Experiencing the beautiful site of Bagan was great and definitely unforgettable but leaving it was not so painful. Exploring the huge area with an electric scooter was beautiful and eco-friendly but really bad for our health. Dust and sand are everywhere, even on the big roads in the center and our lungs were begging us to change. So we left to go to Mandalay with great expectations without knowing what there would have happened next!
Mindful about the bus trip Yangon-Bagan I had great expectations also about the trip to Mandalay considering also that we booked through the hotel. Ok, the same hotel that didn’t respond to our emails for more than three weeks. The one with the empty reception all the time, but a really nice one! Pick-up/ trip / drop-off, big deal for 5,5€, well..never again!
Picked-up with an open van we went through all Bagan riding to the real “bus”. We were entirely covered of dust and our bags as well, then the real trip was long and uncomfortable. About 110km in 5,5 hours jumping on an entirely bumpy road.
Dropped-off we took an open van with the driver getting lost multiple times in the crazy traffic and pollution that we breathed entirely. So remember, never trust hotel concierges in Myanmar (other story in the next post) and book directly at the bus station or a certified website like JJExpress or Mandalar Minn Express.
Once at our hotel we had a really hard time at the reception. First of all because the staff knows just some english words and furthermore due to the hundreds chinese around. Screaming all the time, sneezing, coughing (without any hand in front of their mouth) and spitting (outside) everywhere. So yes if I’m still alive after this trip I’m probably an highlander and #coronavirus is scared of getting close to me.
The day after we started to explore the city with a friend that we met during the trip. We arrived in Mandalay with great expectations but they collapsed because the city didn’t unveil amazing like we were expecting. We obviously visited the Imperial Palace, a huge site that offered some nice views, the Khutodaw Pagoda, the Sanda Muni Pagoda. But as I anticipated, after the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon the others are just pagodas.
Then we went to the Atumashi Kyaung Taik Shwe Kyaung or Incomparable Monastery and the Shwenandaw Monastery. All nice buildings but noting that my heart will remember forever for the emotions they gave me.
Since we were pretty lazy and disappointed we went at the hotel to be even lazier and save the Mandalay Hill for the second and last day there. We spent part of the second day looking for the office of 12Go Asia because we booked to train tickets to Hsipaw that we were supposed to receive at the hotel. We never found any office and the tickets arrived at the hotel at 8pm and we should have leave at 4am, so we changed plans in the morning, so stay away from 12Go Asia too.
In the afternoon, also remembering about temperatures and light, we went with a tuc tuc to the Mandalay Hill and it was actually the best moment especially to enjoy the sunset view.
The day after we started our long journey to Inle Lake making the third mistake of our trip!
#mandalay#myanmar #asia #trip #asiantrip #southeastasia #eosr #canonphotography #urbanphotography #landscapes #travelordie #explore#wonderlust
How can't you be skeptical about a 12 hours trip on a bus in Myanmar? Well we had the most comfortable experience on a bus ever, for real. Not many seats but large, extendible, with blankets and snacks. In a moment outside the sun was rising waking us up and still dazed we catch a taxi (on't even try with Grab here, it doesn't exist) the ridden us to the archeological area. We stopped to pay the entrance to the area (about 16€/25k Kyatt for 5 days), inn beautiful Bagan, looking for magic!. We had the coldest ride ever since the windows of the van were nonexistent or broken.
After the check-in and breakfast we needed to find some cash because in Myanmar in most of the places, even in very nice hotels, they accept just cash, and the atm was the only solution but with big commissions. We found a super kind man renting electric scooters (3,5€ per day) along the road and we finally started our adventures in Bagan. Scooters that are definitely not fast but eco friendly and in a archeological park like that it's actually a great idea.
The first thing to do is to download the app maps.me and the Bagan map that first of all is pretty accurate with many pagodas and temples indicated and also many nice view points. We tried to make a day plan starting from the Swezigon Pagoda and then going down but it's useless.
The best thing to do in Bagan is to wander around discovering always new sites among the more 4000 pagodas and temples. Some spots are hidden and adventorous to find, others are more touristy. Around a big pagoda there's always a sort of market with locals selling souvenirs and local products. Sometimes they are pretty insistent, but bargaining a bit you can find really good deals.
Wandering around we bumped into many amazing hidden spots, with nobody around, peaceful areas where it’s also nice to stop. There you can relax, read, meditate if you prefer. It’s possible to enter in every pagoda and temple but, like everywhere in Myanmar, you need to take the shoes off, so remember to bring disinfectant tissues to clean your feet every time.
Once in beautiful Bagan looking for magic, sunset is a great moment on maps.me there are many places to check but most of them are well known and touristy. So we checked few till we find a quite one with less people, the others are almost immediately crowded and reached by busses with a lot of tourists. In our case Chinese ones because we were there during the Chinese New Year, so it was basically impossible to take nice pictures.
