Bagan Thande Hotel - book now at special rates via Agoda.com
Archaeological Zone, Old Bagan,
Bagan, Myanmar 05232
In a nutshell:
Excellent location, relaxing & spacious surrounds, a bit of a splurge for a backpacker's budget, but worth it!
Rating: 4 / 5
In my travels I’ve realized that the first day back at work from a holiday is the worst. I’ve never been happy to be back from a trip. There’s relief, in finding my flat intact, or in confirming that yes, I did NOT leave the air conditioner on before I left (do you ever get that feeling before a trip? My paranoid self always does!). There’s relief in realizing that I still have my job. It feels especially nice and I’m always grateful to see friends and family and give them trinkets and souvenirs, and to hear them say they’ve missed me (and then I realize how terribly I’ve missed them too!). But to be immediately happy after that cab ride home from the airport has never happened to me. I go through a lot of separation anxiety after a trip, and it’s usually directly proportional to how epic the trip was. It would take a couple of days or even weeks to get me comfortably back into “the real world”.
Overcoming post travel stress disorder is still a work in progress for me, but here are some tricks I’ve found to be of help.
I spent more time taking photos of the Burmese locals in Shwedagon Pagoda than of its massive, ornate structures. I hate to admit it, but at some point in our temple exploration of Myanmar, all temples, pagodas and stupas began to look the same, and I prefer temple ruins and ones that are unpainted and made of exposed bricks to brightly colored new ones anyway. As I made a post about the beautiful locals of Bagan, here are some portraits from our visit to Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.
Our stay in Yangon had been largely transitory, a necessary stopover to Bagan, and our final departure point out of Myanmar when the trip was over. Upon landing at the airport from Kuala Lumpur, we stayed in the capital for less than twelve hours before we took an overnight bus for Bagan. After three days in Bagan, we went back to Yangon for one final day before our flight back to Kuala Lumpur early the next morning.
Before we left for our trip to Myanmar, Mabs and I worried about a few things we had never worried about in our other trips to other countries. We worried about the quality and condition of our dollar bills, having read that the Burmese were very particular about only accepting mint condition US dollars, and that ATMs were few and far between and credit cards were largely unheard of. We worried about not having roaming on our phones because our Philippine providers didn't have partnerships with Burmese providers yet. The fact that Myanmar had only begun to open up to travelers a few years prior seemed to mean, at least from all the research we had done, that there was much about it that was very different from our own country. It was definitely going to be a trip to take us out of our comfort zone.
We visited Burma at a time when it was still relatively Indochina's Great Unknown, the region's Great Undiscovered (this, however, is something that is changing very rapidly). So I was surprised at how at ease I felt almost immediately upon landing in the capital of Yangon. The airport was new and well-maintained, immigration was a breeze and getting our dollars changed equally so. The lady at the tourism booth was exceptionally kind and helpful, and our cab driver was the same way. The heat was horrendous, traffic was pretty bad, but I could say the same for Manila. Burmese hip hop played through the radio in moderate volume while I looked out the window of our cab to gain my first impressions of Myanmar - my first real, authentic impressions, the ones I made for myself, with my own eyes, and not from the stuff I read or heard from others.
Travel is inherently related to perspective. Even a routine road trip to a beach you've been to so many times since your childhood can have an effect on how you see things. Imagine then how flying to a mysterious, mystical and newly welcoming foreign country can change you. All the stuff you've read and heard won't do it justice, this post you're reading won't do it justice, because the perspective you will gain from actually seeing the place for yourself, for actually being there, will be unique and will only be completely true for you and you alone.
For every worry I had about coming to Myanmar, the country seemed to have a pleasant surprise waiting for me to defy it. Within only a few hours upon landing, my anxiety-filled view of coming into this new, foreign place had been pretty much washed away by the joy and excitement of being in a strange new environment and meeting its inhabitants. In the crazy Burmese heat, I learned to relish in pleasant surprises.