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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.