Currently traveling

Myanmar

January - December 2019
Currently traveling
  • Day26

    Good Morning Yangon

    February 12 in Myanmar ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    At 2am we arrived at Yangon Bus Station which is far from the city center. As we couldn't check into our dorm bed anyway we decided to sleep in the bus operators waiting room. Will went to the loo and the bus driver said I could go upstairs and sleep, I waited for Will and then we went up. When trying to go upstairs the guy started speaking Burmese at me and showing a poster written in Burmese. I honestly didn't have a clue what he was saying until I went upstairs. It was clearly for ladies and children only! Exhausted Will didn't care and just found a spot anyway on the lino floor. I wouldn't say it was the best sleep but it was better than none. At 7am we got up to an empty room and headed to our hostel.

    We got the local bus to the hostel and it was sooo packed but I love travelling with the locals. They are sooo smiley here it makes me so happy. On the way from the bus we stopped at a local Tea house for breakfast of dumplings, somosa, puri and lots of tea. The streets were packed with locals as it was independence day. The main street was flowing with market stalls and hundreds of Burmese. Luckily when we arrived at the hostel we were able to check in so after a quick shower I felt normal again.

    It was our last day so we were determined to enjoy it! Luckily it wasn't as hot as in Hpa An so walking around wasn't as difficult. We had a fab noodle soup for lunch, had a few goodies from the bakery and walked around the colonial area of Yangon. Of all South East Asian cities, Yangon has the highest number of colonial era buildings. Hundreds of late 19th century structures remain on an area of several square miles in the downtown area. It was really interesting but by about 3pm the heat and tiredness were hitting me hard. Will found a barbers so had a quick hair cut and his first clean shave which gave me time to have a rest. We then jumped in a taxi and went to our last tourist stop for the day, bogyoke market famous for its textiles and where we were hoping to by the last few presents we wanted. Annoyingly the taxi driver didn't actually tell us it was closed until he took us there and we were leaving the car. Quite annoyed and in need of a sit down we went to the near by glamorous shopping mall and had a coffee.

    For a while myself and Will have been eyeing up Xaomi Products. We have the Xaomi MI Band 2, but I lost mine in India and Will's has broken slowly over the last few months. The mall had a Xaomi Store! We were like kids in a candy store looking at all the cool gadgets. We aren't one to buy things generally but when we got home we were planning on getting new bands and I was actually going to get the brand new Amazefit watch for Will's birthday but I didn't have enough time. After A LOOOONG time in the shop going back and forth we bought the watch. In the UK its £80 and it was only £40 so we couldn't resist the bargain. So we are now proud owners of the Amazefit!! We were both very excited. We were honestly in the shop for 1.5 hours trying it on, deciding whether we really wanted it and finally setting it up.

    To celebrate our last night we went to the top of Sakura Tower, enjoyed a £2.50 Singapore Sling and the gorgeous view of Yangon City. At that moment in time nothing could have ruined how perfect it was. Or so I thought... As you know we booked our flight home but the cheapest was to fly direct to Milan and then go to Manchester. As we are going via Milan we decided to book 3 nights in Milan to enjoy a holiday within the holiday but we are massively low on funds so we booked quite a cheap airbnb. Guess what... While enjoying our night of cocktails I recieved an email from the host saying he is booked up and can't host us. This booking was an instant book and so the payment had already gone through! Basically it turns out he has 2 listings of the property and hasn't actually updated the sexond/ isn't aware of Instant Booking. We instantly started looking for an alternative but everything was looking to be €50 a night. Now for the normal Jo reading this you're probably thinking, that's what I would expect. It was giving us a heart attack thinking about it. We got on the phone to airbnb and they said they need to talk to the host before they can help us, they said they would be in contact in 2 hours. It was now 7pm in Yangon. Having slept on a lino floor last night the plan was to go to the hostel soon and have an early night. At 9pm obviously they didn't call back and so I messaged on the support app. I was then quoted 4 hours. This would take us to 1am Yangon time. We were getting very panicky and unfortunately we really let it get to us and it did ruin the very end of the night for us.

