It is a mysterious destination, a country off the beaten path which now seems to gain much deserved attention from people with wanderlust like you and I. Only seeing the golden spires from secondary school books in Asian History, actually being able to see these awesome structures is now possible due to its government’s thrust to promote tourism. With a very cheap fare thanks to Air Asia, we plunged in, ready to experience the unique charm of Yangon, Myanmar.
From Manila, Philippines, the fastest routes to take to reach Yangon are via Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur. Having able to secure a Php 1,100 ($23) round trip fare to Kuala Lumpur, we decided to add in Yangon to our week-long trip and secured a round trip Kuala Lumpur – Yangon plane ticket at Php 3,800.00 ($81). Looking back on the cost of the plane tickets now, it was such a great steal considering that we were able to hit two countries in one journey. Excuse me while I pat myself on the back for the job well done because who wouldn’t be grateful when given to opportunity to see this for cheap?
Admittedly, the main draw of Yangon for me is being able to finally see Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset. I could still remember the giddiness I felt when my brother and I finally took off our shoes (FYI, you have to walk barefoot in the area circling the Pagoda itself) and felt the heat of the sun on the marble floors seeping onto our bare feet. We spent hours circling the area, which was very crowded, and waited for the sunset. The structure really was magnificent, and despite being “templed-out” having visited loads of temples for the past two years, it still managed to amaze me. I probably took hundreds of pictures of the same pagoda from different angles. Haha. And one more thing, they did have free wifi at the area, which made the time waiting for the sunset pass like a breeze.
As mentioned in the title of the post, our trip to Yangon was just a quick one, what with us having to go back home in order to cast our votes during the May 2016 National Elections. We valued our right of suffrage too much that even with our limited time in Yangon, we had to stay in our hotel room and stream the final rallies of certain presidentiables. Anyway, we were in Yangon for two whole days and it was enough to explore the city.
Yangon had an old-world charm and it was a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of work. It seemed as though you had all the time in the world to do all the exploration you want of this unfamiliar country and it was just an indescribable feeling. It was like being transported into a different world.
For souvenirs, we dropped by Bogyoke Market which was just a walking distance from our hotel. In fact, our hotel, Clover City Center Hotel, was centrally located that we walked to all the places we’ve been to except for Shwedagon Pagoda.
We had no definite itinerary and so despite the sweltering heat, we walked and walked and walked. We proceeded to Sule Pagoda and explored the area around it. We caught a glimpse of the City Hall and High Court, then found ourselves going inside their public park, Maha Bandoola Park, just behind Sule Pagoda.
I was quite envious of how people in Myanmar still converge at the park during their rest day. I quite envied that they had a seemingly safe park with a lot of green to gather on, which is so not the case from where I’m from.
We never really got to roam around that much aside from these places and a few more which I could not locate the photos of (sorry! Haha) but still we felt like we have kind of gotten the feel of the Yangon life. We capped off our trip with a meal at a restaurant in Sakura Tower where you will be able to see Sule Pagoda on your left and Shwedagon Pagoda to the right.
But my favorite part of the trip is being able to eat these.
I hope this short post has inspired you to finally take the bait and go to Myanmar. ASAP while it has its old-world charm. You will never regret it.
P.S. We have observed that giving way to people crossing the pedestrian lane is only optional to motorists in Yangon. This is the only thing I want improved there. Having been to Vietnam with swarms of motorcycles and coming from a country where compliance to traffic rules is not stellar either, crossing the roads in Yangon is still quite a terrifying experience but in the end, you’ll just get used to being extra aware when doing it.