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.

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.

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.

Yangon Yangon

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Moon Vegetarian Restaurant

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

Anand Temple
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.

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

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

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..

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.

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.

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.

Nice place to buy souvenirs
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.

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

Face impression looks different from the angles
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.