Blogs from Burma, Asia - page 2


Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan December 17th 2018

We are both exhausted after a fantastic day. We woke up at 440am in order to be ready for a 515 pick up by ‘Golden Eagles’, a ballooning company. Our hostel does free flow tea & coffee so we could at least enjoy a hot drink whilst waiting for our minibus. Once picked up we were taken, in the pitch dark, to some fields where there were multiple balloons being prepared for flight. All 3 companies in the area take off from here, the other 2 being ‘balloons over bagan’ and ‘oriental ballooning’. This meant we were met with fields of burners being checked - suddenly seeing huge flames lighting up the sky from different parts of the fields. Our group was ushered towards a table where we sat down and were given tea and pastries ... read more
Inflating the balloons with cold air
Inflating the balloons with cold air
Warming the air

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan December 16th 2018

Despite having been woken up overnight to torrential rain when our alarm went off at 520am it was fortunately dry. By the time we left the hostel the clouds were clearing and we could see the stars. Walking along the dusty track towards the viewpoint in the dark the sun started to tinge the sky red and we could soon pick out temples across the plain. Soon after walking past the temples people used to watch the sunrise from (now shut), we started to see other people arriving. At first a few e-bikes and tuktuks passed us, then a couple of cars, then some coaches. Coaches, along a single lane dirt track. This was not what we were expecting. By the time we rounded the corner and saw the viewpoint we weren’t surprised to see hundreds ... read more
Balloons above Bagan
Balloons above Bagan
Arched doorways and murals

Asia » Burma December 16th 2018

It had been five years since I had done an overseas cycling tour. I had actually planned one to Myanmar in 2012 and 2013, but they fell apart mainly for logistical reasons. The one I planned in 2013 was a go all the way up to booking flights. Therefore, I already had a big head-start in planning this year’s tour. The biggest difference this time was that the tourist infrastructure had caught up and surpassed demand. The other notable difference was that Chinese airlines had now become global players. I was able to get a return flight from Edmonton to Myanmar with China Eastern Airlines for $500 USD, which seems just insanely cheap. It wasn’t even a sale price! The only drawback was that I had an overnight in Kunming, China both ways, but I didn’t ... read more
Children with Attitude
The Land of Pagodas

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan December 15th 2018

Today was long, hot and tiring but very enjoyable. We woke late and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast on the rooftop of our hostel. There were finally beautiful blue skies and even at 9am it was very warm in the sun. Last night we finally had good enough WiFi to download the app ‘’. We first came across this trekking in Nepal where Robin had it on his phone and it helped us out on a number of occasions (unfortunately we still had to use compass bearings at other times). We found it recommended on a blog for Bagan as unlike google maps it had all of the paths and tracks marked out. I cannot recommend this enough if you are travelling - it’s been ace today and even has annotations about some of the temples on. ... read more

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan December 14th 2018

Firstly, yes, a day bus from inle lake to bagan exists, and it’s a coach not a mini bus. Googling it I couldn’t find any evidence of it’s existence so I was pleased to find it. It does make for a slightly dull day to report though... We woke up early to more rain so we could grab breakfast and pack before catching the bus to Bagan. I hope it stops raining soon! Most of the buses on offer seem to be night buses but arrive at about 4am which is rather miserable when hotel check in isn’t until 2pm. Unlike the bus between Yangon and Mandalay there isn’t a new highway across the country between inle lake and bagan which means it’s very bumpy and windy and I suspect not conducive to sleep. The other ... read more

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Inle Lake December 13th 2018

Breakfast today required you to hand in a voucher given by reception when you check in. Very odd system. It was a somewhat disappointing buffet containing mostly noodles and chicken stir fry. No cereal options. We ended up having banana and honey on toast which was quite good. Just opposite our hotel there are a number of places you can hire bicycles. For the grand total of £2.50 we hired 2 bikes. Stephens has more gears but mine has a bell and a basket. We then peddled off to go around the west side of the lake. En route we stopped to buy bus tickets for Bagan tomorrow morning. Not only is the day ticket K10000 cheaper than the night bus but it won’t drop us off at 330am which seemed rather unappealing. Peddling down the ... read more
Child on buffalo
Drying out crops
Getting the boat across the lake

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Inle Lake December 12th 2018

This morning I woke up to the sunshine coming through into our room. We opened the curtains to see the view and went back to bed with tea to enjoy it. Despite the good weather forecast it wasn’t long before the mists descended over the hills and the clouds got worse. We went to enjoy a very good breakfast instead. Having splashed out on quite an expensive hotel it had a swimming pool I had been planning on using. Despite the clouds it wasn’t that cold so I went for a swim anyway - it was rather bracing and definitely not sunbathing weather but I enjoyed it anyway. I then used the outside shower in our room which was quite a fun experience. Packed up we checked out and got in the boat back to Nyaung ... read more
Silver smith
Ywama village
Paper making

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Inle Lake December 11th 2018

Unsurprisingly the bus journey from Yangon last night was bumpy and it was difficult to get any sleep. The new highway from Yangon to Mandalay is poorly laid and so rough despite there not being any pot holes (yet). The chairs were wide and fairly comfy, although there wasn’t enough leg room for taller people once the chairs in front were pushed back. We were relieved to find that they stopped regularly for loo breaks, provided some water & a small snack and made sure you were awake for the right stop. We even enjoyed on bus entertainment of a relatively good film just with subtitles so it didn’t disturb those doing other things. We were dropped off slightly earlier than expected in Nyaungshwe (6am as opposed to 7am). Here we were surrounded by tauts ... read more
View from hotel room
The village.
Our transport to the hotel

Asia » Burma » Yangon Region » Yangon December 10th 2018

Stephen fortunately woke up feeling a little better today. We enjoyed our standard breakfast for this lodge - tea, toast, fried eggs and fruit (watermelon today). The women serving are so kind but make us chuckle - the number of slices of toast you get is random, the order of service is random and I’m sure we’re supposed to get juice as well but today we didn’t (everyone else did!). Check out is late so after packing our bags we went for a walk. First of all we went to the central Secretariat building and walked around the outside. It’s currently being renovated and the outside looks fantastic. It’s only on closer inspection you notice that parts of the roof are missing and there are trees growing inside some of the rooms! From here we walked ... read more
Central Secretariat
St Marys Cathedral
St Marys Cathedral

Asia » Burma » Yangon Region » Yangon December 9th 2018

Stephen is unfortunately suffering from a tummy bug today. This is definitely a down side to travelling and I’m looking forward to both of us feeling well again at the same time. Delaying leaving our room until he was sure he was up to it had the unfortunate consequence of leaving as the day reached its hottest. On the plus side today is a glorious sunny day, unlike the previous cloudy days we’ve had. Despite being their winter it’s still so hot for us - well over 30 degrees. Leaving our guesthouse we got a taxi to Chaukhatgyi Paya, a large, golden reclining Buddha. I was rather surprised that 2 taxi drivers didn’t know where we were talking about but fortunately the 2nd had google maps and got us there without problem. Typically for us the ... read more
The sitting Buddha
Shwedagon Paya
The reclining Buddha

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