A Year Full of Discoveries 2019

2019 has been a huge year for me travelling. I didn’t go to many places but I did tick off some of my targets on my bucket list. 2019 is the year I finally saw the Northern lights which is a huge tick on my list. It is also a year I have visited 7 new countries and a handful of their regions. I also scuba dived again after a few year absent from the activity. However most importantly 2019 will always be remembered as the year I met many travellers which I could say are friends and travel partners for many years to come. 

Short Circuit, Asean Trip I

Kuala Lumpur, Apr 19First trip of the year and it was a late one. I went for a mini Asian circuit trip and Malaysia was our first stop. To start things off we got straight to hostels, roamed the city on our own and also availed an elephant sanctuary tour.
Siem Reap, Apr 19  This was probably the main focus of this trip, inspired by lonely planet I wanted to see the majestic ancient temples myself. Surprisingly and unplanned I somehow ended up getting to Siem Reap in the middle of a huge celebration(their new year) which we ended up joining in a huge water gun battle with local villagers.
Langkawi, Apr 19  We then went to Langkawi a huge Malaysian island where we went jet skiing and visited a few of their attractions. This time round we were in a hotel to get a little bit of rest.
Koh Lipe, Apr 19 – We then excursed to a smaller Thai island to do some scuba diving. The best experience here was the more than unusual immigration system as you line up on the sand where you will see just a desk under a hut.
Kuala Lumpur, Apr 19 Finally we end up in Kuala Lumpur again where we relax and do our final shopping.

Siem Reap

Oslo Trip

Oslo, May 19 – A long weekend trip with friends which correct to reputation proved to be expensive. It was a lovely city with plenty of attractions.

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Netherlands Trip

Amsterdam, Sep 19 – Its unusual to travel to Amsterdam with your family with its reputation of being a place for adults. However the city wasn’t only for adults and there was plenty to do as a family.
Rotterdam, Sep 19 – After the Amsterdam trip I excursed to Rotterdam by myself which was my first and only solo trip of the year. Rotterdam was small but is proving to be progressing to be a hit for tourism in the future.

Amsterdam

Short Circuit, Asean Trip II

Bagan, Oct 19 – One of the best places ive been due to its openness and freedom this is also the place I met some of the greatest travellers there is.
Yangon, Nov 19 – Just like Bagan Yangon was a beautiful place I have met some great people. The city sprung a few surprises. It was more modern than I thought it would be and it also had some of the friendliest people in any place I have travelled.
Bangkok, Nov 19 – Long overdue visit to the Thai capital. It was meant to be a restful end to my holiday but it proved to be the opposite. The adventures were too great and I ended up visiting many attractions.

Bagan (17)

Iceland

Reykjavik and southern coast, Dec 19 – A 5 day trip to one of the most exciting place I have visited. I finally got tosee the northern lights which is a big tick on my bucket list. Furthermore the country’s mountains, waterfalls and other natural landscapes were just out of this world.

Iceland - Golden Circle (5)

 

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A small circuit around South East Asia II

It is my first trip to Myanmar and because of my shorter holiday leave from work I have opted to base this trip on two of the three main regions in Myanmar and a quick stopover in Bangkok before I go back home.

First stop Bagan (Myanmar)

First stop Bagan and I have come here to see if my perceptions that this region’s archaeological zone would mimic or rival that of Cambodia’s Siem Reap. See how my visit turned out and what I thought of this province.

Second stop Yangon (Myanmar)

Formerly Myanmar’s capital but still a heavy populated bustling city. See what I got up to exploring this city

A quick excursion to Dalla Township (Myanmar)

One of the most questionable excursion. A beautiful simple place but with its problems.

Ending with Bangkok (Thailand)

I planned to go Bangkok as a little rest break from my Myanmar experience. However my plans to rest didn’t go as planned and I started exploring.

Yangon

“A bustling city with the infrastructure ready to welcome the world”

Type : City Break
Best Date : Nov – Jan
Expense :  cheap
Things to do : Roam, Shopping,
Points of Interest: Scwedagon Pagoda, Sule Pagoda, National Museum of Myanmar, Abandoned Amusement Park, Kandawgyi lake and many more
The Good: 
Cheap, much more modern than first percieved
The Bad: Very Traffic walking sometimes easier than traffic, Pavements are not made up,

Brief

Yangon is the largest and most populated city of Myanmar. The city is no longer the capital as it has been recently replaced to Naypyidaw (on 2006) which was purposely built to uphold the administrative functions of the country.

Yangon (22)

The Place

I stayed in Yangon for around four days in total which I think is enough for the former capital city of Myanmar. I was staying near China town in a hostel and nearly everything was a walkaway from the location. There was plenty to see in the city and below are descriptions and my experiences towards these points of interests.