    Anyway looong story short I couldn't sleep a wink and at 3am a couch surfer got in touch and said if we are still desperate for a place to stay he can host for one night. Relief!! I then reduced the search for just 2 nights stay and found a room for £80 for 2 nights and just went ahead with it. At 5am Will woke up saying he couldn't sleep and I was able to tell him the good news that all was sorted! Proud of my nights work but absolutely exhausted I attempted to sleep. We had made plans to go to the Market in the morning before the flight but there was no way we were in a fit state.
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  • Day25

    Day of Relaxing?? Nah!!!

    February 11 in Myanmar ⋅ ☀️ 34 °C

    After yesterday's epic hike to the top of Mount Zwegabin our calves were in agony. We had a slow start to the morning packing our bags, checking out and attempting to find couch surfing hosts or affordable accommodation in Milan which will be our very last stop before heading home on the 16th. We messaged a lot of hosts and fingers crossed we find someone as accomodation is ludicrously priced!

    Once all the admin was done we jumped on the motorbike for our last ride. First stop was Kaw Ka Taung. We were both really hot and hungry when we arrived so we sat and It was a small cave with lots of Buddhas inside and surrounding. What was very different about this cave were the small embossed Buddha silhouettes that pertruded from the cave walls. Above the caves were pagodas exposed on enormous high rocks. Hpa An has some really beautiful scenery very similar to that of Phong nhã and Tầm Coc in Vietnam and it brought back some really happy memories. We decided to walk up to the top and see the views. Why is everything here vertical steep steps!! Our calves screamed in paid the whole way, but it was worth it. There was absolutely no one at the top and we had the complete rock to ourselves. I think we went a bit delirious with the heat as we found a broom and had what I now call an Ellia Moment. I rode my nimbus 2000 in the air and Will swept up the top of the pagoda haha

    Next we drove to see Kyauk Ka Lat Pagoda another very impressive sight. Again the pagoda was built on a huge exposed rock but this time in the middle of a lake. Again the climb up involved steep stone steps but luckily it wasn't so high. At the top was a very tiny area where locals were being blessed by the Monk and it was a memorable sight to see.

    Our next and final stop was Hpa Pu Hill for sunset. It took quite a while to get there and on the way we drove through local villages and were greeted by lots of small children ecstatic to see foreigners but the road was a dusty red sandy dirt track. When we arrived were covered head to toe in red sand! We were both very tired by this time and really achy but that never stops us, so up we went. It was a painful one hour vertical steep staircase up. Along the way we passed some tourists on their way down and they said unfortunately access to to the top isn't possible as the last part of the climb was broken bamboo ladders. Once we got there Will was keen to see if it was possible. I can confirm it was possible, but and this is a very big but, with a high risk of catastrophic collapse. I was proud to get to the top and vey relieved that it didn't collapse under us and I must admit it was worth the terrifying state going up. We even asked Ellia and Karin if they went up when they came and they said "What you went up there, you're crazy!".

    The view was perfect for our final evening in Hpa An and due to it being so crazy looking it stopped others coming up resulting in us having the top to ourselves.

    The day so far was definitely the calm before the storm as what came next was quite stressful. The plan for the rest of the evening was to quickly get down, ride back to town, grab a quick dinner from the night market and then go back to the hotel to pick up our bags before jumping on our final night bus of the trip back to Yangon. That was the plan...

    We stayed up a bit longer than expected and had to walk very quickly just making the bottom before it was fully dark. We jumped on the bike and the lights had stopped working. This was our worst nightmare and what came next is something we said we would never do. We had to drive back with no lights. It was our last trip on the bike, we had been riding for 13 months and we had never had an accident. You're probably thinking why didn't we just phone the hotel and get them to come and pick us up but by the time they would have come and then brought us back we would have been late for the bus so we just jumped on, I put on my head torch and shone it with my phone in front of Will to ensure people in front could see him and off we went. . We drove very slowly, stopped a few times and eventually got to the night market which was 1 minute from the hotel. Phew!! It was the stupidest risk we have taken on the trip but luckily we were safe. We enjoyed chicken nuggets, sweet and sour noodle soup, a banana and strawberry milkshake and a coconut pancake to celebrate our survival.

    When we got back to the hotel the owners were very nice and let us have a quick shower in a spare room and even took us to the end of the road to catch our bus.

