Myanmar Trip Day 9: Boat Ride To Heho, Flight to Yangon, Circular Train, Rooftop Bar at Yangon, Singapore, Home

I woke up with the bird chirping outside the room, I can’t see one, but they are hiding somewhere in the bushes. At 5.30 am in Inle Lake, the sky has slightly turned blue from the darkness of night. For every few minutes I was interupted by the sound of boat machine, fisherman going to the lake to fish. Laying on the bed lazily, I checked on emails and social medias update. I took a shower, packed my luggage and ate breakfast at the hotel lobby facing the lake. GIC serves a delicious pancake but they made a terible omelette.

DSC07243Landscape at Inle Lake in the morning, Myanmar

Our boat was ready at 7 am, so we quickly started our one hour boat ride back to Nyaungshwe before it was raining. We saw beautiful landscape of mountains and fisherman, with wind blowing on our face the whole ride. At the dock, a car was ready to take us to Heho airport, one hour away. Our plane departed in 10.30, leaving us plenty of time in the airport since we arrived there at 9 am.

DSC07224Boat ride back to Heho from Inle Lake

The flight from Heho to Yangon took 65 minutes, and this time we departed on time. The airport in Heho is small, the waiting room is just a bunch of seats arranged horizontally and everyone goes to the plane by bus. When we landed in Yangon our car has been waiting. We went to a railway station located 10 minutes away from the airport to take the train to central railway station in downtown.

DSC07254Train Station near the airport, Yangon

The train was quite dirty and locals are getting in and out the train on the 12 station we passed by. Sometimes it smells in the train, luckily there was a fan on the locomotives. I took several decent shots, but nothing extraordinary. Since we had lunch earlier in the plane, we weren’t hungry even though it was 2 pm, but we ate shan noodles anyway.

DSCF9202Circular train in Yangon, Myanmar

DSCF9235One from many train stops from airport to Chinatown

We have the whole evening free because we already did the Yangon city tour at our first day, we decided to have a massage at the 1st rank parlor by tripadvisor. A head and body massage for 75 minutes cost 18000 kyat ($16), which is reasonable for the quality of the place and the massage itself.

DSCF9251Yangon Central Railway Station, Myanmar

Walking at the street from Chinatown to Sule Pagoda is quite far and took around 25 minutes, cars are honking from behind and few people apit on the ground. Yangon isn’t the best city to take a walk in Asean. After taking photos of Sule Pagoda we went to Sakura Tower, a building in front of Shangri La Hotel. Our guide tells us that there is a rooftop bar called Yangon Yangon at the 20th floor, that was where we spent our evening until sunset. The bartender and waiter are not very friendly, the drink is good though, but certainly there could be some improvement made. They could allow customer to take 360 degrees view of the city instead of allowing only 200 degrees of it, chairs and table looks and feels cheap, and the staff could smile a little bit.

DSC07258Yangon Cityscape from Sakura Tower in Yangon, Myanmar

DSCF9269Sakura Tower, Yangon

DSCF9296Sule Pagoda taken from Sakura Tower, Yangon

DSCF9315Yangon-Yangon rooftop bar, Myanmar

We ate at the restaurant below the rooftop bar, they are serving a pork ribs for 13.000 kyat ($12), but it can’t compete with Tony Roma’s. The view is straight to Shwedagon Pagoda and we could see half of the city from behind the glass. Since we were tired and have to wake up early at 5 am tomorrow, we took a taxi for 3000 kyat ($3) to our hotel, Grand United Chinatown.

DSC07312Shwedagon Pagoda at evening twilight in Yangon, Myanmar

The next day we went to Yangon international Airport, a decent airport but lacking in terms of branded boutique. We headed back to Singapore before getting back to Indonesia.

-End of Trip-


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Myanmar Trip Day 8: City Tour at Inle 2

I woke up today at 5.30 am, unfortunately the sunrise didn’t turned out as we expected because of the cloud. We have a decent breakfast at GIC Hotel, where they set the table at the lobby for us. We began our tour today at 8 am, heading for Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda which we were supposed to visit yesterday if it wasn’t raining. Local people are coming to pray and stick a gold leaf on the Buddha image. We walked around the temple then took another boat ride to Indein. But we make a quick stop at a local silk workshop and umbrella production.

