PROTIP: Why having mobile data can ruin a holiday

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I know it is an agreement that most people would assume is 180degrees from my normal position, but here it is - Having a mobile internet connection definitely negatively impacted on our holiday.

This trip was very different to the 2013. During our time in Myanmar in 2013, there was 1 mobile provider with expensive access (a sim card alone cost $100 AUD). However this time, there were at least 3 providers with relatively cheap - including sim and 5gb for approx $30 AUD.

How did it negatively impact the trip? I hear you ask. It was not until we were in Myanmar, after having travelled to Langkawi, Kuala Lumpur and Genting Highlands in Malaysia that I realised I was spending a lot of time looking down (at my phone) and not up and out.

Maybe it is just me, but I suspect it is a wider concern for people around my age, especially in the west. We have almost instant access to anything we want online, usually via the screens of our mobiles. This post is not meant to be a mobile bashing piece, but I did want to highlight what I missed out on.

I know within myself that if I am going some where that has no connection at all, that is totally fine, I prepare. I lived in East Timor for 6 months in 2008 which when you said you had ‘good internet’ meant that you did not have to share the dialup connection with 4 others. Also mobile data was unheard of. I can cope with that - for a period at least. My issue is when there is a hint of connection, a fleeting blip of connection, I become obsessed with getting the news, Twitter and Facebook on that tiny connection.

This was the case during the 250km, 5 hour car ride from Yangon, Myanmar to the very west coast at Ngwe Saung Beach.

Looking back, it was an issue totally of my making. I was excited to test out one of Myanmar’s new carriers along with staying connected.

I missed out on bonding with my fellow travellers, along with seeing the countryside change as we moved from the lush Irrawaddy Delta into the dryer west coast. Seeing villages that have never had mains power connected, yet use 150w solar panels on top of their palm-fron roofs to power lighting and in some cases a 12v TV to watch football.

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Tips for offline travelling

These are some if the things I have done in the past that have helped me enjoy travelling with while remaining offline

  • PODCASTS

If you haven’t already gotten into podcasts, you are missing out! Podcasts are downloadable audio clips. Usually radio segments or audio blogposts. For travelling I prefer things that won’t date. So I don’t listen so much to my nightly news podcast from home, rather I listen to a science or history podcast.

iOS has a podcast app built in, however I prefer DOWNCAST and have set it to only grab new episodes while connected to wifi.

Some suggested long form or serial type podcasts include

SERIAL

FINISHING LINE

STUFF YOU MISSED IN HISTORY CLASS

  • EXTERNAL POWER

We have all seen them, those zombie like creatures that are huddled around the one or two powerpoints in airports and bus stations. Don’t be one of them, seriously just don’t.

Fortunately I was travelling through Asia, with its huge electronics markets and picked myself up a 20,000mAh external battery, The size of a small shoe can be a downside, however I can steer clear of a powerpoint for days. A 5,000mAh would do most people, I am not most people :D. You can read more about my battery obsession here.

  • OFFLINE READING

I am always seeing videos, news articles or blog posts that I think “I would love to open that, but I just don’t have time at the moment to watch or read it now”

Well that was before Pocket came into my life. it downloads all the text from a post along with the embedded pictures for offline reading. I smash this every time I am flying or laying on a beach reading.

Coupled with free services like IFTTT you can even set up rules for social media such as “ Every time I fav a tweet with a link, I would like you to save it to pocket for reading later” which is a personal favourite of mine. As for videos, you still need to be online for those, however you will not lose them.

  • REMEMBER YOUR PHONE IS MORE THAN AN INTERNET PORTAL

There are so many undervalues apps and features that work fine offline and are a lifesaver for travellers. Whether it is offline google maps for Android, or HERE offline mapping in iOS, your camera with geotagging, watching movies that you have pre transferred.

With a little planning ahead there is no need for mobile data and no need for mobile data to eat into your holiday

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Trailing a new posting style for AsiaTrip2015

As promised, I will be still posting about this trip through Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand. However I wanted to trial a new style. While other bloggers talk about things to do and see, I will write about the things we have done, places we ate - these are not things written in a guidebook that some one has regurgitated - we actually tried them so can talk honestly about them.

