Tag Archive | "Myanmar"

Myanmar: U Bein Bridge

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Myanmar: U Bein Bridge

Posted on 18 July 2014 by Dreidel Regala

When you google U Bein Bridge, breathtaking photos of a teak wood bridge will greet you. Go ahead google it.

Photo taken by John Radcliffe (pixabay)

Photo taken by John Radcliffe (pixabay)

It’s actually the very reason why I decided to make a stop in Mandalay.

U Bein bridge is known as the longest teak wood bridge in the world. It is found in Amarapura (the former capital of Myanmar) and stands around 1 km long.

It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon and the sun was gearing for the final show. As our ride slowly veer into the scene, buses and cars were already lined up in the parking lot. Sunsets are usually the popular time to visit U Bein, bleeding red orange skies in the background while silhouettes of the bridge and local life fill my imagination.

U Bein Bridge

I invited my Swiss roommate and another Filipina whom I met in one of the temples in Bagan to go there. Three foreign girls who were like kids seeing a bridge for the first time. It did cross my mind though, to run across but remembered how old and delicate the wooden planks were. Nope, I’m not going to be the girl who caused the bridge to fall down.

We continued to walk in a leisurely pace, mostly me lagging behind as I wait for tourists to clear out.

But the bridge is only secondary to visitors. Everyday U Bein connects farmers, monks, merchants, residents etc. to/from Taungthaman town.

A merchant in U Bein Bridge

Monks in U Bein Bridge

Monks in their robes, women in thanaka, and men in longyi. In this part of the world I was the stranger in ordinary shirt and bare face.

A woman in U Bein Bridge

Kids in U Bein Bridge

For a moment I was taken aback by how busy the bridge was. But if the people were this fascinating to watch, it was enough for me too call it my most interesting sunset by far.

U Bein Bridge

Around the bridge acres of fields line the banks where women in conical hats are tending to. A  hard job I always thought and a noble one at that.

U Bein Bridge

Then there are sunflowers to match the one in the sky.

Sunflowers

While everything in the area was engaged, the placid lake and a dead tree in the middle showed the contrasting range of the U Bein landscape. Hence I see why it is so popular to photographers.

Taungthaman Lake

Dead tree

But it’s really sad how garbage is creeping up on this place. Even on the silhouette picture above pieces of trash cannot hide.

After walking through the bridge we rented a boat for K30,000 for the sunset watch. A small paddle boat enough for 4-5 people.

U Bein bridge from the boat

U Bein bridge

U Bein bridge

The boat man drove us around the lake. We went under the bridge, on the left side, on the right side. Slowing down when we held up the camera and even pointing to spots he learned from pros.

U Bein bridge

By the time sunset came, all the boats converged to one area. Ya we burned our feet with all the day’s temple watching but this one perfectly sums up the day.

U Bein bridge

U Bein bridge

*****

To see U Bein bridge, rent a taxi for K35,000-K40,000 for a day’s tour outside Mandalay. Drivers will usually know to time U Bein Bridge for sunset.

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Where to stay in Bagan: The Shwe Na Di Guest House

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Where to stay in Bagan: The Shwe Na Di Guest House

Posted on 27 June 2014 by Dreidel Regala

Located in Nyaung U, Shwe Na Di Guest House is a great budget option for the average traveler.

Shwe Na Di Guest House

While Nyaung U is actually far from temples and pagodas of Old Bagan, what’s good about this area is that it’s closer to the bus terminal, market, stores, and restaurants. For me this is great since I like walking around and talking to locals when I’m not sightseeing.

Shwe Na Di Guest House

I paid $20 for a room and I got a double bed, private bathroom, air conditioning, television, fridge, and breakfast. Talk about value!

Double bed

TV and fridge

The toilet needs some fixing though, some pipes were broken.

Toilet

Breakfast is served outside the room but if you are on the second floor then you have to go down. Nothing special just coffee, bread, jam, and fruit.

Shwe Na Di

Shwe Na Di

Making a reservation in Shwe Na Di Guest House is actually a little tricky. The last time I asked they told me they don’t have a website or e-mail address so either just walk-in or call in advance. What I did was after landing in Yangon I called them up.

Shwe Na Di Guest House
Nyaung U
(094) 0251 0138

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Burma: The Yangon Circle Line Train

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Burma: The Yangon Circle Line Train

Posted on 14 March 2014 by Dreidel Regala

It’s an hour past noon and the passengers were settling in on the plane. As usual I was quick to fasten the belt on my (aisle) seat and ready to fly. This time to Bangkok.

“So where are you from?”, asked the boy who was sitting by the window.

“Philippines”, realizing I’d always smile whenever I say my country.

“Did anyone…”

“..tell me that I look Burmese? Ah yes a lot”

I think he was about to say – I knew it! but then asked “And you’re just traveling in Myanmar?”.

“Yeah”, instantly images of Burma a week ago started to fill my head.

***

As I was wandering the streets around Sule Pagoda, the sun took on the skies like a boss and lounged all of Yangon in sweat so I decided to kill my remaining hours in the bus terminal instead.

Several confused looks and hand mimes past, I eventually got to the Yangon Central Railway Station which will then take me to the terminal.

Yangon Railway

Central Station Bridgeway

“Hi, how do I get here?”, pointing to Paywetseikkon station in the map.

“Paywetseikkon. Ah 15 minutes”, said the boy behind the old wooden table as he write my ticket details. “Okay wait. I’ll show you train later.”

The station was less busy than I thought. No morning madness. Just some people waiting for their designated train, others carrying big sacks, while a couple of young boys were selling what looks to be bottles of water.

Yangon Circle Train

Yangon Central Station

Yangon Central Station

Yangon Central Station

Yangon Central Station

The Circle Train literally circles around Yangon which means anyone who is bored can decide to sit and just enjoy the full 3 hour ride into the deep towns. Hop off if you find something interesting then hop back in to the next passing train. Mingle with the townsmen, soak in the common folks life, or just sit in the train station observing how quiet Burma lives.

Yangon Circle Train

Yangon Circle Train

Yangon Circle Train

Yangon Circle Train

It was a window on what the real Burmese life is. Away from foreigners, away from tourists.  It looked so familiar but it feels so different. And a lot of what I’ve seen during my short time around this railway can only be captured with my imagination.

Yangon Circle Train

Yangon Central Station

 

Yangon Circle Train

Yangon Circle Train

Yangon Circle Train

Yangon Circle Train

***

 “So how was it? Did you like it?”, sensing his eagerness I knew he had a wonderful time too.

“Oh yes. Place is amazing. And definitely the culture.”

Meanwhile in the background, our plane’s wheels were up in the air.

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Burma Culture: The Thanaka

Posted on 10 March 2014 by Dreidel Regala

Distinctly Burmese, thanaka (a.k.a. thanakha) is worn in the face and other parts of the body as an ornament and protector against sun. It is also believed as a good skin moisturizer.

Little girl wearing thanaka

Little girl wearing thanaka

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I am heading to Burma – Join me!

Posted on 19 December 2013 by Dreidel Regala

Destination: Burma (Myanmar)

Date: March 1 – 8

This place is on a hot seat recently well who wouldn’t be intrigued if it promises a window to the past. Described as a place where everything seemed to have stood still while the rest of the world was busy with industrialization and commercialization.

I’m so excited to see Bagan!

Here’s a photo of the placid Inle Lake and the amazing balancing of the fisher.

Inle Lake Myanmar (Burma)

© Photo taken by Cynthia MacDonald

 

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