16 January 2020

MYANMAR: LEGACY OF ASIAN HERITAGE

First ever article in 2020 falls onto... MYANMAR!!! WKWKWKW if you've been following me, you'd have known I went here in November 2019, but I could only find time to write just now huehehe. It's such a rare destination for people, and I was even shocked to go on this random trip together with my college friends! Three of us went here for a week trip, a not (too) torturing budget trip, per se! So the general itinerary is Jakarta - Malaysia (transit) - Yangon - Bagan - Mandalay - Thailand (transit) - Jakarta. We didn't have any solid itinerary, so we just kinda winged it but it doesn't mean the trip's no fun! Find out more! Scroll scroll, let's roll!


We start from exchanging rupiah to kyat. We didn't exchange in Indonesia because NOBODY sells kyat, so we did so at Yangon Airport. 1 kyat = <10 rupiah. 


Since telkomsel roaming program was kinda pricey, we bought a local sim at Ooredoo, and a 5GB one is enough for a week as long as you don't watch all them insta-stories! (you do yours here on your own trip!)



YANGON

TRANSPORT: BUS/ GRAB
We depart from Yangon International Airport with this aircon-ed bus to the city. It's a public bus filled with locals that costs around 500 kyat to Sule Square stop. Price depends on where you get off! Grab fare (yes, they're available here!) is similar to Jakarta, but we preferred some local experience!




From where I stand:
Sule Bridge/ Sule Traffic Point



WHERE TO STAY: BACKPACKER BED N BREAKFAST
Alright I know the place doesn't look convincing, especially the vicinity! Interior was comfortable and clean though! You can choose between dorm or private room, which kinda counts like a hotel room. I picked a private room for 2 that costs IDR 180,000 ish a night, which was divided among 2 of us! CHEAP! It includes breakfast, wifi, and most importantly hot shower AND jet washer! (If you know what I mean) PLUS! if we did a morning check out, they even allowed us to shower here again in the afternoon before we leave town. Super kind!!!



Squeaky clean!



Beloved jet washer.


WHERE TO GO: 
Karaweik Garden
The place is huge! It's a park with lake, restaurants, and many more attractions and there were MANY TOURISTS coming here! Mostly groups from china. You can only bring your phone camera here, not any other professional cameras if you don't wanna get charged additional fee!


Kandawgyi Lake




Main goal of visiting Karaweik Garden: Taking photos in front of Karaweik Place Royal Culture Show. You can't go in since it's a buffet restaurant where you watch live shows, and prior booking is needed! I had no idea so I couldn't get in!



I only took picture in front of it: so beautiful! I wonder how it'll look inside!


This is how it looks from afar: dazzling.


Sule Pagoda
Entrance fee is 5000 kyat = 50,000 IDR
We didn't go in since the most popular in Yangon is Shwedagon Pagoda, so we prefer to enter that one since the interior would most probably be better and more photogenic! (do some google research first!)


Some angles of Yangon looks totally like our current Jakarta: dirty, unruly, noisy, yet it is also an interesting mix of the past and future. Old colonial buildings on one end, and tall buildings and luxury hotels on another! The faces are even familiar! Only differing side is that they use this native sunblock that stains their faces!






Shwedagon Pagoda
This is what I mentioned before! Entrance fee is around IDR 100,000, which is 10.000 kyat. Many said it's most beautiful during sunset, but I came here during noon and it was already beautiful! It was just hot, imagine going everywhere with Jakarta's sunny weather and to temples where you have to take off your footwear!

Tips: Since Myanmar's main tourist attractions are temples and pagodas, it's much better to wear slippers and sandals since you're gonna take them off anyway, and ALSO! Wear sleeved top and long bottom since some sites would demand you so, mainly in some mosques. 





I dare say this is the most beautiful pagoda and a must visit in Myanmar! There are LOTS of others and I might have not visited all of them but this one's for sure the biggest, most beautiful, and most importantly photogenic for OOTD. LOLS!





YANGON - BAGAN 

Since we're on a budget trip, we rode a 10hrs bus to Bagan wkwkwkw. It was IDR 200,000 per person from Aung Mingalar bus station with the JJ bus, booked from Jakarta! The bus was SUPER COMFY, spacious, and convenient with power plug, bottled water, and blanket! We got around 2-3 toilet stops during the whole trip! Plane would cost you around IDR 1,000,000 per person, but saves quite some time compared to mine! Tips: You can count this bus trip as a cheap airbnb night!