I will be using these main themes with others being used on a place by place basis. Let me know what you thing.

In the mean time head to Facebook, instagram or twitter and search #asiatrip2015 and you will see some of our live postings on those sites.

Count down on for Asian holiday 2015

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I have been looking forward to this trip for about 18 months. 

This trip will take us to the following amazing places:

  • Langkowi - Malaysia
  • Kuala Lumpour - Malaysia
  • Yangon - Myanmar 
  • Bangkok - Thailand
  • Phuket - Thailand 
  • Krabi - Thailand 
  • Chiang Mai - Thailand


Do you have any places you suggest we "must check out" while we are there ?? 

A photo tour of the Buddhist temples of Myanmar

A photo tour of the Buddhist temples of Myanmar

I was going back and looking at more and more photos from our trip all over Myanmar from 2013 and rediscovered many of the amazing temples we visited.

I have broadly divided the photo collection here into 3 segments:

  1. The temple city of Bagan
  2. Cave Temples
  3. The Temple punched on top of Mount Popa
  4. The last Kingdom of Mandalay
  5. Slowly crumpling temples in the hills of Inle Lake

 

Temple City of Bagan

 

Cave Temples

 

Mount Popa

 

The last Kingdom of Mandalay

Temple spires in the hills of Inle Lake

 

Holiday Plans - April 2015

Shwedagon pagoda with the full moon

Holiday Plans - April 2015

Frankie has been looking at holiday locations for next year. He is looking at being home in Myanmar for the Burmese New Year Water Festival and usually falls around mid-April.

Taking onto the end of that I am planning some dive spots in Thailand as well as some much needed rest and beach time.

Some probable locations are: Kuala Lumpur Krabi Bangkok Chiang Mai

And for the many may Americans who read my blog this should help

Have you been to any of the above, particularly Krabi or Chiang Mai? Suggestions? Diving Suggestions too?

My favorite day in Myanmar

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Every time I look at this photo, I can not help but smile.

This little boy was so happy to have his photo taken and perform for us.

I feel I need to set this picture up a bit more.

This was taken on the ‘local’ side of  Kyaiktiyo Pagoda where not many foreign tourists go.  Just over his shoulder is a small local tea house were we spent many nights just sitting at the floral vinyl covered bench seating drinking Burmese Tea mix. Simply talking with locals while either the fog rolled in or the rain tumbled down.

This picture really speaks more than a thousand words to me, I hope to share the feelings with you.

If you would like to read more about our trip to Myanmar or about Kyaiktiyo Pagoda please subscribe >> on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

Myanmar - Kalaw: Trekking in the Myanmar Hills

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Vivid Green: Rice kissed by the rising sun

Rising before the sun, seeing it rise over the hills, covering all it touches is golden highlights is amazing at the best of times, couple that with the brilliantly vivid scenes of gently glistening dew covered rice growing in the field – its simply magic – simply Myanmar.

 

While in Kalaw, staying at our early 1900’s bed and breakfast, we could not turn down a change to walk in the rural countryside. What better time than early morning.

English houses in the Myanmar Hills

Our guide assured us the night before that the terrain would be ‘gentle’ and ‘down hill’.

 

I think today must have been Opposite Day since 7 of the 12km was up hill rising to 1404m above sea level at the high point. By not means was the walk hard, just unexpected.

 

The villages that we passed and their inhabitants live a truly rural existence. Every second house had a water buffalo in the front yard, who received a loving pat as the families departed, walking their a small children heading off to school.

Local tractor

 

During our visit, the children were heading off to school on the last day before a 10 day break. Which means after cleaning the school grounds they were free to go home which they were doing when we dropped into the local school at around 930am.

 

As the villages are totally devoid of mains power, every house had a solar panel for lighting during the dryer months and a mini hydroelectric setup in the local stream for during the monsoon season.