    As I mentioned this was our last night bus and I must admit in terms of its comfort and features it was by far the best. It was like being in the presidents airplane from House of Cards with huge leather seats with plenty of leg room and even an individual media centre with films on! I was like a kid at Christmas. Although exhausted I couldn't get to sleep so I watched Escape plan with Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in. It was actually a really good gripping and easy watch film. I didn't sleep perfectly but I think I got a few naps.
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  • Day23

    Hpa An

    February 9 in Myanmar ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    For once we arrived at the more sensible hour of 9am, but once again we got little to no sleep. On the way to the hotel we stopped for tea and naan with lentils. Along the way to the hotel I was getting a really friendly vibe from all the locals, even more than normal! Everyone was saying hello and was super smiley, it was like being in the country side up north 😊 We were too early to check in so we just chilled out in the lobby for a while reading our books until we could. The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing and doing our laundry.

    In the evening we went to a cute little cafe for a salad and milkshake, walked around the local lake to watch sunset and finished in the night market. Unlike a lot of nightmarkets we have been to this one was really good with lots of freshly cooked food and all very tasty. We had an amazing sweet and sour chicken noodle soup, some freshly cooked chip shop type chips, a couple of meat skewers, some very stinky Tofu stuffed with tea leaf salad (bleugh) and a strawberry milkshake yum yum yum.

    The next day we got up early and were feeling adventurous. As it was early and not as hot as midday (only 33 degrees 😢) we climbed up Mount Zwegabin. We've done a lot of hiking on this trip and to be honest as we've been ill a lot our fitness level isn't as good as it was but somehow this hike felt impossible the entire way up. The hike was vertically up steps for 2 hours with little relief in terrain and it was scorching hot and humidity levels were rocket high. We were drenched head to toe. We were hoping it would take us less time but it was impossible in this heat and humidity. Towards the top we met a lot of college students who were all litter picking. They were so proud to be looking after the enviroment and really helped our mood for the final half an hour push.

    Once at the top we came to the pagoda and sat and rested for a while. A lot of locals were also at the top in tour groups. They were a good laugh and even offered us chicken bread. Now chicken bread isn't quite what you think it is. It's a very sweet croissant type bread stuffed with sweet oily hairy chicken strands. No it doesn't sound appealing and it wasn't great but we can't be rude about it. Although Will was sat there sniffing it for quite a a long time. All the ladies were giggling at him as if he was about to eat an alien.

    The hike down was just as tough to be honest, slightly quicker, but long, hot and very steep. By the time we finished the hike it was definitely time for lunch but we decided to wait till our next stop for lunch.

    Our next stop was Saddan Cave famous for its size in the area and when you exit the other side it leads to a lake where you can get a boat through caves, along the canal and through rice fields. It was unexpectedly really beautiful and very relaxing. For lunch we ate bamboo sticky rice and an avocado. I must admit I just can't get enough avocado!

    Everything took much longer than expected today so our final stop for the day was the famous bat cave. We arrived over an hour before sunset and were the only ones there. You can't actually go into the cavern of the cave, but it is famous for being a viewing point where you watch millions of bat's leave the cave after sunset fly all the way to Mawlalmyine to feed and come back every morning. When the bats start flying out, they start beating drums (actually jerry cans) and using brooms to make a swishing sweeping noise so that the bats make interesting patterns in flight. We even joined in making the sweeping noise with our mouths once the ladies stopped as it was just fascinating to watch. It is an incredible sight! I wish I could upload the videos! If you are interested just let me know and I'll send it to you on fb or WhatsApp. Its beautiful to watch.

    For dinner we went to Wadee Restaurant which is full of tourists but although very very slow it provides incredibly tasting local dishes. We sat with Simon who we met at the Saddan Cave and had a really good chat about travelling. I'm going to really miss meeting like minded people so easily. As we are getting to the end me and Will went all out and feasted like royalty. We had Prawn Curry, Chicken and Potato Curry (just like my mums at home), tea leaf salad, 2 banana milkshakes and a beer to share. We finally won a free beer too, it was a great day. I wish England had this beer game it so fun. Basically you have the chance to win cash or free beer by looking on the inside of the bottle lid.
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  • Day21

    A Day Of Real R&R Shared With Friends

    February 7 in Myanmar ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Today we all decided to have a day of real R&R. We had a very lazy morning reading our books over breakfast. Then I went for a leg wax while the others chilled out in a garden. The waxing was the strangest one I've ever had. They had clearly never waxed an Indian person and they were just fascinated by our thick hair haha But I must admit it was thorough! The girl even had another girl next to her to check no hairs were left. In addition to the oos and aaahs coming from them while waxing once they got a bit more comfortable they began taking selfies with me! Definitely the most bizarre time to take a selfie but it was fun and they did an amazing job. The only thing is that they took FOREVER!! Normally it takes 30-45 mins. They took an hour and half.

