It’s difficult to say which is the heart of the country. We’ve done quite a lot kilometers and been at many different places. So my conclusion, at least of what I’ve seen, is that there are three places that could be considered as center of the country.
First of all it was old Bagan, which it could be the ancient/religious heart, full of temples dating eight centuries back. As the tourist visa of Myanmar it’s just 28 days and can’t be extended we only stayed here a full day visiting, from dawn till dusk! And I think it was enough, not that I wouldn’t have stayed longer, but we had the chance to see most of what we wanted.
Sunrise at one of the temples was simply amazing. We got to the top of a temple before we could actually see anything, and as the day before we got there after dark, it was surprising to see the temples pop up as the light started to come.
With the balloons starting to fly it made a really nice view, and probably at this hour is when we took the best pictures of the whole day. Later we just wandered around some temples, getting in some and climbing others.
Later we decided to go straight to Yangon, but as the new capital was on the way we changed our minds and decided check it out. But on the way we saw (and climbed) the Popa mountain, home of the 37 Nat (spirits of the pre-buddhist era).
The second heart is the new capital, Nawpitaw, a city newly build, just to be the pride of the military government and to show off when foreigners come. The day we got closer we were unlucky enough that there was an Asean meeting with Obama visiting, so police everywhere asking loooots of questions.
It was impossible to find place to sleep, every time we asked in a pagoda or stopped for more than 10 minutes, the police came to ask what were we doing, and to see our passports. It happened so many times I can’t even say a specific number. It was horrible, and an awfully long night.
We didn’t get to see anything as the police tricked us into leaving the city instead of going to the center, and at the end we sneaked into a pagoda and slept there for a few our and left before anybody saw us. This was probably the worst night of the whole trip … so far!
We continued towards Yangon but most of the nights we were kicked out by the police from the places we were already allowed to stay. They said it was for our safety, so it looks like it was safer to kick us out in the middle of the night to the dark road, than letting us stay a few hours in a religious building … I simply can’t understand it.
The funny thing of it is that every time this happened three to four men took their Mickey Mouse notebooks out (probably from their kids), and wrote our passport and visa number, and somehow they also were really interested in the Cambodian visa … No calls, not putting anything in common, just on paper … not surprising enough once the same policeman asked for our passport again the next day, because he lost the paper! Probably the kid took it to school, because it was were he had his math homework!
Finally we got to the last, but definitely not least, heart: Yangon, the biggest city where everything happens. If there is something going on in the country, for sure it’s here! We relaxed for a few days just walking around, eating and enjoying not having to run anywhere. The only thing we did together was the Thai visa, so there was a lot of very much deserved alone time!
And from here we will go more or less straight to the border, to go to Thailand again. We wished we could stay a bit longer, but as it’s not possible … Let’s see what adventures lay ahead of us!