The day after we decided to check other sunset spots. We spent most of the time on the Bagan Viewing Tower because in the morning at the ticket office they reassured us about the fact that there wouldn’t have been chinese people since it was the NYE for them. Well, there were just chinese. A huge crowd of people screaming and I didn’t move all the time. It has been pretty hard to find a spot offering a good chance for pictures, personally I elbowed in a lot!
You can’t go to Bagan without waking up early to enjoy the sunrise. Anyway it’s about being lucky because the lights are not aways amazing as expected. In our case in fact the sunrise was nothing special. The sky was not colored as I hoped and it was bit foggy and misty, that could be fascinating but not spectacular.
maps.me gives also spots to enjoy it, plus pagodas to climb, but it’s forbidden even if there’re locals bringing tourists to climb some hidden ones to raise a bit of money. If you find a good spot anyway you can appreciate the spectacular view of all the pagodas that creates the best background for the hot hair balloons flying over Bagan. In case someone’s interested they cost 300€ per person!
Both days have been long and exhausting because there are no roads among the temples. Just trails and a lot of dust going inside your eyes, your nose, your mouth..everywhere. So remember to bring a mask and sunglasses otherwise it starts to be seriously annoying. During the day is always hot but towards the sunset the temperature starts to drop significantly so bring a light jacket with you.
As anticipated, bring a lot of cash with you to avoid high commission at the atm. Furthermore they don't accept all the credit cards, we had an hard time there! The country in general is still developing (their PIL is increasing 8% a year) but for many aspects they are not ready yet to host mass tourism properly. Not many people speak an understandable english, not even in big structures.
Bagan is definitely not a party town and it’s definitely better to enjoy the peace offered by the context, also to recover energies for the next days riding around. On the road from New Bagan to Old Bagan there are many places where to stop to eat and drink something. The first area is the one with a bit of life, some bars and restaurants, but New Bagan is perfect to have a drink or a quick dinner before to go at the hotel to rest.
I was wondering about this place a lot months before to start my trip and Bagan is a real highlight. Stunning and fascinating, became part of UNESCO World Heritage list just in 2019 because the SPDC was restoring the monuments without using the original techniques and not using proper materials. Furthermore the locals are incredibly kind and welcoming, the atmosphere is magical and there’re amazing vibes wherever you go. Once in beautiful Bagan looking for some magic you realize that you are gifted for the simple fact that you are there. You feel that you need to be respectful toward everything’s surrounding you and those feeling won’t never leave you.
It’s time to move now, and with great expectations and an uncomfortable trip we reached Mandalay.
#bagan #myanmar #asia #pagoda #temple #scooter #electric #archeology #unesco #ostellobello #hotairballoon #sunset #sunrise #dollars #streetphotography #landscape #eosr #canonphotography
We left, happily speaking for myself, Bangkok to reach Yangon, city of The Pagoda in Myanmar. Once arrived it taken a while in order to have our visa (sticker on passport), remember to bring american dollars, it costs 50 and be sure that those dollars are recent and PERFECT otherwise they won't accept them. Not just at the airport but everywhere they ask you or you have the chance to pay with dollars, and in Myanmar happens often.
Once at the hotel we checked-in and took a walk around just to take a look and eat something. The first impression was that this is the less developed country I've visited even if it's among the ones developing faster, its Pil increases 8% a year. Anyway it has some characteristic areas but nothing "exotic" like we were expecting. Impression confirmed the day after during the morning walk during which we saw the center of the city the Independence Monument, a white obelisk in the center of Maha Bandula Park. Later we reached and walked through General Aung San Park before to stop for lunch there in a really cute hidden spot on the lake.
Then with a Grab we reached the amazing Shwedagon Pagoda. In the title I called Yangon city of "the" pagoda because after this one, among the zillion we saw, it was very very hard and difficult to find another one that could have been even just comparable to that.
Here is nice to have a tour guide that explains a bit of the history of the pagoda and some interesting curiosities. In Myanmar there's a strong belief in astrology. Mahabote divides the week in eight days (Wednesday, when Buddha was born is divided in two) and the eight corners of the Pagoda are represented by eight animals , eight planets and eight cardinal points. I was born on Sunday so mine was the garuda, Obama's was the guinea pig. The practice consists in pouring water on the symbol and on the Buddha's statue.
The tour ended toward the sunset, the best moment, remember about light in south east asia?! Then once free I walk around the beautiful pagoda and the chances for nice pictures where multiple speaking about people and architecture. Close to 6pm operators prepared several oil candles for the evening celebration with thousands votive candles and people started to turn on incense and to pray.
We had to leave to be able to reach on time the bus to reach the most spiritual place in Burma.