 

Our guide even showed us the roadside local herbs that the farmers use for first aid – one to stop nose bleeds, which when burnt also keeps the squadrons of local mosquitoes at bay, another that you put the sap on cuts and scratches to seal against dirt.

 

Frankie and our Guide

 

During out time in  Kalaw & Inle Lake a number of internal bombings occurred throughout Myanmar,  the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) has emailed me a few travel advisory updates informing us that a number of explosive devices have been found across the country. Detonations have been confirmed in Yangon and Shan state ( the state we are in now). While the information is most welcome, it will not be effecting our plans, but I will be keeping a ‘weather eye’ on the situation.

Kyait Htet Gyi- A day hike around Mt Kyaiktiyo

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A short hike you say..

During our time at Mt Kyaiktiyo Frankie suggested a ‘small’ hike to a neighboring village where some pre Buddhist ‘Nat’ spirit idols are situated in the hillsides.

The small village, Kyait Htet Gyi (pro.Jow Chat Gee) is tucked away from visiting foreign tourists, approx. 1-hour hike straight down the mountain along a dirty maintain track. The monsoon season has not been kind to the Kyait Htet Gyi area. Situated along a ridgeline on one side of Mt Kyaiktiyo in the region near the Myanmar border, which is home to Karen (pro. Car En) people, which are a Burmese Ethnic minority and to the east is Thailand.

While strolling along the dirt track we were over taken by a local man, muscular and wiry which was perfectly suited to his role as a carrier. As the name suggested he is a man powered product mover. He was carrying supplies on his head and in his arms for the local tiny corner stores. For extra income he also carried timber that was harvested in the area for building supplies often carrying weights equal to half his body weight in a single trip – up hill and down dale, on their head or on their back

Frankie struck up a conversation with him in Burmese and he offered to be our guide in exchange for us buying a drink from his little house stall. Today he was taking the trip to deliver goods to the small path-side stalls in preparation for ‘festival season’ and the newly constructed stalls. The trip normally took him 35-45 mins. With us novices it took over an hour. He also kindly took us to his main source of income – his stall. We met his little daughter and son both aged less than 5yo along with the business manager – his wife.

When not carrying goods they all live in a small space behind their stall measuring no more than 5m x 5m constructed of bamboo, thatch and tarps. Frankie purchased all the children little packets of chips.. the cautious smile that appeared on all faces was priceless.

In fact we approached one fork in the path our ‘accidental’ guide pointed out the path to Thailand.

Almost at the end of the trail our guide took us down a small washed out landslip to a small ‘Nat’ temple for the ‘Mother of Dragons’ who guard the mountain. The Game of Thrones reference was not lost on me and brought a little smile to my face when Frankie translated our guide’s explanation.

Further at the end of the trail was another rock that is similar to ‘the golden rock’ only, not golden. The rock is balanced precariously on the side of a cliff just like is more famous cousin. The elders of the village that also look after the temple space told us that each year they travel to another village to collect a long thick vine that is climbed by a designated village member to place donations of gold leaf and adornments on the top. If the walk down to the village was not harrowing enough… the walk back – all uphill was certainly a challenge.

A massive 6 months!

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Starting around Sept 2013 I finished a 6 month rotation to Darwin, where I found a new found love of jogging and exercise.  I was lucky enough to meet great friends and go  to places I never would have the option of going to if it was not for work .

 

Read more about my time in Darwin here

Almost as soon as I arrived back in Canberra we were off again. Thanks to my  amazing partner lead me on a tour of his incredible country – Myanmar. We spent an unforgettable 3 weeks traveling the lengths and breadth of this nation. Even after all the sights and experiences his FAMILY was the true highlight for me. His mother’s warmth and care, his father’s intelligence and willingness to share and ask questions about my life too. 

