Maldives – Day3 [06.02.2017]

We woke up early again to see sunrise. Even I saw it every day, it was beautiful and I would never be bored of the view.

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Today’s sunrise

We went out for breakfast and the restaurant staff prepared a table for us as it was our last day in the resort.

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Farewell message on breakfast table

However, we decided not to sit on that table since we wanted to sit where we can see outside view well although we felt bad for the staff. The breakfast was awesome.

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Today’s breakfast and view

We could rent sea kayak for an hour for free of charge, so we rented and tried to land at Moyo Island. This is an uninhabited island located between Veli and Dhigu Island. I really liked this island has wild natures and not developed. This is one of the best spot to take photo in this resort. Thus, I regretted I couldn’t bring any camera or mobile since there was a risk we fall into the water when kayaking.

We spent our time in the afternoon on the beach or on our balcony. Although we were in the resort, we were always active to do something.

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Lovely beach
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Overwater bungalow

Afterwards, I found the way to be landing on Mayo Island with camera. The staff told me I can take boat which is usually going to Dhigu Island and ask to drop us off on the island. I brought my sister with me that I needed a photographer to take photo of me though she preferred to stay on the beach. We took nice photos and went back to the beach on Veli Island.

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Moyo Island

My sister went for yoga session as usual and I decided to try yoga on the board instead. It was first time for me to do it even for paddle surfing. I’ve been doing yoga for many years but it was difficult to keep balance on the board and I fell into the water. Though it was fun, I don’t think I will do yoga on the board again as I felt like getting seasick on the board. It was USD 60 for 1 hour session.

Since we already checked out though we could use out room till 4pm, my sister and I went to spa on Veli Island to take shower before we leave. The spa was different from the one on Dhigu Island which is ocean front and located in the middle of Veli Island that the atmosphere was also good.

After we’d done our refreshments, we would have dinner at hotel. However, we didn’t have time to eat. The boat came to pick us up at 8pm and we left beautiful island for airport. It took around 40 minutes to reach.

At the airport, we quickly had dinner at food court before we checked in. I had Thai soup with noddle that was Maldives price. There were shops selling souvenirs at departure area. In Maldives, the places we can buy souvenirs were very limited that it could be either shop at hotel or at the airport. So, you can do shopping in last minutes at the airport as the price was not much different.

We flew back to Dubai with Emirates Airline and took off at 10.55pm. We slept most of time on the board and arrived at 2 am, so that actual duration was about 4 hours. My sister transferred to another flight to Japan and I reached home in Dubai at 3am.

I really loved my trip to beautiful island, Maldives and wished to stay longer. I have been to several beach resorts such as Hawaii, Guam, etc. but Maldives was the “resort”. We only stayed on the island, so basically nothing else to do except doing some activities. Therefore, it was the best place to forget busy life in the city and focus on only beautiful natures.

Anantara Veli Maldives Resort where we stayed was awesome. Especially Anantara Veli was for adults and it was very quiet. The room was clean with amazing view, friendly staff and Wi-Fi was available anywhere in the resort. We had a concern before we visited that we may run out of drinking water in the room but they provided us plenty of water when room cleaning twice a day, so there was nothing to worry about. Thus, they have many activities for both chargeable and free of charge so that you will not be bored in the resort even if you would stay for a long time.

I guess there are so many resorts, from reasonable to super expensive, in Maldives and you could be able to choose your resort depending on your budget. I would recommend this resort, Atantara for couple, group of friends and (maybe Anantara Dhigu for) family since the price was affordable and I really enjoyed. I wish to come back to again in near future.

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I love Maldives

Maldives – Day2 [05.02.2017]

I woke up early at 6am to see sunrise that we could see from our bungalow.

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Sunrise

After that, I went back to sleep again till breakfast.

We slept in a bit and then we went to breakfast at main restaurant around 9.30am. The breakfast was very good that they had many variety of food such as Western, Middle Eastern, Asian.

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Breakfast

The venue of breakfast was very nice that it was opened air which we could hear the sound of waves and see green palm trees.

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View from the restaurant

There is another Anantara resort called Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort which is quite closed to Anantara Veli, and all guests at Anantara had free access to another island. We could take a boat anytime without additional cost and it was only few minutes ride.

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Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort
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Anantara Veli Maldives Resort

My sister found there is a complementary 15-minute massage at spa on Dhigu Island, so we both tried.

