For the longest time I've wanted to go to Myanmar. It seemed like a mysterious place with a very rocky history and it was very intriguing. Last year I was in Southeast Asia and was going to go but there was some family stuff I had to fly back to the states to attend to so this year i was determined. After tour i had flown to Bangkok and from Bangkok was gonna fly to Yangon. I had booked the hotel and the plane tickets and from what i thought I had the visa sorted. So the morning of my flight I head to the airport and check in for my flight but little to my knowledge the visa company I had used was a scam and I wasn't allowed to check in for my flight. Someone from the airline had told me that the Myanmar Embassy does same day visas if you get there early enough so i hop in a cab and head to the embassy. Just to rub a little salt in the wound it was less than 1/2 mile from the hotel I had left a few hours earlier. After doing the paper work and paying the fee the lady says "come back to this window between 3:30 and 4:30" which gave me almost 6 hours to kill. I got back to the embassy sometime around 2:30 and there was already a line of people waiting so I too set my bag down and waited. The windows opened and the people sprinted for their passports. I got mine walked outside and got in a cab back to the airport. "You'll have to pay for that in cash" the ticket agent had said as i was trying to purchase a new ticket on the evening flight to Yangon. After a ATM run and some cussing to myself I was on my way. The flight a little delayed and the taxi driver were trying to rip me off but I had made it to Yangon that evening and checked into my hotel. All was right with the world and I was happy and excited to explore the next morning. In the morning I walked around Yangon for hours. First to the travel agent to buy a bus ticket to Bagan for later in the evening then up and down every street I could. Through crowds of people selling things all over. Fruit and veggies, Raw meat and toys you could get anything you needed in those tiny streets in Yangon. Its a beautiful city. After walking for a few hours i made my way back to the hotel for lunch and a coffee before going to Shwedagon Pagoda. This pagoda is massive and gold and was clearly visible from all over the city. The day was hot so i only spent about an hour the cause the ground was hot without shoes on. In that hour or so i did manage to get some awesome photos.
The bus to Bagan was surprisingly modern and the AC made it feel like a meat locker. I loved it. The trip was supposed to take something like 10 hours but due to a accident on a one lane bridge it ended up being closer to 14 hours. Once in Bagan I wasn't too sure where i was staying but the cab driver said he knew a cheap ($8/night) place. I had to wait around a few hours to get my room because someone was still in it but that didn't bother me at all. after getting my room I rented an E bike (electric shooter) for the day to cruise around and check out the sites and try and find a spot for sunset. little to my knowledge most of the really high pagodas were closed until further notice because of a recent earthquake so it was a bit hard to find a place. I cruised around for a bit more before it felt like my bikes battery was dying so i started to head back to my room to have the people next door charge it for a while. i had made it less than a mile before it started to rain also before the bike started to get slower and slower before i knew it i was soaked and going 8 km/h and had to push the bike up slight inclines. At one point I tried to get out of the rain in the door way of a temple but it didn't work well so i just kept going. I sat in the lobby and watched people go about their business like it was a sunny day. The rain had stopped and the clouds parted shortly before sunset. I got my bike and hauled as much ass as i could to try and get back to the temples in time. in the dark the temple site is a much more spooky place. All kinds of new sounds however the spookiest thing of all is the people in cars and on motorcycles buzzing around. The next morning i was up before the sun and headed back to the same place i saw sunset since it was the only place i could find to get elevated enough to see over trees. Once the sun was up i got breakfast had a nap. Around mid day i went and checked out the local market which was full of everything under the sun. I bought some food off one of the people selling food on the street. In the late afternoon I went for another drive on the bike bound and determined to find something i hadn't seen yet. I briefly talked to a man at one of the closed temples and he had pointed me in the direction of a place that wasn't closed to check out sunset. I found the temple cause there was about 20 e bikes parked near it. i parked and barely fit my giant ass through the hole to get on top. Sunset was beautiful even tho there were so many people (tourists watching sunset and locals trying to sell souvenirs).
The next morning i was awake before the sun again, showered and headed downstairs to meet the taxi to my 13 hour boat ride to Mandalay. 15 minutes and 15000 bumps from the hotel was the jetty where in the black of night the boat had one lonesome light on. I boarded found a seat, dropped my bags and went up to the deck to see what was around now that it was becoming slightly light out. We had to wait for the boat that was docked against us to leave and we were off. I watched the sunrise ate my breakfast (cup of coffee and 2 piece of toast) which was provided and ended up falling asleep for 6 hours. the rest of the trip up river was spend mostly just watching the water and listening to music. We arrived in Mandalay just before it got dark. I have always been a bit weirded out getting to some place I've never been in the dark so i was happy we got there when we did. i continued the lazy trend of the day and didn't leave the hotel till the next morning.
Almost every day I was in Myanmar I was awake before the sun. My day in Mandalay was no different I had scheduled a cab to take me to the U bein bridge at 4:45 am since I was told it would be about a 45 minute drive. when we arrived it was still pitch black out but there were people already out and about. While i waited for the sun to come up i decided to walk the bridge.By the time I made it to the other side the world was starting to light up. Fisherman out in boats, Monks walking to the monastery, kids swimming it was the beginning of a new day. I was a bit unsure what to do with myself after i had to check out of my hotel so like I usually do I just wandered around checking things out. It was around this time i realized how in ahh people were with my tattoos. I had noticed a couple people looking at them the couple days previous but not like here. almost every person I walked by pointed and stared. I got to the point it was almost uncomfortable. I ended up back at the hotel cause i was sick of walking around i had only been there for a few minutes before the guy at the front desk mentioned going up Mandalay hill for sunset. I took a mototaxi up the hill to the pagoda where there were tons of people (locals, monks, tourist, and kids). The sunset was kinda lackluster but being up there as the sun lite up all of the colorful tiles it was almost magical. It was awesome considering i was pretty much over the day before i left the hotel.
We arrived in Nyaungshwe around 5 am as i got off the bus it was a much more mellow version of being attacked by cab driver then i was used to as there was only 2 people i could get a ride from. Like always I had not booked accommodations so i just had them take me somewhere. I checked in and passed out again for hours. The whole reason I was in Nyaungeshwe was to take a boat ride on Inle lake mainly to see the local fisherman which was supposed to take a full day so i had decided I would save that for the next day. The first day for the most I just walked around this small town drank coffee and ate pizza. Towards the late afternoon i found myself near the jetty tho and I ended up taking a quick sunset boat trip which I'm sad to say was actually better than the actual boat trip i took the next day. It was informative but once the sun was up it felt more like everywhere we stopped someone was trying to sell me something instead of see or learn something so what was originally supposed to be a sunrise to sunset boat trip ended up being about 5 hours. The rest of the day in Nyaugshwe was pretty much spend on the patio of my hotel watching people work and then later watching the rain.
The bus back to Yangon was quite funny there was only 5 people on the bus when we left Nyaungshwe and it reminded that way because the bus we had all got on was also a cargo bus for local businesses so we were making all kinds of stops as the couple employees load and unload boxes. Another 13 hour bus ride and i was back in Yangon. My last day in Myanmar was spent much like every other day wandering around and just soaking everything in. I was awake the next morning bright and early to head to the airport and fly back to Bangkok.