In Christmas 2017, we made a 4-day short trip to Myanmar for a brief getaway. For almost half a century, Myanmar was under military rule and few foreigners would visit the US sanctioned country. Myanmar saw a gradual increase of foreign tourists since the military junta was replaced by a civilian government in 2011. Despite recent improvements on the political situations, including the 2015 general election that saw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy winning a majority in the parliament, the tourism industry has yet reached its full potentials, given the country’s rich sights and fascinating culture. Traveling in this Southeast Asian country that has yet been exploited by mass tourism and global commercialism was a charming experience.
Compared to Siem Reap in Cambodia where vibrant pubs and massage parlors mushroom near the sacred sites of Angkor, Myanmar’s Bagan still remains a sleepy village surrounded by 3000+ ancient Buddhist temples and stupas. Compared to many Asian cities where the urban skyline changes every year, Myanmar’s largest city and former capital Yangon remains an energetic city with the Asia’s largest collection of colonial architecture from its British era. Due to its years of international isolation, up until recent years Myanmar was a pristine destination devoid of international influences like Mac Donald’s or Starbucks. Although short, our 3.5 day of travel experience was absolutely inspiring, particularly for the magical moments at Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda and the stunning scenery of Old Bagan under the golden glow of the sunrise.
Our mileage rewarded flight took us for a 8-hour layover at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport. We walked over to the Novotel Hotel for a late dinner and a few hours of rest.
The Christmas tree and ginger bread houses at the atrium of Novotel Hotel reminded us Christmas was just three days away.
We returned to Bangkok Airport early in the morning. The first thing we saw after entering the secure zone was the Samudra manthan sculpture.
The Samudra Manthan sculpture depicted the Thai version of the Hindu mythology of cosmos creation.
We found our way to the boarding gate at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.
We boarded a Thai Airways flight designated for Yangon of Myanmar.
The flight took roughly 1.5 hour. By the time we saw the Gulf of Martaban of Andaman Sea, the plane gradually descended towards Yangon International Airport.
From the airport, we took an official taxi to Loft Hotel, our accommodation in Central Yangon.
The lobby of Loft Hotel was causal and smart. We were greeted with fresh juice and lots of smile.
In the lobby, there were interesting handicraft on display. They were by Pomelo, a local fairtrade shop selling high-quality crafts made by disadvantaged people in Myanmar.
Part of the corridor of Loft Hotel served like a gallery space for paintings.
Through a corridor of paintings, we found our way to our room.
Our room was a neat loft unit, with a small living area and bathroom at the lower level.
With exposed structure, white washed walls, eye-catching pendant lights, charcoal paint, and brick cladding, the room interior design at Loft Hotel was sleek and comfortable.
The sleeping area was located on the upper mezzanine.
The Loft Hotel came as a little surprise for us. We anticipated more pleasant surprises as we ventured out to explore Yangon.