    Eventually I went to meet the others and then we went to the local market for veggie shan noodles. It felt like 100 degrees in the market so we were gasping for juice and so went in search of specifically strawberry milkshake. It was super tasty!!

    Then we planned to go for a well deserved massage but this time at Gemini's. Will and I had bikes so we went to pick them up while Ellia walked. When we got to the bikes Will's had gone! Luckily a lady from the waxing salon came to help and Ostello Bello had CTV. Unfortunately they couldn't see the face clearly but could see that 3 foreigners had taken 3 bikes one of which was Will's. The odd thing was that Will had put the lock on so they wouldn't have been able to use the back wheel. Eventually we got to the masseuse and were given unlimited biscuits, tea and snacks. Yum!! The grandfather that welcomed us was a very sweet old man that spoke basic English and was very proud of showing off his family. He was 73 years old, he had 9 children and 14 grandchildren and 4 houses for his family all next to each other.

    For me the massage wasn't great to be honest and Venus was 100x better. There were some good bits but it was mostly too soft. When finished they gave us avocado shakes, more biscuits, snacks, fruit and water.

    Karin was suddenly feeling very sick so her and Ellia got a lift back to their hostel and Will and I went back to ours for a freshen up. For dinner we went to Ostello Bello so that we could see Karin and Ellia to say our goodbyes. I can honestly say we've made 2 fantastic friends here and we can't wait to visit them in Switzerland!

    The next day me and Will had another chill day before getting the sleeper bus in the evening to Hpa An, our final new destination. We had a slow morning and read our books over breakfast. Checked out at 12pm and went straight for our Venus Massage. I'm so glad we went back there as the massage was the best I'd ever had. I think I fell asleep at points because I was so relaxed!

    For a late lunch we had the famous Burmese Rice which comes with various rice toppings including chilli soya beans, dried anchovies with dried onions and dried shrimp paste. It sounds crazy but it was tasty!

    We then jumped on our sleeper bus by 4pm and were on our way. It was going to be a looong night... 16 hours bus 😭
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  • Day20

    Boat Trip Around Inle Lake

    February 6 in Myanmar ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    After such a lovely boat trip after the walk and talking to the Canadian couple we decided to team up with Ellia and Karin on an whole day boat trip. At 7am we went for breakfast and then jumped on the bikes to the ferry port. I must admit my bum was still hurting from cycling yesterday so I'm looking forward to sitting and relaxing on the boat.

    First stop was the Ywama village which is famous for silver making. Ellia and me even bought ourselves some new earrings.

    Next we spent an hour at the market at Phuang Daw Oo Pagoda where we bought a few goodies to bring home, ate Shan noodles and drank endless amounts of tea.

    Next was a stop at Inn Paw Kon Village where they make lotus Silk. The stems of the lotus flowers produce a fine web like thread which is then woven into thread for garments such as ladies scarves or robes for the monks. It was really amazing.

    Then we stopped at Nan Pa Village where boats and cigars are made. Why the combination I have no idea. Ellia, Karin and Will tried the sweet, banana and strong tobacco cigars. It was weird sitting around them while smoking and smelling the soft scent of banana around me.

