My mother and I flew to Yangon, Myanmar on Feb 6th, 2012 and visited Yangon, the Bagan area , the Inle Lake area and back to Yangon before leaving Myanmar on Feb 16th, 2012.
Day 1 - This bit of travel log is a test to see how a travel log might look here.
After 24 hours in the air that took us from Cincinnati to Dallas to Seoul, Korea, to Bangkok for a night, and on to Yangon, Myanmar and an hour long ride with a crazed taxi driver with a death wish, we made it to our hotel in Myanmar. The Motherland Inn is the quintessential backpacker hotel with clean simple rooms in an old building with lots of charm. There were lots of tables out front for dining, sharing stories with other backpackers, or just watching the world go by, and enjoying the great free breakfast. Breakfast usually included coffee or tea, eggs, juice, toast, and fruit. Surprisingly there was air conditioning and a bathroom with shower in the room. Even internet access was available for a small fee. The staff was very knowledgeable and helpful in arranging transportation, exchanging money, offering advice, and basically taking care of their many patrons like us that knew very little about this strange country. We only spent the first and last 2 nights at the Motherland Inn, but this was pretty typical of the hotels we stayed in and we averaged about $12/night each during our stay in Myanmar.
On our first morning we braved another taxi to the market where they sell..well, just about everything, but especially fresh produce in row after row of open stalls. We followed parts of a recommended city tour and worked our way down to the river where we met "Elizabeth". I couldn't even pronounce her real name so she gave us that name to use. Like many of the locals in the area she was trying to convince us to go with her on some sort of tour of the city. But, besides a trishaw tour of the more rural area across the river, she offered to take us to her house which I found very intriguing. On the way across the river on an old crowded ferry she explained how her parents were killed and how, at 18, she was supporting her two younger siblings and living with her aunt and more extended family (typical sob story, I assumed). Now a Trishaw is a very heavy duty bicycle with a side car that has one seat facing forward and one seat facing backwards for mom and I while Elizabeth rode side saddle on a platform over the rear wheel. Our "driver" really struggled at times to get the 4 of us up some of the slopes and occasionally Elizabeth would have to get off and help. Yes, we offered to get off but they insisted we stay seated. But, for some of the rougher areas we all ended up walking.
After visiting several interesting Pagodas in an area called Della, she took us to a more rural area with very simple bamboo huts around rice fields and little gardens where she lived. Her "house" was a very simple one room bamboo hut with woven split bamboo siding on stilts in an area that obviously floods during the rainy season. We walked up a rickety ramp of bamboo to her house and sit on the floor with Elizabeth, her aunt, another lady with a small baby, and a teenager of about 20. The only furniture in the house was a set of shelves over in one corner where they kept some pots and pans. The floor was wooden boards with gaps of about a half inch through which you could see the ground (or the water). The roof was sheet metal over a bamboo framework with a pretty good view of the sky down the center. She explained where they, and a couple others who weren't there, slept in various areas of this 10' x 10' room and how they used a different arrangement during the rainy season when the rain poured through the gaping holes in the roof. We sat and talked for a while, played with the baby, took some pictures of everybody (except me) and then followed some dirt paths between the now dried up rice fields back to the pier where we caught the ferry back to the other side of the river. Still not sure about her whole story, but she obviously lives, like many others in this country, in some pretty dire conditions. So, I left her a nice tip and we said goodbye. We ended up walking all the way back to our hotel sampling the fresh watermelon, pineapple, and something similar to a small "elephant ear" like you might get at the fair from the many food stands along the way.
Category:Travel and Places
Subcategory Detail:Burma (Myanmar)
Keywords:Bagan, Inle Lake, Yangon