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Anantara Spa

I liked the massage and I decided to extend by taking 1 hour reflexology. As it was in Maldives, even spa was a bit pricy that 1 hour reflexology costed USD 110, but it was worth to pay. While I’m having a massage, my sister was waiting for me in the pool at spa.

After spa, we explored Dhigu Island. Dhigu Island was more family friendly place as there was playground for kids. I found later that kids are not allowed to stay at Veli Island where we stayed. That’s why it was very quiet.

Before I went to Maldives, I expected there are many couples on honeymoon. Of course there are some of them but the resort was opened for everybody and people are more likely family and group of friends.

Then, we joined free yoga session at 4pm again. Yoga was held at open-air place and in front of sea. It was very nice feeling that I could only hear the sound of waves and wind when I was doing yoga.

After yoga, my sister went for spa to try reflexology which I had earlier. I was waiting for her in the pool at spa. It was time for sunset and the pool was a great location to see it.

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Beautiful sunset

We went back to our bungalow to take rest. At night, they had a movie in the sky from 9pm. The movie was West Side Story on that day. The musical based movie made us sleepy and we fell asleep in the sky instead. When the movie had started, many people were there, but nobody else was left when we finished it.

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Movie in the sky

 

 

Maldives – Day1 [04.02.2017]

Maldives, resort island… I had wished to visit there but I was thinking of going there “one day” and it didn’t have to be this timing. However, my sister wanted to visit when she came to Dubai to visit me. So, I accepted to company her with her sponsorship.

There are many options to take flights to Maldives from Dubai such as Emirates, Flydubai, Etihad, Qatar, etc. but I booked my flight at Emirates straight away since my sister flew with Emirates from Japan. The airfare was AED 3,740 although I booked in November. I realised that the fare would be cheaper like AED 2,470 if I stay in Maldives for 3 nights. But in case of 2 nights stay, at least AED 1,000 is higher even though I tried to search other schedule.

We were supposed to take off at 2.45am but the flight was delay and 3.30am. It was night flight, so we kept sleeping and woke up when just landed at Male. We arrived at Male at 8.20am. The flight duration was about 4 hours and there is one hour time difference between UAE and Maldives. We passed though immigration and headed to the exit. The staff from our hotel was waiting for us and welcomed us. The staff took us to the lounge at arrival hall to wait for other guests. The lounge was comfortable inclusive free Wi-Fi and drinks.

We would stay at Anantara Veli Maldives Resort for 2 nights. My sister booked overwater bungalow via Agoda.com and the rate was approximately JPY 160,000 (AED 5,300) including breakfast.

In Maldives, each island has one resort. So people usually access to the island by boat or plane. In case of Anantara, we reach the resort by boat and it costed USD 250 for return from the airport to resort which is excluded in room rate.

Once other guests arrived, we moved to private boat of Anantara and left for the resort.

It was a speed boat and quite fast but it took around 35 minutes. Sometimes it was shaken, so it’s better to take a medicine if you easily get seasickness.

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On the way to the resort

When we were approaching to the resort, many staffs welcomed us on berth while playing the instrument. Even from the boat, we could tell the sea is beautiful but island looked nicer with greenery. It was around just passed 10am and we checked in and could go to our bungalow.

Once I entered the room, I really fell in love with Maldives. The bungalow was great and the view from the room was superb!!!!!

The beautiful sea was just below our bungalow and we could see coral and fish. We went into water directly from our bungalow sometimes and took rest on the balcony.

After a while, we went out to explore Veli Island.

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The weather was perfect since it was dry season and the best season in Maldives when we visited in February. It was hot in the sun and it was pleasant if stayed in the shade.

We enjoyed walking around island and there are many wild natures on island as I found crabs, hermit crab, etc.

There was free yoga session from 4pm in the resort. Thus, we joined and did yoga for 45 minutes. It’s rare for me to do an activity on holiday, so I didn’t bring any yoga wear which I regretted. The class was pretty good although it was free.

After yoga, we went to infinity pool to see sunset. The sunset reflected on the surface of pool which was pretty.

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Beautiful sunset

At night, we went to Thai restaurant, Baan Huraa for dinner.

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Dinner

The taste was good but it was a bit pricy. We ordered 2 drinks, 1 salad and 2 mains, and then the bill was around USD 120.

 

Sri Lanka & Myanmar – Day8 [2.12.2016]

Last day in Myanmar and the end of my holiday… I would leave here in the morning, so I just stayed at hotel and enjoyed beautiful morning by having breakfast, waking around.