    After lunch by the river we walked to Shwe Inn Dein Pagoda which was surrounded in small stupas, almost like a mini Bagan. The site is believed to date back to the days of the Indian emperor Ashoka, who sent out monks in the 3rd century BC across Asia to spread Buddhism. Centuries later two Kings of the Bagan empire, Narapatisithu and Anawrahta built pagodas at the site. The site contains hundreds of pagodas, collectively known as the Shwe Inn Thein pagodas. Most are from the 17th and 18th century; the earliest one with an inscription dates to the 14th century. We were all hot and slightly delirious by this point. We were constantly giggling, hiding behind stupas and jumping out, Ellia even found a broom and randomly started clearing up the leaves and then pretending it was a nimbus 2000. I can't explain why we suddenly went crazy but it happened haha

    After what must have been a good 2 hours we headed back to the boat and had a quick stop to see the long neck ladies. Honestly I don't know why they still make this a stop on the tour because I don't think I've met any tourists that like it. Its like going to a human zoo and its all faked for tourists. Long necks in this area don't really exist and the ones that do don't wear the necklace all the time anymore and can take them off. Or so I've been told. One of the ladies made us hold the necklace claiming it was 8 kg. It was barely 2kg!!

    The next and final stop for the day was the Nga Hpa Kyaung also known as the Jumping Cat Monastery. In the past it was famous for its active cats that would jump through hoops during scripture readings but now the cats are much more lazy and do as all cats do and just lie around in the sun. I can't remember if I've said previously but we always carry balloons and give them out when we see tiny children. As the monastery wasn't that impressive while wandering around we gave some children balloons. They were sooo excited and jusr ran round the outside of the monastery screaming with enjoyment. It was sooo cute!!

    Our tour was supposed to be finished by 4pm but we must have been very slow at each of the stops because it was now 5:15pm. So we asked our boat driver of he would go slowly so we could watch sunset and he happily did so! He also slowed down everytime we went past the iconic one legged fishermen so that we could take pictures with sunset. It was a really picturesque and relaxing end to the day.

    When we arrived we went to Ellia and Karin's hostel Ostello Bello's roof top bar where me and Will played a quick game of the Burmese version of Caram and then we sat and chatted to a few other tourists. I had a really yummy strawberry mojito or so I thought initially. After a few sips my mouth was suddenly full of glass bits so I quickly took it back!! Luckily no harm was done!

    For dinner we went back to the local restaurant for grilled fish, fish steamed in banana leaf and tea leaf salad. It was the best dinner I've had in Myanmar. Cooked to perfection. Absolutely loving our time hanging round with these guys they are fun, funny and so down to earth. Hopefully we can go meet them in Switzerland!!
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  • Day19

    Massage and Wine!

    February 5 in Myanmar ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    All I can say is after 5 days trekking I think we deserved today. We had a very lazy start to the morning of Avocado's and egg on toast, banana and honey pancakes and lots of tea and coffee for breakfast while chatting to a canadian couple till about 12ish. Then we had a massage at Venus and would 100% recommend it as your are greeted by the sweetest ladies and given endless tea, biscuits and snacks at the beginning and end. The massage was just what we needed and we felt great afterwards.

    We then went to pick up our laundry. I was so excited to have clean clothes again! For lunch we met up with Karin and Ellia at Pancake Kingdom before heading on the bikes to Red Mountain Vineyard. My bike was awful with zero suspension or gears and the 45 min ride felt like it took hours. I was in pain when we arrived but it was soo worth it. The views were just beautiful. We did the wine tasting and there is a reason you've never heard of Burmese Wine haha We watched the start of sunset and then cycled back.

    For dinner we had fresh grilled fish, avocado salad, tea leaf salad, stir fried vegetables and rice. Yum yum yum.
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  • Day18

    Tea, Great Company and a Boat Ride!

    February 4 in Myanmar ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    At 4am all the villagers entered the monastery to give offerings to the monks. Had we known this happens it wouldn't have been so annoying. However, to wake up to the clanging of metal plates, cutlery, very loud talking and the smell of food at 4am was just mind boggling and how some people around us slept through the whole thing I will never know!

    At 6am we all went for breakfast and let's just just say there wasn't quite the spring in our step there had been on previous days. Ellia had hurt her ankle, everyone had quite a disturbed sleep and Pauline had sun stroke from the day before so had been sick all night. It wasn't a great start!

    By 7:30am we were on the road again with the end in sight. Today we have about 4 hours to walk, then lunch and an hours boat ride. After about half an hour of walking Pauline decided she was too ill and jumped on a motorbike for the remaining journey to the boat.

