Burmese diaries: 445 Miles to Mandalay

Unlike many of our other travel destinations, we were strongly advised to properly plan in Burma. Whereas Nico and I generally like to ‘go with the flow’, experience a place and what it has to offer before planning our exit date, we acted to the contrary in Myanmar.

445 Miles to Mandalay from Yangon in Myanmar

445 Miles to Mandalay from Yangon in Myanmar

Our planning was driven by several factors, namely:

  • a sudden increase of demand for hotel rooms as a result of Burma ‘opening to the West’;
  • limitations on where exactly we could stay as not all hotels had licenses to host tourists;
  • our aim to engage in ‘ethical tourism’ in Myanmar, whereby we endeavoured to avoid any expenditure directly given to military/government-owned enterprises;
  • two key national events occurring at the same time as our visit: the first democratic elections in over 50 years and the biggest religious holiday of the year: Songkran (commonly referred to as the Water Festival);
  • prices for budget accommodation and transport being disproportionately higher in Myanmar in relation to Cambodia, Thailand and Laos (amongst other factors).
Locals during Buddhist prayer at Mandalay Temple in Myanmar (Burma)

Locals during Buddhist prayer at Mandalay Temple in Myanmar (Burma)

We generally pre-booked all of our accommodation – usually 2-3 days in advance, sometimes earlier when possible. In regards to the Water Festival, we even booked our transport about 5-6 days in advance (we had previously been booking the night before a journey, but we’d been burnt on this count before).

Not a single other camera-carrying tourist in sight at this Mandalay temple in Burma. This is the only place in the world where you almost forget how to be a tourist!

Not a single other camera-carrying tourist in sight at this Mandalay temple in Burma. This is the only place in the world where you almost forget how to be a tourist!

The overnight 445 mile bus journey from Yangon to Mandalay may seem arduous, but it really is one of the best journeys you can have in Myanmar. Comfort levels are superb; water and air-conditioning are provided; there are sufficient rest stops along the way; and the road is relatively new, straight and well-constructed. If I wasn’t coughing whilst everyone around me tried to sleep, I probably would have enjoyed it more. Nonetheless, it was well worth the saving, and it gave us the opportunity to explore the northern part of Myanmar as well as the south.

In jest, Nico regularly referred to me as the 'British colonialist' whilst wearing my quite practical head-dress. Posing at the gorgeous U Bein bridge in Amanapura, a township outside of Mandalay in Burma (Myanmar).

In jest, Nico regularly referred to me as the ‘British colonialist’ whilst wearing my quite practical head-dress. Posing at the gorgeous U Bein bridge in Amarapura, a township outside of Mandalay in Burma (Myanmar).

Whilst in Mandalay, unfortunately, my energy levels were still sub-optimal due to illness. We did, however, work our legs up the hundreds and hundreds of steps leading to Mandalay Hill overlooking Burma’s second largest city and former royal capital of Mandalay. Unfortunately, the view of the sunset was interrupted by smog and fog and pollution and dust arising from the roads and paths of the city. This did not stop us, however, from befriending a red-robed monk, who revealed the Buddhist legends behind the religious statues and monuments of Mandalay Hill, all the while practising his English with us, the wacky travelling wayfarers.

View from a window on Mandalay Hill: fog, smog and pollution on a hot and sunny day in Myanmar (Burma)

View from a window on Mandalay Hill: fog, smog and pollution on a hot and sunny day in Myanmar (Burma)

Conversations with a red-robed monk and his pal on Mandalay Hill in Myanmar (Burma)

Conversations with a red-robed monk and his pal on Mandalay Hill in Myanmar (Burma)

We also took a mini-trip to a township outside of Mandalay called Amarapura. Here, we experienced a beautiful sunset and the picturesque, teak, U Bein bridge. I have loads of great pictures from this wonderful evening. I’ll share some below.

Picturesque U Bein bridge at Amarapura, a township near Mandalay, in Myanmar (Burma)

Picturesque U Bein bridge at Amarapura, a township near Mandalay, in Myanmar (Burma)

Our personal Burmese boat driver at U Bein bridge in Amanapura near Mandalay in Myanmar

Our personal Burmese boat driver at U Bein bridge in Amarapura near Mandalay in Myanmar

Oh so wonderful sunset at U Bein Bridge in Amanapura near Mandalay, Burma (Myanmar)

Oh so wonderful sunset at U Bein Bridge in Amarapura near Mandalay, Burma (Myanmar)

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Burmese diaries: 445 Miles to Mandalay

  1. Thank you for some other wonderful post. The place else may just anybody get that kind of information in such an ideal
    way of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m at the search for such information.

  2. Pingback: Kalaw to Inle Lake: A walk to remember « Time Out – New Beginnings

  3. Pingback: Bagan to Kalaw: A worthwhile sacrifice « Time Out – New Beginnings

    • Thanks, Sora mou. It could be possible that Nico took that one. I remember we argued on who should have the camera and when during that stunning sunset. He may have won on that occasion! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s