Summary of our trip with highlights, take aways, statistics and an itinerary through Myanmar and Indonesia.
A trip through Indonesia and Myanmar was exciting and eventful, but not without surprises and challenges. As I took off for my flight home and stared out the small oval window, I couldn’t help but wonder what other mysteries are still to be discovered in these two very different countries.
- Braving the traffic to explore Jakarta.
- A humbling stay at a convent in Bandung.
- Getting lost in the mountains of Bali in the middle of the night.
- Rejuvenating in Bali’s serenity and luxury.
- Boating with schools of dolphins in Lovina.
- Standing at the edge of the cliffs of Uluwatu.
Myanmar (Burma) Highlights
- Settling into Burmese culture at Shwedagon Pagoda.
- Exploring the magnificent temples of Bagan.
- Getting through the military checkpoint for Mandalay Palace.
- Floating through Inle Lake.
- Discovering the incredible Indein Temple Complex.
Day 1: Jakarta – Arrive and have a nice local Indonesian meal.
Day 2: Jakarta, Bandung – Tour the city center and its many museums. Take an afternoon bus to Bandung.
Day 3: Bandung – Observe the different vibe of the city. Visit the volcano Tangkuban Perahu. Join a show at Udjo.
Day 4: Bandung, Jakarta, Bali – Take an early bus to Jakarta. See the ships at Sunda Kelapa before catching a flight to Bali. Driving a rental from Depasar to Lovina.
Day 5: Bali – Recuperate from the travel and relax at the Banjar Hotsprings.
Day 6: Bali – See the dolphins of Lovina then explore the mountains, Kintamani, and the Temple of Besakih.
Day 7: Bali, Kuala Lumpur, Yangon – Drive south with a stop at Git Git Waterfall. Visit Uluwatu Temple and the famous surfing beaches before flying off to Yangon.
Day 8: Yangon – Tour the sights of the city.
Day 9: Yangon, Bagan – Spend a morning at Shwedagon Pagoda before flying to Bagan for the sunset from Shwesandaw Temple.
Day 10: Bagan – Explore the ancient temple ruins.
Day 11: Bagan, Mandalay – Take a morning bus to Mandalay. Visit Mandalay Palace and other sights.
Day 12: Mandalay, Inle Lake – Jump on an early flight to Heho and tour Inle Lake.
Day 13: Inle Lake – See the floating market and Indein Temple Complex to conclude the trip. Go home.
Total Time: 13 days, 12 nights
Total Distance Traveled by Car: ~430 mi (~690 km)
Total Distance Traveled by Plane: ~3720 mi (~5990 km)
Different Accommodations Stayed: 7
Different Types of Transportation Used: 5 (Plane, Car, Bus, Boat, and Horse cart)
Diversity – Cultures, religion, and people change from city to city, island to island.
Gridlock – And I thought Beijing traffic was bad. Nothing beats Jakarta.
Religious Tolerance – The majority of the country is muslim and I heard/read of intolerance towards other beliefs. A few shy people eating in a Jakarta KFC during Ramadan fasting must represent the minority. There seem to be pockets of different religions by area (for example, Bali is primarily Hindu).
Touristic Bali – The small island of natural beauty and a unique culture is saturated by large hotel chains and tip hungry strangers. An issue with many Southeast Asian areas, Bali lost a lot of its charm because it has become so touristic.
Authentic – Myanmar being recently opened is still very authentic and raw. Even at some major sites, tourists are still a minority. See Myanmar before it turns into Thailand!
Amiable – Almost all locals were friendly and hospitable. It’s refreshing to not feel like a large dollar sign when conversing with the community.
Domestic Flights – Their domestic airline market is very immature, but functional.
Politically Correct – Besides the military zone around Mandalay Palace, we didn’t see any soldiers or military presence (despite the negative reputation of the junta).
Face Cream – What looks like caked mud at a first glance is actually a face cream made of Thanaka root! This popular cream used mostly by women improve the skin and is “attractive”.
In general, both countries were interesting to explore. I would love a chance to see some other islands of Indonesia and would recommend visiting Myanmar sooner rather than later.
Did I miss any highlights of either country? Let me know in the comments below!