myself and with me, everyone in the cab probably. They pretend like they don’t though,  and ask me a lot of polite questions. I try my best to be kind while all I actually want to do is sleep. My hangover doesn’t really work for chitchat. My dorm is comfortless. That is not a surprise, but as newbie with a hangover it’s not very reassuring. Finally it’s time for my shower, which luckily is hot. Afterwards I force myself to go outside, but five minutes later I’m back in my room, panicking. The staring eyes, which slowly took in my blond hair and bare shoulders, and the voices calling me are still fresh in my memory. I take some time to calm myself down and then I put on a shirt that covers my shoulders. An empty feeling in my stomach lures me outside again, where I stroll for an hour to find food. I buy some small deep fried snacks, not nearly enough to satisfy my hunger. The lack of tourists makes me afraid of food poisoning and I don’t buy anything else. After this failed mission I crawl in my bed, crying. I am planning to cry myself to sleep, but my French roomies make sure I can’t by entering noisily. Without knowing, one of them gives me hope for the rest of my days. Eventually I fall asleep with red eyes, convinced that tomorrow will be better. Mossy building The charms of Yangon Cliché but true: the next day I fall in love with Yangon. I spoke to people who didn’t like Yangon. Luckily I could also share my love for this city with a lot of people. I spend hours rambling through the streets of Chinatown. Unmaintained buildings, with moss on the walls and blue satellites: for me it actually makes the smaller streets more beautiful. Everywhere on the street you can buy food, there are big pans with hot […]
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