A more in-depth write up of our time in Myanmar is here
 
Then the “ experience “ of meeting my parents in Kuala Lumpur and catching up with my good friend Ron who then joined the four of us traveling to Redang Island (Palau Redang) off the north east coast of Malaysia. It was the second time Frankie and I had been to the Lagoon Redang resort. After the ferry ride from Kuala Terraganu on the mainland over to the resort (where my father’s sea sickness came to a head) and check in, the island is really just a water sports playground. 
All expenses paid apart from alcohol and diving services. After snorkelling every day and also trying SCUBA I was HOOKED. The resort is a PADI accredited resort which means they have instructors and Dive Masters who can facilitate everything from the minimal training ‘Discover SCUBA’ right through to your ‘Dive Master’ qualification. Frankie, Ron and I decided finally we would try the ‘Discover SCUBA’ – which is essentially being kitted up and thrust under water. 
 
Frankie and Ron could not get get more than 10cm under the surface before pulling the pin. I managed to get all the way through the experience – roughly 15mins getting to a depth of 5.5m. I was so excited to be doing it I forgot to actually take my GoPro3 from the dive bag on the beach before getting in the water. 
 
Back in KL the ‘experience’ of travelling with my parents again reached crescendo with the all important family yelling match in an international airport. Don’t be shocked. Its rather common for my family. We get over it faster than our words echoing around departures. 
 
  
 
A more in-depth write up of our time in Malaysia is here
On return back to Canberra I started in a new role with a new team in the a new office. 
 
 Not long after our return from our big overseas adventure we decided to start thinking about buying a house. When I say thinking, we looked at one and brought it. A 2br, split level east facing townhouse. Requiring 5% down in Nov 13, and the rest in around Nov 2014. Perfectly suited for what we needed. Also keeps my NBN dry. 
 
 
 So because I am swimming in cash *COUGH COUGH* I then booked my PADI Open Water Dive Course. 
 
 I nearly didn’t get to do the course! 
 
The doctor was worried my lungs were almost not up to the minimum capacity. But don’t worry, I managed to get over the line. 
 
 The first weekend was half theory and half practising in the pool! I don’t know about you but I am never lucky when it comes to being partnered up in anything sporty, usually picked last. Well there was this one mega cutie on our group – and for once guess who I was partnered with!! JACKPOT! He was a great guy, sweet and innocent of the ways of the world. It wasn’t until the pool technique practising that my inner filter turned off. I couldn’t stop giggling when our instructor was inadvertently saying things with MASSIVE innuendo such as “ right team lets get under water, get on our knees and have some fun’ I looked at our assistant instructor with my ‘trying not to laugh’ face – which is hard in full mask and regulator in your mouth’ Sadly his mouth was level with the water and it caused him to inhale and cough with the biggest smile. The laughs only continued.. 
For those that are not divers, there is a requirement to learn how to tow your buddy should they become fatigued or injured, this cryptically is called the ’Tired Diver Tow’ which involves you laying on your back and your buddy laying between your legs face up, you hold their tank and kick – pushing you both forward. I simply said ‘ I don’t open my legs for every one this easy, buy a boy a drink first sailor’ He too could not control his giggles The second weekend was the in water component, unlike the current Australian government immigration policy, as it was under water rather than on water I can talk about it. The first day was 3 dives at 6m practicing skills we learnt in the pool. The second day was at a site called Toll Gates – read about that bit here
 
 
 

All was going well, a little too well.

 

I was getting ready to finally sell my maxi road scooter – 500cc – on consignment with a local dealer.
 
 
 
 
The fates intervened again. I was crossing an intersection with a green light, I stopped as a cyclist crossed my path and was collected right in-between my passenger front and rear doors. Causing $6000 worth of damage. I am insured however the insurance company is still ‘determining fault’ hmmmm. 
 
 
To top of a roller coaster of emotions. I was voted by an overwhelming majority to lead my employers Gay & Lesbian Network. A total of 1/2 of the overall votes came to me. A lot of pressure is now on me – some will say ‘its just a volunteer thing, no extra pay, why bother’ – It is important to make changes, drive the changes. You can’t do that from the outside.

 

If this was the last 6 months, I wonder what the next will bring.

Hopefully you will also see some changes on the site coming soon. I hope you will enjoy.  As always, please like, comment or subscribe.