    Today's walk went through even more chilli farms, through tiny villages with more adorable children, down a steep rocky path along what would be a river in rainy season and a red gorge. I think by the time we got to the gorge we were slightly dilerious as we came up with a story about it. We decided the colour of the Gorge was due to a tourist long long ago getting too nea the edge falling in and splattering their blood and staining the soil. In addition the size and shape was due to a battle of dragons and one was defeated and fell straight into the ground making the shape of the gorge. As I said... I think the heat got to our heads!

    Unfortunately this walk only had one tea stop but we powered through knowing we would get our tea at the end! After entering a final village we soon came to the end of our walking and were definitely ready for our lunch. Lunch was definitely one of my favourites. We had avocado salad, tea leaf salad, wilted watercress, peanut curry and rice with a fried egg and a celebratory beer. It was super tasty.

    After a relaxing hour Pauline joined us and we jumped on our boat and this was possibly my favourite part of the whole trip. For some reason I expected a really rubbish and short trip but it was sooo nice sitting on the boat in the sun, gliding down the still deltas towards the lake and seeing all the villagers going about their day to day lives. Once we got on the lake we saw the famous one legged fishermen which was a unexpected highlight. When we arrived we were all very relaxed and up for a celebration so we went to a local restaurant for another celebratory beer.

    At about 4pm we all got quite sleepy and were in dying need of a shower, it's now been 4 days since I've had one, so we all parted ways to our respective hotels.

    I jumped straight into a steaming hot shower and was in absolute heaven!! So much so that I probably stayed in a bit too long and ended up using all the hot water. Will was not a happy bunny. For the first time in 3 months we put took all our clothes to a laundrette to be washed properly and then went to meet everyone for Dim Sum Dinner.

    When we got back to the hotel we sat and watched Chris Tarrants show about trains in Vietnam and it brought back so many amazing memories. Thanks Ed Avern who is the Assistant Producer who contacted us and asked for some tips and then for sending it to us. A perfect end to the day.
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  • Day17

    It's All About The Tea

    February 3 in Myanmar ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    I slept like a baby! It was possibly the best sleep I've had for ages. I got up early, watched sunrise and got back into my smelly clothes. I've not showered for 2 days... Eek!

    For breakfast we had Indian Puris, pumpkin curry, guacamole, melon, oranges, coffee and of course more tea. By 8:30am we were all packed up and on our way.

    The morning was spent walking through more villages farming chilli's with the first stop at about 11am for... Guess what?!... Yes some more tea!

    Pyu thought we were barking mad but happily gave us endless amounts of tea at each stop. During the break everyone tried beetlenut Catechu. We had already tried Paan in India so didn't partake and I'm so glad we didn't. It just looked ghastly. At one point Ellia was just spitting out what looked like yellow bile. Why everyone is so obsessed with it here I will never know!

    The next 2 hours were tough because of the heat and longing for a break and lunch. There wasn't much in terms of scenery to entertain either and for the first time we saw other tourists. They did not look like they were having fun at all compared to our constantly laughing group.

    Lunch was quite a let down to be honest compared to the other days, probably because there were quite a few groups. Again we were the noisy laughing group compared to the solem and barely talking ones. So glad we had such a fun group as it really makes a difference to the experience.

    After lunch and tea we had an easy 40 mins hike to the next stop at the river where Pyu, Ellia and Karin went for a dip and the rest of us just chilled in the shade.

    The last part of the day was definitely the best in terms of scenery but worst in terms of heat and feeling sluggish. But Pyu knows exactly how to make us happy and after hiking up for a while and seeing a beautiful view we stopped for Tea. The little shop where we stopped had a fab selection of snacks so we all sat on sun loungers, in the shade eating snacks and drinking plenty of tea while listening to Pyu sing and play the guitar.

    From there we had about half an hour left of walking before reaching the monastery. When we arrived there were quite a few groups and so we weren't expecting such a quiet and comfortable night as before. As soon as we arrived we freshened up, grabbed some beers and headed up to watch sunset before dinner again. We ate, had tea and got told a new bedtime story from Pyu and got to bed for 9pm ready for our early morning start of 6:30am tomorrow.
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  • Day16

    Who Needs Sleep When You Can Hike??!

