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Hello there, we are Katja and Mic, We Just Travel travel blog team, and we love to travel. Kind of simple 🙂 Check out our live Instagram feed on @wejusttravel. We started our big 18-month adventure in Asia in the beginning of 2014 with a month in Sri Lanka, then used lots of toilet paper in 4 months in India (1 amazing month on Andaman islands), hiked in Nepal, ate everything in Thailand and went from living in the muddy jungle of Mentawai to a cute house in Bali. We’ve…
In the era of technology, traveling became easier on some level. We made a list of apps we use frequently and which helped us save some time (or loose some time with a bad connection :D).
1.) XE Currency
Changing a country is not only a cultural shock, it’s also a money puzzlement. Have your money changer app handy in the first days so it won’t take you too long to bargain for those pants.
Setting a budget for the day is important for not spending too much but making the extra effort and writing down the expenses in a table will help you manage your finances more efficiently.
The latest up-to-date reviews of guesthouses, attractions or restaurants. Sometimes it’s hard to know the price of accomodation but everything else is there. And the best thing is, that it’s fresh! Right now, we love WikiTravel (not an app) even more.
4.) Google Translate
When locals don’t speak English, you know you’re in a cool country. Ok, but how to order your lunch? Learn some basic words or decifre that road sign with translate app.
Who doesn’t want to have turqoise blue waters and purple sunsets on their pictures. Just add some filters and you’re a pro. Plus the travel community is strong and we even met some lovely people via Instagram who are still dear friends to us.
It’s funny how much this app comes handy. If you don’t listen to the local music and you hear a cool song on the international radio, just press that button. If you’re offline it will record it for you and find it later.
This app is evolving quickly and now you can book some lovely apartments/houses for the same price as hotel rooms. You can do all the corespondation trough this app and make reviews.
8.) Foursquare and Swarm
This used to be the same app but recently separated. If you like checking in and collectiong virtual prizes use Swarm. Foursquare is connected to it and will send you some tips about restaurants, bars and attractions nearby.
10.) Yoga Studio
It’s hard to stay in shape while you’re traveling. Thiss app was free when we got it but now costs a couple of bucks. It has beautiful yoga courses varying on the duration, level and type.
11.) Google maps
Locate your hotel or where you are when you get lost. Sometimes you can even show the map to a local and he can direct you in the right way.
12.) Your mobile bank app
If your bank has a mobile app it’s a good time to start using it. You can have your balance and your transactions under control.
A place on everybody’s wish list, mystical cones erupting from the mist or the view from a hot air balloon. It’s Bagan. At first sight, Nyaung Oo is just another town but a few pedal pushes away the stupas start. Hundreds of them. Some .gold, some off-white and mossy, most of them reddish brown, big, small, huge. It’s one of the nicest views in the world.
Bagan is some what being modernized with ‘no plastic bags’ campaign and e-bikes. Renting an e-bike in Bagan for 5000 MMK is one of the best experiences in Myanmar for me. It’s so cool! Getting lost among the temples (which are spread in a large area) and watching the sunset and sunrise from the bigger temples is just dreamy. Not to mention the fun on the e-bike which anyone can drive, even me (yes, I’m a bit retarded in the vehicle department and can ride only a normal bike :D).
I just have to warn you the popular stupas are crowded. So much tourists come from the tour buses (we counted 20 buses and a bunch of bikes, at sunset time). It’s nice to see these places but the atmosphere is so much better on the lonely smaller pagodas.
Sunrise is another highlight because the hot air balloons set out to fly just after sunrise. The sight is surreal, balloons fly over the temples and an orange sunset in the background. Crazy!
We also found a cute restaurant with a good value, even compared to some of the scary-looking ones. It’s called Spice restaurant and has some amazing curries, cheap juices and a wicked avocado salad. Yum!
What does one do when he comes to Nyaungshwe. Boat ride on Inle lake, of course. But what does that exactly mean?
