Lost city of Mrauk U

The Kingdom of Mrauk U

The Kingdom of Mrauk U (source: Wikipedia)

So far we have been taking Burma quite easy, travelling to ‘typical backpacking destinations’, not rushing but spending quite few chilled days in each location (I guess a year of backpacking it’s taking its toll!). But going to Mrauk U was completely opposite and made us travel off the beaten path making this part of our Burmeese adventure even more exciting.

What makes Mrauk U so special is the city remote location. Close to Bangladesh and hidden between the mountains with extremely poor road infrastructure it’s not yet popular among travellers. Our journey from Bagan took us in total over 24 hours, which was prolonged by few emergency stops due to the torrentiral rainfall on the way to Magwe and then a 9 hour stop over in  Magwe where we waited for the bus to Mrauk U. This second part of the trip costed $33 per person, which almost gave me a heart attack when it came to paying for the bus ticket. Being the last people getting on the bus we were given non reclining seats and a sleepless night ahead. Tried as hell I was not a happy lady but I suppose this is the price one needs to pay. Continue reading

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Few words about Burma

Temple in Yangon

Temple in Yangon

We finally arrived in Burma, the country that initially was not on our list. But the more we travelled, more and more amazing Burmesee stories echoed in our ears and few months ago we knew that Burma cannot be missed. So here we are.

Yangon the country’s biggest city invited us with insane bus rides, expensive hotel ($25 for a room with no bathroom!), lack of pavements, limited electricity and with no doubt the friendlies people of South East Asia. Everyone smiled at us with an honest looks on their faces. The man in the car who passed by shouted hello, another one overhearing our conversation about a certain building came over and explained what it was in broken English (he then too apologised he had too much to drink, hence his help was limited). It felt good being back in a place that somehow reminded me of Cambodia and from what we have learnt this is probably the last chance to see the Burma as it is, innocent, modest and unwesternised. Continue reading

The hills and chills of Yunnan province

Countryside around Shangrila, Yunnan

Countryside around Shangrila, Yunnan

I was very much looking forward to travelling around Yunnan. Mountain air, hills, world’s deepest gorge and tibetan villages were all on our list of things to experience whilst in the area. In the 12 days we had in Yunnan we managed to squeeze in quite few sights and whilst not all of them as exciting as the next there were definitely few gems worth mentioning and worth the effort of getting to.

We started our journey in Kunming from where we took a night train to Lijiang, another UNESCO heritage site. In Kunming itself we only had few hours to spare, so we headed to a beautiful and peaceful Yuantong temple where we wandered around for few hours. The night train took us by surprise because not only there were spaces available for the train leaving on the same day/nigh but ‘by mistake’ we booked ourselves onto a soft sleeper, which was real class! Only 4 people in the carriage, carpeted floor and a flower on the table.  High life I call it! Continue reading

Tianmen Mountain and Zhangjiajie National Park

Sending peace from China

Sending peace from China

We have left China a few days ago but because of government’s ban on  media that could possibly free up people’s minds and cause unnecessary disturbance to the nation I was unable to access my wordpress blog. Thankfully Instagram seemed to be working fine, so at least I could keep it going by posting endless photos and developing my hash tag addiction. But now I’m back to the blogging business and in the next few post I will quickly wrap up our last months adventures. Continue reading

Hong Kong on the go!

Hong Kong at night

Hong Kong at night

We arrived in Hong Kong after a bumpy flight from the Philippines and as soon as we stepped out of the plane we were literally on the go. Our main priority was to get Chinese and Myanmar visas sorted but with weekend quickly approaching (we arrived on Thursday) and our train to China booked for Sunday night our schedule was tight, as never before. The plan for the next two days was to get to Myanmar embassy before 12pm on the day we arrived, drop off passports, pick these up first thing in the morning on the following day and rush to an agency for our Chinese visa. Surely this could have been done in 24 hours! Continue reading

Sleepy Siquijor, turtle heaven in Apo and Thresher shark diving in Malapascua

Malapascua

Malapascua

So it’s been a while since my last post. And it’s not because we were really busy trying to see everything we possibly can in the Philippines, it’s actually quite the opposite. Arriving with the rainy season meant that some places we wanted to visit, like Palawan and El Nido, were scraped off our list and replaced with areas that were less likely to be affected by the typhoons (so we thought). Instead of rushing around, flying from one island to another and ticking off ‘must see’ destinations spread over 7000 islands we took it easy this time. With no guidebook (Errr…I lost it!) we used weather reports as our main guidelines and decided to head south to Dumagete, a cool student town, from where we could jump on ferries to the smaller islands in the area. Continue reading

Green steps to heaven. Discovering rice terraces of Batad and Banaue

Rice terraces in Batad. Green steps to heaven

Rice terraces in Batad. Green steps to heaven

With new stamps in our passports and 30 day visas we have been officially exploring Philippines since 25 June. After 14 hours mini bus journey, 2 flights within and 1 flight out of Indonesia we arrived in Manila. We stepped out of the plane open-minded and regardless of unfavourable comments, we decided not to judge the book by its cover, which in Manilas cases shouts ‘Pollution, child beggars and traffic jams’. I thought to myself that if I developed some love (and hate) feelings for Phnom Phen I surely could at least give a chance to Manila. But I admit my easy-going approach disappeared the moment Tim almost got pickpocket by a small boy and when the traffic of Manilas concrete jungle made me sweat like crazy. The saving grace for the city turned out to be a shopping mall, where we chilled, ate super yummy ice cream and got pretty succesful haircuts, and the China Town, where we tasted some delicious dumplings and treated ourselves to first of all dodgy looking but completely legit massages. As you have probably sensed we left Manila without sharing a tear and made our way to Ifugae, a region in the north of Philippines famous for magnificent collection of rice terraces, that had been awarded the Word Heritage Site by Unesco. Continue reading