Myanmar or Burma……?

So what is it…….? Well up until 1989 it was Burma but now goes by the name of Myanmar but the people are still referred to as Burmese.

We are super excited to be visiting this country with 55 million people that only opened their doors to Tourism in 2012. It borders India and Bangladesh to the west (where the problems are and we will be staying well clear of), China to the North/North East and Thailand and Laos to the East.

We have just read that Burmese refugees in NZ form the largest group with over half of all refugees in NZ being from Myanmar.

A new country for us, different culture, currency, food and everything in between. Hope to see as much as we can during our 25 days here (maximum stay is 28 day visa)

Bangkok – Mandalay via plane

Arrived at Mandalay airport yesterday which was incredibly small for the 2nd largest city and a population of 1.3 million. Got ourselves a taxi and had 10+ helpers scrambling over us to carry Betty and Nancy.

All the family in the van and off we went for the 36km journey from the airport to city.

Back driving on the right had side of the road but get this…………the drivers seat is also on the right hand side!
Checked into the hotel and what a lovely warm welcome.

Not sure where the party is coming from….?
Bell boy at this small hotel

Time to explore by foot and get our bearings in a city that the street names operate on a number/grid system. Supposedly making it easy to get around but we couldn’t find our hotel.

But we did find one of Leo’s rellies at what they call a “beer station”. Was a chance to catch our breath and realise we had actually walked past the hotel just didn’t recognise it. Nothing wrong with Myanmar lager!
Local taxis
View of Mandalay streets from breakfast dining room
View from hotel room

Up early to put the bikes together and thankfully Betty and Nancy 100% after the flight and enjoyed taking in some sights around this crazy busy city.

Then it was off to the train station to try and get a ticket to Thazi.

Overshot the station UTurn. Tough job for the workers on the road
Outside rail station and poverty evident

Started lining up to get tickets only to be told this was where you get your driver’s license renewed.
Getting closer to finding a ticket but have no idea where we are off to!

Yahoo we have 2 tickets to Thazi by train tomorrow at the whopping cost of $2 each for “upper class” which we are sure will be far from upper class! 6am departure time and have to get there at 5am to ensure Betty and Nancy can get a spot also. Apparently approx 3hour journey and one hell of an adventure.

Tickets all sorted it was time to find some lunch.

Asked for a black coffee and it came looking like a black coffee but tasted nothing like one. Had lemon juice and sugar in it. First coffee Myanmar style!
Egg Roti for lunch was a hit 70c
Lovely family run coffee/tea house and great Roti

24 hours in Myanmar

It is so different to anywhere we have visited before. The men wear skirts called “longyi”. Both men and ladies suck betel nut which is a stimulant of sorts depending on how much you have. They then spit out the excess which is a thick red saliva paste and the footpaths and streets are covered in it. Thankfully it’s hot around 35deg so drys quickly! We have experienced this in Vietnam but not to this degree.

Nearly all ladies and children wear this yellow/cream paint on their face called “thanakh” for cosmetic, beauty and cleansing. Don’t think this kiwi will be latching on to this beauty regime.

Little dot with face painted and heaps of makeup
Her sister in the taxi/tuk tuk

The people are incredibly friendly and helpful. Some have enough English to work things out in fact possibly better English than the Thais.

So far having a ball and we can see we are going to be in for one crazy adventure. Looking forward to getting on the bikes soon but due to large distances between towns and no foreign guesthouses (they have foreign and local guesthouses that get policed) and terrain too mountainous we are going to have to take some public transport also. So Betty and Nancy are pumped for their first train experience tomorrow as are their owners.

4 thoughts on “Myanmar or Burma……?”

  1. Another great blog guys. Looks like you are in for an interesting time there.



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  2. Boy what an exciting time you are having,It must be so exciting seeing the changes from city to city & now going on a train ride, meeting all these different people, the kids all look gorgeous. The town looks really clean apart from the beetle juice, Reg said they have that in New Guinea as well. You are missing some gorgeous weather here at the moment, a bit cool early morning & late afternoon, but the days are gorgeous, a perfect autumn. Have a lovely train trip & take care. Love Di & Reg xxx


  3. Wow once again the start of another amazing adventure, we are all getting a geography and culture lesson as you go. Maybe that face paint maybe a good sunscreen. It is amazing on how much you can get for so little, the opposite to here. Look forward to seeing your pics and reading about your journey. Safe travels


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