BAGAN

Honestly I didn't know that to enter Bagan, you have to pay 25.000 kyatt = 250,000 rupiah. Howeverrrr by paying that much, you can just enter many temples for free by only showing the barcode paper. Every visitor's photo is taken by the officer though, so don't be confused when it happens! Anyway, I also noticed that despite the cultural heritage tourism concept, they have pretty high tech stuff going on, such as donating to some temples by using e-wallet!




WHERE TO STAY: BAOBABED HOSTEL
This is my main recommendation since it's pretty strategic: Lots of eateries in the vicinity! Per night costs almost IDR 400,000 (two fits one room!) for the private room. They also have dorm room, swimming pool, billiard pool, and soccer table. The hostel's pretty packed by Caucasians and because it's a tourist site, it wasn't as cheap as Yangon.





They're also not short of events, such as bicycle ride to sunrise and a boat ride to sunset: they're all on the lobby wall, just like a community board! 





TRANSPORTATION: BAJAJ & E-BIKE

Bajaj rent costs 23.000kyatt (230.000 ribu) for 8 hours with a maximum of 3 persons. You can bargain but since most of them don't speak English.. It's hard. Alternatively, they have e-bike that costs 6,000 kyat for 8 hours. Anyway, the cost for 2 people on an e-bike is 5,000 kyat for 4hrs, unlike for one person (4,000 kyat for 4hrs). 

With that comparison, of course most would prefer riding the e-bike. It's less noisy and much more practical, not to mention its economical value!

Tips: Bagan is so dusty you wouldn't want to wear soft lens as you'll get irritation. At least wear some sunnies and mask for health purposes! Except if you wanna have black boogers! BOO!



WHERE TO GO
Well we didn't have itinerary for Bagan so it was a totally spontaneous temple trip (since this is what they mostly have!)You can google some of the most popular since there were literally THOUSANDS of temples in Bagan, from the named to unnamed ones, and they're all close to one another! You can just browse and show the picture to the driver and they'll mostly know what to do, and this is to show you guys just how random we were~

Shwezigon Pagoda


Hti Lo Min Lo Pagoda



Ananda Pagoda




Thatbyinnyu Temple



Mahabodhi Temple


Bupaya Pagoda


All we did: TAKING PICTURES!






OH! Here, there were also some spots to see sunrise and sunset, in which I unfortunately didn't spend that much time researching. This one was just by luck: we saw a lot of people gathering there and when we asked, they said it was for the sunset. My tips is just to follow people during early morning and evening: they flock to the most beautiful spots every single day! Well, or you can always ask around to the locals!


WHAT TO EAT
This one, on the same road of Baobabed Hostel, is a must visit. DELICIOSA!!!! In our 2 days Bagan trip, we ate here twice. The menus are for personal portion so just order the pork curry with rice and go for their free chili sauces. It kinda tasted like Balinese mixed rice: pork with aromatic spices!



HOT AIR BALLOON
If you're up for this one, don't visit between May - September, since summer could get to 40 degrees and they won't fly the balloons! Also, between June-October is also rainy season so you should go between end of year to beginning of year (November-April!)

Well sadly it's not as popular as Cappadocia in Turkey and there were only a few of these balloon companies, as opposed to Turkey's. There were 4 of them here and the most well known would be "Balloons Over Bagan" with the red color. We rode STT balloon, the newest (and cheapest) one! The fare would be USD 325 (more expensive than Turkey!) Up there you'll get 75mins, cap, bottled water, champagne, and a certificate plus free ticket for Dandaree show, Bagan View Tower, and additional discount voucher in some Thai restaurant I didn't even visit. Quite a package!


Well the view was worth it though!



So they'll pick us up with their van at 5 a.m., and we'll be given breakfast snacks like bread and pies while waiting for the balloon ride! Since it was like Jakarta, you don't really have to wear any jacket, and when I was there it was 22 degrees! Turkey offers caves and hills and mountains, where here you'll see a lot of temples wkwkwkw AND only a few of hot air balloons on sight!






Pretty though!





To land 1 balloon requires around 20 crews to hold the weight!



Cheers to another journey in the sky!


Ta-da!


BAGAN - MANDALAY
We rode another JJ bus to Mandalay. There's only 1 station in Bagan so you can just tell the Bajaj driver that. The ride took 4 hours to Kywe Se Kan Mandalay Station, which costs USD 11.




