In this latest series, I will be going through all the countries I’ve travelled to on my mission to visit every single country in the world. In this article, we will be covering country #20: Myanmar. If you haven’t gotten a chance already, read this story first to find out why I’m trying to visit all 193 UN-recognized countries.
VIDEO – Country #20: Myanmar
- My Complete 11 Days Myanmar Spending Breakdown
- You Need a SIM Card to Survive in Myanmar
- Scammed by Our Hotel in Inle Lake Myanmar
- 25 Pictures of Inle Lake – My Number One Favourite Place in Myanmar
- 7 Tips You Must Read Before Exploring Bagan Myanmar
- I Thought I Was Going to Die from Food Poisoning in Myanmar
- Shwedagon Pagoda and My Experience Exploring Yangon Myanmar
Arriving in Myanmar
After an awesome time travelling in Malaysia, my next destination during my one year trip around the world is Myanmar. The first thing that I did upon clearing immigration is getting some Burmese Kyats and buying a SIM card. It’s also one of my biggest mistakes is not buying more data on the SIM card that I purchased. The Internet is super slow in Myanmar but data is 4G and is quite fast!
After all the tourists have cleared the airport, Karen and I found a taxi driver that I bargained really hard with to take us to our hostel. At first, he didn’t like the price that we were prepared to pay for the taxi ride but seeing as all the tourists from the airport has gone, he accepted our offer.
My first impression of Myanmar is that it’s very humid and is clearly a developing country. The taxi driver dropped us off in the wrong hostel (it had a similar name as the one we were staying at) and had to walk until we found the right one. Our dorm room was also humid it felt weird sleeping with damp bedsheets.
The next day, we teamed up with some Americans who were also taking a year to travel around the world. They were quite flamboyant and the locals loved their antics. They even convinced Karen and me to try eating the grasshoppers. (It taste like chips)
After a while, the antics of the Americans wore off on me and I decided we should split off from them. Karen and I took a long 30-minute hike down the streets of Yangon all the way to the Schwedagon Pagoda.
Upon entering the Schwedagon Pagoda, we were asked to take off our shoes and pay a donation to store it. This place felt surreal. It’s one of those places that you travel to and get blown away by how magestic the place is.
We took our time exploring the pagoda and even partook in some of the activities. One of the things that we did was douse water on top of our birth animal and hitting the ceremonial bells around the temple.
I felt at peace and serene while exploring this temple.
Journey to Bagan
The next day, our next destination is Bagan which is famous for its massive temple complex. The bus ride was not as pleasant at all. We also didn’t get any food to eat at the rest stops because our order never came. If you ever go to Myanmar, make sure to order quick to make foods like dry or soup noodles.
The washrooms were also horrific-looking with squat toilets. It’s enough to instill fear to westerners not used to these sorts of amenities.
Good parts of Bagan
When we arrived in Bagan, we were blown away at how beautiful this city was. Karen and I rented an e-bike and explored various pagodas and ate at local restaurants. There was a ton of opportunity to take awesome landscape photos as well.
The ugly side of Bagan
While it was fun to zoom around on an e-bike as we explored Bagan, it wasn’t all fun and games. The locals were quite hostile and we felt that they didn’t want our presence. It makes sense as many of them were forced out by the government in order to accommodate the tourists.
Some locals threw a banana at me which angered me. But, there’s not much I can do about it.
Food poisoning from hell
On our third day in Myanmar, after watching the sunrise, Karen and myself decided to eat at this local restaurant we haven’t tried yet. That’s when I’ve experienced the worst food poisoning in my life.
I seriously felt like I was going to die. I was spewing from both ends and the pain and suffering just won’t end. During the entire night, I spent it sitting on the toilet. Eventually, the food poisoning got Karen too as she proceeded to puke as well.
Thankfully, her food poisoning was nowhere near as bad as mine. By the next morning, I think all the bad stuff was expelled from my body.
Journey to Sittwe
It also sucked because that same morning, we were scheduled to go to Sittwe which is our next travel destination. We sat in this cramped mini-bus that was stuffy and very uncomfortable. The restaurant during the ride didn’t bring out our food once again much like the previous bus ride which seems to be the common theme when travelling in Myanmar.
By the time we arrived in Sittwe, there was no way in hell we can do the Inle Lake trek. We decided to just rest up and recover and figure out what to do next later on.
Inle Lake is awesome
The next day, we decided to take a taxi to Inle Lake. This turned out to be one of our few good decisions as it made the ride much more comfortable than taking the buses. We also got to see the local life unfold as the driver drove us to Inle Lake.
After checking in our motel that evening, we were excited to do a full day of exploring Inle Lake the next morning.
The boat ride was incredible and I loved it. We got to see the locals live their life and the factories on stilts built on top of the lake.
I even bought Karen her birthday gift which is a handmade wallet from one of the textile factories.
Karen had a great time taking pictures with the Kayan people famous for their long necks. And of course, we tried the local food which was delicious.
There was also another area that resembles the Shwedagon Pagoda which I think is called Shwe Indein Pagoda.
We wrapped up our sightseeing trip in Inle Lake by immersing ourselves in taking photographs of the beautiful landscapes of the area.
Scammed in Inle Lake
Unfortunately, our trip to Myanmar didn’t have a happy ending. The motel we stayed at scammed us. This woman who owned the hotel got us tickets for the local bus instead of the nicer bus that we paid for. We wanted the nicer bus because it has a toilet inside which is all we wanted. By the time we got to the bus depot, we were told that we didn’t purchase the right tickets and even the locals were horrified that we got scammed. They were nice enough to refund us our money but said if we want to reach Yangon, we had to take the local bus regardless.
Reluctantly, we purchased the local bus ticket since all the nicer buses were sold out.
Horrible journey back to Yangon
The bus ride back was horrific. It must have taken 14 hours to get back to Yangon. To make it worst, there was only one washroom stop so Karen and myself really made sure we didn’t drink any water or we would be in trouble.
By the time we arrived in Yangon, we were barely alive and dead exhausted.
The hellish wait time in the Yangon Airport
And of course, the pain just won’t end. We ended up waiting for over 14 hours in the airport before we can board the plane. The airport didn’t have wifi either so we just sat there bored to tears and starving to death before we got on the plane.
It’s probably one of the worst airport experience I’ve ever had. Looking in hindsight, if I wasn’t travelling as a budget backpacker, I would have just gotten an airport hotel. This is why I don’t like being a budget backpacker nowadays because it’s a really rough experience that’s best suited for young travellers in their early 20s. But, I also think everyone should do it once in their life so I don’t regret my decision to go budget backpacking for that one year that I did it.
I quickly passed out the moment we boarded the plane. Our next destination after Myanmar was Hong Kong. Thankfully, Hong Kong provided us with modern amenities and a chance to recover after getting our ass kicked travelling in Myanmar.
Because of my terrible experience of travelling in Myanmar, I don’t think I will return there anytime in the future. I know some people enjoyed their time in this country. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them.