The ancient city of Bagan, Myanmar, is a big player on travelers’ bucket lists – a really big one. It’s wide-stretched plains sprinkled with pagodas, temples and monasteries are definitely not something you would want to miss. I personally had been more excited to go to Bagan than to any other place in Myanmar – and have not been disappointed. But as always with places as fabulously famous as this one, shenanigans and pitfalls are a thing. Buckle up for a ride of disorientation, lack of energy, wanting to face palm other tourists and some useful information also.
The red dust swirls up around our ankles as we step on the deserted street. It’s still dark and we’re yawning like you only can when it’s 4 am and you’re not still up, but already.
As we walk towards the rental place, I feel my heart beating uneasily in my chest.
A little girl greets us with a smirk as we approach. My stomach rumbles audibly as she asks “You want two?”, pointing at the motorcycles.
Myanmar is beautiful – people, landscapes, food, cities, temples, beaches, you name it. Something else I can never overlook when traveling are the lovely creatures roaming the streets. Today, I want to give some credit to Myamars animals because I couldn’t walk past one of them without “awwww”ing – at least that’s true for most of them (the giant spiders were a whole different topic, but even if I’d wanted to take pictures of them, I was freaking out way too much to hold a camera). The ones in here are all just cute and fluffy, I promise.
It’s Liebster Award time! Lucky me, I have been nominated! When I first started blogging I kep on seeing all these posts about this strangely German sounding prize and I was left puzzled. What is this Liebster Award thing that everyone seems to be getting, I kept on wondering. A little time has passed and while I found out that this Award is not as fancy as it’s name might suggest, I’m still happy and humbled to be finally be a part of it.
So the other day I was rambling about how you couldn’t visit Yangon without paying your tributes to Shwedagon Pagoda – and while I still think that’s true – there’s so many other places that you just can’t miss when visiting Myanmar for the first time. Among these endless must-sees, some do still stand out: For example because they are a world famous, jaw-dropping, cover-of-every-guidebook, seemingly resisting the laws of physics kind of place. All of this (and so much more) is true for Kyaikthiyo, better known as the Golden Rock. For all of the obvious reasons listed above, we had to to see it for ourselves.
Now I’m usually not the kind of person and/or traveler to claim they have everything figured out (cause I usually don’t), but for some reason, every decision made about our trip to Kyaikthiyo turned out just right. So ultimately, what I am looking to share today is nothing less than the perfect visit.
“A visit to A is not complete without B” – a claim found in many guidebooks and one I usually don’t agree to, because how is a visit ever complete really? Either way, in this case I’m going to have to make an exception, because a visit to Yangon simply isn’t complete without a trip to Shwedagon Pagoda. This place is about as impressive and magical as it gets. Visiting one of most important religious sites in Myanmar as a foreigner, or rather as a non-Buddhist, most people with common sense will put some effort into behaving appropriately. Needless to say, many tourists there still prefer to be assholes instead. But even if you try you hardest, there are some cultural tripping hazards around – trust me, I would know.
Yangon was the first place we visited in Myanmar and is for most people because of its well-connected airport. Although the convenience of getting there sure is a major advantage, I found that there are better reasons to start your journey through Myanmar in Yangon – or while we’re at it: why Yangon is great as a first place to visit in Asia altogether.