#myanmar #yangon #asia #pagoda #eosr #canonphotography #streetphotography #travelordie #travelphotography #trip #friends
Just couple of hours far from the city there's an amazing Unesco site full of beautiful temples, Ayutthaya the peaceful side of Bangkok. We needed a break from the air and the chaos of Bkk so we decided for the cheapest day trip ever. We paid 15 baht (0,45€) to do 80km and it's took 2 hours, not the best trip ever but the faster for sure considering the traffic!
Once in Ayutthaya we rent a bike and crossed the river to reach the area of the temples. Actually I would have rent a scooter, the distances are not crazy. But it's hot and there are some steep tract and the traffic in the connection areas is bit crazy..anyway pretty enjoyable. The temples are pretty much everywhere and to enter in each one's area is necessary to pay 50 baht (1,50€). Nothing for the amazing ruins that you are going to see! When you rent your bike/motorbike ask for the free map and it will be super easy.
Again, the big problem for me but in general for photographers is the light. Terrible during the day, strong, direct, too shining. Yes I know, there are ND filters but it's not the same. In the beginning I was reluctant about using my Canon EOS R, but then being patient, cycling, walking around, eating something the lights start to be better. The atmosphere improved too and taking pictures starts to make sense and the results pretty appreciable!
Now, thinking about that day I wouldn't have left Bangkok so early in the morning. I would have relaxed more and reached the place at least 2/2,5 hours later because managing the time it's possible to see and visit pretty much everything when it's cooler. Furthermore the atmosphere is nicer towards and during the golden hours that is fundamental in this kind of environments.
Then after a quick dinner and a long trip after a great day in Ayutthaya the peaceful side of Bangkok, we run on the roof top to enjoy the pool with a Tiger that we were dreaming since a long time and to recharge our energies for the next day, direction Myanmar.
#ayutthaya #thailand #temples #sunset #eosr #canon2470mm #daytrip #trip #holidays #travelordie #travelphotography #landscapes #ruins #bangkok
Once in good shape again and ready to change idea about Bangkok south east Asia icon again. We started from visiting Wat Pho around 2pm. The place and the context are nice and the quantity of buddhas it's impressive, the architecture and its colors inside are beautiful but again the light was terrible. I wasn't really feeling to take pictures because nothing was seriously inspiring me. Moreover people inside were there just to walk directly to see the giant statue of Buddha to take the same pictures.
As anticipated, this year I left with a different mindset speaking about photography. I decided to take less pictures, focusing more about what was surrounding me. As I always thought anyway but this time with more dedication. I always preferred to enjoy first, to get involved with the context to understand what was really interesting me. What was seriously catalyzing my attention and that I would have been happy to edit in order to avoid to waste a lot of hours in front of the screen. Basically I was looking for more quality, for pictures that I would be happy to see and print. Well in Bangkok has been easy, because the research of beauty could be endless.
In this case my Canon EOS R helped me a lot, easy to carry even if the Canon 24-70 f/2.8 II USM is pretty heavy. I was also able to control the exposure quickly and directly from the EVF thanking to the control ring mount adapter. I'm still using the same SD card!
In that place, like in many others in Bangkok, I had the impression that it is an extremely touristy city. I felt there was no much authenticity unless you bumped into it.
After that we crossed the river (just 4 baths, 0,12€) to see the Wat Arun. Well known as the Sunrise Temple but way better during the sunset if smog is not so terrible. It closes early, about at 5:30/6pm and it was not allow to climb it. So we took a walk in the area behind the temple where we had a taste of the real city far from tourism.
Once back at the temple, it was nice with the lights on it and when we crossed the canal again we immediately regretted for not going there later than 2am. The light was amazing and the place had a totally different allure, from the outside at least.
So basically in this area of the world you should have the double of the time at your disposal to visit attraction just toward the sunset! The day after, in fact, we stayed at the hotel till 4pm to enjoy the swimming pool during the hottest moment of the day. We reached the Wat Saket temple, trusting in Google that says the temple closes at 5:30pm, not true, it closes at 7pm. The place is pretty nice and from the edge is possible to enjoy a beautiful sunset, but still, the pollution is crazy so there's a lot of haze compromising or making more fascinating the landscape, it's up to you!
If you want in 2 days you can see pretty much everything touristic relevant in Bangkok south east Asia icon again. Anyway take your time, don't rush and book a nice hotel with the pool. Prices are really really good and it's definitely worth it considering temperatures and air pollution.
For the last day we decided to escape from the city to breath some fresh air and and enjoy some peace visiting Ayutthaya...
#streetphotography #architecturelovers #urbanphotography #jungle #eosr #canonphotography #bangkok #thailand #asia #landscape #igersthailand #igersbangkok #igersbkk #bkk #watpho #watarun #watsaket #sunset