To my dearest friends, family and fellow culture cravers,
After sadly having to wave goodbye to Vietnam, Lizzie and I flew back to Bangkok to venture up North to the hippie haven of Pai.
Located 3/4 hours further North of Chiang Mai, Pai is a quaint backpacker town nestled in the hills of Northern Thailand and these days, is on every traveller’s ‘must visit’ list. During my first visit to Thailand in 2011, I’d never heard of this chilled-out spot however, come 2016, it’s all people rave on about regarding Thailand’s North.
So naturally, I had to go and check it out myself.
Known for being a great place to relax and rejuvenate, it was the perfect spot to take a holiday out of travelling (lol) and recoup after the mania of backpacking through Vietnam.
We treated ourselves to an adorable triangular little hut complete with thatched roof, baby pink door and balcony as well as, a view over our swimming pool and the area’s towering mountains.
How cute are these?!
By day, we lulled by the pool enjoying the sunshine whilst at night, we hit up the excellent night market in town and stuffed our faces with Thai food and oozing crepes.
The best crepes in town…
Pai is very much westernised and overrun with tourists. Nevertheless, unlike a lot of other places in Thailand, it still retains its Thai charm and has not been ‘ruined’ by its very fast popularity.
After three days of doing absolutely nothing, we were torn away from our wonderful hut and made the lengthy journey back down to Bangkok for our flight to Myanmar!!!
Myanmar (formerly Burma) was not a country, which was originally on my travel itinerary.
However, after hearing non-stop praise about this country from many other travellers as well as, the threat that it’ll soon be swarmed with other backpackers, I quickly added it onto the end of Lizzie and I’s trip.
Bordering India, China, Laos and Thailand, this country has a very turbulent history (particularly politically) and has only recently (2011) been opened to travellers. Due to the recent opening of the borders, Myanmar still remains very much untouched making it appealing to travellers who are slightly over how touristy the rest of SE Asia has become.
We started our trip to Myanmar at Bangkok airport where we met Lizzie’s friend from home – Elspeth, – who was joining us for the three weeks in Myanmar.
After lots of hugs, lunch and a good catch up, we jumped on the plane to Yangon.
My first impressions of Myanmar have been great.
The locals are extremely friendly and helpful, there is an Indian influence, which of course, I am LAPPING up, the food is delicious and everything other than accommodation is very cheap.
There is also a noticeable difference in the culture in Myanmar to the rest of the countries I’ve visited in South East Asia, which has been a nice change.
Men wear longyis, a piece of material wrapped around their waists as a skirt to keep them cool, women wear thanaka on their faces as a cosmetic product as well as, to protect them from the sun and all locals chew betel leaf, a narcotic that is mixed with tobacco and wrapped in a palm leaf, which causes their mouth and teeth to turn red (as I write this on the bus to Mandalay there is a man discarding the red spit residue in a bottle – yum).
Oh, and this hair do is a real trend amongst the youngsters…
We spent our first day in Yangon exploring the mammoth Shwedagon Pagoda. Considered the most sacred site in Myanmar, Shwedagon was an incredible complex of pagodas and temples doused in buddhas, gold, incense sticks and local families taking photos before sending their sons to the monastery to become a monk.
It was breathtaking and blew a lot of the other pagodas I’ve seen (A LOT) out the park.
We spent the next couple of days in Yangon taking a trip on the city’s circle train, which loops the surrounding countryside, sampling traditional Burmese cuisine, watching the sunset over the lake and chilling out with the locals in the local park.
We are now heading North towards the most famous spot in Myanmar – Bagan before making our way to Mandalay, Hsipaw and Kalaw (a lot of trekking lies ahead of us…).
Until next week…