26 January 2015

Balloons over Bagan

Sunrise over Bagan
There's no way around Bagan if you're going to Myanmar. Well, of course you could avoid it, but you'd seriously miss something. Hundreds and thousands of ancient pagodas and stupas dotting brighly red a lush green landscape. Having spent four days there, we can only say it's absolutely worth it.

We arrived by minibus from Mandalay which took, surpisingly, only four and a half instead of the advertised six hours. Including a lunch break and a loop around Bagan to drop of all the other passengers. After a short search and a bit of negotating, we found a nice room for 25 USD (24 EUR) – yes, that's the price you pay if you want a decent room – in a guesthouse on the main road in Nyaung U. 

14 January 2015

One city, one market - Mandalay

Mandalay hill pagoda
After our fist impressions of Myanmar in Yangon we boarded a bus to Mandalay. We didn't know what to expect as already Yangon was very different to what we tought it would be like. Hopping off the bus at the terminal in Mandalay, immediately ten taxi drivers gathered around us to make business. As usual we insisted on getting our luggage first and then to deal with bargaining about the price. We heard the offer or 10'000 MMK (8 EUR), so we set our goal to 6'000 MMK (5 EUR), as the distance on the map looked about the same or a little shorter than from central Yangon to the bus terminal.

11 January 2015

Yangon - or the speed of change

Beautiful temples (part of Shwe Dagon pagoda)
Who would have thought that Lisa and I would go to Myanmar? This country wasn't really on our radar until short before we booked a flight there in early October. Even when boarding our flight in Bangkok, we didn't have the slightest idea what to expect.

While the plane descended into Yangon airport we gazed at miles upon miles of rice fields, with no city in sight. Immigration went far smoother than the visa application process let us imagine. In the arrivals hall, we experienced another positive surprise: the ATM gave us 300'000 MMK (kyatt/250 EUR) without any problem. No need to change money any more. We took a taxi to the Indonesian International School (IISY) as that's where our friend Ei May Zin told us to meet her.

3 January 2015

Ko Lanta: A Scandinavian island in Thailand

Beach in the south of Koh Lanta
We were extremely happy when we found out that our new friends continued their journey from Koh Pha Ngan to Koh Lanta, just like us. We found a nice hotel that looked like an American residental street so we decided to call it Holiday Alley instead of its real name Lanta Manda. It was a little walk from the beach but perfect as a homebase. The trip fom Koh Pha Ngan to Koh Lanta was quite long, by pickup truck, ferry, another ferry, bus and minibus, but the scenery is worthwhile and we even found a nice restaurant for lunch in Krabi.