Myanmar or Burma as it was once known was not on our radar to visit until Digby saw an article about the one-legged fisherman, next thing we knew he was doing a recce and scouting photography locations for his next tour.
Again, I was a tag along but the best thing about this trip was that our beautiful friend Christine who had not travelled overseas before was coming along on this trip (Oh! and her boyfriend Cameron). The beauty about this trip was that Myanmar really only opened up to tourists in 2011 so it didn’t have that full-on Asian experience of chaos and everyone looking for your tourist dollar.
This country was a great start for Christine to experience her first overseas trip to Asia and I am very thankful to her as she reminded me of why we love to travel. She was interested in everything and appreciated all the culture, landscape and experiences and that was infectious, she made the trip a wonderful experience
First up we landed in the capital of Myanmar, Yangon, the best decision that ever made for this city was the banning of motorbikes in the capital so the chaotic traffic and constant beeping is not present and you can really appreciate the location. We visited the Shwedagon Pagoda which is also known as the Dragon or the Golden Pagoda and it is super impressive.
From Yangon we caught a night bus to Inle Lake this was an interesting trip and we are probably glad that it was mostly at night as I think there would have been some scary moments driving up the mountains.
This location is amazing with the whole community living and working on the lake, it is known for its crop production and fishing industry. As well as great accommodation and services available.
We then flew out to Bagan which has the largest number of religious edifices and they are absolutely amazing. We did the things that tourist should not do and that is ride a motorbike without a helmet, wearing thongs at night and oh towing the other bike which ran out of battery. I did however end up with a stomach bug and spent the next 24 hours in bed, but don’t worry Digby and the crew went happily about their trip.
From here. We had to say goodbye to our fantastic friends as they headed home and we headed to Vietnam.
Vietnam was not on Digby’s list of places to visit but I wanted to go there just for an appreciation of a piece of history that is so prominent to Australia.
We arrived in Hanoi and hit the streets, what a difference from Myanmar it was noisy and busy with the “mister, mister you buy” at every turn. Digby eventually gave in to a gentleman who followed us for about 3 km wanting to fix his shoes. The problem was that he mended one shoe and then polished it, which then made it a different colour to the other one, so he needed to get both done. Then the haggling began as Digby agreed to the original price but he was saying no that was one shoe. Digby paid up, so lesson learnt or so I thought. Digby brought a donut from a street vendor but as he hadn’t got use to the currency being 200 000 Vietnamese dong handed one to the girl and she just disappeared into thin air, I just told him he paid $12 for a donut.
We did a day trip to Ha Long Bay with an overnight trip on the boat which was fantastic, the only issue was the amount of boats and tourists doing the same thing, Digby really hates the whole follow the flag tourist thing, the problem is that to see this location it is the only viable way to go.
Another bus trip was out to Hoa Lu and Tam Coc which was beautiful country side with a canoe trip down the river, it is fascinating to see the boat driver rowing with their feet.
We then drove to Hue for a couple of nights before heading down to Hoi An which was a surprise as it has an old town feel, unfortuantely they were just hit with a cyclone, so we didn’t get to appreciate the whole are which is very popular for tourists with the opposite side housing the main resorts which is popular for weddings.
We did a day trip to Danang before heading to Saigon which is now to be known as Hoi Chi Mihn City. This town was unimpressive which I suppose because it is the more capitalist side or financial hub of the country with modern buildings as opposed to Hanoi which is more traditional. We did do the standard trip to Cu Chi Tunnels and the Mekong River cruise.
Even though Vietnam is busy and crowded and tourist dollar driven there is still beauty and history that is worth the trip, we will go again but will head to more of the non-tourist areas to get a better feel of the country.