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  1. #51
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    It's the last day of my holiday & tomorrow I'll be flying out of Yangon. I got up bright & early as I wanted to take pics before the water craziness started. I'm an early bird anyway, do waking up early wasn't a problem.
    I went to the Sule Pagoda & surrounds.on foot, taking pics along the way. I saw ppl doing their early morning business, like food carts, a nearby small market selling fish, chicken, flowers, etc. Back home, we call it a "talipapa" or small market.

    Along the way, I saw some churches, a mosque and hindu & buddhist temples. I like how the diff religions coexist here in Myanmar. It was the same in.Mawlamyine, there were diff types of religious buildings. The "look" of the ppl are varied.too. Some are of Indian origins, some look like typical SEA ppl, some of Chinese origins too. I think along the way, I passed by the Indian quarter as there were hindu.temples & Indian-looking ppl

  2. #52
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    The staff at this GH are very nice & accommodating. They're mostly young, prolly in their 20s. They're going tonight to an open air stage party near the lake, where there will be loud.music, dancing.& the ubiquitous water sprinklers & hoses. They invited.me & I might.go & be wet, what the heck! Lol

    Most of them speak English well. Yday, we were all in the taxi to go to the SulePagoda stage. When they learned that I'm Filipina,.they said: Oh, you got Manny Pacquiao, very good fighter. Better than.Mayweather. And I said, yeah! Lol

    Thanks to the Pac-man; he.put the Phils on the modern world map. Even tuktuk drivers in Cambodia know Manny

    .

  3. #53
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    I think the ordinary ppl like Manny bcos he's Asian & he's a rags.to riches story. Everyone knows of his poor origins, that his father abandoned them & that he had to work to help out his mom. Now his.mom is a celebrity herself (with some advertisements like detergents, guestings on TV shows, etc). I'm sure. Mommy Dionisia is enjoying it, good for her! She's had a very hard life. Now she has lots of jewelry & has had plastic surgery! Manny's wife has also gone under the knife, I think to keep up w/ Manny's girlets. But now Manny is a 'born again Christian' and is running for senator but thay:s another story

  4. #54
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    Back to the GH staff & the ride in the taxi. There was an Indian guy together w/ us, and they said, in India, you got Shah Ruk Khan & bollywood! And i said, yeah, Shah ruk khan!.lol. If you don't know SRK, google it up. He's famous & good looking. (Hey, I'm a girl).

    Then they said, in Myanmar, we got.nothing! Then another said, no, we got The Mother! Then I said, yeah, Aung San Suu Kyi (sp?), she's famous. They said, yeah, famous for fighting the military govt.

    The impression that I got is that ppl are very optimistic.w/ the new govt, democracy & NLD, and The Mother. Good for them, as they have been repressed for so long. The youth atr extra happy & crazy bcos of this new freedom. Things seem to be looking up for the burmese ppl.

  5. #55
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    Enjoying your travelogue Katie. Interesting perceptions in people and places. Thanks for sharing.

  6. #56
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    General impression of Yangon: it's still rough around the edges, still just opening up again to tourism. There are traces of its colonial past, with the colonial type buildings. However, most of the beautiful buildings are neglected and in need of paint & general overhaul. There's a lot of construction ongoing & it will be interesting to see.it again in 5-10 years.

    Now the festivities are starting again, with the loud techno music.

    I saw a lot.of cheap guesthouses & hotels along the way here in Yangon, but.i dont know the quality. If you have big bucks, then go to the Strand Hotel. I got lucky in this GH as it's not too far frm the center & facilities are ok. The staff are nice too. It doesn't have a pool, but I didnt come here for swimming anyway. A standard room.here costs ~25 usd on agoda. I got it cheaper since i was upgraded.

    There are a lot of taxis but they dont use the.meter. You have to negotiate the price prior to boarding. There are public buses & rickshaws too. I took a rickshaw back to the GH for the experience. I was also a bit worried abt the time & i didnt want to get wet too soon. I havent seen tuktuks & the mawlamyine driver said that tuktuks are not allowed in Crntral Yangon.

    As for comfort in terms.of travel, thete's still a lot.of room for improvement. I saw a big mall near the Sule Paya. I think the roughness would appeal to backpacker types & tourists who can rough it, esp in the countryside.

    Prices are a bit more exp than Th, for guesthouses & food. In Th, i can have a 1 or 1.5$ meal (w/o drinks). Here, im averaging at 2.5 $ a meal, since im eating at restos. Im afraid to eat at roadside small stalls since last yr, my friend got tummy trouble eating street food. I've read that.myanmar is more exp for the average backpacker & im finding it to be true. But then,.I think it wouldnt be :the case for.most ppl here since you guys have more $$ .

  7. #57
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    @ chas: for.my next trip, i will start a Td crowdfunding site. I am willing to get up extra early to take pics. Lol. Davis will be my manager & u can all send ur requests to him, he will screen them. Haha

    Glad ur enjoying the stories. I also write something in my travel journal, more personal stuff, but sometimes its hard to write something deep & introspective

  8. #58
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    Good stuff, Katie!

