Myanmar had always been a mystical destination for us and when the dream to visit the beautiful country came true, we couldn’t imagine all the emotions and connections this trip would bring for us. While penning down our journey from last year in April ‘16, we found ourselves quickly faded into reveries.
On our first day, we arrived at the busy Rangoon city, where the weather was extremely humid and hot. We quickly sought calm and refuge at the magnificent Schwedagon, the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar. The Schwedagon Pagoda enshrines strands of Buddha’s hair and other holy relics. We found ourselves in awe of the art and architecture of the temple and experienced an insider’s view of this magnificent symbol of Buddhism to the lives of people of Myanmar. Towards the end of the day as we stepped out, the temperature had started to cool down. Strolling down the former capital’s streets brought us a lot of pleasant surprises: street food stalls, teahouses, and even hidden bars.
Our next stop was Bagan, the ancient city of thousand temples. What can we say? No words can truly describe our fascination for this city. Just rent an electric bike and one can find themselves lost within this 104 km2 area that is scattered with 2200 temples. One can enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of a once upon a time, powerful dynasty. If you want to take this experience to another level, a hot air balloon tour is the best way to fully observe the greatness and the landscape of the site.
Mandalay, our next stop, struck us as the dynamic little brother of Rangoon, where the population is young and techno music is the king in every shop and café. After a sweaty visit of the city center under the sweltering 40C sun, we decided to follow the locals and rested in the famous Mahamuni temple. Lucky as we were, Ashin Kunela (also the coolest monk of all time) approached us and politely asked if he can practice his English with us. After a short introduction, he offered us a private tour of the temple and even embarked us on a “spiritual walk” on the U-Bein Bridge, where he shared that wisdom and mindfulness are the virtues to pursue.
After our hectic but insightful Mandalay trip, we arrived at Inle. We biked through the farmer’s villages and encountered many wonderful people, who invited us to join them in their festivities during the Thingyan Water festival. The elders, children, women and men celebrate this festival together and gather at the village center to dance, sing and of course to throw water at each other. We decided to capture this moment of joy on camera and came back the next day to distribute the photos. Well, word travelled fast and after a few minutes, people started to create a queue to get their own family or portrait picture. Beyond the culture and language difference, we found a way to connect and create a strong human bond through a photo booth!
All good things come to an end and our 9 days journey did as well. We will never forget the kindness of the people, the beautiful landscape and the timeless charm of this magical country.