DSC06969Breakfast at GIC in Inle Lake, Myanmar

DSC06979Over the water village in Inle Lake, Myanmar

DSCF9072Long neck villager weaving silk, a population similar to those popular in Chiang Mai, Thailand

DSCF9076Umbrella workshop in Inle Lake, Myanmar

It took about 30 minutes to Indein, followed by 1 hour walking to the top of the pagoda. Surrounding the center pagoda is smaller pagodas with different color, most of them donated by common people. We saw shops along the way to the top, also many dogs were walking around. The stupas looks like the one in Bagan, I like it better in Bagan also due to more natural construct of the stupas. We met local people walking with cows and kids playing around. Burmese people are very nice and friendly, when they are not shy. No wonder that people always said Myanmar has the kindest people among Asean countries.

DSCF9094Shops along the road to the Pagoda in Indein, Inle Lake

DSCF9091Local kid following us around trying to sell scarf, we eventually gave her K500 to make her leave

The descent road from Indein Pagoda to our boat dock was quite long, as long as the hike to the pagoda. It was 11 am when we got near the dock, after 30 minutes ride back to the lake we have our lunch at a local restaurant popular among tourists. As usual I ordered a fried rice with vegetables and egg for only 1500 kyat ($1.5) which tasted good and looks hygiene. We were early from schedule, so after having lunch we walked to pagoda complex around the restaurant

DSCF9165Kids playing on the river in Inle Lake, Myanmar

DSC06999View from our restaurant at lunch in Inle Lake, Myanmar

One hour away from our lunch spot and across the central of the lake, we arrived at Mine Thauk to see rice fields being harvested. Our boat stopped at the front dock and we have to walk for about 10 minutes on a bridge to go to the land. Since we visited at Sunday, local city people were also enjoying the scenery im Mine Thauk. We also saw number of tourist brought a bicycle on a boat to ride it across the fields. We sat for 15 minutes on a gazebo near the land, then retrace our path before and went to the last stop for today.

DSCF9175Mine Thauk, a vast fields of rice paddy in Inle Lake, Myanmar

The photo spot is located at the center of the lake, a building from World War 2 that still stands but unoccupied today. From this building we could take photographs of 360 degrees view of Inle Lake. The mountain, boats, resorts among other things. The sky was cloudy when we finished taking photos, that was the reason we headed back to our boat and drive as fastly as the machine allowed to our hotel.

DSC07017Landscape at Inle Lake, Myanmar

Eventually we got slightly wet due to small rain on our way to the hotel. We settled an arrangement for 90 minutes massage beginning at 3.30 by two local men. After taking a shower, I looked at the time showing it was 6 pm, we walked to the restaurant in Golden Island Cottage Inn and ate the same food we ate yesterday, fish in oyster sauce and bbq prawn. The sunset wasn’t really good due to the cloudy sky, but I managed to take few good shots. After dinner we were tired and went straight to sleep.


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A Letter to My Sister

Dear Priska,

I believe you are going to read this on your way to US, perhaps somewhere in Taipei, or somewhere in Los Angeles. At last, your hard work for the last seven months paid off, those days studying GMAT and applying to universities had passed. You got accepted to all of the universities you applied to, and that is an accomplishment you should be proud of, because I know how hard you studied for it. Since early of this year you had TOEFL test, GMAT, countless e-mail to universities, finishing up your bachelor in medicine, and not to forget the CFA level 1 exam, all of them happened simultaneously. Yet, I could say that you were on the top of it all, backed by the fact that you also passed the CFA level 1 exam without having previous finance study. I believe that you could have anything you want in the world, no matter how big it is, as long as your are working hard enough for it day by day. 

The days are long, but the years are short. It amazed me how fast time goes, it seems like yesterday we were still an elementary students, you were one level above me, and we would be picked up by mom after school. We would went to a mall after school and have something to eat together, sometimes even watched a movie. Back then, I’ve never imagined that someday (today), we are going to live exactly at the opposite side of the world. Junior high school and high school also passed and we were always together, taught by the same teacher and struggling with similar issue. But it was when we were in medical school that I would say as our best period, certainly not because of the countless study hours and exam, but because of the travel.

