Monday, May 21, 2012

Myanmar / Thailand Trip Recap (1)

I just came back from a 20-day trip to Myanmar and Thailand.  It wasn't the usual "get-your-visa-and-go" kind of trip for me and I can't even begin on how many problems I had prior to the trip... at one point, I almost thought I wouldn't be able to go...  I am so glad I didn't give up and grateful I finally get the chance to revisit Myanmar.  (The last time I was there I was ~7 years old!)

My bro and I at Kandawgyi Lake

Myanmar is definitely still one of the countries less travelled... maybe 3 to 5 years from now, it will become another Thailand... Currently, other than Lonely Planet, I am not sure if there is any other useful travel guide out there so just like my Perth trip, I will share my story here in hopes it will help some of you who's planning a trip out there :)

Nevertheless, don't get your hopes up too high since I have family there and they took good care of me the entire trip!  In addition, this is not a country for the people who loves the city lifestyle.  You will definitely be inconvenienced and you will have to be open-minded and respectful of the local customs.  So, keep your prince/princess attitude in check... better yet, leave them at home.

This is how the locals roll
I guess I shouldn't complain about the safety features of the buses in Macau
The width of the seats is definitely a reality check... 
Day 1 - Macau - Bangkok - Yangon

I purchased the steep discounted air ticket from Air Asia a year prior to the trip... Not the best idea if you have an inflexible schedule but the ticket was so cheap, it was worth it.  The transit wasn't too bad.  I love Bangkok anyway.  Eating mango sticky rice and drinking young coconut juice had to be the best way to wait for a connecting flight.

Arrived in Yangon early evening, my relatives came and picked us up.  We had traditional Burmese food for dinner (I had to have thirds since it was so yummy!) and went to Shwedagon Pagoda.  It's the landmark of Yangon and the biggest temple in Myanmar (and oldest in the world).  It's a must-see for all buddists and tourists alike.    

OMG... I can't stop eating!!!
Tips for visiting Shwedagon:  

1.  Dress modestly when you visit this temple as they have a strict dress code.  If you dress like a tourist, you pay like the tourist.  I actually changed into a sarong and went in using the local's line (for free). Don't bother with your shoes though.  You will have to take them off at the entrance anyway (and your socks).  So the best time to visit the temple is early morning or in the evening when the ground is not scorching hot.

2.  Find out what day of the week you are born since you will have a chance to bathe the Buddha statue representing your planetary post.  For those that were born on Wednesday, find out if you are a morning or afternoon baby since the Burmese have Wednesday separated.  The right way to tour the temple is walk clockwise (the temple ground is a big circle) and when you made it to your planetary post and wish to pay your respect, you would want to pour water on the Buddha statue, the animal below the statue, and the pole behind the statue based on your age (e.g. if you are 20, you would pour 20 times at each for a total of 60 times).  Or, you can do 3 pours each for symbolic purposes.

Shwedagon Pagoda
Buddha statue
My planetary post
That's it for now, stay tuned for more :)

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