Magical Myanmar: Mawlamyine
Mawlamyine was our last stop on our amazing journey through Myanmar.
It used to be the capital under the British Empire, which left its traces in the town; walking around town to see them is interesting. In the morning, we visited the biggest laying Buddha of the world – which was a huge disappointment. We also visited Shampoo Island: a cute, tiny, serene island where a community of nuns and kittens live. This was a great detour, with zero tourists and a break in our busy day. We took the afternoon to visit Mawlamyine’s hill with its five pagodas and monasteries. They were very nice, but after having visited so many pagodas during our trip, we did not fully appreciate the serenity and beauty of the place. Nevertheless, the view of the city and the sea was breathtaking and the inhabitants of Mawalamyine are even kinder than the rest of the Burmese people, due to the fact that there are so few tourists there.
The way back to Yangon was quite an adventure with the bus going through floods (which caused our bags to get soaked). We were thus happy to spend the night in Yangon and not having the stress of arriving on time for our flight on the next day.
In total, our trip was gorgeous, intense, exhausting, wonderful, perfect, genius – just everything we needed.
Here are a few tips if you decide to go to Burma:
- You will have to pay hotels and city taxes in dollars (or in kyats but at a disadvantageous rate). Nevertheless, you will need to have some local money. In order to have the best rate, you will need big bills (100 $ or 100, 200 and 500 €), surprisingly, they see a difference between the bills and smaller bills will make you lose a lot of money. Your bills also need to be perfect (they will not accept a folded bill, a bill with a stain and so on).
- During your bus rides between cities, make sure to take warm clothes because their AC is very cold. You do not need to prepare food for the ride if you are adventurous and OK to eat at small “restaurants” by the road. We were sometimes very happy with our meal and other times unable to eat other things but steamed rice.
- Because people are so kind and so willing to help you, you can let go of your paper and electronic guides. In the small cities, they will recommend the same places as the guides but in the bigger cities, you will sometimes find better places for cheaper (e.g. Lady Princess Hotel at the Inle Lake).
- Tips are appreciated but not a cultural obligation, no one really asked us for one apart from at the airport and others asked for recommendations to future visitors. The touristic guide mentioned perfume samples and beauty products were appreciated by the Burmese people. In the beginning, we were uneasy with the idea of giving them out, and not sure if they were really appreciated, but when we mentioned that we had some, they became appreciated gifts as well as bargaining tools.
In this “Magical Myanmar” mini-series, Nadège de Beauffort and Dorothée Brabant recount their adventures in Myanmar. Photos were taken by the guys traveling with them: Maximilien Le Fevere de Ten Hove and Nicolas Coomans.
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