We struggled with the decision to travel to Myanmar. It was at the height of the world coming to know about the human rights abuses of the Rohingya people by the Myanmar government. Should we be boycotting Myanmar? Would we be in physical danger by going there? Could we get caught in a cross fire? We decided that tourism would likely be down and so it might be a good time. Also we were not really convinced that our personal boycott would improve the situation in anyway and decided to go.
We travelled for about 3 weeks. After landing in Yangon our first stop was Mandalay. We then took a boat to Bagan, flew to Inle Lake, then enjoyed a few days on the beaches of Ngapali before wrapping up with a few days in Yangon. We had hoped to travel down the panhandle of Myanmar for a few days, but the travel is by bus and we did not have enough time.
Having travelled extensively in SE Asia we expected Mandalay to be a bit touristy but it was not. On our first day there we were followed to lunch by a young man who desperately wanted to be our driver. He told us he had not worked for several days due because of a lack of tourists. We agreed to go with him that afternoon. We took a chance and had a wonderful day. So nice in fact that we hired him to drive us the next day and to the boat launch on the day we left.
Boat Trip from Mandalay to Bagan
Bagan is known for its thousands of temples. And there are two decidedly wonderful ways to see them: by e-bike or by hot air balloon. The e-bikes allow you to see the temples on your own schedule and it is absolutely delightful to be able to cruise the country in this silent way.
I wasn't sure I wanted to do the hot air balloon ride, since I suffer from motion sickness and we had to get up extra early to do it. It turned out to be a wonderful!