The journey to Myanmar started way before the trip itself. It was one of the first times (actually, the first time) I ever had to make a visa. The visa process was slightly insane. I actually had to write a letter designating my purpose, accompanied with an itinerary, and also a hotel confirmation with a place in Myanmar. For that purpose, I booked myself into Ocean Pearl Inn in Yangon, which you can find on websites like Hostelbookers. It was cheap (10 sgd per night for a room with attached bathroom), and it looked to be an okay place. Lonely planet has much to say about the military junta, and how many of the business interests are linked to the military junta. Well, I’m pretty sure where I stayed wasn’t part of that. If not, that’s some reach. I don’t have really strong opinions about the link between economic exploitation by the military regime, but I also do like the idea that my money is going to some small operator, and not some MNC.
Mission started with a hiccup. As I was checking in for my flight, the ground crew asked me for the credit card which I used to book the ticket. I conveniently left it at home. Thankfully, they let me re-book my ticket at the same rate using my other card.
I arrived at around 3 pm, and Ocean Pearl Inn provided a free airport pickup, so hurrah to that! Ocean Pearl Inn is located some ways from downtown, but it isn’t that out of the way. The rooms are basic, but clean, and the front desk are not only friendly, but also double as your helpful travel agent and money changer. I pretty much just did transacted everything with them. They also have a generator, which really helps with the power failures. I came with grand plans to do things on the first day, but after taking care of business, I just walked round the block, grabbed some grub, and had an early night.
First impression: Yangon seems somewhat decrepit, yet familiar. I guess see the similarities between former British colonial towns.
Aerial view of Myanmar
Rice shop, Yangon