TRAVEL / August 15, 2013

A MYSTICAL JOURNEY TO MYANMAR

Burma, now known as Myanmar, is a fascinating country, lodged geographically between Thailand, China and India and the unique blending of cultures and history as the gateway to true Asia on the old silk route, provides countless historical sites and tales.

The capital Yangon, is a major dump. Destroyed and neglected by the military regime of the last 50 years, the only reason to stay there is to connect to the magical desinations of Inle Lake, Ngapali Beach and the wonderful ancient capital of Bagan.

Myanmar is still under some lesser version of military rule so as a tourist you can only go to certain areas and a guide is advisable. It is a low cost holiday except for the fact that now its open to the west, hotels are in short supply and prices can be very high.

The food is diverse as its neighbors and utilizes a vast variety of delicious fresh produce.  You have to try the mouthstaining Betel leaf that the locals chew as a drug. The tourist (no tobacco) version wont intoxicate you.

YANGON: The Capital.

If you need to stay the night the Governors Residence is an oasis in the disaster that is Yangon. This old teak hotel is charming, elegant and colonial with superb service and 2 great restaurants serving fine cuisine and a curry buffet that is wonderful.

Governors Residence at night, Yangon, Myanmar

Governors Residence at night, Yangon, Myanmar

Burmese Curry Buffet: the most luxurious way to taste the intriguing spices, pastes, and ingredients of Burmese cuisine.

Burmese Curry Buffet: the most luxurious way to taste the intriguing spices, pastes, and ingredients of Burmese cuisine.

Salad Buffet with Green papaya salad, white mushroom salad, banana leaf salad with vegtables and peanuts: amazing variety and unique ingredients

Salad Buffet with Green papaya salad, white mushroom salad, banana leaf salad with vegtables and peanuts: amazing variety and unique ingredients

Dessert Buffet with Tapicoa, Black Rice Pudding, Fresh Fruits, Ice Cream: yummy variety, however most desserts are quite sweet and gelatinous.

Dessert Buffet with Tapicoa, Black Rice Pudding, Fresh Fruits, Ice Cream: yummy variety, however most desserts are quite sweet and gelatinous.

Street Food in Yangon.

Street Food in Yangon.

One of the saddest things about the trip to Burma is you will feel how deprived and poor the people of Myanmar are and how corrupt the regime has been and cruel to its citizens.

Staying at hotels that are not run by the government is recommended to bring money to the people who need it.

I have traveled in many asian countries and it is always very sad when small children beg or sell postcards. Hopefully with Burma’s doors opening to the West, some money will come to its people, but sadly, like Thailand not at the cost of its cultural integrity.

Children in an orphanage outside Yangon

Children in an orphanage outside Yangon

Rice Paddy outside Yangon

Rice Paddy outside Yangon

Collecting rubber from a rubber tree

Collecting rubber from a rubber tree

 

GOLDEN ROCK: 

A bumpy 5 hour drive north of Yangon is Golden Rock where you leave your car behind and take a truck up the mountain, then continue to walk another 40 minutes up a hill. We went over Christmas time which was also a big Buddhist holiday and there was possibly 10,000 people camping on the mountain in what was spiritual mayhem.

The golden rock lodged at the top of the mountain is much larger than you would imagine and with the smell of incense and sound of thousands praying , walking barefoot over the temples grounds it is a sensory overload. Locals also love taking pictures with “moviestars” (foreigners)  so be prepared.

The hotels up there are very modest however overlook the misty blue mountains.

During the walk up you will see all of humanity, from fresh fruits and vegetables to little children playing, to decapitated goats head and preserved snakes for potions.

The walk up to Golden Rock, Myanmar. A woman sells her coconuts

The walk up to Golden Rock, Myanmar. A woman sells her coconuts

Golden Rock Temple - 5 hour drive north of Yangon

Golden Rock Temple – 5 hour drive north of Yangon

INLE LAKE :

One of the most magical places I have been in my life would be Inle Lake.