I really liked the resort I stayed. It could be pricy in comparison with other hotels in Bagan but it worth to pay and I highly recommend. They have nice surroundings of nature and facility and good hospitality of Japanese standard.

I left hotel at 10:30 and went to Bagan airport by car. It was about 20 minutes’ drive from the hotel to the airport. I flew with Air KBZ, took off Bagan at 11:40 and arrived at Yangon 13:00. The fare was USD 84.

Driver picked me up at the airport and took me to Sakura Residence. I would not stay again but I stopped by to ask them to keep my baggage till evening.

Then, I went to Bogyoke Aung San Market again as I didn’t have enough time to walk around on day 1. I took a taxi from the residence to market and paid MMK 4,000 (USD 3). I walked around the market and bought some souvenirs for myself. The market closes quite early at 4 pm, so it’s better to come early ensuring enough time for shopping.

After shopping, I was hungry at that time as I didn’t have proper lunch. So, I went to local restaurant, 999 Shan Noodle Shop which I also found in TripAdvisor to have very late lunch. It was time for afternoon tea, but many people such as locals, expats and tourist like me continually visited there. Although they have huge variety of food, I ordered Shan noodle, fried tofu and lime juice.

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Lunch @ 999 Shan Noodle Shop
These foods were tasty and very cheap that I paid approx. MMK 5,000 (USD 3.70) if I remember correctly.

Then I kept walking around the city and I saw Sule Pagoda, Immanuel Yuzana Baptist Church, Maha Bandula Park. Most of the places were in walking distance.

I didn’t feel any danger in Myanmar even I’m walking alone, of course it’s better to pay attention to your belongings and surroundings all the time.

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Beautiful sunset in Yangon
I usually go to supermarket to buy local food in any places. I tried to find the one in Yangon but I couldn’t find, so I went to convenience store and bought some snacks. After that, I went to Sule Square to go to restroom and found the supermarket called Marketplace in basement floor. Though this is the supermarket like expats go for grocery shopping, they have delegated section for local sweets and snacks. It’s clean and easy to buy for tourist, also the price is reasonable. If you like to go to local supermarket to buy local food, I recommend visiting this place at the end. Also I notice in Myanmar that the shopping bags are almost same as small and very thin regardless the size of store. It’s better to have shopping bag if you would carry a lot of things.

After grocery shopping, I went to Sakura Bistro which is in Sakura tower, the tallest building in Myanmar to have dinner. The place is a bit fancy in Myanmar and they have Burmese, Western and Japanese food. I only had salad and drinks as I was still full because of very late lunch.

Then I went up to roof top bar, Yangon Yangon. The admission was MMK 10,000 (USD 7) including 1 drink. The place was very good and I didn’t feel like I was in Yangon. There were nice atmosphere with music and city view of 360 degree.

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Yangon Yangon

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Tasty cocktail

Drive picked me up at 10 pm and headed to the airport. The airport is brand new and there are enough shops to buy souvenirs in last minutes though the price much more than in local market.

I took off Yangon at 1:50 and landed at Dubai, 5 am. The duration was approximately 6 hours. I noticed my flight was from Hanoi to Dubai via Yangon, then everything became clear to me that many people were already sleeping in their seat even I had priority boarding.

Thus, 8 days of my holiday was ended. Myanmar is getting more popular as a tourist destination and I noticed that many Western people, especially from France, visit Myanmar. When I went there in November/ December, it was the best season in Myanmar since it was dry season and no rain. The highest temperature was around 30 degree Celsius and the lowest was around 20, so the weather was perfect.

Myanmar is very interesting country and I felt dynamism of the country that the market is rapidly growing in recent years. On the other hand, beside big city, Yangon, there are not yet developed at all like in Bagan. It will be developed and changed gradually. However, I wish to visit and see the same view of Bagan remained from 11th century

Sri Lanka & Myanmar – Day7 [1.12.2016]

I woke up very early in the morning and left hotel for Shwesandaw Pagoda at 5:30 am to see sunrise. I rented a bicycle from my hotel and rode it along the street in the dark. It costs USD 5 for 4 hours but luckily I could rent it for free of charge whole day.

Bagan is not developed at all and it’s like a village. There are some lights on the street but these are not enough and still it was very dark. I thought I was heading to right direction, after 15 minutes I realised I’m not right. Then I rode a bike as fast as I could before 6 am to be in time for sunrise and finally I reached Shwesandaw Pagoda.

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View from Shwesandaw Pagoda before sunrise
There are already many people waiting for sunrise and I tried to find a spot to take nice pictures. So I climbed pagoda a bit to avoid people in my photo. The combination of all pagoda, sunrise and hot-air balloon made the view fantastic.

