It has been a week since I returned home from my trip to South-East Asia, so it is probably high time I reviewed the trip.
As expected it was quite a challenging trip, especially for a person travelling on their own, but I do not regret a minute of it.
I only had limited time and could only concentrate on the main attractions i.e. Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake. At least this means that I have a good reason to go back to Burma again.
Yangon and Mandalay are big and busy post-colonial cities which saw better times loooooong ago. Most people actually prefer Mandalay, but in my case it is the other way around. It was Yangon with its old colonial buildings, mixture of peoples and cultures, nice markets, food stalls and lovely people from the guest-house I was staying in, which made a better impression on me. In fairness, I missed many of Mandalay’s attractions as I decided to spend more time in the Inle Lake area.
The temples of Bagan are really impressive. They may not be as elaborate as Angkor Wat but the amount of stupas and pagodas in a much smaller area is really amazing. There are not so many tourists and one can still find a remote temple to be completely on your own. This, however, will not last long as the country is rapidly becoming a tourist attraction. This was probably the last year in which I could cycle around the place without being constantly attacked by souvenir sellers. Of course there were many of them around the most famous temples but they were not as aggressive as in other countries. The roads in Burma are quite bad indeed. I managed, most of the time, not to bounce around like a piece of popcorn in the back of the buses but the same cannot be said for the contents of my bicycle basket. While cycling around Bagan I had to stop many times to collect my water bottle or guide book off the road. No wonder 200km bus trips in Burma last eight hours.
During my two weeks in Burma I:
– survived an earthquake,
– lost my luggage twice,
– had a peace process with avocados,
– fell off my bicycle badly scratching my knee,
– had to learn how to take off contact lenses in pitch darkness due to constant power cuts, however I never mastered putting them on in the same conditions,
– was nearly puked on by a child during a long bus journey,
– spent two nights sleeping in a room that looked like a garage,
– met many great locals and travellers.
They were among the most amazing weeks of my life.