For our final full day in Myanmar we continued our theme of waking early, and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before our driver arrived to pick us up from the hotel. We were off to Mount Popa, a volcano located 1518 metres above sea level, with numerous Nat temples and relics perched on top. The “Nats” are spirits that are worshiped in Myanmar in conjunction with Buddhism, and there are 37 “Great Nats”, most of which were supposedly human beings who met violent deaths.
The journey from Bagan to Mount Popa takes around an hour, although our driver added in a couple of stops along the way.
The first stop was to a small reservoir, where we stayed for a few minutes and saw the locals collecting water.
To be honest the water seemed very dirty, and I wouldn’t like to drink from it, but he did say they run it through a filtration system a few times before using it. Still, I would recommend using caution if drinking the tap water, as with most countries in Asia!
Our second day in Bagan started bright and early, in order to catch the infamous balloon-filled sunrise. Whilst researching what to do and see in Myanmar, this was by far the number one thing that kept popping up – climb to the top of a temple, watch the sunrise, and be awed by the hot air balloons that float through the sky above the 2000 temples over the plains of Bagan.
Kirsty and I had hired bikes the night before, so after our alarm went off at a very early hour and it was still pitch black outside, we set off hoping we’d end up at the right temple. With no street lights and just our paper map to guide us, we still managed to make it to the Bulethi Temple, which came highly recommended as a non-touristy temple, slightly off the beaten track so the big tour buses couldn’t reach it.
Our next stop after spending the day and evening in Yangon was to beautiful Bagan, an ancient city in the Mandalay region of Myanmar. During the 9th – 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, and during the kingdom’s height over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains.
There are 3 main ways to travel from Yangon to Bagan – plane, train, or bus. After much research and deliberation, Kirsty and I decided that plane would be the best option for us.
The train seems to take anywhere from 12 – 17 hours, and after having read quite a few interesting reports and reviews, that seemed a definite “no way” for us! Despite lots of gorgeous scenery along the way, the journey is mostly overnight in the dark, and from what it sounds like, very, very bumpy and rickety.
The next option was to take the overnight bus, which takes approximately 8-10 hours. Departing Yangon around 6pm, and arriving into Bagan at around 4am. This is a good economic option as the buses cost around 20 US Dollars and from the sound of it are much more comfortable than the train (although air-conditioning is blasted on high!).
However, since we wanted to spend the evening in Yangon and watch the sunset from the Shwedagon Pagoda, we decided to give the bus a miss. Kirsty being pregnant was also another decision-making factor, comfort is key after all.
I found myself with 5 days off in a row after my trip to Houston, and with a bit of planning decided to head to Myanmar. Emirates started flying to Yangon (and the flight then continues on to Hanoi) a few months ago, so it was an easy decision, and at under 5 hours quick to get to from Dubai.
My friend Kirsty arrived a few hours before me from Hong Kong, and was waiting at the airport as I arrived. I managed to get a few hours sleep on the flight, so after a quick stop at our hotel to drop off our bags and freshen up, we made our way out to the city.
Yangon, also know as Rangoon, the former capital of Myanmar, is the country’s largest city with a population of over 7 million, and also has the highest number of colonial buildings in the region.
Most of the colonial buildings are located in downtown Yangon, and we strolled through the streets admiring the mix of old and new, as well as some of the typical Burmese streets.
As I mentioned in my previous roster post, we all now get our rosters quite a bit earlier, which is lovely as it means you can plan the month ahead a bit more.
Although my bidding seniority is quite low in March, I’m pretty happy and quite pleasantly surprised with my roster for next month!
I’ll be heading off to:
- SEA – Seattle, USA
- HAM – Hamburg, Germany
- HKG – Hong Kong
- ZRH – Zurich, Switzerland
- DOH – Doha, Qatar (Turnaround)
- CKY – DKR – Conakry, Guinea – Dakar, Senegal
I’m super excited to be heading back to Seattle, as I’ve only been once before and I loved the city. You can read about my previous trip here, and see what I got up to. Any tips for anything different to see or do this time would be much appreciated!
I’ve also been to Hamburg a few times before, and my old school friend Georg lives there, so if he’s not working hopefully we’ll be able to catch up.
As for Hong Kong and Zurich, if you read my blog regularly you’ll know that those are two destinations that I love and have flown to fairly often.
I’m also happy that I’ve finally got a new destination – it’ll be my first time visiting both Conakry and Dakar. We actually get 48 hours in Conakry so I should have plenty of time to explore, and then 24 hours in Dakar.
I also have another string of 5 days off, but so far I have no plans and might just take some time to relax in Dubai!
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