New Year, new effort to get my blog up to date before I forget all the exciting things that have happened!
The last time I set aside some time to write a post I was sat in a hostel in Bagan before getting on a night bus, this time I am sat in a boat on Ha Long Bay (This was 5 days ago but internet was useless as I was on a boat so I have only just got round to posting). It’s been over 2 weeks but I’ll excuse myself for my laziness since it is Christmas!
I should probably recap the end of Myanmar so I remember what I was up to…
So, from Bagan we spent about 9 hours on a night bus to Inle Lake which we got off at 4:30 am, once we had walked to our hostel and checked in for that evening I noticed they had a day long boat trip that left at 5:15 am to catch the sunrise – seeing as we were up already it made sense to just keep going! So, our first day in Inle we spent watching the sunrise, seeing a floating market, watching lotus weaving, going to see a local blacksmith, watching cigar rolling and having lunch on a floating house. We only stayed in Inle for 1 night and we had heard a lot about watching the sunset from a winery in vineyards in the hills, a 20 minute cycle from town so despite being exhausted we arrived back from the trip, grabbed bikes and headed to the winery. Despite it feeling crazy to have packed so much into a day on so little sleep being able to sit and enjoy a glass or two of wine while watching the sunset was a pretty awesome way to end the day.
The second day in Inle was spent cycling around the see the other sites: a cave monastery, a wooden monastery and a forest monastery with an incredible view.
In the evening we had to catch another night bus on to Mandalay. Mandalay I would say was the most disappointing and if I was to redo the route would definitely skip it, it is a city very similar to Yangon appart from it seems to have less to offer in the centre, the points of interest are all well out of town and all the taxi drivers we came across were very money grabbing and some of the sites seemed overpriced. We teamed up with 2 other girls from the bus to get to our hostel but arriving at 4:00 am again we tried to do what we did in Inle and set off for sunrise but the taxi driver who offered to take us got a flat tyre, he replaced the tyre in 5 minutes which seemed dodgy but he then tried to drive away with
the spare tyre hatch in the boot down and said we could still get to see sunset (25 min drive away) with ~10 minutes until sunrise… we decided to get out and get a new driver rather than risk our lives. The subsequent driver and group that we joined were so lovely and I’m
glad we changed plans as we got to get to know some amazing people – that is truly the best part of travelling and especially backpacking and staying in hostels, the people you get to meet along the way! We spent the day going to pagodas, monasteries and temples and we finished by watching the sunset at U Bein Bridge with a beer!
The rest of the time in Mandalay was time filling to be honest, we had another traumatic head to head with a taxi driver who tried to overcharge us for a day tour and organised to take 6 people in his small 4 person car! We managed to see the palace and then watch the sunset from Mandalay Hill!
Our final night bus took us back to Yangon where we dropped our bags at the airport and took the circle line into town. The circle line is a local railway that goes in a circle through all the small villages around Yangon allowing locals to get cheap transport (200 kyat (~sgd $0.20) to get to work. It was interesting to be immersed but also shocking, throwing plastic out of the windows, and looking out the windows to see the slums and dirty rubbish mounds next to small wooden huts. What we saw that morning was a huge contrast to how we spent the afternoon thanks to a very lovely school friend of Johans’ who lives in Yangon and after lunch at the Rangoon Tea house took us to her complex. The VIP treatment (drink overlooking the golf course and a massage) was an absolute dream and very much needed after all the night buses and exhaustion!
After the short hop back to Singapore I had 24 hours to wash all my clothes and pack all of my stuff to store over Christmas and pack a suitcase for my Christmas holidays with my family! I think I’ll make a separate post about gallivanting with my family for Christmas because that’s going to require a lot of pictures and a bit more writing, including our trip to Vietnam!