You have more options for the boat rides which your hotel/guesthouse can arrange for you:
– normal ride for 15.000 kyat includes 5-6 hours on the lake (program below)
– if you add 3.000 kyat you can go to Inthein, a hill will ancient pagodas and a nice view
– for an extra 4.000 kyat you stay on the lake and see the sunset
– and for 10.000 kyat you can go another hour more and see the south of the lake
We opted for a normal boat ride with the sunset. We said we don’t like shopping that much but we still saw so many souvenir shops I can’t even count them all. Let me warn you that the prices on the lake are 30 % higher than in Nyaungshwe.
We saw textile shop where a special lotus scarves are made from lotus stems (they roll the sticky liquid and make a thread). Everyone gets a little tour around the ‘factory’ but we couldn’t understand a single so we just nodded. Hey, it’s made from lotus! Products are expensive, around 100 $ but you can get it much cheaper in the city.
We saw a blacksmith shop, a boat repairing shop, parasol shop (paper making), silver&gold shop, long neck souvenir shop (this one was so sad 🙁 Some of Palaung tribes had their neck elongated and in these shops are these ladies who just sit there while tourist are taking pictures of them. Mic just couldn’t take a photo) and our favorite (and the only shop we bought something) – a cheroot or cigar factory. Now that’s more like it! For 3 $ you get 10 sweet smelling cigars made of little tobacco, brown sugar, coconut, honey and anise. It smells nice and it doesn’t leave you tired like normal cigarettes.
We also saw a market, pagoda with 5 golden golden images that used to look like Buddhas but are now big blobs of gold, a former jumping cat monastery (the old main monk died and the I guess the new one doesn’t like jumping cats) and a floating garden of tomatoes which grow very nice on the water.
We also saw the traditional way of fishing where they use one leg to row but they don’t use those big baskets anymore, they use the usual nets.
Unfortunately the sunset was not very spectacular because of the clouds but we saw lots of birds (I think herons) feeding at that time.
It was a nice day and after we slept like babies 🙂
We didn’t do much in Nyaungshwe except visit the Red Mountain winery. 25 min ride with a bicycle and your in a nice surroundings of grape vines. For 2000 kyat you get a teeny amount of 4 wines (probably not really special in European standards but for us, after 9 months of not drinking wine, it was amazing!). We even bought a bottle of sweet rose and drank it in our hotel, yum 🙂
Ok, that’s a bit harsh. But i got your attention didn’t I? 🙂
Myanmar is beautiful country that can not be missed but let’s face it, we are struggling with our budget of 42€ (53 $)/day this month. And we’re not taking any massages, buying souvenirs or eating in nice restaurants.
Myanmar just recently opened its borders again to travelers and is becoming a very popular destination not only for organized tours (majority of tourists) but also for younger people backpacking in Asia. Flights from Bangkok are not expensive and a lot of people come from Thailand. New guesthouses with friendlier prices are opening up but it will take probably a few years more to become a backpacking country.
Myanmar is kinda famous for being a bit more expensive than other Asian countries and we had that in mind but it still surprised us sometimes. Here are some of the things a backpacker should be prepared for:
– bus stations are not in the city and you need a taxi to get you there. Sometimes the bus organizes a ride to the bus station for free.
– taxis are expensive, especially at night. If you take the night bus and arrive in the middle of the night you can pay 10 $ for a 5 min drive. The other option is to wait couple of hours for the local pick up.
– there are more hotels as the guesthouses are only now opening up. We paid 15-20 $ for a (not very fancy) double room on average (shared bathroom).
– admission fees for the main attractions are quite high. To see the Shwedagon pagoda, Golden rock and combo ticket around Mandalay you have to pay around 10 $. Government really needs money, i guess. Some attractions are cheaper but believe me, Sule pagoda is not worth the 3 $ (rather save the money for Shweda).
– although some attractions are free like Mandalay hill, there is a couple of $ of camera fee and they actively check if you paid.
– not only attractions, but just to enter cities (which I suppose everyone wants to on their first visit) of Inle lake and Bagan costs 10 $ and 15 $, respectively. You can’t avoid the fee and they even checked our ticket while viewing the sunset on one of the stupas in Bagan.
– street food is cheap but it becomes expensive (and a really bad value) in the attraction cities. Same goes for soda drinks.
Now that you now what kind of expenses are waiting for you, you’ll give those dollars more easily and can just enjoy the beautiful views 😀