 
 

Telecommunications + internet in Myanmar October 2013

 

Just like just about every other facet of life in Myanmar, telecommunications and the internet in all its forms have experienced a massive and rapid evolution in the recent years and months.
Frankie tells me that as little as 5 years ago a single sim card could cost as much as $25,000 US. Yes that is correct. Not a typo. Today a prepaid sim is only $100-150. Whilst Myanmar is experiencing rapid growth it currently has only one mobile provider - MPT Myanmar Post and Telegraph. Just like their name - they are stuck in the past. The government has recently entered negotiations with a number of international mobile service providers with a view to granting new operating licences. It has been reported that 4G could be coming to Myanmar.
Funnily -The fastest internet we discovered all over Myanmar was in a Massage Parlour- nothing suspicious I assure you. For a sum of just 12 AUD we both received a 2 hour massage along with being able to download podcasts and update Facebook - highly important I assure you.

iPhone not accessing gps in flight mode - instantly connects when when deactivated

 

I just wanted to provide some feedback regarding my experiences while traveling recently using the iPhone as a GPS mapping tracking device.
Throughout the whole trip I was using my iPhone on flight mode and keeping wifi and bluetooth active to allow connections. I sadly discovered that the GPS is either extremely slow or will not connect at all. This particularly annoying and or disasterious to the use of  http://www.inreachdelorme.com/product-info/inreach-smartphone.php or  https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/motionx-gps/id299949744.

Myanmar: Inle Lake

Inle Lake

During our visit to Inle Lake, a large freshwater lake in the Shan state, I say large because it can easily sustain a floating village with a population numbering in the thousands with a fishing industry and floating tomato beds and still provide vast amounts of water that Myanmar uses for irrigation and hydro power generation. After arriving on the shores of Inle Lake, we were settled into our private ‘long tail’ boat- extremely shallow propellers fitted on long handles in the water sending ‘tails’ of water into the air as they move along

The 45min boat ride to our hotel on a was extremely enjoyable after the plane and car rides usual of the travel we were doing. While our hotel wasn’t actually ‘floating’ it was built on stilts – not that it helped when boats went past as the whole room swayed with the waves – a very disconcerting feeling when you are in the bathroom or in the bath. However the location and facilities were amazing.

 

 

Before our trip to Inle Lake, I had no idea that you could use the fibre from the inner stem of the lotus flower as a material for weaving. Turns out for the people of Inle, it's a staple.

 

I was absolutely fascinated by the people of Inle and their lives, everything they do is associated with the water - they have to, their houses are built on it, they rely on it for transport.

 

 

Inle is one of the largest tomato producing regions of Myanmar, the floating beds are based on floating tuff cut on the banks and secured into position.

 

No trip to Inle Lake count be complete without seeing the iconic fishermen, who remarkably paddle their low profile fishing boats with their legs - leaving their hands free to net and set fish traps.

Sorry for the death by pictures - but the location was just so amazing.

 

Tell me what you think below

Day 16 - 17 (13 &14 oct) Mandalay to Inle and around.

Day 16 – 17 (13 &14 oct) Mandalay to Inle and around.
Again up early ( I thought this was meant to be a holiday?) today we are heading to Inle Lake. A large freshwater lake in the Shan state, I say large because it can easily sustain a floating village numbering in the thousands, a fishing industry and still provide fast amounts of water that Myanmar uses for irrigation and hydro power generation.
I am afraid I will be going on a slight rant here – bear with me.
Leaving Mandalay Airport for a domestic flight to Inle Lake we were forced to go through customs checks twice – passport handed over the whole works – IT IS A DOMESTIC FLIGHT – before you say it was to check ID, we have picked up all our tickets at airline check in at every airport WITHOUT ID.
After the 45min boat ride to our hotel on a ‘long tail’ boat ( extremely shallow propellers fitted on long handles in the water sending ‘tails’ of water into the air as they move alone)
While our hotel wasn’t actually ‘floating’ it was built on stilts – not that it helped when boats went past as the whole room swayed with the waves – a very disconcerting feeling when you are on the toilet or in the bath.
After checking in our boat man took us around to various industry type cottages – the cigarette makers, lotus fibre weavers etc. The most interesting aspect I found was when we slowly motored through the residential area, through the stilt houses of the local villagers. I noticed a distant lack of waste water plumbing.. the ‘out house’ was just that. It emptied into the lake… usually beside the outhouse was a small covered pen, that housed the families livestock – a few chickens and maybe a pig – their waste too fell into the river below.
As we only have our boat driver to sun down – there are no lights on the long boats – so no night trips to the local restaurant – dinner was at the hotel. Now don’t they have a good scam going!!! They charge a lot for average quality food – all in USD rather than the local Kyat currency.
This region produced a lot of tomatoes – all in floating beds. It was unbelievable seeing farmers tend their crops… in boats.