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This is Bagan
Actually I was interested in hot-air balloon but my friend advised me that it cost USD 400 per person though it used to be USD 100 4 years ago. I would pay up to USD 200, but USD 400 is too much and I didn’t try. But the view form the top of pagoda was beautiful enough.

I went back to hotel around 7 am and had breakfast. After I had a short break, I went out again to explore with bicycle around 11 am.

There are a lot of pagodas in Bagan regardless these are small, big, and famous and all were built in 11th century. I visited small pagodas near hotel, then Thatbyinnyu temple.

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Thatbyinnyu temple
I had lunch at The Moon Vegetarian Restaurant. I found this restaurant in TripAdvisor has good reviews, so I decided to try. The place was full of tourists and the food was very good.

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The Moon Vegetarian Restaurant

After lunch, I rode bicycle for 15 minutes to go to Htilominlo temple.

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Htilominlo temple
It was a big temple and there were small souvenir shops around the temple. I bought some for my family. Now I know their price was very reasonable since I found exactly same things at the airport and the price was more than double.

In Bagan, most of the roads are not paved with concrete except main road, so my bicycle was like mountain bike. Many tourists rented motor bike but I was scared to try, then I just rented manual bicycle. Although I felt it’s very dusty when I was discovering the village, it’s nice to experience the completely different lifestyle.

I visited Sulamani temple then went back to Hotel to see sunset.

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Sulamani temple

I saw sunset while drinking a glass of wine… The sky reflected on the surface of river and the contrast was very beautiful.

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Sunset view from the hotel

Sri Lanka & Myanmar – Day6 [30.11.2016]

2nd day in Myanmar and going to Bagan. I had breakfast at the restaurant in the hotel. There are some options and I chose shan noodle, which tasted good.

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Breakfast – shan noodle
I left hotel at 9 am and went to the airport. Although it took more than half an hour from the airport to the hotel yesterday, it only took 15 minutes to go to the airport from the hotel without traffic.

The domestic airport was very small. When I checked in, the staff wrote my seat number on my boarding pass and other guy came and collected my luggage manually. My flight operated by Air KBZ which I had never heard before, and I took off at 10 am. The fare was USD 96. I didn’t expect anything for their service on board, but they served a meal which was good.

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Small meal on the board
I reached at Bagan at 11:20 am. There was more surprises for me that the airport is more manual like staffs discharge luggages by themself from the plane and deliver directly to the passenger who is waiting at the terminal.

After I got mine, I went out to arrival area and I paid USD 25 for Bagan archaeological entrance fee. This is mandatory and sometimes you will be asked to show this card. Driver picked me up at the airport and drove about 20 minutes to the hotel.

Once I reached hotel around 12 noon, I was so amazed at the hotel and surroundings.

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I was in love with this view
I stayed 2 nights at Bagan Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort… booked through my friend and the rate was USD 200 per night including breakfast. I chose Delux river view room but my friend kindly upgraded to river view suites.

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My room
My room is on the 1st floor in the lodge and the view was awesome.

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My lodge
The river is in the front and the lodge was surrounded by beautiful and well maintained greenery.

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Beautiful view from the terrace
I arranged sightseeing tour with Japanese speaking guide in horse cart at the hotel and left at 2 pm. The fee for 3 hours was USD 60 in total, USD 30 for horse cart and 30 for a guide.

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At the beginning of the tour
First, I went to Shwesandaw Pagoda. This is a big pagoda and one of which we can go up.

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Shwesandaw Pagoda
When I saw the thousands of pagodas from the top, I felt this is the view I wanted to see and I’m glad to be here.

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Thousands of pagoda
I was afraid of damages on pagoda due to earthquake in August 2016, there were damages but not much as I expected.

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On the way to Dhammayangyi Temple
Next, I visited Dhammayangyi Temple. I went to inside and walked around.

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Unique statues that Buddha sit next each other
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This guy was selling his painting in the temple
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One of the gate in the temple
This temple was not completed since the king was assassinated before the completion.

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Dhammayangyi Temple
Then, I went to Anand Temple that was built in 11th century.

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Anand Temple
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Even small spots have Buddha
Not only this temple but also many pagoda in Bagan were built in 10-13th century. I passed through old gate in Bagan which is only exsinitng.

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Old gate
I stopped by Mahabodhi Temple, Indian style temple and then Bu Phayar which is by the river.

