October 2016 - Vikingess Voyages

Monday, October 31, 2016

One day at Inle Lake: The Jumping Cat Monastery - Nga Phe Kyaung

11:08:00 PM
The Nga Phe Kyaung monastery is both the biggest and oldest monastery in Inle Lake. Among tourists it is still known as the "jumping cat monastery" - a name it got because of the cats living there, who had been trained by the monks to jump through little hoops. You can see a simple YouTube clip that demonstrates the practice below:

Sunday, October 30, 2016

One day at Inle Lake: Lotus weaving of Inle Lake - Khit Sunn Yin

10:42:00 PM
Inle Lake is often featured on lists of Myanmar (formerly Burma)'s top places to visit with its floating gardens, wooden villages on stilts, and local fishermen catching fish with cone shaped bamboo while they row with their legs. This charming lake was the end destination for our 3-day trekking tour from Kalaw, and we had the pleasure to spend a couple of days by the lake. We stayed the night at the beautiful Shwe Inn Tha Floating Resort, and on our second day the hotel arranged transport for us with a local boat taxi to go around the lake to see a bit of what it had to offer. The first stop of our trip was the Khit Sunn Yin Lotus, Silk and Cotton Hand Weaving Centre where we were going to see the unique lotus weaving of Inle Lake.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

[Hotel Review] Shwe Inn Tha Floating Resort at Inle Lake

9:25:00 PM
Water bungalows on Inle Lake
After having participated in a 3-day trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake it was time to spend some relaxing time at the Shwe Inn Tha Floating Resort, one of the few hotels located directly on the Inle Lake. Our guide from the trekking tour had already arranged transportation to the hotel, so at the shore of the lake we said our goodbyes and were taken by a small lake boat to the hotel where we were greeted by the hotel's staff.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Myanmar: Trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake

4:33:00 PM
Villagers on their way home
We arrived early in the morning in the town of Kalaw with the night bus from Yagon. Our plan was to book a tour with a local guide and go for a three day two night trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake right after arrival in Kalaw. However, as you already might know the busses in Myanmar (Burma) often arrive way ahead of schedule, and in our case with a predicted 7 am arrival time we actually ended up stranded in the middle of the dark Pyi Taung Su road at 3:30 am. To our great surprise we discovered an open restaurant/bar where the locals were watching a Barcelona soccer game and ended up killing time there until the morning (the place even had free WiFi!) 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

[October only] Autumn Time Sale – Up to 50% discount on Tokyo & Yokohama hotels

11:50:00 PM
Planning a trip to Tokyo this autumn? If you are looking for some good deals on hotels in Tokyo and/or Yokohama you can check out the following deals from hotel booking site Agoda. Be aware that the offers are only available for bookings done before October 21st! 

This time sale has come to an end. For the newest updates about time sales click here

Booking period: 14th October – 21st October
Stay Period: 14th October – 31st December

50% Discount:

Mitsui Garden Hotel Shiodome Italia-gai

Hotel Page Here: https://www.agoda.com/mitsui-garden-hotel-shiodome-italia-gai/hotel/tokyo-jp.html?cid=1732488

Hotel Allamanda Aoyama Tokyo
(ホテル アラマンダ青山)

Hotel Page Here: https://www.agoda.com/hotel-allamanda-aoyama-tokyo/hotel/tokyo-jp.html?cid=1732488

40% Discount:

Hotel Monterey Hanzomon 
(ホテルモントレ半蔵門 )

Hotel Page Here:

Hotel Monterey Akasaka 

Hotel Page Here:

Sotetsu Fresa Inn Hamamatsucho Daimon 
(相鉄フレッサイン 浜松町大門)

Hotel Page Here: https://www.agoda.com/sotetsu-fresa-inn-hamamatsucho-daimon/hotel/tokyo-jp.html?cid=1732488

Sotetsu Fresa Inn Tokyo-Toyocho 
(相鉄フレッサイン 東京東陽町駅前)

Hotel Page Here:

35% Discount:

Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel Club Resort 
(東京ベイ舞浜ホテル クラブリゾート)

Hotel Page Here:

Sotetsu Fresa Inn Tokyo Kyobashi 
(相鉄フレッサイン 東京京橋)

Hotel Page Here:

30% Disount:

Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba 
(グランドニッコー東京台場 )

Hotel Page Here:

Celestine Hotel 
(セレスティン ホテル)

Hotel Page Here:

25% Discount:

Sakura Fleur Aoyama Hotel
(サクラ フルール 青山 ホテル )

Hotel Page Here:

23% Discount:

Sotetsu Fresa Inn Yokohama Sakuragicho 
(相鉄フレッサイン 横浜桜木町)

Hotel Page Here:

20% Discount:

The Prince Park Tower Tokyo Hotel 
( プリンス パークタワー東京 )

Hotel Page Here:

Hotel New Otani Tokyo The Main 
(ホテルニューオータニ東京 メイン )

Hotel Page Here:

Hotel Associa Shin-Yokohama 
(ホテルアソシア新横浜 )

Hotel Page Here:

Hotel Wing International Shinjuku 
(ホテルウィングインターナショナル新宿 )

Hotel Page Here:

Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Ginza 

Hotel Page Here:

Shinjuku Granbell Hotel 

Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel Tokyo 

Hotel New Otani Tokyo Garden Tower 
(ホテルニューオータニ東京 ガーデンタワー)

Daiwa Roynet Hotel Ginza 

Hotel Sunroute Ginza 
(ホテルサンルート銀座 )

Hikari House Tokyo 

Hotel Page Here:

Toshi Center Hotel 

Hotel Page Here:

Kichijoji Dai-ichi Hotel 

Hotel Page Here:

10% Discount:

New Otani Inn Yokohama Hotel 

Hotel Page Here:

Hotel Francs 
(ホテル フランクス )

Hotel Page Here:

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Recommended Hotels in Tokyo

Royal Park Hotel The Shiodome
Royal Park Hotel The Shiodome
Hotel Asia Center of Japan
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Sotetsu Fresa Inn Nihombashi-Ningyocho
Sotetsu Fresa Inn Nihombashi
Ryokan Asakusa Shigetsu Hotel
Ryokan Asakusa Shigetsu Hotel

Monday, October 10, 2016

Yangon: By night bus from Aung Mingalar Highway Bus Station

10:31:00 PM

After having spent a couple of days in Yangon visiting downtown Yangon, the Shwedagon Pagoda and the Royal Lake Kandawgyi our next plan was to travel to Kalaw for a 3-day hiking trip. We had bought tickets with the JJ Express through a local vendor (you can find ticket vendors all over Yangon) a day in advance, but for travellers visiting Myanmar during the high seasons one might want to order tickets even earlier.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Yangon: A visit to the Royal Lake Kandawgyi and Bogyoke Park

9:49:00 AM

On our last day in Yangon before leaving by nightbus to Kalaw Yuma and I decided to walk to the Kandawgyi lake from the place we were staying, Lavender Hotel situated by the Shwedagon pagoda. On the way to the lake we passed by another pagoda called the Kyay Thone Pagoda, and we also enjoyed seeing the local people doing their daily routines (not to mention that the street was filled with Pokemon Go players! It was surprising the game was so popular here too..)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

A Visit to the "Crown of Burma": Yangon's Shwedagon Pagoda

3:12:00 PM

The Shwedagon Pagoda, or the Shwedagon Zedi Daw, is considered one of Myanmar’s top places to visit, and the magnificent golden stupa towering over the city can be seen most places in Yangon. Known as the "crown of Burma" it is considered to hold the world's oldest Buddhist stupa believed to be dating back 2600 years.

When Yuma and I arrived at our hotel we got our first Wow experience of the trip as we stepped out on the hotel’s rooftop balcony and saw the fantastic view of the pagoda. The big stupa gilded with gold foils, so you can imagine how it shines up in the night when the spotlights are on. The word “shwe” means gold, and “dagon" is the old name for Yangon, so Shwedagon literarily means something like “Gold Yangon”. In the night the golden shine of Shwedagon can be spotted from far, far away.
You can enter the pagoda area from four different entrances named after the different orientations; east, west, north and south. As our hotel was located right by the east entrance we ended up approaching the pagoda from the east.

