Kuan Yin's Guestbook



29th May 2017

Headed to Myanmar in September...
Thanks for the useful information, Karen! I'm headed to Myanmar in September as part of what I'm calling my Midlife Crisis Flashpacking Trip :-). Would you recommend any of the hotels you stayed at? I'm also unsure whether to risk carrying cash or rely on ATMs that may not work. Any advice on this front?
29th May 2017

Hotels
I stayed at the Hotel Accord in Yangon, and would happily stay there again. It is clean, and the staff is pleasant and helpful - and English speaking. It is a bit outside the center of town, but is an easy walk to Dagon Center and just a bit further to Schwedagon Pagoda. If you don't want to walk as far as Bogyoke Market and the center of town, the taxi is inexpensive, and the staff at the hotel will negotiate one for you, and tell you a fair price for the return. It's kind of nice to be in a non-tourist neighborhood. In Bagan I stayed at the Thante Hotel in Nyaung U, which is sometimes called Old Bagan. The rooms are big and clean, and the staff is fantastic. The manager even put on a barbecue on New Year's Eve, just so the guests wouldn't feel lonely at the start of the New Year. They also arranged an English speaking guide for me for a day. Again, you are away from the tourist district, but close to the local market were people actually live and work. As far as money, I only used cash. I changed money at the airport in Yangon, and the exchange rate was fair. There are ATMs all around, but I never tried to use one. Other than your hotel, most places are not set up to take credit cards. By the way, Myanmar is HOT. Every place I stayed had air conditioning, but some hostels may not. Hope this helps, and feel free to ask any other questions that may come up.
22nd February 2017

when we go
Thanks for the useful information. we are hoping to go next year.
22nd February 2017

Thanks!
Thank you for your kind words.
20th February 2017

Outdated information
All travel guides are out dated and that is why we prefer to get information from bloggers on this website. Bloggers always give current information. Unbelievable that you can get a visa on line. When went through quite a bit to get ours while we were out on the road. When we were there 2012 there were no ATMs and you had to come armed with cash. As you say things are changing quickly.
20th February 2017

Outdated
One of my frustrations is that many websites do not show when they were last updated. Even the website of the Burmese Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is showing an outdated entrance fee for Bagan.
19th February 2017

World travel opens minds
So wonderful that you shared your magazine with the shop owner. Always good to have a tea party. I would imagine everyone who goes to Burma gets templed out...we did. You can't help it...there are thousands. Nice read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
19th February 2017

Kind words
I wish I had brought more magazines with me. I did have a copy of "Rolling Stone" with me, but I was concerned that the fashion choices of some of the celebrities featured might be offensive. I ended up giving the RS to an Australian couple.
19th February 2017
monk

Artsy photography
Lovely
18th February 2017

Useful!
Very useful information Karen. I will keep your blog handy when I plan to travel Myanmar. I am from Canada, so visa rules may be different...I'll check when the time comes. Strange, I didn't know that US still calls it Burma. Although I must say, it's easier to spell/pronounce Burma than Myanmar, but one must respect the sentiment of a country. Thanks for the info, kind of Lonely Planet style, I must say:)
18th February 2017

You're welcome
Glad to be of service. One of my pet peeves is guide books and websites that don't provide up-to-date information. I'm sure some of the info in this entry will be out of date in a year or so. Another thing you should check on is the state of the conflicts going on in the north. Most guide books don't mention it at all, but I would hate to stumble into the middle of a war zone. (It might make for a good story, though!)
14th February 2017

Burma vs Myanmar
It will be very interesting to see how they deal with the emerging tourism market, but we would really like to get there sooner rather than later (apart from the war zone areas of course). Regarding the Burma vs Myanmar name, did you get a sense which the locals preferred to use? As for the people who 'expect everyone to speak English', I would suggest they restrict their travels to English-speaking countries :) Hope you've fully recovered from that horrid pneumonia...
14th February 2017

Myanmar vs Burma
I got the impression that Myanmar is the preferred name. Without getting too deep into the country's history, "Bamar" or "Bama" is actually the name of the largest ethnic group in the country. The Portuguese, then the British, then the Japanese all called the country by some variation of "Bamar" or "Birmah." The name "Mranmah" or "Myanma" dates back to the 12th century. In the post colonial era, it was decided to change the country's name to Myanmar to be more inclusive of all ethnic groups. In April 2016, soon after taking office, Aung San Suu Kyi clarified that foreigners are free to use either name, "because there is nothing in the constitution of our country that says that you must use any term in particular."
10th February 2017
downtown 2

Myanmar
We nearly had a brief sojourn there for Denise's birthday last year but got busy so it did not eventuate. I had thought sooner rather than later but I note you seem to say to wait a while. Food for thought?
10th February 2017
downtown 2

It depends....
You and Denise are well traveled, and I think you would enjoy going now. I've talked to some people who seem to think they can just rent a motorcycle and travel through the north into Thailand. That is a bad idea. There is some interesting history here, with the whole story of the British considering Myanmar a division of India. Throw in the story of General Aung San, and you have the makings of a pretty good movie. The temples are stunning, particularly in Yangon, and if that interests you, you'll have a field day. The people are welcoming, especially the older ones, and even as a single woman, I never felt uncomfortable. So, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Myanmar to you, but people who are expecting the conveniences of a developed country will be disappointed.
9th February 2017

Interesting history!
Karen, sorry to hear you had Pneumonia and am glad you are back to your writing! Interesting obervance on spoken English of the people during that 50 years of isolation. I remember my My Myanmar ESL students very well; there have only been a few in the past 10 years. One student set up his musical instrument for the class and performed for us. It sounded like a stringed xylophone, if you can imagine; sounded beautiful. He was a neat person. Myanmar has had such a rough history with it's civil war going on and on. I'm surprised you were able to travel so freely! Welcome home, I'll look for you at Tri City!
9th February 2017

Thanks!
I really didn't travel outside the typical tourist areas of Yangon and Bagan, and tourism in those areas is a source of much needed hard currency. It will be interesting to see how Myanmar evolves over the coming years.
9th February 2017

Hello
Nice info and clear explanation.Thanks for sharing such a informative content. it was very helpful. regards, john
9th February 2017

Thanks!
Thank you for your comment. I plan on writing another Myanmar blog, so stay tuned!
9th February 2017

historical
Your trip seems to be exciting. You have truly given a overall view of Myanmar. Visit: Homzinterio.in
9th February 2017

Thanks!
Thank you for your comment, and thanks for reading.
7th February 2017
downtown

Books and more books....
It's a nice read, Karen. I love places where l can spend hours browsing books. I didn't know that such a passion exists in a country run by military junta. Regarding betel nuts, u are absolutely right. I was born North-east lndia and it is so rampant there.... They are close to Myanmar, so habit must have integrated over time.
7th February 2017
downtown

Books
My understanding is that when the military was in control, English language books were kept under wraps. Now that the National League for Democracy is in power (though the constitution decrees that the military hold 25% of the seats in Parliament) information is flowing much more freely. Still not a lot of interaction with the West, but a little more open.

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