28 Days in Myanmar

It’s the maximum amount of days you can get on your visa to Myanmar for most passport holders. It seems like enough, 28 days. Four whole weeks. Who would need more than that in such small country? What is there to see besides the temples of Bagan, the fisherman of Inle Lake and the precariously perched Golden Rock anyway? I’ll tell ya….SO MUCH MORE.

 A hot air balloon dipping down into the trees and temples of Bagan. 

A hot air balloon dipping down into the trees and temples of Bagan. 

There’s the temples in every corner of the county. There’s the cramped, chaotic, but somehow totally smooth-running daily life of Yangon. There are the farmers around the Shan State, wearing bamboo hats and turning up fields with a literal wooden plow and fat buffalo. There’s the famous train trip from Mandalay to Lashio that goes over the Gokteik Viaduct on a carriage that rocks back and forth so violently, you think you might actually fly out the window. There are monks on every street, their burgundy and orange robes wrapped in excess and their feet bare, going on their daily pilgrimages in search and food and charity from the locals. There are the impeccably clean and gardened streets of Pyin Oo Lwin, with it’s horse and carriage transport toting around tourists like it’s 1905 England. There’s trekking, there are waterfalls, there are fields of rice, sugar cane and tea, there are noodles, there’s Shan noodle soup and tea leaf salad. There are picture-perfect, empty beaches and there’s a simplicity of life that you don’t see in many other places these days. And there are smiles. Smiles from every single person you see. 

28 days is not enough time in Myanmar, (I didn’t even have time to check out that famous Golden Rock) but lucky for us, the penalty of overstaying your visa will only cost you 3 USD/day, a price so small for an extra day in a country so beautiful. 

In all honesty I could write a million words on my thoughts on Myanmar. But I won’t. Not because I don’t think you want to hear them, but because I’m lazy. So instead I’ll leave you some photos and if you want to hear about my Burmese experience, please ask :)

Click on each photo for the full version

Classic photo of the temples of Bagan.

A small village near Nyaung Shwe. I never did find out the name of it but it was adorable and so were it's residents. 

I was walking down the road of the nameless village, and a little girl flashed me a smile and a peace sign. I smiled back, and her brother invited me in to watch how his mother and sisters were making rice crackers. He gave me a snack and a chair to sit on under a shade. 

I spent two amazing weeks volunteering at the Song of Travel Hostel in Nyaung Shwe, near Inle Lake. Seriously, best hostel ever. Nyaung Shwe is a small town with lots of good restaurants. It's where most people stay for proximity to Inle Lake. Outside the village there's tons of fields and small roads to get lost in. 

These are the floating villages and markets on Inle Lake. Lots of boat traffic. 

Blacksmiths working hard on a shop on Inle Lake. 

These are the modern-day fisherman if Inle Lake, not to be confused with the men demonstrating the old ways of fishing with a big cone net. Things have evolved since then. Those men are there purely for tourists sake. You can get some really cool photos of them, but you'll have to pay. You won't see any photos of them below on account of I'm cheap. 

Some of the stupas and pagodas of Indein, the most famous temple near Inle Lake. 

Women rolling Burmese cigars. 

Some monks/orphans of the Sasana Young Chi Orphanage near Nyuang Shwe. 

This is the town of Hspiaw, in the northern Shan state. 

Bagan was the reason I went to Myanmar. You can only look at NatGeo photos of an amazing place for so long before you can't take it anymore and you have to go. This was that place for me.

Sometimes those places that you've worked up for so long in your mind end up being underwhelming. This was not the case for Bagan. It did not disappoint me one bit (except for maybe how touristy and expensive it was, but that's to be expected).

Getting up at 5 am for the sunrise was easy when I knew that I'd have views like this for breakfast. Every 15 minutes or so the sky would change to a different shade. The sunsets were just as spectacular. Actually all day long the views were amazing. 

While I was touring around I came across a small temple with a monk residing inside. I'm not sure if this was normal or not, as I hadn't seen other temples being occupied. He was more than happy to show me inside and have his photo taken. 

Thanks for checking out my photos of Bagan :)