Arriving in Yangon, Myanmar (from Hanoi, Vietnam) the complete lack of motorbike noise and chaotic movement was distinct. Although there was an extreme monsoon-like rainstorm underway as we taxied to the city center, the palpable calmness of the people and traffic was remarkable. Despite trees falling on cars and streets flooding, there was a notable patience in the movements. “Aaaaahhhhhh, yes,” I thought to myself with a deep exhalation, not unlike Savashana in yoga. The mantra “nothing more to do,” rang clear in my mind. And for all of Myanmar we didn’t hustle. Though we saw much and moved often, the happy resignation to the natural flow was replenishing. Simple breakfasts were included at most accommodations. Flavorful street food for pennies on the dollar kept our bellies full and spirits high.
Despite the unbearably sad situation with the Roghingya, we decided to travel to Myanmar and spend our money only in local businesses when possible. As the situation was isolated to two areas, we felt very safe after conversations with other travelers, and understood the Burmese people needed the tourism income desperately.
We took the common train with hard plastic seats from Yangon to Pye, and then the packed mini bus over the Rakhine Yoma Mountain Range to Ngapali Beach, a seven kilometer dream. Staying at the end of the beach in the local-filled Paradise Hotel. While we could have taken a 45 minute flight, this two-day journey gave us a special insight to the village life in the mountains, over a pass that had only recently been re-opened.
With water festival (Thingyan) upon us, bus services were all but cancelled. We took shockingly quick flights with nearly empty planes for the remainder of our tour through Mynamar. First, to Bagan, where we rose at sunrise to beat the oppressive heat and see the ancient temples in their misty glory. As the heat of the day emerged, we cruised our electric moped through the streets to get thoroughly drenched by the buckets and hoses of celebratory dousing. Music blasting, shrieks of joy and surprise. “Thank you,” being the appropriate response (despite shock as the cold water runs down your spine) as this was the shared cleansing and the marking of a new year.
Then, on to Inle Lake for the second half of water festival. Here Josh got in the mix with the street shenanigans, hosing down passerby with a group at a street-side restaurant. We took a spectacular, long boat ride on Inle lake, visiting floating villages and local silver jewelers. Our favorite dish of Myanmar was found at a roadside stand for US .50 - Shan Noodles in their brothy, spicy, textured glory. We had taken bicycles on an afternoon ride to see the winery, which was closed, but we were forever thankful for the noodle surprise instead! Our last day in Inle Lake was spent at the Khaung Daing Nature Hot Springs, where we had the three beautiful tubs all to ourselves. To round out our Myanmar tour, we spent a day in Mandalay before our departing flight, where we explored Jade Market and had custom pendants carved and polished!