I’ve done the counting, we traveled to 29 countries together in our life, and it was when traveling that I enjoyed our family time the most. I think we have to be grateful that our family could afford such things, seeing the landscape of the world, eating at restaurants across the globe, enjoying sunrise and sunset at every continents, even eating exotic meats in Africa. I’ll always cherish those moment, and I hope you do too. And it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbow everyday, for we grow stronger from every fall and set back we experienced. The next time you are feeling low and unmotivated, remember that perhaps you have to “tidy up” your life and prioritise things you consider important, it was at those tipping point our life turns for the better. Remember that our biggest fear in the past turns out to be insignificant today, and it will continue to be so in the future, whatever come at us will eventually pass with time.

In the last few weeks, you and mom have been busy packing the stuff you bring to US, and truth to be told, you bring way too much clothes. Now that the house is empty, I missed the quarrel you had with mom and me, things I’m annoyed with in the past. I now today will eventually come, the day you are leaving to US with mom accompanying you for a month. Today I’m dropping you off at the airport with so many thoughts in my mind, words I haven’t said, even though I have twenty two years to say it. Perhaps, it was just easier to me writing those thoughts rather than saying it out loud.

Sometimes I found you to be hesitant in rejecting another’s request, actually there are times that it is better for both of you that you don’t accept someone’s request, they may find more qualified person, you might not do your best effort should you accept it, and it may hinder your relationship with that person. Simply saying “no” today might saves you from a lot of problem in the future, and most people won’t feel hurt being rejected with appropriate reason.

Your two years MBA study is going to be fast moving, as it always does. That is why I recommend you to always make a plan for everything, today’s activities, tomorrow schedule, a plan for finishing a project, even a life plan. Most people doesn’t utilise their time effectively because they are too busy  doing daily chores (rowing the boat) and forget to think if what they do will make them closer to what they want (steering the boat). I know that life has a habit of making us busy and exhausted daily, but it pays to reflect and assess your situation at least one time a month. Know what you want out of life, and when, be reminded of that every day. Reading self help book matters too! Even though I always stressed the importance of money, yet money is only a medium for attaining something we want, not the end goal itself. So remember to pursue things that matters to you and strive for things greater than ourself, for the meaning of life is a life full of meaning.

One other important thing is to socialise more often with friends and make new friends every week or so. I know that all of our family members are introvert, but hey, it’s not a reason for not initiating a talk with new friends. Since you are going to be alone in there, I hope you are not going to feel lonely, and friends will be your first line of defence in everyday’s life. “Happiness only real when shared” ~ Christopher McCandless

If life is a book, I believed we have done the first chapter well together, and now that both of us entering a new chapter in life, be sure to enjoy every moment of it. A book wouldn’t be interesting without its moment of despair and triumph, so does life! Our life doesn’t have to be perfect, for pursue of perfection will turns us nut, but it should be full of fulfilment to ourself. At last, I hope you are going to enjoy your study in Omaha (and perhaps meet Warren Buffett) for the next two years, and don’t forget where you come from, even if everything is going to change if and when you get back.

Your brother,


DSC08303.jpgSouth Africa, July 2014



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Myanmar Trip Day 7: Flight to Heho, Local Market, Shweyanpyay Monastery, Boat Tour in Inle Lake

Today we were departing from Mandalay by flight to Heho, more accurately Inle Lake. Our driver picked us at 7 am and drove us to Mandalay Airport that took 45 minutes through highway. Our flight is on time at 9.05 am, by then we were already inside the airplane (ATR) and ready to take off. The flight took only 35 minutes, even I haven’t finished reading the in-flight magazine when we landed.

DSC06582Inle Lake, taken from the airplane just before landing in Heho

DSC06611Landscape in Shan State, taken also from the air

In Heho we met Yan, our guide in Inle. He first took us to a local market that only opened every Saturday and located 15 minutes from the airport. We toured around the market while Yan explaining things being sold there, it was a wet market selling fishes, meats, vegetables, spices, to underwear and movies. Then we continued our drive for about 45 minutes and arrived at Shweyanpyay monastery. It is a teak wood monastery housing several monk and monkee, when we were there they had thet lunch and prepared for a nap.