Myanmar - Kalaw: An English village in the Shan State Hills via limestone caves of Pintaya

A journey into the hills

 

After leaving the banks of Inle Lake we headed up into the hills of Shan State.

On the steady climb up winding roads to the limestone caves of Pintaya we passed through some of the densest farmland in Myanmar. We passed small family farms growing cauliflower, pumpkin, potatoes, beans and cabbage all grown organically to be sold at local markets or if lucky, regional wholesalers.

 

Pintaya

 

Pintaya limestone caves, just like every other caves I encountered in Myanmar, have been converted to a Temple with every surface and grotto adorned with Buddhist imagery.

Every square centre metre is covered in icons

 The real highlight of Pintaya is the legend that surrounds the cave. Allegedly in mythical times, a number of princesses sheltered in the cave to escape a storm.
Little did they know a Nat [pre-Buddhist spirits] in the form of a giant spider was in the cave and proceeded to hold them hostage. A huntsman (a hunter, not of the spider variety) was nearby and heard the princesses’ screams. He used his bow and arrow to kill the spider. Why princesses were roaming the country unprotected the myth does not say. 
 
To remind all and sundry of the story there is a reenactment in Disney style large stone characters at the entrance to the cave. 
 
 
From Pintaya we stopped and had lunch at the lake where Kainnari & Kainnara (the flying lover gods as previously mentioned ) were rumoured to live. 
 
Not a bad place to spend a day. 
 
Onward, ever onward we moved to Kalaw – if the English gardens at Pyin Oo Lwin was freakish the English cottages and large homes of Kalaw are other worldly, topped off with Pine trees make this place look like an English village deposited in the Myanmar hills.
 
 
 A true highlight for me included a visit to the Kalaw markets during Market Day! All the farmers were out selling their wares – from veggies to batteries, dried fish to clothes - it was all there. We spent most of the morning wandering around the stalls and looking at odd parts of animals.

Pyin Oo Lwin Days 13 & 14

Day 13
Today we head off to Pyin Oo Lwin, in the hills outside Mandalay. The air is noticeably cooler and they even manage to grow grapes here for the local wine industry.
First stop is a waterfall (Dat Taw Gyain Waterfall) I have to say the walk down is not for the fain of heart. Taking 45 minutes to walk down, you know it is going to hurt on the way back. Due to recent rain the waterfall was in full flow covering the base area in a misty spray including the near by Pagoda.
The rest of the afternoon was spend checking in at the hotel and resting. That evening we had dinner with one of Frankie's friend from school, now an Myanmar Army Major, teaching at the nearby Joint Services College.
Day 14
First location we visited today was a deep cave with a natural river flowing through it. This river is diverted in parts to power mini hydro electric power systems - lucky since the inside of the cave, discovered in 1990, has been turned into a walk in Pagoda - every wall and shelf is covered in Buddah's images or grottos filled with religious imagery, all with the river running in and out of little rivers covered by walkways.
Then off to another waterfall located near by, called BE which I am told stands for Built by Engineers (Army) - a multi stage waterfall and river system running through a little township - water was a little dirty from recent rains.
In the afternoon we headed back to the township of Pyin Oo Lwin for a tour around in one of the many colonial era styled horse pulled carts.
Finishing the afternoon at the large botanical gardens built in 1917.
The whole place looks like an english park.. apart from the pagoda in the middle of the lake, and the monkeys fighting in the trees.