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Mahabodhi Temple
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Bu Phayar
On the way back to hotel, I quickly visited Gawdawpalin Temple.

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Gawdawpalin Temple
I came back to hotel at 5 pm.­­ I was pretty much satisfied with this tour that the guide has plenty knowledge of Bagan and I could try house cart ride.

I was expecting to see sunset, but it was concealed by clouds in last minutes..

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Sunset time
I had dinner while drinking cocktails at the hotel. They had Asian and Western food and I tried salad, original curry and drinks like pina corada. All the food and drink tasted very good.

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Dinner
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Night view
I went back to my room after dinner and slept early to wake up early next day…

Sri Lanka & Myanmar – Day5 [29.11.2016]

I departed from Colombo at 1:30 am and took a flight to Bangkok operate by Thai Airways. I landed at Bangkok at 6:25 am. The flight duration was about 3.5 hours. I had 1.5 hours to transfer to next flight so that I was looking forward to do duty free shopping here. However, there was a very long que to pass through the security for transfer and I didn’t have enough time to see around the shops. Then, I took next flight to Yangon at 8 am and arrived at Yangon 8:45 am. There are 0.5 hour of time differences between Thailand and Myanmar, so actual duration was 1 hours 15 minutes.

I did a lot of researches to book this flight on this route. Options;

  1.  Colombo – Bangkok – Yangon by Thai Airways,
  2.  Colombo – Kuala Lunpur – Yangon by Air Asia,
    This flight was most reasonable but I wasn’t sure I can transit during 1.5 hours and had to think of luggage charges for 2 fights.
  3. Colombo – Bangkok by Sri Lankan Airline & Bangkok – Yangon by Thai Airways
    This was impossible to catch the flight to Yangon which I wanted to take

Then I decided to take option 1, Thai Airways and transferring at Bangkok. The fare was LKR 40,333 (AED 1,011)

Visa for Myanmar is necessary for Japanese. I applied it on online, paid USD 50 by credit card and got it after 4 days.

I have a friend who is familiar with Myanmar very much as her family does business there. She helped me a lot to arrange in this Myanmar trip.

She arranged a driver to pick me up at the airport and went to the hotel. The distance is not far from the airport to the hotel but it took more than half an hour and I reached there around 10:30 am. I stayed at Sakura Residence and booked through my friend. The rate was USD 100 including breakfast. This accommodation is a kind of apartment hotel or residence which many expats live here. There is ATM at lobby and I withdrew MMK 150,000 = AED 443.27 with my debit card (Citibank), plus I was charged MMK 6,000 = AED 18.37 for transfer commission.

After a short break, my guide came and picked me up at the hotel at 1 pm to go for sightseeing in Yangon. My friend arranged a half day tour with a guide and a driver for me via Sai Travel Service. They have Japanese speaking guide and I’m not sure about guide who speaks English. The price was USD 75.

First, we went to Bogyoke Aung San Market.

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Bogyoke Aung San Market
This is a great market to buy Burma’s souvenir. We spent one hour here and I bought some gifts for myself. I didn’t have enough time to shopping, so I decided to come back on 4th day when I came back to Yangon. They accept USD if you don’t have local currency.

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Nice place to buy souvenirs
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I bought a tray and a pod mat from this shop.
Next, we went to Shwedagon Pagoda. The admission fee was USD 8 and we are not allowed to wear sleeveless shirt or shorts. Also we need to remove shoes inside of pagoda so that I recommend wearing slipper or anything which is easy to remove and wash. This is a huge pagoda and everyone must visit. My guide explained and showed me around for one hour.

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Shwedagon Pagoda
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This is my place to pray as I was born on Tuesday.
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Praying is a part of their lifestyle
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Many temples in the huge area
Then we went to Chaukhtatgyi Pagota. There is a huge Buddha lay down.

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Face impression looks different from the angles
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Very big Buddha statue – 65.8m long and 17.7m high
This pagoda is near Shwedagon Pagoda like 5 minutes’ drive distance, but it took approximately 20 minutes due to heavy traffic that is a social problem in Yangon. I enjoyed looking around and taking photos for half an hour.

My guide and driver dropped me off at the hotel at 5 pm. It was nice to have someone  who explained the places very well. On the other hand, I’m a kindof person who likes to walk around by myself even I get lost sometimes because it becomes more memorable. I was satisfiesd with the tour, but to be honest, I felt something’s missing…

At the end of the day, I was so tired because I had a night flight and didn’t have proper sleep. I skipped dinner and stayed in my room.