    February 2 in Myanmar ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    As I mentioned we arrived at 2:30am. Now, normal people would have booked a room already in hope they could check in and get a good night sleep and rest the next day. We aren't normal people. As we felt like we were running out of time we decided to skip the sleep and a day off and hoped we could sign up to a 3 day hike to Inle Lake. A bus would take 2 hours but that wouldn't be so fun would it?!

    Jungle King Trekking office didn't open till 7am so we had quite a few hours to kill. So we took refuge on a freezing tiled floor in the reception of a hotel. At the time it felt like the worst decision we had made this trip. It was so miserably cold I felt like I wanted to cry and obviously I didn't sleep a wink, just felt miserable. Finally at 6:30am we got up and went in search of breakfast. It was warmer outside than in!! We had egg pancakes and talked to locals about football and then sat outside Jungle King waiting for them to open. Luckily we were able to sign up to the trek for today and our morning sleeping on the floor worked out!

    We had 2 hours before the trek started so we went to visit the local market, ate some breakfast and freshened up.

    At 9am we met the 4 others that would be in our group and Pyu our guide. 3 Swiss, 2 Brits and a French on a 3 day adventure. Within seconds we were all laughing, making jokes and bonding. I think it's going to be a great group!!

    The morning hike took us up through villages and along pathways leading upwards towards the hills. It was a straight forward start. We took a short break while a heard of water buffalo's headed down the hill. We were even entertained to a bull fight to which I quickly hid behind Pyu just in case!

    At one point Will's mi band fell off so we both went back to search for it. Luckily we soon found it and then went back to find the group. Now the next thing that happened was the start of a regular event for our group. The group were waiting for us in a little village and had somehow been invited for tea by a little old couple!! We sat for about half a hour drinking lots of tea and chatting to the old couple using our guide as a translator. It was such a unique experience!

    After about another hour or so we stopped for lunch and wow what a spread!! We had guacamole, veggie noodles with a fried egg, tomato salad, watermelon and oranges. Oh and green tea! Yum!!!

    The afternoon was definitely my favourite part. We walked along the top of the hills through hundreds of fields growing beautiful red scarlet chilli's and you could see the valleys far below on both sides. It was really gorgeous.

    When we arrived at the village where we were staying myself, Pauline and Will soon started to feel the effects of not sleeping but we powered through by having a well deserved beer, sunflower seeds and watching sunset as a group.

    For dinner we had another incredible feast by candlelight of aubergine, morning glory, catfish curry, beans and rice. Oh and more green tea! There was a gorgeous little kitten in the home that would just wouldn't leave Will alone. The evening was finished off with a bedtime story about the Dragon and the Prince of Myanmar from Pyu.

    We were all tucked up in bed at 9pm. What an incredible day.
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  • Day15

    Gokteik Viaduct

    February 1 in Myanmar ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    As I said before we are really keen on taking the most famous train ride in Myanmar, the Gokteik Viaduct from Hsipaw to Pyin Oo Lwin and the day has come. I must admit I was pretty terrified of the ordeal after hearing it commonly derails and can take twice as long to get there. Unfortunately we have planned quite a tight schedule and booked a night bus to Kalaw which leaves an hour after the trains arrival time so fingers crossed all goes well!

    We arrived at the station with plenty of time to spare and we were soon on the train. As soon as the engine started the nightmare reality soon began. I have never been on a train that rocks so much!!! It was absolutely crazy (seriously Google YouTube videos), I'm not surprised it derails so often. Within about 10 mins you soon got used to the rocking and all the tourists on the train were having a blast attempting to stand and walk around this rickety train.

    There were various stops along the way giving us time to grab snacks and stretch our legs. It wasn't till around lunchtime when the highlight of the trip appeared and wow was it fun! The viaduct is 689m long and approximately 102m high. Everyone was hanging out the windows and doors to get photos and honestly if this was England it would be a health and safety nightmare but it was great fun!!

    After the viaduct the train passed through more farm land, villages and temples and it was a perfect time to read our books. The train was now very quiet with some reading and others sleeping until we finally arrived in Pyin Oo Lwin surprisingly on time!

    Andrew kindly picked us up from the train station and took us straight to the bus agency and it was all very smooth. For dinner we had the apiciest noodle soup I've ever had and we soon got on the night bus. After the last night bus I was very worried about not getting sleep but surprisingly I did and at 2:30am we were in Kalaw!
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