Myanmar: Bagan to Mandalay

Monks heading around Mandalay

Flying from the ancient temple city of Bagan  to the ‘last kingdom’ of Mandalay, we were the only passengers on this leg as the aircraft operates Yangon – Bagan –Mandalay – Yangon. All passengers had left at Bagan with only Frankie and I boarding for the flight from Bagan. Talk about premier service!

After arriving in Myanmar’s second largest city there was no time to rest – adventure awaits.

 

U Bein Bridge

I know it sounds like one of those locations were you may think ‘oh how exciting… a bridge’. I have to say I did think that on the way to the location, but I was immediately taken aback.

The 100 year old Teak Bridge and its surrounding lake was spectacular.

The day we were there it was drizzling – in some ways that added to the spectacular mystical atmosphere

Watching the weather beaten old men sitting on the low bridge with their lengths of bamboo for fishing catching a few little fish with just a flick of the wrist.

 

Mahar Gandar Yone Monastery

After the visiting the bridge we wandered over to the  Mahar Gandar Yone Monastery. The monastery is famed in the area for allowing the tourists to see the process of dishing out the main daily meal to the many monks that reside at the monastery. Monks traditionally only eat 2 meals a day. Arising at 4am for a breakfast meal followed by a single lunch meal.

 

Sagaing Hill Silk Weavers

A visit to the region is not complete without visiting the silk weavers of Sagaing Hill where we managed to find the perfect gift for one of our friends back in Canberra, a Longyi, the Burmese sarong.

 

 

 

Mt Popa 

Again up at 0400, all washed, dressed and headed to reception for the pick up at 0500. When there was no car waiting at 0515… we guessed it was cancelled again – sure enough reception confirmed – cancelled. While Frankie was devastated but it is the way it goes. So in the afternoon we headed off towards Mount Poppa. Stopping first to see peanut oil extraction “the old school way” – one cow walking in a circle and using a grinding stone to crust the nut and the oil flows out. Also the same plantation extracts the sweet palm water then boils it down to create palm sugar balls and palm whiskey.

Oh I just remembered, when we were walking home from dinner there was movement in the bushes – Frankie tells me it was a Ghost – no he isn’t even joking.

 

 

A temple that is built on top of a small yet tall mountain with winding spiral stairs… who are patrolled by naughty monkeys.

 

 

Yangon to Bagan

  After a night on the town with Frankie’s former school mates it meant another early start with minimal sleep. This time a domestic flight on Myanmar’s newest airline AirKBZ, owned by KBZ bank. The new airline also has new aircraft – the new ATR 72 600. Perfect for short haul flights in comfort. With a clever stroke of marketing genius the logo for AirKBZ is the Burmese mythical couple Kainnayi and Kainnyar. Who according to legend area flying couple who were so I love, when they were separated while flying though a thunder storm for 1 hour to the lovers it felt like years.

 
 

Arriving in Bagan starts the preplanned part of our trip that Frankie arranged with a local tour agency here. He provided the locations and the dates. They did the rest. We were booked into the Bagan Thande river side hotel, constructed for the British royal visit in 1922 by the Prince of Wales.

Our room had full river frontage to the Irrawaddy river. We often sat watching the river ‘push’ boats moving up and down the river with their loads of teak and other cargo.

First thing I must point out that Bagan has more pagodas than I have numbers. They are every few metres in some cases. The first we visited was built in the 11th century. Hosting four large images of standing Buddha. Two, the north and south are original 11th century magnolia wood. These two are built in the Indian style of Buddha’s image – meaning, they are smiling and their earlobes do not touch their shoulder. The east and west images were either damaged and or stolen along with their many jewels by the Mongol hordes that invaded Bagan at this time.

 

Original 11th Century Original North and South Magnolia Wood Buddha’s image

East or West Replacement Buddha’s image following the burning and looting by the Monguls