I HATE THE HEAT HERE A LOT AND THE ADMISSION FEES AS WELL
~will be back with more details soon
just let you all know I made it to Burma safely 🙂
I am back with some more details
Generally, the country is great as a lot of people say. I find no doubt.
I love pagodas, temples, monks (long-term and short-term ones) and the people as well. I had a great time talking to them and enjoying my time in pagodas.
Many people talked about good things. I am writing down here bad things I got while traveling here. It is my PERSONAL experiences. Do not make it so serious or generalised. I also do not judge anything here. Just write what I feel.
I took my first flight from Bangkok to Yangon, the old capital of Burma. The first flight was so short, just around 30 minutes. By the way, it is 30mins behind Vietnamese time/Bangkok time. I did not get any chance to get a short nap. I woke up at 3.30AM to take a taxi to the airport – then so EXHAUSTED.
I met a CSer at the airport in Yangon as he emailed me. He is a middle-aged man – a private teacher as he introduced me. His name is AG – a short name for U AunG Kyaw Oo. He came with his friends who worked for Motherland Inn (2) where I supposed to contact. We talked a bit – then I made friend with some other travellers on the same airplane. They were fun. After waiting for around 45minutes, we packed on a very old-style bus heading to the guesthouse (GH). We checked in and got a great breakfast. I really love the sponge cake – a home-made one. I thought I could handle the heat in this country since in Chiang Mai, it was so hot as well.
Then, bad things happened. I got the feeling but I could not get away from it. Too hot to walk around, explore the city or eat any food – local or western ones. I got bad experience exchanging money. I will not write in detailed what happened to me but here is my advice
– do not show your US dollars to anyone until you see the local money
– do not exchange too much. Break it into many times.
– do not get too much impression with high rate. Normally it is around 950-1000kyat for 1 USD.
– Ask them/anyone you exchange the money to see and count the local money first. Count them ONE BY ONE SEPARATELY.
– After counting, tight them with rubber band, such as 10.000kyat for one pile. When you finish, put all piles to a plastic bag. AND IMPORTANTLY, keep the plastic bag in your hand. DO NOT LET ANYONE TOUCH THE MONEY AFTER YOU COUNT. They/The persons will make you distracted by talking to you about the bad US bills, about bla bla bla. DO NOT PAY MUCH ATTENTION TO THEM, BUT YOUR LOCAL MONEY.
– After you give them your US bills or finish talking to them, TAKE IT EASY and RECOUNT all your LOCAL MONEY – kyat AGAIN. DO NOT RUSH! ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH MONEY AS YOU COUNTED SOME MINUTES AGO.
That’s all I can tell you about exchange money.
Then, the HEAT of the dry season. I know that I did not prepare well for the trip honestly. I should not travel here in the dry season. I did not think about the terrible heat I would face. I should study about Burma in advance.
There is NO power in the country – everywhere in the country. It is 90% true. Power is just one a couple hours per day. Then, GH or hotels will use generator to make power. Do not book an air-con room since the power is always off and the GH/hotel receptions just shrug and smile with you. Then, you know you wasted money for a sauna. My room is a dorm with 6 beds and 2 fans. It is in Yangon. I found it totally fine and I could stay. I could not sleep at all. Woke up many times during the night, totally sweaty. Fuck~ GH s in Yangon are fine. GHs in other town are worse. The one I stayed in Bagan was like a SAUNA. I got a 5buck-single room included a very basic breakfast. I could not sleep on my own bad. I slept on the floor by the way. Everything is TOO HOT. I touch the chairs, tables, cups, anything… HOT HOT AND HOT.
So as other people say when it is too hot like this
– drink more and more water
– stay in shade if you can
– wear hat, bring umbrella or anything can keep you a bit away from the sun
I cannot give you any advice since I have not found any way to adapt to the hot weather here. Help!!!
Next is my money spend here. It is totally crazy. Food and accommodation are cheap. Really cheap. I can have 2 meals per day for 1000 kyat (1 usd). However, admission fees and transportation are out of my control. That’s why now I am going to run out of money. All the fees go straight to the gov which I do not want. They do not use that money for public services or stuff (no details here, it is open to debate. Sorry then). Every pagodas or temple you visit, you are kindly requested to donate/pay at least 2 usd. Always pay in USD which is cheaper than in kyat. In this country, there are thousands of pagodas, temples and other stuffs. Man! I am POOR!
