We’ve never seen so many smiling, happy people who were excited to see us, as we navigated our way across friendship bridge into the Burmese country of Myanmar. There is no other way to describe the bridge but pure chaos! You had to change lanes from the left to the right-hand side of the road as you cross into the Burma, Myanmar. Thankfully we crossed with ease on foot from Thailand and found the mayhem rather amusing. It was such an awesome cultural experience backpacking Myanmar!
Myanmar – Myawaddy Border Crossing
It’s always really confronting and confusing crossing a border into a new country, especially when you visit Myanmar. The world you know changes in a matter of seconds, the language you just spent four months learning is now useless and you have to get used to a new currency. We were totally unprepared as usual, had no clue of what to do, where to go in Myanmar, what the exchange rate was and we spoke no Burmese. We played it safe, retreated to a phone store to get Wi-Fi and sort out our life.
The Burmese girls working at the phone store were so sweet and really helped us out. We got Wi-Fi, bought a sim and data after exchanging our money. We didn’t get ripped off (at least not yet), so we’re back on track. Two Burmese blokes who were chilling at the Burmese food stand next to the phone store offered us lift to Mawlamyine. It’s the same price as a packed minivan, so why the hell not? We’re always looking for new and exciting experiences for a honeymoon in Myanmar.
Turns out they were driving product there anyway, so we stopped and helped them pack the van. We’ve never been stopped so many times by checkpoints and police in such a short distance. Thankfully they were kind, friendly and only trying to keep us safe. Realistically, Myanmar is still a new country, the borders have only been opened for a few years and they’re still trying to work out what to do with foreigners like us. Despite what you hear on the news Myanmar is an extremely safe country, we never once felt unsafe backpacking around Myanmar.
Myanmar – Myawaddy to Mawlamyine
The drive from Myawaddy to Mawlamyine was an eye-opener, to say the least. After being in South East Asia for a year, we’ve never encountered crazier, kamikaze drivers in our lives. Trucks overtaking semi-trailers around blind corners, on narrow winding roads. It was bloody scary and a recipe for disaster.
We stopped after thirty minutes as this guy managed to run off the road and tip his truck over. Thankfully he was okay, however the next accident we encountered, the driver wasn’t so lucky… The guard railing was still intact, but his truck lay flipped at the bottom of an embankment below a tight corner.
Just when we thought the roads couldn’t get any worse. We decided to take a ‘shortcut’ just as it starts to piss down with rain. Soon the dirt turns into mud (go figure) and we’re stuck behind a bogged truck. I turned on our GPS to check out where we are in Myanmar, turns out there are no towns around us and we’re not even on a road…
We didn’t get a minute of shut-eye, on our drive to Mawlamyine from Myawaddy. It was something from a movie, smashed up cars abandoned on the side of the road and barriers dangling from the edge of the road. Despite the challenges we were faced with, we made it and in one piece. From here you can either go north to Hpa An, check out the things to do in Inle Lake or head south to the Dawei peninsular.
We had our game plan sorted; arrive at Mawlamyine between 3-4pm, get some food and catch the 7pm bus to Dawei. That way we arrive at 5am, grab a coffee somewhere and save paying for a nights accommodation. However, our friendly driver had different plans for us and our Myanmar honeymoon…
Related: Take a trip to Bagan, home to hundreds of historical pagodas!
Myanmar – Mawlamyine
As soon as we arrived in Mawlamyine Myanmar, old mate kindly organized us an extremely packed minivan to Dawei. Within the space of 5 minutes, we had our tickets, bags stored and were shuffled onto to this packed van. We had a small breakfast at 9am before crossing the border, so by 5pm we were both famished! Our dream of getting food, a bus with air-conditioning and reclining seats soon vanished before our eyes.
Instead, we were packed like sardines on a minivan with thirteen seats and nineteen people. We couldn’t move at all, let alone straighten our legs and the Burmese guy next to me kept falling asleep on my shoulder. The fact that we were absolutely starving was just icing on the cake.
We were forced to watch cringe-worthy Burmese comedy with the volume blaring so loud, we don’t know how anyone could get some decent shut-eye. Despite the noise, it’s not easy trying to sleep when your stomach is growling so loud at you. Each time we saw lights ahead or reached a village Dyl and I would get so excited that we’d be stopping for food. Each time we got our hopes up we were utterly disappointed…
We watched everyone mung into their snacks with severe envy. I’d even pretend to look interested and point at the weird food they were eating, just in the hopes that they’d offer us something… anything! After 5 hours on the minivan, we’d given up hope of eating. All we could do was crack jokes to each other “oh mate you forgot to stop at that food place, don’t worry we’re not hungry anyway”.
Just as we’d started nodding off to sleep the lights suddenly turn on, burning our sleep-deprived eyes. You know when you wake up super confused, well imagine waking up to some random guy from Myanmar opening the door of your van and speaking jibberish in the highest decibels possible. It scared the absolute shit out of us! Then we realized that we could finally eat, after six long ass hours on this stupid minivan… You couldn’t wipe the smile off our faces!
This was our first time eating in Myanmar, everything looked weird… We definitely didn’t want to get stitched up eating intestines again, so we basically played a game of charades to try work out what each dish was. We looked like total dickheads, mooing like cows, snorting like pigs and doing the chicken dance, everyone was staring at us and laughing. Finally, we got our meal and it tasted like heaven! Realistically it was semi cold rice with weird oily mystery meat aka “chicken” plus they kind of ripped us off. But you know what, beggars can’t be choosers, our bellies were full and we were happy.
Myanmar – Dawei
After devouring our meal, we fell into a deep food comatose sleep. We woke up at 1.30am on the side of some random rode on the outskirts of the Dawei township in Myanmar. Thankfully there were a couple of random dudes on motorbikes, who drove us to a 24-hr coffee shop. We spent the next six hours playing, uno, uno & more uno. At least until the Dawei Myanmar motorbike rental place opened at 7 am. Ahh, the things you do to save money when you’re on your Myanmar budget honeymoon. If you’re visiting Myanmar, definitely organise your visa ahead of time and opt for an online Myanmar evisa.
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