DSCF8735A barber in the market in Heho

DSCF8737Traditional market in Heho

DSCF8769Shweyanpyay Monastery, novice monks are preparing for a nap

The next stop was a boat station. We were going to use a small-motorized boat to get to Inle Lake and our hotel at the northern part of it. The small wooden boat could take 5 person on it and I sat on the first row to take decent photographs. The ride was great, wind blowing and sun shining through your face for 1 hour, but the landscape around Inle Lake is decorated by beautiful fields and mountain range. We could see fisherman and local transporting goods by boat.

DSCF8785The boat ride from Boat Station to Inle Lake (1.5 hours)

DSC06732Local villager transporting goods from the land

DSC06899Fisherman catching a fish in Inle Lake with tourist resort on the background

In Inle Lake we were using boat as the only transportation method, first we went to jumping cat monastery, also known as Nga phe chaung monastery. There is no much interesting object to see in the monastery, just few monks and Buddha image, we continued across tomato fields, heading for lunch. In the same place for lunch, we saw a tobacco factory where womens are making tobacco.

DSCF8842Nga Phe Chaung Monastery in Inle Lake, Myanmar

DSCF8871Local women making rolls of tobacco

We got around Ywama after lunch, Ywama is a village in Inle Lake popular for its gold and silversmith. We also visited Cotton and Silk Weaving workshop at Inpaw Khon, they are selling silk scarf and clothes within $15-$90. The next destination was a blacksmith making swords and other tools which we could buy. It was raining when we finished the tour at blacksmith, so we headed back to hotel and stayed for the day.

DSCF8890Cotton and Silk Weaving workshop at Inpaw Khon

DSCF8891Blacksmith in Inle Lake, Myanmar

We stayed at Golden Island Cottage, a nice and clean floating bungalow facing the river. We walked around the hotel and found us to be alone there at the time, later we learned there will be another two person staying there. I spent my evening cleaning my camera and reading a book I bought at the start of the trip, Jim Roger’s book titled “Adventure Capitalist”. It’s an excellent light read for finance and travel enthusiast.

DSC06870Golden Island Cottage in Inle Lake, Myanmar

DSC07176Staff of GIC welcoming new guest at the lobby

DSC06932Local women going home from GIC

The sunset wasn’t very nice due to cloudy weather and there isn’t many things to do in the hotel itself but taking photos. When the water is calm, the sky is nicely reflected on the water, which is beautiful. We have our lunch at 7 pm in the GIC hotel, ordered a prawn and fish, costing us in total $21 for two person meal. I then had a frustration in taking a shower due to the hot water not working properly before going to sleep.

DSC06961The view from our room in GIC

DSCF9019Cottages in GIC, Inle Lake

DSC06941Sunset at our room in GIC, Inle Lake

DSC06945Evening Twilight at Inle Lake, Myanmar


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Myanmar Trip Day 6: Mingun and Mandalay City Tour

Today we started our tour at 8 am, after having a decent breakfast at Dingar Hotel in Mandalay. We were going straight to Mingun by boat, so we stopped at a beach and have a boat hopping experience to get into the farthest boat on the dock. The boat ride from Mandalay to Mingun takes quite long, about 1 hour ride, vice versa. Along the boat ride we could see fisherman hut in the deeper water and landscape of fields, getting closer to Mingun we could see a giant unfinished pagoda named Mingun Temple.

DSC06173Boat dock from Mandalay side

DSC06251Another boat cruising beside our boat on the way to Mingun

Our boat was docked in nearby land and we got to pay tourist fee. We get closer to Mingun Temple, built by a King but left unfinished due to lack of human resources until he died. There was an earthquake in the past, leaving a crack on the front wall. Walking from Mingun Temple for 5 minutes, we see another pagoda and Mingun Bell. It is the second largest bell in the world, the first one is in Moscow. But the Mingun Bell could actually produce sound while the one in Moscow cannot.

