Top Five Experiences in Myanmar
5. Riding the overnight train from Bagan to Yangon. By all accounts, the train ride should have been a miserable experience: 19 hours of heavy turbulence that some people liken to being tossed around in a dryer! At least we had a sleeper car, so we didn’t have to sit upright on wooden benches the whole way like the locals in “Ordinary Class.” We had a sufficient enough “local” experience the moment we stepped on as two of only three Westerners aboard. 4. Strolling through Zay Cho Market in Mandalay. We’ve walked through many a market before, but what we loved about the bustling Zay Cho Market is that there’s nothing touristy about it. Picture dirt roads lined with shacks for stalls and everything a local may need, from produce to clothing to housewares. Forget the bazaars of Istanbul and Pike Place in Seattle—this is truly something special. 3. Exploring the temples of Bagan at sunset. Off the paved roads and popular tourist locations, we found ourselves breathless in awe driving electric bikes through this vast desert landscape of over 2,000 ancient temples and pagodas. Spectacular at any time of day, but at sunset, we felt like we were transported into an Indiana Jones movie! 2. Observing the local fishermen of Inle Lake. There is something quite romantic about the art of fishing and one leg paddling. It is a skill learned from childhood and requires immense strength, balance and patience. We would be hard pressed to think of a more beautiful human moment than what we witnessed here. 1. Falling in love with the people of Myanmar. We left with a deep affection for the Burmese, who are the most kind and compassionate people you’ll ever meet. It is difficult to imagine not long ago their country was under strict military control and isolated from the rest of the world. How they are transitioning to democracy and greater freedoms with big hearts and open arms is a testament to their good nature. The people are the reason Myanmar is on our short list of countries to return to!