13.03.2007 - 27.03.2007 0 °F
upon arrival in myanmar i was greeted by a friendly group from a hostel. they offered a free ride downtown if i took a peek at their rooms. usually i take the free ride and move on since the rooms are a bit more expensive. this time, however, i chose the room not based solely on appearance and price, but on how friendly the staff was. this was a wonderful introduction to myanmar, a country stricken with poverty but with excesses of happiness.
without a doubt the ultimate highlight of myanmar is the colorful group of ethnicities that make up the burmese population. roaming the streets of yangon gave me a sense of the bengali and indian influence in the former british colony. after travelling to the shan state bordering thailand i realized this vastly undeveloped land was full of diversity.
my travel itinerary in myanmar was fairly standard, as i only spent two weeks there. my first experience with myanmar transit was an overnight bus up to mandalay, an unfortunately hideous town. the 600km trip took roughly 16 hours, including stops in the middle of the road so the bus driver could chat with other buses coming down to yangon. i came to realize that these journeys included some of the best stories during my stay.
after a few days gazing at gold temples and walking across the longest teak bridge in the world (or so the bible says) i made my way to bagan via boat. the local boat cruised down the ayeyarwady river with only 4 foreigners on board. i was able to sample some of the local treats with generous burmese who opened their plentiful lunch sacks. the peanuts with mystery veggies and rice kept me full for the day-long cruise.
the temples of bagan were a stunning sight, and hopefully the pictures do them justice. situated on a flat field, the temples seem neverending and wonderfully unique. the nightlife there was also abundant for myanmar-two bars open after 10pm!!!!a few days at inle lake rounded out the trip for me. the sights were fairly modest there, but the dip in the center of the lake cleansed me of some of the dirt i picked up riding on top of a pick-up for a few hours.
back in bangkok, i have a few hours to contemplate my next move to delhi.