DSCF8542Mingun Temple

DSCF8552A pagoda 5 minutes away from Mingun Temple

DSCF8556Mingun Bell, the second largest bell in the world

Another 5 minutes walk from Mingun bell, we arrived at a beautiful pagoda named Hsinbyume. It is a white colored, wavy structure pagoda, on the top there is a Buddha statue and kids selling flowers to be given to the Buddha for 500 kyat each. We could also see the whole landscape from the top of Pagoda, where we met a group of Taiwanese lady asking us to take photographs for them. That is all the worth-visit sites in Mingun, as it is a small village and we met only few tourist on our walk.

DSC06291Junior monks in Mingun

Mingun1Hsinbyume Pagoda, one of the most beautiful pagoda in Myanmar

DSC06309Landscape from the top of Hsinbyume Pagoda, Mingun

We rode the same boat back to Mandalay, I listened to music and enjoy the scenery from the lower deck of the boat due to the hot weather. The boat ride does feels long the second time, once we were on the shore our car has already waiting to take us to money changer and eat at a local restaurant in the city.

DSCF8516Our boat deck on the way back to Mandalay

DSC06319Local people moving goods from the boat

The food in Mandalay cost around 6000 kyat ($5) per meal in a decent restaurant and almost everywhere served a fried rice on the menu. We visited a woodcarving workshop after lunch, continued by Maha Myat Muni Image, a temple where many people sticks a gold paper to the Buddha statue to attract a good deed. The temple was moderately large and there is also paintings museum which tells story about Buddha and the King.

DSCF8605Maha Myat Muni Image

DSCF8615Maha Myat Muni Temple, Mandalay

It was one o’clock in the afternoon and the weather was hot, so we headed to gold paper workshop to see how the very thin gold paper is being made from a solid gold. It was 5 minutes away from Dingar hotel, our staying place in Mandalay. As usual, we were given a time to rest in the hotel until 3.30 pm. We took a quick shower and rest for a while.

DSCF8625Workers stomping on the gold paper to make it thinner

DSCF8621Carving workshop in Mandalay

On the evening we were picked up and continue the city tour to Old Palace. It was the biggest complex in Mandalay and occupied by the army, we were sightseeing around and learning the history of Mandalay from two Kings period and how the British conquered northern Myanmar without a single bullet. The structure of the complex looks similar to Palace in China and Korea, however the palace has been rebuilt due to fire in the past, except for one building that is being moved and donated as a monastery, which happened to be our next destination.

Mandalay10Mandalay Old Palace

Mandalay9Mandalay Old Palace

It is a wooden building with very detailed decoration across the door, wall, window, and roof. We aren’t allowed to touch any part of the temple, because it was covered with gold and our sweat oxidates the layer. It took us less than 15 minutes to tour around the small building, we then continued to Kuthodaw.

DSCF8655The only original building from Old Palace

Kuthodaw is included in the Unesco World Record for the biggest book in the world. Inside the complex are 739 white-colored pagoda with a writings inside the structure. The symmetry between one pagoda to the other is great, the biggest golden pagoda looks like a smaller structure of Shwezigon Pagoda in Bagan. Were the 739 writings are put on the top of the other, its height will be equivalent to 20 floors building, the reason of its Unesco record.

DSCF8671Kuthodaw complex, Mandalay

DSCF8670A script inside every pagoda in Kuthodaw, the reason it is called the world’s thickest book

Mandalay11Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay

At 5.15 pm we leave Kuthodaw for Mandalay Hill, where we will watch the sunset. Mandalay Hill at sunset is a must visit for tourist in Mandalay, the landscape facing North is simply AMAZING, with the lights creating a gradation of green and yellow on the rice fields. We spent almost two hours there, capturing 360 degrees view of Mandalay city and durrounding landscape.

DSC06325Mandalay Hill taken from the city

DSC06358Cityscape of Mandalay taken from Mandalay Hill

DSCF8727Mandalay Hill condition at sunset

DSC06404My favourite photograph in Mandalay, a vast green landscape beautifully illuminated by the soft-natural light

DSCF8694Viewing to the city from Mandalay Hill

DSCF8714A bench facing the city from Mandalay Hill

Afterward we dined on a street vendors selling Shan noodles, then stopped at a bakery to buy some chocolate cakes for dessert. It was around 8.30 when we fot back to our hotel and rest. Tomorrow, we are leaving Mandalay and headed to Inle by flight.


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