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Around this time last year we were traveling in the Central part of Myanmar – from Mandalay to Bagan to Inle Lake. Hopping from town to town via different modes of transportation. We did, of course, flew in to Mandalay from Bangkok. The flight only takes two hours.

From Mandalay to Bagan, we decided to take a 10-hour slow (real slow) cruise down the Ayeyarwady River. The scenery, I find, was fresh and pure especially since we are from Thailand where it is getting more and more difficult to find a place untainted by over-development and the excessive use of cement. There, we saw hundreds of white and gold pagodas popping up in the skyline of just greenery and rice fields. However, taking a cruise in July was a bit cruel due to the heat. The month was a low season and there weren’t many cruise lines operating as well. Once in Bagan, it was biking everywhere. There were hundreds of trails we took to hop from one pagoda to the next.

From Bagan to Inle Lake we took an 8-hour bus ride. Most passengers on the bus from Bagan were tourists. Along the way we stopped from hamlet to hamlet to pick up more passengers who were mostly locals. Low plastic stools were added in the middle aisle so everyone could sit down. I don’t remember exactly if the stools were brought in by the passengers or were provided on the bus.

Unexpectedly, taking the bus was a nice choice because it drove through Myanmar Highlands, which was breathtaking. The air was clean and fresh – a sharp contrast from the arid Bagan. Some people got off in Kalaw to join a 4-5-day trek through the woods to Inle Lake. We didn’t know about this but we’ll definitely do it the next time we visit the region.

We returned to Mandalay on a 45-min flight. It was fine although I would have preferred a bus ride. It gave us some time to explore Mandalay. Besides the beautiful wooden temples, what we loved and not miss very much was the local foods. Wish I knew where to find Mandalay foods in Bangkok.

Recommendations:
Hotel in Old Bagan: Aye Yar River View Resort
Hotel in Inle Lake: Myanmar Treasure Resort

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