Firstly, the main place to visit in Yangon is the Schwedagon Pagoda also dubbed the Golden Pagoda which is like its unofficial name gold plated and diamond studded. This Pagoda which is 99 meters tall can arguably be seen from most places in Yangon. It is the country’s main and most important Buddhist pilgrimage site. Although closed at night, the best time to see this is when dark as various spotlights illuminate the pagoda in stunning picturesque ways.

Yangon (29)

Half the size of Schwedagon the Sule Pagoda is also a place to go. It is situated in a very busy manic part of Yangon’s centre near markets and colonial buildings. This pagoda is ancient and built around 2,500 years ago. It has always been octagonal, but it has constantly been repaired and renovated. For me this place didn’t really seem to cater for tourism and was strictly for worship (felt like it anyway), for this reason I did not enter the Pagoda.

Yangon (18)

In the middle of a busy district is the Myanmar National Museum which showcases Burmese art, history and culture. A beautiful place for visitors who want to learn more about the nation in a single building.

Sculpture outside National Museum - Yangon - Myanmar (Burma)

Kandawgyi lake which is also known as the Royal lake is also a nice place to visit. Situated near Yangon Zoo it is said to have marvellous views especially upon the sunset. The main attraction for this lake is the Karaweik Hall which looks like a huge barge floating on the lake, a spectacle to see. The hall hosts entertainment with reception halls, theatres, restaurants and conference halls.

Kandawgyi Lake

One of the best hidden secrets of Yangon is the abandoned amusement park, which I don’t think is an official tourist attraction but very popular for adventurous young travellers. The amusement park still has all the rustic rides brilliant for photos, beware though as this park is not maintained so plants have grown and there are plenty of mosquitos.

Yangon Amusement (5)

For nightlife China town is a nice place to go, there is several outside bars and pubs. The street is also good when looking for food at night there are so many different restaurants to choose from. Two high end bars I went to were Eclipse and Port Autonomy. Port Autonomy is situated near Yangon river just next to 42nd street. This bar is classy compared to the other bars across Yangon, great place for cocktails in a chilled atmosphere. Eclipse in the other hand which is situated above Melia Mall is a nighlife multiplex with sport bars, clubs or a full throttle rave. Eclipse is a higher end complex so dressing a little nice would be recommendable.

Yangon (15)

Conclusion

Yangon was what I expected it to be but with little surprises. Before seeing Yangon for myself I envisaged it to be like that of Vietnam’s Hanoi. However, the city was much more updated and advanced than I first thought it’d be. The city had more upper-class malls and shops than I thought they’d have. Furthermore, the parks and Pagoda’s were clean updated and well organised. However, the downside was that the road traffic was very bad and that at times walking was a better option. Even when walking the pavements would not exist and you would find yourself walking side by side with vehicles, however this was safe and I never found myself in danger at any time.

All in all Yangon is a city which although chaotic at times (roads/ streets), there is beauty there if you choose to see it. Its people are some of the friendliest on par with all the ASEAN nations I have been to. It is evident that Yangon is constantly improving and that its government is fully behind it. I fully recommend a visit to this city apart from its beautiful golden structures it is cheap, friendly and safe, a big thumbs up.

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Next Trip Myanmar

10 interesting facts about Bagan
Photo from Royaltravelcity.com

 

So its been a short while since my short trip to Cambodia’s Siem Reap, Malaysia’s Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur and the quick touch of Thailand in Koh Lipe.

So where next?

Well I have a quick weekend trip to Amsterdam this September. However I have also decided to pursue a trip to Myanmar also known as Burma this October. Reason being is that I have been persuaded by a friend who is from the country and the fact that Bagan has just been made a UNESCO world heritage site. I am a little sad I wont be able to visit Mandalay and the country’s new capital Naypyitaw  but I guess this could be done on another trip.

I want to visit as much of the country as possible but unfortunately with only a week to venture (due to work) it looks like I will only have time to visit two main regions, Bagan and Yangon. Bagan being highly advised and a must not miss during a stay in Myanmar, whilst Yangon is a huge city which is my entry and exit point, so I decided to have a look around aswell. I have decided to stay in hostels for the simple reason that I meet more people there, then to end the trip I have decided to stay in a more luxurious hotel in order to rest-up and relax.

So what do I expect from this trip?

I expect similarities between Myanmar and  Cambodia. I expect Myanmar to have the more modern temples whilst Cambodia the older more ancient temples, however the lifestyle I envisage (but could be wrong) to be the same. I expect to use unusual modes of transport but food similar to that of Cambodian, Thai and Malaysian cuisines. Visiting here hasn’t really been on my bucket list but just recently after visiting Cambodia it was high up on my list.

Any advice for this trip?

Photo from Irrawady.com