Myanmar

Myanmar

 

During our trip we often get asked vague questions by fellow travelers such as "what's the best place we've been?" or "best thing we've eaten?", questions that are very difficult for us to answer!  However every once in a while we travel to a destination that distinguishes itself from another (based on our personal experiences anyway).  If you were to ask us what was one of the best cultural experiences we've had to date interacting with a local people the answer would be easy, one of our favorites has been time spent with the Burmese people during our visit to Myanmar.

 

Myanmar, formally known around around the world as Burma, is a country with a complex history.  It has incredible people, fascinating landscapes and ancient structures that have more or less been off limits until political reform in 2010, where after years of isolation Myanmar lifted a complicated tourism boycott that would better allow tourists to enter and explore a place relatively untouched for the previous 15 years.

 

From children showing us the river where they swim, to a family inviting us into their home where a young girl applies a local cosmetic called thanaka on Laura's face, to Sean joining kids off the beaten path in a game we would best describe as "soccer volleyball" or even having a woman wearing "long neck" brass rings cut off a piece of his beard (ha!) 0ur interaction with the people of Myanmar was incredible.  It's also tough to beat the impressive style and volume of buddhist pagodas (temples) that are scattered throughout the country!  Favorites below from our time exploring the very different cities of Yangon, Inle Lake, Bagan, and Mandalay...

 

Our first stop from Nepal would be the city of Yangon, home to the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddisht pagoda in Myanmar as it is believed to contain relics of the four previous Buddahs.  It's crown is tipped with an incredible 5,448 diamonds, 2,317 rubies, and at the very top a diamond bud tipped with a 76 carat diamond! (of course Laura contemplated how to scale the pagoda)

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Laura and curious little one
Laura and curious little one
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Lunch before our overnight bus ride (never fun!) to Inle Lake...

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our sleeping quarters
our sleeping quarters

After our overnight bus arrived at 5am, we took a quick nap before cruising along the famed Inle Lake.  Surrounded by marshes and floating gardens and where Buddhist temples rise from the water, Inle Lake is home to locals living above the water in stilt-house villages...

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Yes she is holding scissors and yes she cut Sean's beard, well needed!

yes she is holding scissors and yes she cut Sean's beard, well needed!
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children's roller rink
children's roller rink
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After a two night stay in Inle Lake we took another overnight bus (a common way to travel in Myanmar, ugh!) to the city of Bagan.  Bagan, an ancient city in central Myanmar known for the Bagan Archaeological Area, is home to more than 2,000 Buddhist pagodas and monuments.  We arrived at 4:30am, left our bags in our hotel, and immediately got dropped off at a large pagoda in Old Bagan where we scaled the top to catch sunrise over pagodas that surround the area...

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incredible sunrise, Old Bagan
incredible sunrise, Old Bagan

We spent the afternoon and following day exploring Bagan, highlighted by more memorable interactions with the local people...

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he wanted to show us "his river" and wear Sean's helmet
he wanted to show us "his river" and wear Sean's helmet

A family in a nearby village was intrigued by us walking around, they invited us into their home and a young girl applied thanaka, a yellowish-white cosmetic paste made from ground bark, to Laura's face.  Thanaka is a distinctive feature of the culture of Myanmar, commonly worn on the faces of both women and men for cosmetic beauty, it also gives a cooling sensation and provides protection from the sun.

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In the evening, on a dirt field surrounded by beautiful pagodas, little kids invited Sean to play a game.  It was intense, the kids took it seriously ha!

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pagoda pit stop on our cruise, one of many
pagoda pit stop on our cruise, one of many

From Bagan we hopped on another bus to Mandalay, where we hung out before concluding our Myanmar adventure at the U Bein Bridge.  The bridge was built around 1850 and is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world...

U Bein Bridge
U Bein Bridge
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we didn't know exactly what it was, Sean attempted to eat it
we didn't know exactly what it was, Sean attempted to eat it

Myanmar was a place that taught us to appreciate a simple way of life.  The beauty of it's landscape and people blew us away and we are grateful for the time spent there.  Yet again however we must move onward.  We head Southeast and across a boarder, next stop... Chiang Mai, Thailand!

14 Comments on “Myanmar

  1. Thank you thank you for sharing your incredible journey!! Always look forward to your blog and the beautiful pictures posted with it!!

  2. Your experiences have been breathtakingly beautiful.
    . We miss you both and are anxious for you to come home but have had fun living through your journey.

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