17 June 2010

Yangon (Myanmar) – The last jewel of Indochina

By Karen

When I got to know that AirAsia is finally flying direct from Kuala Lumpur to Yangon, I jumped with joy and immersed myself in the bookstore over the weekend, adding another travel guidebook to my Lonely Planet collection.

You see, I am the kind of person who loves to explore the deep souls of Asia. Especially one that has yet to be dominated by the concrete jungle and flocks of tourist; a place where bare-footed children running around on the streets with not a slightest worry on their angelic faces and where genuine exchange of culture is actually possible with the locals.

A part from the golden pagodas, Yangon has captivated me in a way that is hard to describe by words. Maybe I was drawn to the fighting spirit of Aung San Suu Kyi for her people, perhaps it’s the very fact that I am curious to see how people live in a country that is governed by such extreme military regime and yet remain optimistic about what the future has to offer.

Whatever it is, I’m pretty determined to challenge my mind and soul to uncover what Yangon has to offer. And while I was reading my lonely planet guidebook, I’ve picked up some of the highlights that are not to be missed in Yangon. Honestly I’ve never been to Yangon so bare with me. Oh! Please share our list of must-sees if you have been to Yangon :)

Must see and do #1
Shwedagon Paya aka. Golden Pagoda

I am sure every photographer would agree with me that this is definitely something not to be missed from their Yangon photo album. The 2500 year old, gilded, bell-shaped dome is the most famous landmark and the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Yangon.

Shopaholic like me who is interested in Burmese antiques, including Papier Mache Owls, wood-carved statues, and Buddhas, please don’t miss the shops at the entrance hallway!

Must see and do #2
Bogyoke Aung San Museum

Museum tells a tale of a country and Her people like no other guidebook can. That’s why museums are a must see for me. Especially the Bogyoke Aung San Museum which is dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, an independent leader of Yangon who was assassinated in 1947.

The museum, or essentially was the house of Aung San is still kept in its original condition where visitors can expect to see used items by the late Aung San.

Must see and do #3
Aung San Suu Kyi’s House

I am sure I am only able to take a glance from the outside considering that it’s barricaded by a concrete wall and barbed wire, and probably has surveillance and security to prevent documentation. But I am curious oh how Aung San Suu Kyi’s house looks like and I am not about to missed out on this one!

Must see and do #4
Bogyoke Aung San Market

Those who love handicraft like me should not miss this! A 70 year old market, filled with huge selection of jewellery, shoes, bags, scarf, wood carvings, and pretty much everything else. Sounds like a place that I would find a lot of hidden gems and a good place to hunt for souvenir!

A part from what’s listed, I am sure there are plenty more to explore in Yangon itself. But what I am really interested in is the excursion to Bagan and Inle Lake.

Must see and do #5
Bagan

Bagan or known as Pagan is located at the banks of Irrawaddy River – home to thousands of pagodas , stupas, Buddhist temple dated back to 11th and 12th centuries.

Traveling to Bagan is made possible via flight, train, bus and boat. But I would most likely opt for train from Yangon. Taking the overnight train that departs Yangon at 10PM and arrives the next day at 8PM. Just looking at the picture is enough to bring out the Indiana Jones is every one of us, don’t you think?!

Must see and do #6
Inle Lake

Inle lake, is a floating village inhabited by many different tribes, very similar to Tonle Sap in Siem Reap I supposed…

To travel to Inle Lake, I suppose I will take the bus from Bagan which cost around USD9. Won’t be comfortable I am sure but hey, when in a foreign country, do what the locals do so that you can tell a tale that would not be possible otherwise.

Must see and do #7
Get acquainted with the locals

Last but not least, I am just gonna chill with the locals and rub some thanaka on my face while I feast on some Bamar food . I strongly believe that the only best way to know a country is to get acquainted with the locals, get to know each other despite the color of our skin and the language we speak. So that we can make this world, a better place to live in.

So what are you guys waiting for? Head over to AirAsia.com to book your flight now :)

  • Michael

    go go AA ! im gonna review my AA experiences soon.. haha..

    juz booked tix to Myanmar in OCT/NOV. =)

  • Ricardo

    “Taking the overnight train that departs Yangon at 10PM and arrives the next day at 8PM.”

    You mean the train trip is 22 hours long??? Wow!

  • Thomas

    Nobel Peace Prize winning Aung San Suu Kyi has asked that tourists avoid visiting Burma, as the industry benefits the oppressive military government. What moral justification does Air Asia give to doing business with the repressive junta?

  • Serena

    i think Aung San Suu Kyi is rather selfish to do that.
    She has denied the people of Mynmar the chance to earn some money from tourism!
    Anyway she had clarified in an article which i read somewhere that the boycott was for that particular year only!

    Like a Malay proverb, when the two elephants are fighting, the ants on the ground are being stepped to death!

    She is comfortably being supported by the west but her countrymen are not so lucky, they still have to earn a living for themselves!
    Therefore Airasia is doing a good deed by flying to Yangoon!

  • Stuart

    Chocks away Tally HO!
    Flights are booked.
    Yip Yip it’s Yangon!
    Air Asia
    Xtra Long
    Xtra Cheap
    Xtra Service.
    Travel promotes: understanding:cultures:
    ways of life.
    One World Cry Freedom! William Wallace

  • Charina

    I must visit Yangon with my dear hubby and 2 kids and also with all of my friends’families that we always travelling together with AirAsia. Most of the Yangon’s places are so excited especially The Golden Pagoda. I think if my daughter go with me, she will takes a lot of pictures there. Aung San Suu Kyi’s House,Bagan etc…I’ll coming soon !!!! AirAsia, Simply The Best.