This article is a brief guide to Rangoon's nightlife, as well as a final photo-log to this interesting city! And it's been moved! This article has become a city guide in it's own rite, so when you click on this article, you'll be prompted to visit this guide in its new location.
(It's better this way, I promise)
It was time to leave the Shan State, but before I did, I wanted to get off the beaten path a little bit. For 40 USD, a few new friends and I hired a truck to take us deeper into the Shan State than ever before to a temple complex called Kakku.
The canals looked like a low-key, Burmese Venice in the beginning, but as we got further out towards the actual lake, the building faded away quickly, giving way to miles and miles green grass, and scattered huts. Every once in a while I would see some construction vehicles working, and wondered how in the world they had even gotten that far out there in the first place.
Since Burma's history isn't exactly common knowledge, let's start by filling in some of your knowledge gaps. The first question is a simple one: what is Mingun Pagoda?
Fair question. It’s not quite on the level of the Great Wall or the Pyramids, so most people have probably never heard of it.
I was picked up at 4:00am and driven to a little white van in Old Bagan with the words ‘OK Express’ printed onto the back windows. Sufice to say there was no sleeping that happened on that bus. We took dirt roads for 6 hours from Bagan to Mandalay. At one point I’m pretty sure we drove through a dried up riverbed.
Bagan is a pretty picturesque place, but for me, these 9th century Buddhist ruins, cool as there were, were only part of the story. The people of Bagan were also awesome to interact with, which is sort of a rarity for a traveler. If we’re being honest here, most local people who talk to you when you’re traveling are trying to sell you something. It’s pretty rare to travel in the developing world and have somebody talk to you with no ulterior motive. You have to get pretty far off the beaten path for that. That is what makes Burma so great.
Bagan is an enormous temple complex, not unlike Angkor in Cambodia, about 430 miles north of Rangoon (Yangon). Unlike Angkor however, Bagan is still relatively unknown to tourists. Imagine going to Angkor 50 years ago, before backpacking became a thing. That is Bagan. Unlike Angkor Wat, there are no guards or signs. Literally the only rule is to take your shoes off before entering a temple. That is the Buddhist custom.
When I got to the ticketing counter for Tiger Air, I told the woman at the counter that I was traveling to Yangon. She looked skeptical. “You’re traveling to Yangon? Really?” she said, squinting.
“Uhh… yes?” I replied groggily.
I was required to go through security twice before I got on my flight (the second time at the gate) and when I finally did, the plane was only about 1/3rd full. It was not a smooth flight, so while I’m white-knuckling my seat, let me fill you in on Burma really quick.
Before getting into the articles about my time in Burma, we're going to flash back to my time in Hanoi, and walk through how to get a visa into the country. After I booked my ticket taking me from Singapore to Burma, I was eager to start the process of getting my visa. I went online to one of Burma’s government websites to apply for my visa. However, getting that visa turned out to be a lot more difficult than anticipated.
I’m leaving Hanoi! But before I come back state side I’m doing a last little stint of traveling. I’m leaving Hanoi on August 18th and I will likely be back in the States somewhere in the Halloween ballpark.
In this post, we'll cover the first few destinations of the trip: Singapore, Burma, and Bangladesh.