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Discover Myanmar in a New Light

FOR SOME PEOPLE, MYANMAR IS A SECRET COUNTRY THAT CUTS
THEM OFF FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD. IN FACT, THERE ARE LOTS
OF BEAUTIFUL TREASURES FOR ALL TRAVELLERS TO EXPLORE. AFTER
YOUR FIRST TIME TRAVELLING IN THIS GOLDEN LAND, YOU WOULD
PLAN FOR MORE, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT IS NOW EASIER TO ACCESS
AND MORE CONVENIENT FOR ANY STYLES OF JOURNEY.

I took the morning boutique flight of Bangkok Airways from Bangkok to Yangon. After one hour and 20 minutes, I landed at Yangon International Airport where I could see the construction of the new terminal to welcome more visitors in the future. Later on, I was greeted by the limo chauffeur who passed me the Wi-Fi password on board and showed me around with his fluent English. From the airport to downtown, I think Yangon has changed a lot in terms of development, such as public bus service instead of the local mini-trucks, the young generations wearing more pants not just Sarong and Longyi. By the way, the buildings from the British colonial period and the faces of people are still beautiful to me as always.

Only 45 minutes from the airport, I saw Sule Pagoda majestically standing in a distance. It meant that we were now arriving at the heart of Yangon. A few minutes later, our limo arrived at Pullman Yangon Centrepoint, the brand new hotel located nearby Sule Pagoda and more attractions in Yangon. In my opinion, this hotel is situated in a perfect location for all travellers who love to walk around the neighbourhood area like me. I could see the Maha Bandula Public Park and the City Hall on the opposite site, surrounded by the wonderful colonial style buildings, while my heart was beating faster when I entered my room and saw the perfect scenery of Yangon river through the window. But it is not enough, the hotel staff told me that the Bogyoke Market and the railway station is located a few blocks
from here. That would be my itinerary for tomorrow because this afternoon we had to start our journey off with a visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar.

This Buddhist sanctuary is where the local people and overseas visitors come here to pray and make an offering. From Pullman Yangon Centrepoint, we can see apparently it was built with tons of gold and it is true! Religion is important to the people in Myanmar. Although, the technology tries to conquer the world but people still come here to pay homage to the Buddha, mediate and donate; that’s why Shwedagon Pagoda is the tallest pagoda in this country. After spending a couple hours for worship, we returned to the hotel for dinner at E’cucina Italian Restaurant. It is highly recommended for anyone who wants to enjoy the original Italian taste in Yangon.

As I mentioned before, I wanted to visit the neighbourhood area so I went to bed early and fall asleep so quickly in the softened bed of Pullman standard. The next day, I woke up at 6am and crossed the road to Maha Bandula Park where Myanmar people participated in different types of activities like Tai Chi, Yoga, aerobic dance and jogging in the garden. When the sun completely rose over the sky, people left the park while I was walking along the street to get the nice shots of colonial architecture and morning market. In the market, you can find local products and some of them are imported from China and Thailand. I have discovered that Yangon nowadays is the capital where old meets new and the traditional is juxtaposed with the modern making. It is easier for self-travellers to access especially when you stay in the downtown area; one night maybe not enough.

Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to Yangon for now because there was another dream destination awaiting us. We headed to the domestic terminal and took the flight to Heho Airport in the northern of the capital. If pure nature and culture is your thing, then Inle Lake in Shan State is the place to go. Home to divers, flora and fauna, Inle Lake is a UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserve where people around the world know this place from the pictures of traditional onelegged rowing fishermen. From Heho airport, the limousine service took 45 minutes to Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min, the luxury resort by the shore of a freshwater lake.

The luxury boutique resort is the breathtaking haven of all visitors, offering the perfect combination of nature, culture and smart living facilities. I inhaled the fresh air deeply like my body would like to clean up all the pollution away. The management team showed me around the resort. I could say that this resort is suitable for all travellers, either honeymoon couples or family and friends, not only for the beautiful architecture, but also the way they live with nature. There is tomatoes garden, rice fields, banana trees and more vegetable farms in the resort area. Some of them became the main ingredients of the resort’s signature menu. Later, We walked to the wet land villas and were stunned with the panoramic view of the lake. Moreover, the jetty bar is the perfect place for sipping cocktails while watching the sun getting low.

The Friday night dinner was held under Shan theme to pay homage to the local communities. The traditional dance and mouthwatering local food are provided to welcome all guests to the experience the true Shan state life. I had known the secret that some of the performers are the hotel staff who would like to impress their guests through the show.

However, life at Inle was something that we need to explore! So the next morning, I had to jump into the long tail boat to visit the lake sanctuary communities. Luckily, it was in early October, so there was a Buddhist festival at Nyaung Shwe village. During the two weeks festival, pilgrims from the surrounding region come to pay their respects to the Buddha images at Monastery. I was amazed with lots of long tail boats and vibrant traditional costumes from different tribes. For the one day trip programme, guests will get the opportunity to buy local goods such as silverware, lotus thread cloths, silks and tobacco. If you are looking for a cool place to take unique photographs to show off to your friends, head to Inle Heritage. This place is a not-for-profit organisation that preserves the nature and culture of Inle Lake with restaurant, gift shop, house of Burmese cats and school for local students. I really enjoyed the taste of Shan set menu which is quite similar to Thai cuisine.

After lunch, burn more calories at Shwe Indein Pagoda. These Inle lake’s mysterious hidden jungle stupas are not well-known among the tourists but this monastery was respectful by the local people of Shan State for centuries. I found lots of people were walking a long path to the top of the hill to experience each own inner adventure among the alley of stupas. In the late afternoon, the Inle lake looks peaceful, so we stopped at Novotel Inle Lake Myat Min for high tea.

The authentic pastries were prepared along with the finest tea with the cool breeze off the shore ambience.

Time has changed, technology drives the world, but it could not change the true beauty of Myanmar. The people, culture, nature and lifestyle always charged up my soul every time I visited and make me wait for the next holiday to come!

Text and Photos by Narisara Srichantraphan