STUCK IN YANGON, MYANMAR
October 30, 2019
WHEN THINGS DON’T GO ACCORDING TO PLAN
TRAVEL PERIOD – APRIL 2017
Myanmar is a country that is always under my “must visit” list. My father used to work in Yangon during the 90s, So as a curious kid, I always asked him about his experience living there. He would tell me that there is nothing but people chewing betel nut leaves and women with Thanaka on their faces. He also said that traveling around was hard then because of underdeveloped roads and the military junta rule.
Fast-forward to January 2017, I managed to book a reasonable plane ticket from AirAsia flying from Kuala Lumpur (there is no direct flight from Manila to Yangon/Mandalay). Since I only have 8 days to tour around, I planned to maximize my stay. Therefore, I created an initial itinerary of Yangon – Bagan – Mandalay, but I changed it to Yangon – Inle Lake – Bagan in the end.
A few weeks before my trip, I arranged everything in order. I booked the hostels and plane tickets, and I talked to the hostels about the bus tickets. What could go wrong then? This was already my 24th country and I never had any miscalculated move in my previous trips. Well….there was one thing I did not anticipate.
On the day of my travel, everything was ok. I even went to the airport early because of the alleged “immigration officer strike” and I don’t want to be stuck in the immigration counter for hours. Flight from MNL – KUL was uneventful, and I did not stay long in KLIA2 since my flight to Yangon will be in just a few hours after the arrival.
ARRIVING IN YANGON, MYANMAR
I rushed after arriving at the Yangon International Airport because I wanted to arrive at the hostel and rest for a few hours. So, after exchanging my USDs to kyats, I boarded a taxi to downtown Yangon. During the ride, The taxi driver mentioned that there will be some festivities at the special stage near the municipal hall, but I did not pay attention to it due to exhaustion. After arriving at the hostel, I immediately went to the reception to ask for the bus ticket and avail of their half-day stay promo. When I mentioned the bus reservation to the receptionist, her reply made me shiver. “Sir, we canceled all of our bus reservations”.
Why? But you confirmed that I have already a reserved ticket, I told her. She explained that on that week, they will be celebrating the Thingyan festival, and everything will be closed. I then called the hostels in Nyaung Shwe and Bagan, and they also informed me that all reservations got canceled. I also checked with the train if they have an available slot to Bagan. They do, but there are no available slots for the trip back to Yangon.
I was sad because my plans to bike around the ancient city of Bagan and plans to see the Padaung tribe in Inle Lake will not happen. Nevertheless, I still see it as a positive thing. I will still see the beautiful sites of Yangon, and I have more days to fully explore the city, to relax and not feel rushed.
And besides, there was also the Thingyan festival to look forward to.