For the Good Friday break, I headed to Myanmar. It also happened to be their new year (Thingyan) which they celebrate by throwing water at each other (hence called "the water festival"). Remember that Myanmar has only recently opened up for travel and there are still places tourists are not allowed to visit. Sanctions placed on the nation based on it's human rights violations have also only recently been lifted. I remember studying this stuff in school - political upheavals by Aung San Suu Kyi etc and I know it's really boring in a class setting but being in the place really piques your interest. History is definitely better learned through traveling.
Before I get to Myanmar pictures, check out these awesome ones I took from the plane. Yah, I know. Humans can fly!!!
Day 1: So we land in Yangon in the early a.m. and are taken to a government celebration of the festival (we'd pre-booked an agent to drive us around Myanmar). There were dance and singing performances and for some reason, we were treated like VIP guests just because we were from Singapore. It was great. The dancers weer so graceful too, it was a really good experience glancing into their culture.
We then headed across the road to the Shwedagon - the golden Pagoda. I gotta tell you, this place was one of my favourites. It's a huge complex with one large golden pagoda and many other smaller temples/shrines dedicated to Buddha. There's even a Bodhi tree and some really cool paintings inside. You can look up to the top of the pagoda with stationary binoculars outside the room full of Buddhas and see the rubies encrusted at it's apex. It really is a sigh to behold. And more than anything, it's such a peaceful place to be; it makes you want to sneak in a quick meditation session (and you should). Later that night we began our 10 hours road trip to Bagan.
Day 2: We get to Bagan around sunrise at 6am and are at the Archaeological Zone ready to see the first light rays hit the thousands of stupas. I mean there are just stupas everywhere. It's breath-taking. We then attempt to check-in to our hotel (Bagan Thande Riverside) but since it's 7am, no one's letting us in for another 7 hours. We decide to take a couple of e-bikes and explore the Archaeological Zone ourselves. Now, I've never driven on a real road. I don't even have a driver's license. And while riding the e-bike is simple enough, I was pretty terrified. But, I made it. And no thanks to the hundreds of people that were standing by the side of the roads with bucketfuls of water and hoses drenching me to the bone. I won't lie though, it was super fun. The streets are so alive with music and dance (and water); it reminds me of Holi in India. We visit many of the famous temples, all of which are beautiful with statues of Buddha inside. And manage to get this baller pic too. By the time we're done seeing all of this, we're pretty beat and head back to the hotel to eat there (even if they won't let us check-in).
Day 3: Early morning the next day we headed over to Mount Popa which is a temple on a hill. (Warning: must climb many stairs) And honestly, this was the least exciting part of the trip. We then went to the nearby Mount Popa resort to eat lunch, and that place had an amazing view. It would be a boss place to stay at. We also did a river cruise since our hotel was right beside the Irrawaddy river. There wasn't much special about the cruise either but being on a little boat is always fun (it was a bit scary when we stopped in the middle of the river and our rider started emptying out pailfuls of water from the boat though). Later that night we made the 10 hour road trip back to Yangon and took a flight back to Singapore the next night. We didn't do much more in Yangon other than eat at an amazing Indian place (again).
Peace and love,