Since my mom is very religious and wanted to visited pagodas, we booked a tour to Taungyi. Taung in Burmese means mountains and gyi means big. So the tour consisted of driving around in the big mountains and seeing a bunch of temples.
The drive took about 11 hours to get to Inle lake (1 night stop before taungyi). After travelling through such curvy roads through the mountains, my aunt and a few others got car sick and threw up in the plastic bags. It got pretty cold during night time, so I had to buy some sweats on the way there ~$3.
We got to Inle lake around 7:30 am. Among the lakes being located on top of the mountain, this lake would be considered the biggest in the world. It’s a freshwater lake ~ 44.5 square miles big. Very tourisy place.
Everyone here uses boats to travel from place to place. For those who can’t afford motorized boats, they have to row physically. It’s common to row boats here with foot too. It is very scenic. The houses are built right in the water with super long wooden legs.
The main crop they grow here is tomatillo or some type of tomato. People just do their bathroom business right into the water and showers from the same water. yuck? This area loses tourism during rainy season since traveling with boats can get very dangerous. We mainly visited a bunch of temples and flea markets and got back to the hotel around 6 pm.
I did some yoga stretches in the balcony overlooking the lake. That was pretty awesome!
Chinese style hotel dinner was just okay.
The buffet breakfast was pretty bomb. I probably ate like 4 dishes. Enough is enough no more pigging out the rest of the trip!
At the lake, waving people can be fun during boat ride. All white people waved. Only about 10% Burmese people waved back. lol
We then headed to Taungyi which was 19 miles east of Inle. The altitude was higher so it was a little colder than Inle. The breeze was very nice though. We visited more pagodas. One thing unique about Taungyi is that it’s located in Shan state which is ruled by their own independent guerilla military
This tour included Breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as rooms to sleep. All this costed only $120 per person. I would not recommend this tour to younger people since it mostly consisted of going to pagodas and pray/ donate. My family made a ton of donations during the visit. Foodwise, it wasn’t a very good experience either. However, the tour guides were one of the nicest people I have ever met. I still keep in touch with them to this day. I would definitely take a tour with them again to a different place.
Our tour crew
3-Week Vacation in Myanmar
After a long flight of almost 24 hours, we arrived at Yangon airport at 1pm on Feb 22nd. The “Burmese” smell crossed my olfactory senses right when I entered the airport. It was pretty hot but not as hot as I had expected. Relatives waited for us at the terminal and we picked up our luggage. The security tried to hustle us 150k (~200 US$), because we brought too much vitamins. Good thing my uncle has connections, so we just mentioned his name, paid 20k and left. My first impression of Burmese airports and streets were a lot nicer than I thought! I took a 20 min nap, worked out and ate lunch.
And they say I will be in bed for a few days because of jet lag. Yeah right.
The neighborhood I grew up in has changed quite a bit: paved roads, 3 stories houses which used to be shacks before. Some things in Burma are much more expensive than US. I was shocked to learn that a used toyota from late 90s can cost as much as 30k in USD after taxes.
Btw it’s awesome to have a maid and a driver! (driver: left, maid: 2nd from left)
We headed out to Grandpa’s place to drop off gifts and such as well as to say hi. This might be the last time we get to see him as he just had a surgery and is in really bad shape :(.
Here is a view of what busy burmese road look like.
As soon as I got there, my notorious aunt who lives there pulled me aside and asked to borrow 3k. I said no as my dad has already helped her out financially a ton financially. Im glad as she was the only person to ask for help throughout my entire trip. My grandpa was on a wheel chair and has weakness/paralysis in his lower body. I taught him a few exercises/stretches to strengthen his legs.
My 94 year old grandpa. My old maid from the left! and my aunt from right.
We ate Shan Food (shan is one of the 14 states in Myanmar). The food was really flavorful and only costed about $2 a person after appetizers and everything.
On average, food here cost about 3-4 times less than in America. And usually no tip required.
We arrived Shwedagon pagoda in the afternoon. The parking costed 100 kyats. There were so many pagodas all around. This temple is sectioned of into 7 different days. So if you are born on monday, you would go to the monday section to worship.
Me cleansing the god on Monday section.
There were a lot of donation boxes filled with money. One thing I admire about the Burmese people is that they are very giving even though they have very little.
We went to visit my grandma’s sister place. She has 2 maids and they were exceptionally nice! She cooked us noodles and fried rice. So my 2 of my grandma’s sisters lives there. They are called “a pyo gyi” as they have never been married. It’s very common in Myanmar to stay unmarried since they are very close to family members, it’s easier to stay single and be happy.
my grandmasister on right.
We went to Taw Win Shopping center for some grocery shopping. It’s got 6 stories and very modern like US. But relatively expensive. I noticed that all the imported stuff like couches/furniture are way more expensive than US!
12 DAY 2012: END OF THE WORLD CHALLENGE
If today is the end of the world:
1. Are you ready? Why or why not?
I havent got a chance to do all the things i wanted to do in life yet. I haven’t travelled to Europe and parts of Asia. I haven’t tried Kobe beef either. My past few years have been pretty awesome. I have visited my Burmese relatives so I can check that off the list. I was able to eat very well and to do the things I love doing. So if the end comes, I am ready.
2. Who will you visit for the last time (after not seeing each other for a long time)?
My relatives from Burma
3. What will be your last meal?
This is a toughie. I probably have to go with a bunch of small dishes from honda ya
Or the rib eye Kobe steak from cut. Add some fried quail eggs
Or carne asana fries with authentic tacos from Mexico.
Of course the dessert have to be included which would be hula pie from dukes. Nothing even comes close! Ok maybe frost bites ;)
4. What will be the last place you will visit?
Some quiet place like a lake or a secluded beach.
5. Who will be the last person you want to be with?
6. What will be your last contribution to society?
Help out with whatever I can before the end comes. Give away everything.
7. What is that one thing you will do that you’ve always been wanting to do ever since?
Just take time to relax and meditate.
8. What will be the last memory you want to be reminiscing?
9. Who is that one person you want to say sorry to?
10. What will be your last message to your enemies/friends?
I hope you guys will live a happy afterlife. To enemies: I forgive for everything you done to me.
11. What will be your last message to your loved one(s)?
I am happy i had you in my life
12. Are you satisfied or happy with your life right now?
Yes, my life is awesome