  9. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by katie23
    Glad ur enjoying the stories
    Very much so. You should look for a job as a travel writer. Lonely planet sort of thing.

  10. #60
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    Katie, you are providing useful and interesting information about an up and coming country. The really good bit is sharing your thoughts and opinions, which I find fascinating.
    The BBC travel journo can tell me all the facts about Myanmar, you can tell me how it feels. It really is appreciated.

  11. #61
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    I'm lookin forward to when you get back to the Philippines and post up the pics of your adventure I know your a busy girl but when you get the time I'm sure it will be much appreciated. We loves a travel thread.

  12. #62
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    Thanks Katie for posting information about the various places you have been..
    Good work..good information..

  13. #63
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    Hi all. Thanks for all the nice comments. It's good to know that some ppl are interested in my musings

    Am now in KL, on a lay over. Will fly back to MNL soon.

    Some thoughts on Myanmar:

    Things I didn't like:

    1. SQUAT toilets (deliberate caps on that!) Almost every place uses a squat toilet. For someone who is used to Western toilets (even the non flushing kind), squat toilets are, literally, a pain in the a**. I know that squatties are supposedly better for the bowels, but try being a girl & you might find it a pain too. On a good note, the squatties in the Shwedagon pagoda were clean.

    2. Dirty streets & rubbish all around. PI is not too clean either, but some areas had a smell due to trash, urine or both. Even in the airport (which thankfully had a western toilet), the janitors werent too diligent at their jobs. In some airports, the janitors would clean or wipe immediately, in the Yangon airport, they were just chatting.

    3. Unsanitary prep of food - in street food stalls, the umbrella type ones. I didnt eat at umbrella type stalls bcos I was worried for my tummy. They prepared food using hands which were none too clean. A fellow Filipina (we were just 3 pinoys on the flight; a pinay mom, her son & me). V (the other pinay) & her son visited her husband who works in Yangon. As an expat, the hubby advised them not to eat street food either, as their tummies wouldnt be able to take it.

  14. #64
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    Things I liked abt Myanmar:

    1. The people. Most of the ppl that I've come into contact with were good, hardworking ppl. They were very kind & accommodating & went out of their way to help me or fellow travellers. You could say that it's part of their job, since they are in the hotel or tourism industry, but their customer service was great (in most, but not all).

    2. The scenery. On the way from Myawaddy to Mawlamtine, I passed by winding mountainous roads. Great scenery. It was good to see some villages too (when the driver brought ppl to their homes in Hpa an & other townships. It was very similar to village life in PI.

    3. The temples - whether buddhist, muslim, hindu or christian. I liked how the religions coexisted in Myanmar. In Th, it's mostly buddhist temples in PI, mostly churches, except in the south where there are mosques. I know abt the issue of the Rohingya in the north, but that's another story.

  15. #65
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    I'm back to work mode & I don't know when I'll be able to put up a pic thread, as I have a lot of work lined up in the next few wks. Pic threads take much work, since my net isn't good. So meanwhile, I'll write abt my impressions of Myanmar while they're still fresh in my mind.

    More things I liked abt Myanmar:

    4. Diversity of ppl. (Related to diversity of religions) As I've said earlier, I saw different looks of the ppl: some are Indian or Chinese looking, others have typical SEA looks. I also noticed that there are many more ordinary ppl w/ "tall noses", than in other SEA countries. Maybe it's due to intermarriages w/ the Indians?
    Last edited by katie23; 19-04-2016 at 08:11 PM.

  16. #66
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    5. People still wore traditional clothes as everday wear. In most.SEA countries, traditional clothes are now only used during ceremonies & special occasions. In Myanmar, men still wore the Longyi & women wore blouses & long skirts. However, this may change soon as the young ppl I've seen (in Yangon) prefer Western clothing.

  17. #67
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    6. Lack of selfie stick-wielding tourists. I hate those selfie sticks. Sure, they serve a purpose, but when a place is overrun w/ selfie stickers, the experience becomes a bit... eww! (Like in the palaces in S. Korea - lots of selfie stickers). I only saw 1 selfie sticker at the Shwedagon Paya - a Korean girl. She was part of a large K grp. I think they were >10. I didn't see Chinese grps & their flags.

    I saw lots of smartphones among the locals, even among the monks! I think they are of the lower end, though. Saw lots of adverts for Oppo & Vivo phones, saw a Huawei too. Not too much of Samsung or Apple.

  18. #68
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    I also found it a bit quaint that the locals know how to use smartphones but not.digicams. I think the digicam revolution bypassed them & they immediately jumped on the smartphone wagon. I carried w/ me a small point & shoot digicam, and on rare occasions that I asked locals to take my pic, usually, they didn't know how to use it & had to be instructed.

  19. #69
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    Re: roads, the Mawlamyine driver said that I'm lucky bcos a stretch of road.(from.Myawaddy to Mawlamyine) was newly opened in time for Thingyan, making the journey faster. Btw, Mawlamyine is pronounced by the locals as Maw-lam-yan.

