After visiting some of our projects in West Thailand,
Sven, Toto and volunteer Ram extended their trip to visit Yangon in
Burma. They took the scenic (but very slow) route over the Thai-Myanmar
Friendship Bridge and through the mountains. Ram tells us a little about
their trip and, since information is not easy to find, also offers some
advice for anyone inspired to follow in their footsteps.
process of crossing the Friendship Bridge, which runs from Mae Sot to
Myawaddy over the river Moei, was relatively casual and all the
officials were polite and courteous. As soon as we entered Myawaddy, it
felt like a different world: hustling and bustling, horns beeping above
the already noisy streets.
staff at our guesthouse were very helpful, negotiating with a trishaw
rider to take us to a good local eating place. The poor driver had to
use just pedal power to take three of us and even had to get out and
push the bike over a hilly part of the road! The eating place was
simple, busy and noisy. One of the things I liked most about these
places was the Burmese tea always on tap.
next morning we rose early to start our 450km journey to Yangon. We
shared a minibus with a mother and her small son as well as a monk and
his friend. Once we started climbing the mountain pass, it was easy to
see why traffic is only allowed to flow one way, as the road soon turned
into a narrow dusty single track. We encountered several delays due to
an overloaded truck tipping back on itself, but this seemed to be a
common occurrence and there were even drinks, fruit and snacks provided
each time there was a hold up! These delays provided a good opportunity
to stretch our legs, take photos of the stunning scenery and chat with
our fellow travellers who were very friendly.
we began to descend, sometimes a little too quickly for comfort: it
seemed we were on the edge of a precipice. It was exhilarating, but I
decided it would be the first and last time I did the journey. Once we
were lower down there were a number of simple roadside stops serving
local Burmese snacks and freshly pressed sugar cane served with lime and
ice. It was very refreshing and seemed a very popular drink.
a total of 13 hours of travelling past many villages, mountain top
pagodas, rice fields, sugar and rubber plantations, and newly planted
teak trees, we finally checked into our guesthouse. From the top of the
building we had a wonderful view of Yangon and our local pagoda which
looked especially beautiful lit up at night. The experience was made
particularly special by the extremely friendly and obliging staff. While
in Yangon, we took the opportunity to visit the local sights. The
Shwedagon Pagoda is the must see place. It’s one of the most impressive
sites not just for its sheer size but also its beauty. However, having
taken off my shoes and socks, walking on the paving at midday was like
walking on hot charcoal and left my feet very sore! I would also
recommend the Myanmar National Museum. The museum is split on several
levels, with the lion throne room on the ground floor – with lots of
space given to the large, ornately decorated throne – and other floors
exploring the many ethnic groups of Myanmar: their culture, clothes,
customs, history and art.
shopping the best place to go is the Bogyoke Aung San Market, also
known as Scott Market. It is particularly famous for its gems: jade,
rubies and other jewellery and lacquerware. I have no idea about that,
so I spent most of my time window shopping. Clothes – including longyis,
the “skirts” worn by Burmese men – and fresh food are also available.
We returned to Mae Sot by plane, from the small but modern airport.
Arriving back in Thailand, we all promised that this would not be our
last visit to Myanmar!