Bus Ride #11: Yangon – Bagan. Duration 12 hours+. Rate: 18.000 kyat. You can use the public bus in the city just 200kyat from Motherland Inn 2. Ask the receptionist to write the name of the bus and directions in Burmese. Everyone in Burma can read and write (VERY GOOD THING). You should get ready to be in the North bus terminal (aung mingala) at least 30minutes in advance. From the GH to the bus terminal is around 1.30hrs depending on what time you depart. MAKE SURE YOU WILL TAKE A SEAT AROUND NUMBER 35-40 and WITH YE THU AUNG bus company – it is a good and clean bus.
When you arrive in Bagan, try to talk to your traveler partner on the bus to share the taxi or horse cart to the town. It is around 800-1000kyat per person with a 20min ride for horse cart.
Bus ride #12: Bagan – Yangon. Duration: 12hours+. Cost: 15.000kyat. Bus can come to your GH to pick you up for free. I got the WORST bus since I started my trip. I HATED IT A LOT. I paid 15 bucks and got a seat on the isle. I asked the GH receptionist many times to make sure. Then, I got a seat at number 45, really back. It was fine to me but when I found out I would sit next to a girl throwing off for 12hours, I was upset and sat on a little hard seat on the isle. Fuck~. When I arrived Yangon around 4.30AM, I shared a taxi to the town with a lovely couple. They were very nice to agree to share it with me. The taxi driver was an asshole though. It was my first time to meet a bad guy in the town. I was totally disappointed. I tried to explain him that my GH and my friends’ GH were super close, 1min walking. He seemed not to know where my GH was. He should let us know before driving us. Then, we found my GH after asking many people on the way. I asked my receptionist to talk to him and then he asked for more money. Damn it~. No way. Finally after very nicely talking to him, he agreed to drive my friends to their GH. Totally tired.
Well, Yangon is like that, still much better than other place.
Bagan is famous for temples and pagodas. I met 3 DeD volunteers in PP, Cambodia whom I shared a horse cart tour with. We got a very good time together and saw many amazing temples there. Enjoying the sunset on the top of Shwesandaw Paya was my great experience. Met up with other travelers and talking about traveling experience helped me a lot to survive in the country.
The weather in Bagan was super hot, like more than 40 C degree. Hot wind. Hot weather. Everything seems dead. Everywhere seems dead; like a desert. Poor people. I do not know how they can deal with these conditions.
All the things I observed made me touched. Then, I saw a new capital of Burma on the way to Bagan which made me upset and disappointed. The new one is very modern. Power is always ON. Lights are everywhere. Nice buildings. Fine roads. Water is everywhere. What the fuck!!! Well, FYI, when you enter the new capital area, police will check ID for locals and passport for tourists. It is the same when you get out of the area. They always ask you common question: where are you from? what do you do? where do you go to? where do you depart? are you traveling ONLY (which means ALONE)?
As for the post office, they are messy and fuck~. In Yangon you can buy cheap stamps to send postcards to any where in the world. In other districts/province, one stamp costs you 100kyat-3 times more expensive. When you buy one postcard, you cannot. You have to buy a whole set (1000kyat). What the hell is going here?
Normally when I travel, I always keep myself calm and easy since I know how Asian people like me. I am wrong for this country. I feel I easily get upset. Maybe because of the heat. Maybe because I got ripped off. ARGG!!!
Burmese food is like Vietnamese one somehow. They prefer fried stuff a lot, like fried rice, fried noodle. Usually when you order a dish like fried chicken, they will give you a long of small dishes to eat along with the main course. Mainly they are all spicy. They eat less veggie than other places. I can find my fav tea here, right next to my GH: teh tarik 🙂 I tried a lot of local food. Really enjoy them. I bought a lot of mangoteens which are so cheap here.
People here love hot tea – me too. This is the only one hot thing I love here. Hot tea is free at all restaurant. Water is free at all pagoda and temple. AWESOME!
I still have like 4 days ahead and have not known what do do. I try to meet up with some other CSers and some friends of friends and hope I can find something to do.
I miss a modern life back home a lot honestly. I miss my parents and my brother a lot. I miss my friends. I do feel lonely when I am here, in Burma. So bad! I did not feel homesick in other places. Fuck~
I MISS YOU SO BAD!!!