Golden Island Cottages @ Inle Lake, Myanmar

I think if i make myself blog in sequence about all my trips i may not finish it… so i’m taking a different approach by posting about my favourite places so at least the best ones go up! I changed the header of my blog recently to the one you see now, which was taken at Inle Lake – one of the most beautiful places i’ve been to in the world. I really can’t NOT blog about it cos it’s one of Clem’s and my favourite places we’ve been to…

We chose Golden Island Cottages after reading about it in the Lonely Planet, and it sounded a lot nicer than a normal guesthouse. Plus it was USD60/night – not at all expensive! To get there is a really long journey though. Then again, i think getting to a really special place requires more determination… if it were so easy then everyone would be going there!

If you were to get there from KL, you’d have to take a flight from KL-Yangon. Then you have to take a flight from Yangon-Heho. From Heho airport, you need to take an hour plus car ride to reach the side of the lake, then an hour plus boat ride further down the lake. It was all worth it. Completely. The pictures will show you why later!

On the way to the lakeside, we stopped at a wooden monastery to have a visit.

We were allowed to take pictures of the child monks praying as long as we didn’t make any noise.

 

 

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Myanmar: Bagan – tiny villages amongst thousands of temples

In case you missed it, i already wrote a quick summary about Myanmar *HERE*. Now i’m going to attempt to blog all the pictures from my trip… hundreds and thousands of them -_- Gawd wish me luck.

Bagan is famous for its thousands of temples (4000 Buddhist temples were commissioned from 11th to 13th Century) and Marco Polo described it as “one of the finest looking sights in the world”. [source: Lonely Planet] We used the LP guide throughout our trip there. As did every other tourist we bumped into our entire stay in the country! Bagan is rated as one of the top places in Myanmar to visit, and i could see why… the panoramic view of hundreds of stupas, payas, and temples is astounding.

There’s also a village we visited, where we saw this old grannie rocking the biggest cigarette i’ve ever seen in my life.

This be the grannie. But there are too many pictures so you gotta click to read more for the rest!

 

 

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Myanmar – a quick summary

I have so many travel posts to write (Sweden, London, France) that i’m not sure whether to go backward or forward…! Gonna post about Myanmar first since it was the most recent trip.

Clem has been dying to go there for years, since european friends and family of his have told him how beautiful it is, along with Sri Lanka (which we visited last year). So when the public holidays for 2012 were announced in Jan, i crossed out all the weeks we could take off for long trips and planned for us to go during Raya break cos Clem would only need to take a few days’ leave for us to get a 9-day stretch. If you wonder how you ensure a holiday happens – PLAN AHEAD! If you apply for leave months ahead, noone can say anything when it’s time for you to hop on your flight. Unless you have terrible holiday luck/boss.

Myanmar sounds all exotic and unknown to many of us… i know of only TWO friends in KL who’ve been there. The first thing we had to sort out for our trip was the visa. It’s easy to apply for, but just a major hassle cos you need to give all these documents which i only found out about by calling the Myanmar Embassy. Getting them to pick up alone is a major feat. Secondly, there are specific timeframes to pick up your visa and they HAD to make it 4-5pm i.e. the WORST time to be on Jalan Ampang. When i was queueing up (really slow queue too! even tho it’s just to drop off docs or pick up visa) i overhead a guy saying he’s doing the visas for people for RM30/person and i mentally whacked myself for not hiring someone to do it for us.

Anyway. Besides the visa, cash was the next big priority. We can only change pristine USD to Myanmar kyat (pronounce ‘chat’), and it’s unadvisable to withdraw money there (basically, you can’t). I visited my neighborhood money changer to change USD2000 for the both of us and he guessed where i’m going when i said i need perfect bills, “You must be going to Myanmar, Indonesia or Vietnam.”
“Myanmar,” i said.
His response… “WHY?!”
“Urm, we heard it’s really beautiful?”
“Okay. Have a good holiday.”

Er…

Back to the cash. We ended up spending RM2500/person for 8 days of travel in Myanmar, which isn’t cheap! Accommodation is alright, but food and transport added up to a lot. We had enough time to visit Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake if we took flights and boat, which amounted up to USD310/person. That’s for three internal flights and one boat trip. Our internal traveling cost three times our ticket from KL to Yangon!

Some pictures from my instagram (follow me on joycethefairy) before i post up in detail on each location with pictures from my EPL-3.

Food in Myanmar was really interesting. I love the local dishes they have served with rice. As is common in the IndoChine area, their dishes focus on salty, sweet, bitter and sour elements. There’s Western food available every where we went, but it’s another thing whether you hit jackpot and order something nice or not.

These pancakes were jackpot. Mango + choc + banana ones. Legend.

These were taken in Bagan, whose terrain is covered with THOUSANDS of payas and temples as far as the eye can see, mostly built from the 11th-13th Century. It’s a marvelous sight. Nothing i’ve even seen in my life.

The only downside i had was how some of the temples were really dirty inside (especially the ones on hills and mountains)… Everyone is required to take off their shoes and socks when entering any holy area, and some of the places had different types of animal shit on the ground. Bat shit, dog shit, cat shit, monkey shit – i must have stepped on particles of them all at some point. The OCD in me was screaming bloody murder, ‘E coli! E coli!’ was replaying in my head, and Clem was calling me a diva. But i was stoutly indignant (and a bit grouchy too). Seriously, can you tell me you LIKE stepping in shit in your bare feet? As you can see, this is the kind of place you go to backpack, and not for a glamourous holiday. I told Clem i’m a backpacker with special needs (i.e. air con, hot water, wet wipes). I desperately wished for my hand sanitizer then and condoned myself for not bringing it.

I had to insert my hair colour as ‘purple’ when applying for my visa. Hair courtesy of Alex at The Met.

Taken from inside a temple. How intensely beautiful is that!

We climbed up one of the taller temples to watch the sun set. While waiting, i tried counting as many payas i could easily see, and reached 100 before my eyes started squinting too much.

 

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