    In Yangon, the flyovers also were newly opened to the.public, making travel in the city faster. V, the only other Filipina on the Yangon- KL flight, said that accdg to her husband who's an expat in Yangon, traffic was so bad prior to the opening of the flyovers.

  20. #70
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    On pronunciation: the kyat (local currency) is pronounced as cha. 1 usd is approx. 1,170 cha. However, when I was there, it was Thingyan, so the banks &.money changers were closed. In Mawlamyine, I exchanged money at my hotel & the exchange rate was 1usd =1000 kyat. It was a loss on my part, but the.money changers were closed & it was the only available option.

    Aung San Suu Kyi (The Mother). The Kyi is pronounced as Chee. I saw posters of The Mother & the new president. Accdg to the mawlamyine driver, the new gov't is better & they are very hopeful w/ their new leaders & democracy. It was the same w/ the young ppl that I've interacted with. Everyone is optimistic re: the new government.

  21. #71
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    At the Yangon airport, at the stamping counters, there's a separate counter for seamen. Seems like there are lots of ppl.who opt for the sea route to uplift themselves from poverty. There were several men who were stamped on that lane during the time that I was on queue as well. Sorry, no pics of that, since as y'all.know, cameras are.not allowed in the stamping area.

    I met a Burmese seaman at the Yangon bus station. He was en route to his family for the holidays. He said that he had a lot of Filipino seaman friends. He was quite good lookinf too. Lol

    I met another seaman in Yangon. He has retired from the sea & now owns several businesses. His last position was 3rd officer in the ship. I met him when I went looking for a money changer in Yangon. I didn't exchange much.money in the Mawlamyine hotel, since I thought I could get a better rate in Yangon. However, banks & changers were closed & my GH didn't have enough.kyat. They suggested that I try near the Sule Paya, which is ~30 min away on foot. On the way to Sule, i saw a convenience store (grab & go) so I asked if they could exchange money. They didn't, but suggested the pharmacy beside it. Turned out that the pharmacy & convenience store are both owned bt the tetired seaman. He agreed to change.my $ at a rate of 1 = 1000 kyat. Again, loss for me, but banks were closed. I got talking w/ the owner & he disclosed that he was able to build a house, buy a car, put.up several businesses aside from the pharmacy & convenienxe store. He also has a fleet of taxis. He has retired from the sea & now manages his businesses. I said, it's good that he was able to save & invest his earnings as a seaman. I've heard of many seamen who spend their earnings on partying & end up w/ nothing. He also said that he has many Filipino seaman friends. It was a very interesting convo & he allowed me to take his.pic, as well as those of his businesses.

  22. #72
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    Thanks again Katie for these fascinating insights into Myanmar.

  23. #73
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    You're welcome, chas. I'm glad that ppl find the info & insights useful.

    Another thing that I liked abt Myanmar:

    7. Lack of petty crime. I didn't fear for my belongings being targeted by pickpockets or bag snatchers. I can't say the same for Manila, Phnom Penh, Saigon & Bkk. I found the ppl to be generally good, helpful & honest. Well, except for some taxi drivers who overcharge, but then it's the case too in other places. Maybe the ppl have been too afraid of the military govt to do crimes. The Swedish backpacker said that since tourism is still new, maybe they don't have the concept of rich tourists yet, so no petty crimes (yet). That may change if they get more tourists.

    Btw, the Swedes went to Dawei, a beach town in the south east. They said it's great. They stayed in a bungalow & were the only foreigners.

  24. #74
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    Btw, other questions for y'all. I haven't googled yet, since the ideas are just brewing.

    1. How long (approx travel time) does it take by bus or train to go from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai?

    2. How long from Chiang Rai city center to the White Temple? (Yeah, it may be overrated but if I'm in the area I'll want to see it anyway.)

    3. How long from Chiang Rai to Tachilek border? Are there guesthouses available near the border? Also, how long to the Golden Triangle? Or is Tachilek the GT already? I'm not interested in drugs, but if I'm there, might as well see the GT.

    4. (For phuketrichard, I hope he's reading this) Why is overland travel not allowed after Kentung? Are the roads not passable? Or not safe due to armed.conflict or insurgency? Is it possible to cross to Myanmar via Tachilek, then travel by land to Mandalay? I or my friends don't need a visa for Myanmar, if you recall.

    5. How long (travel time, public transport) from Bkk to the Bridge over the River Kwai? I told of my recent travel to a colleague & he wants to go to that Bridge (bcos he studied it in Literature & movies). Is the Three Pagodas Pass a legit border crossing & can we cross over to Myanmar from there? Get our passport stamped & such? I'm not really interested in this bridge so am.asking it for a friend.

    Thanks in advance for the answers, whether all or partial!

  25. #75
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    ^ 1. By car it's about two and a half hours, so a stopping all stations bus would be at least three hours. There is no train line between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

    2. White Temple is on the southern outskirts, maybe ten minutes from the city.

    5. About two hours by van. If you're intending to go there then April 25 is the day you should go, especially for the dawn service at Hellfire Pass. There'll be plenty of Aussies, Kiwis, Brits and Dutchies there on that day.
    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." - Abe Lincoln.

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