Flying into Heho and a 45 minute drive to Inle Lake you pass the village of  Nyaung Shwe, Burma with a great local market and a monastery stuck in time.

The morning rides on the longtail boats to explore the river are so memorable. It is very cold and misty at night and early morning and burns off during the day.

The fishermen use a talented technique of rowing with their leg around the paddle which is stunning.

The lake and river are used in every capacity by the locals including growing farms on top of floating water hyacinth which acts as a bed to put soil on.

The local cuisine is fresh and has interesting ingredients such as gourds and white fungus. The cooking at even the most simple places is exquisite.

Inle lake is famous for silk weaving which is so meticulous and fine, it is unbelievable the patience which goes into a silk scarf. They also combine silk with lotus fibre for a hardier weave.

White Buddha in "Little Bagan" Inle Lake

White Buddha in “Little Bagan” Inle Lake

Boat rows past floating vegetable gardens in Inle Lake Burma

Boat rows past floating vegetable gardens in Inle Lake Burma

Colourful boats at a major temple in Inle Lake

Colourful boats at a major temple in Inle Lake

Inle Lake houses on stilts

Inle Lake houses on stilts on water

Dinner at Inle Lake with blankets to keep us warm.

Dinner at Inle Lake with blankets to keep us warm.

Inle Lake, traveled up the river to a secret village

Inle Lake, traveled up the river to a secret village

"Little Bagan" temples inle Lake area, overgrown with vegetation

“Little Bagan” temples inle Lake area, overgrown with vegetation

A meditating pilgrim in Inle Lake "Little Bagan"

A meditating pilgrim in Inle Lake “Little Bagan”

Monastery donation board - lets hope the tourism stops here

Monastery donation board – lets hope the tourism stops here

Monastery Monks studying in Nyaung Shwe

Monastery Monks studying in Nyaung Shwe

Monastery Monks studying in Nyaung Shwe

Monastery Monks studying in Nyaung Shwe

Wooden Monastery in Nyaung Shwe, Burma

Wooden Monastery in Nyaung Shwe, Burma

Hand weaving Silk fibres at Inle Lake

Hand weaving Silk fibres at Inle Lake

Hand weaving Silk fibres at Inle Lake

Hand weaving Silk fibres at Inle Lake

Tanaka is a beauty paste made from the bark of a tree which is natural suncreen and beauty

Tanaka is a beauty paste made from the bark of a tree which is natural suncreen and beauty enhancer. Yes please

Mother and Child wearing Tanaka is very common in Burma

Mother and Child wearing Tanaka is very common in Burma

Burmese Umbrella

Burmese Umbrella

NGAPALI BEACH

To end the vacation with a little beach time, Burma’s most famous beach is Ngapali beach which has nice hotels, in a somewhat undeveloped area of beach with huge palm trees, a fishing village nearby, and lots of drink specials and the dozen family run beach bars on the sand.

ngapali beach fishing boat

ngapali beach fishing boat

ngapali beach with palm trees

ngapali beach with palm trees

 

See my next post about the ancient capital of Bagan- so beautiful it deserves its own post!

http://www.teresatastes.com/bagan-hotel-river-view-myanmar/#.Ux-uXBaBDBw

The Govenors Residence in Yangon, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) used to be the colonial “door to asia” from the west. Burma sits between India, Thailand and China, so where else has such diverse culture and culinary influences! This luxurious entirely teak hotel is a haven in the capital of Myanmar. A MUST VISIT.
On Weekends they offer a Curry and Beer buffet for a reasonable price showcasing an amazing assortment of curries, “salads” including white fungus and banana shoots with peanuts and finish with gelatinous asian wonders for dessert.





COMMENTS
jay
Jun 13, 2014

Wow nice pics ,thanks for sharing 😉

sui
Dec 05, 2014

Thank you for visited my country and show us a picture of our land. Please visit Chin land when you go back again. The governor allows tourist to visit there now.



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