Everyone visiting the temple has to take their shoes off before ascending up the long staircase towards the main temple area. By the entrance to the staircase there are women (during daytime) and children (in the evening) who want to sell you plastic bags to put your shoes in, but at the end of the staircase you'll also find a place where you can pay a small fee to leave your shoes as you go visiting the pagoda grounds.
We made our way up the long staircase to the temple, beautifully decorated with ornaments and pictures. The contrast was stark to the many vendors with their small stands all the way up the stairs selling all sorts of bling-bling plastic souvenirs. 
We had to go through a small security check before entering the temple area, and after the check there were only a couple of stairs left until we could reach the temple. 
At the temple we payed a 8000 Kyat entrance fee (foreigners only). They must have had a lot of experience with foreigners not bringing enough cash, because by the entrance to the holy grounds you could find a ATM machine ready at your service. After we had payed the fee and entered the pagoda we were soon approached by a local guide who asked to show us around the pagoda for a small fee. We agreed to his offer, and he took us around the great pagoda.
Buddhists in Myanmar believe that every birthday is represented by a certain animal, and our guide had a book with an overview of past and future birthday dates that he used to show us which animal represented our birthdays. You can however easily figure this out on your own if you have a smartphone with a calendar, just look up which day of the week you were born. 

Here is a short overview of the different animals representing the various birthdays:

Day of Week: Sunday
Zodiac animal:Garuda (mythical bird)
Attributes: Kind, generous, challenge seeker, energetic, motivational

Day of Week: Monday
Zodiac animal: Tiger
Attributes: Intelligent, intuitive, detail & goal oriented, strong, patient, respectful of laws and responsible.

Day of Week: Tuesday
Zodiac animal: Lion
Attributes: Natural leader, dignified, honorable, strong-willed, opinionated, decision-maker, challenge seeker

Day of Week: Wednesday Morning
Zodiac animal: Elephant (with tusks)
Attributes: Unpredictable, enthusiastic, spontaneous, passionate, independent

Day of Week: Wednesday Afternoon
Zodiac animal: Elephant (without tusks)
Attributes: Contradictory nature, doesn't like interference, excellent at promoting own works, avoids risks, is successful in business, able to accomplish achievements

Day of Week: Thursday
Zodiac anima: Rat
Attributes: Clever, witty, intelligent, good at spotting opportunities, can be introverted and quiet, but also focused and driven

Day of Week: Friday
Zodiac animal: Guinea Pig
Attributes: Artistic, creative, easily bored, loving, kind, sympathetic, sensitive to others, a wonderful friend

Day of Week: Saturday
Zodiac animal: Dragon
Attributes of the Dragon: Philosophical, understanding, confident, great sense of humour, independent 

(You can find more detailed information about the Burmese Zodiac here)

Around the pagoda there were various statues representing the different days of the week, and our guide showed us the statues representing our birthday and the order in which to pour water over the statues.

We were free to walk around inside the pagoda area as we'd like, and the guide explained to us about many of the local customs in the pagoda. It was clear that the pagoda was a big part of people's daily life here; we could for instance see not only people praying but also people enjoying a meal with their family members while sitting on the pagoda's floor. On the pagoda grounds you could find a wide range of religious rituals one could take part in in addition to the "regular" praying.
It was striking how much electricity that was being used on the holy grounds. In the picture above you can see how the Buddha statue in the middle has a flashing green and orange halo behind it, and on the left and right side on the two pillars you can see TV screens playing religious videos.
One way of praying for good luck demonstrated by our guide was to ring the bells on the pagoda grounds. Our guide told us to ring the bell 3 times, and we got to try it ourself after he had demonstrated.
The picture above shows how local women are praying by kneeling on a round stone in front of some religious statues. They would then proceed to lift the stone and put it back down, a process they repeated a couple of times while praying.
We took part in a couple of rituals at the pagoda grounds under the instructions of our guide. He told us that the local people were very happy when they saw tourists taking part in their tradition and showing that they wanted to learn the "local way". It was nice to see how open the people here were to foreigners even though we all come from different backgrounds with diverging faiths.
There is so much to see when you walk around inside the pagoda grounds that you could probably spend the whole day there if you are up for it. We left the place after our guide had showed us around the pagoda once, but the entrance ticket is valid for a whole day so we decided to revisit Shwedagon in the evening to literarily see the pagoda in a different light.

The visit to Shwedagon was one of the many highlights of our trip to Myanmar, and definitely a must-see for travellers coming to the country. If we could have done things differently we might have wanted to see the Shwedagon towards the end of our trip, as the "crown of Burma" outshines all the other temples we visited during our trip.

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to leave comments/questions below and I'll do my best to answer.

Basic Info
  • ・Name: Shwedagon Pagoda
  • ・Opening hours:04:00 AM to 22:00 PM (Last admission: 21:45)

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Esperado Lake View Hotel
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Savoy Hotel
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Jasmine Palace Hotel
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Lavender Hotel
★★★ → review

About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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