WHERE TO STAY: OSTELLO BELLO MANDALAY
Exactly similar hostel type from the one in Bagan, whose lobby is always crowded with the guests to commune. The vibe is good for younger Caucasians so the staffs speak English here! They offer dorm and private rooms, and the room costs IDR 500,000 ish, similar to Bagan, since it's also a tourist town!



CUTE!







WHAT TO EAT
Myanmar food is sorta mix of India and Thai food. Also, if you order, let's say, pork curry, they'll come in set menu from appetizer - dessert, a'la Myanmar. 

- near to the hostel we've got Beer Space BBQ & Grill: kinda like Shao Kao with delish fried pork! 
- Min Wun Valley: All tourists' destination!
- Mingalabar Myanmar Restaurant: kinda pricey, and this restaurant is also 'touristy', if you know what I mean!
- Aye Myit Tar Restaurant: If you're up for legit Myanmar cuisine, look no further. It's much cheaper and most who come here are locals!
- 1 more that I took photo of below is the one whose name I can't remember! (and if you're trying to read the name of the place below, good luck!) The locals have their breakfast here to eat mohingga. There are 2 types of mohinggas, which are dry and soup: the soup one is kinda like egg curry vermicelli noodle, meanwhile the dry one looked like vermicelli salad with crushed egg on top!


kyat.




Mohingga costs roughly only IDR 12,000 ckck how affordable!




Here's what I'm talking about! If you ordered 1 meat, it comes in a package with soup, vegetable, refillable rice, and exotic sauces I've never tried before HA! Anyway, if you order bottled mineral water, they'll give you the big one for sharing!


Our just desserts btw..... ok it's literally a dessert dish:


TRANSPORTATION: MANDALAY PRIVATE TAXI
You can look it up on Google and Instagram because their service is really good, with clean and neat car as well. Coincidentally, we were taken on tour by the owner himself: a young man below 30 years old! You can also use their services in Bagan, although you wouldn't need a car as much as here. In Mandalay, some of the spots are distant and hence the car rental. We stayed here for 3 days: 1 full day for the faraway spots, which costed USD 60. The 2nd day was city tour, which costs USD 40. The last day was only airport drive that costs only USD 20. It was for 3 people, and you better ask first because as far as I know it depends on the type of car you rent as well as your itinerary!

WHERE TO GO
Amazingly they arranged everything, this driver from Mandalay Private Taxi, and this guy just knows a lot of photogenic destinations and is even good at taking our photos!

Hsinbyume Pagoda/ Pagoda Mya Thein Tan
It's a must go to place. Wa jib jib jib. It's that pretty and unique! Most different than the others, it's a pristine white pagoda that is super photogenic AND not packed. Outside you'd find a lot of photo props such as hat, umbrella, sarong, clothing, etc! Snap snap!


Breathtaking!



LOVE IT!





Sitagu International Buddhist Academy
This one also goes to my must go to list! The pattern in the interior was beautiful and not a lot of people know this place. It kinda reminded me of India because their carving game is hyped! 





Umin Thonze Pagoda - 30 Caves Pagoda
You'll need to climb the left or right side from the merchant kiosks for around 10mins, then you'll find a wall. Behind it, there's this 30 Buddha statues!


Ethnic!



Jade Pagoda
It glows in color at night, they said! 



Kyaw Aung San Dar Monastery
This one has so many Buddha statues in so many poses: standing, sitting, laying down.........




Mahamuni Buddha Temple


Shweinbin Monastery


Mandalay Palace





Maha Atulawaiyan Kayungdawgyi



Kuthodaw Pagoda


The umbrella is a go-to prop!




Sandamuni Pagoda
Ok it's kinda sad that it was under renovation when I got here. If you're reading this far after my visit, then it might be worth a visit!




Mandalay Hill
This is a beautiful sunset spot!!!


Imagine this beautiful glass ornaments, hit by the golden hour. BOOM!






U Bein Bridge
Alright so google said it's one of the most recommended place for sunset, but it was meh for me. I mean look at that bridge: SO. MANY. PEOPLE. Cray girl. So we ended up shopping and grubbing some food from the street vendors around here!






That's about it!!! I personally think a week for Myanmar (3 cities) was kinda long, 5 days would do it! As for the food, I'm good with everything here since it's mostly pork, and the spices they use are also familiar to our Indonesian palate! Exotic in the same way I guess.


See you on my next #cnlulabytrip !





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