Category Archives: Myanmar

When I take out travel insurance, I always assume “I won’t need it anyway”, but buy it “just in case”. Luckily I haven’t been in any major accidents that racked up hospital bills, but I do have some interesting doctor experiences abroad. I once spent a night in a hospital in Australia, got experience with Laotian, Cambodian and Peruvian doctors when I got bitten by dogs and I discovered Burmese health care. In this last case I am still unsure of what was actually wrong with me, although I have a feeling it had to do with exposure to the sun. Although the Burmese are wonderful people, my doctor visits were well, interesting… Merry Christmas? For my Christmas in Myanmar I decided to go on a 3 day trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake. It was the most amazing experience and my hiking group became a little family. But when…

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Mrauk-U, pronounced Meow O, is a small town in the west of Myanmar, not far from Bangladesh. The town makes it on some itineraries because of the incredible temples and the possibility to visit some Chin villages. It is a pretty sleepy town, where most of the roads are still dirt roads. The ones that are paved are not that good anyway. The shops open around 7.30AM, when people spread out there wares on tables in front of their shops. There are a few monasteries and at night, or early in the morning, you’ll hear their morning rituals. To me it was the true Myanmar small town feeling.     Before I went there, and even on the bus there, I only had one question: how safe is it? The Rakhine state is currently in the news a lot because of fighting that is going on along the border with Bangladesh.…

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There is definitely no lack of gold in Myanmar!

I arrived in Kalaw at the beautiful hour of 5AM. We had arrived early. If the bus driver hadn’t tapped me on the shoulder, I probably would have opened my eyes in Inle lake. My travel buddy Jelle and I were the only ones to get off at this stop. It was freezing! I didn’t expect temperatures that were barely above freezing level. There were two touts waiting, dressed in winter coats and hat, asking us if we needed a taxi or accommodation. They could have stayed in bed, because I was planning to do the trekking straight away. Jelle and I had a quick talk and eventually we decided to check into the Golden Kalaw Inn, where we paid 5 dollars extra for the early check in, and spend a night in Kalaw anyway. At least we were well rested after that. Kalaw is very small. We checked out a…

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I spent four weeks in Myanmar, the full 28 days that you are allowed to stay on one visa. I met many people who just had 10 days. Some people asked me “What on earth did you do for 4 weeks?” My question is “How can you only do 10 days?” I loved travelling in Myanmar. There is so much to see. In some of the places I’ve been to, I would have loved to stay another day or two. And then there are all the place I haven’t seen! I love the country. I love the people. I love the variety in activities. And… I love the travellers. Unlike Southern Thailand, where I expected to meet lots of people, I found it so easy to connect to others. Myanmar is filled with solo travellers. It’s a different kind of traveller too. There are no big parties, so people come…

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The Shwedagon pagoda is perhaps the main attraction of Yangon. Even the Burmese themselves make pilgrimages to this gigantic pagoda. It is one of the most important ones in the country. I decided to combine a visit to the pagoda with some of the surrounding attractions. In front of the pagoda is the people’s park. I really didn’t know what it was and thought I’d just find a park, like the Central park of Yangon. However, they change a small fee to enter. At first the place was very much like any other park. There was a fountain, although there was no water in it, and there were lots of trees, plants and grassy fields. A bit further on, the park turned out to be a mix of an amusement park and a waterpark. There were also some small eateries and vendors of snacks. Me and my friend sat down…

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Myanmar has many minorities. Before Myanmar was Myanmar, it consisted of different empires and areas with different peoples. One of the poorest minorities in the country are the Chin people. Most of them live in the Chin state, but that is off limits to tourists. A few of them have moved to Rakhine state though and they can be visited by boat from Mrauk U. Today I joined a Spanish man and a Canadian girl on a boat trip to the remote villages. We visited four villages in total. There is no road access and it took us about two hours to reach them by boat on the Lemro river. But even getting to the boat was an adventure. We had to drive for 40 minutes over the worst road I have seen by far. Apparently a lot of the road floods in the rainy season, so at times it…

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The hostel I stayed at in Yangon was a really good place to get to know other travellers. The first night I met Douglas, who was also interested in riding the circular train, so after breakfast we walked to the train station. We almost walked past it, but I noticed a poster inside a building that looked like a train map. We had a look inside and a man was sitting in a cubicle, behind green bars. He made a circular motion with his hand and we nodded yes. It was easy enough to get the tickets. On the platform they were working, improving the drains it seemed. I got super excited when the train arrived. We climbed in and found a seat. The train had some fans on the ceiling, but most of them didn’t work. We really crawled through the city, stopping often to let people on and off.…

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It’s Christmas time and what better thing to do than to get away from it all by joining a trekking trip through the countryside. When you’re travelling, Christmas can be a quite depressing period, even if you aren’t that much into it. Everyone is visiting family and you are just stuck by yourself. That you are in some exotic place doesn’t seem to matter. So this year I found myself a replacement family of other travellers. I had the best Christmas! I already knew a few people that went on the three-day hike from Kalaw to Inle lake. So in the morning we all made our way to the trekking company and made sure that we were all in the same group. We ended up in a group of 13, with amazing, fun, social and active travellers. Our guide Tampe led the way in our adventure. We first needed to…

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