After arriving in Yangon and checking into our hotel, our first two priorities were changing our money and booking the bus to Inle Lake. The post Tips for visiting Myanmar covers our money woes, so I shall skip to the bus.
Travel in Myanmar is quite lengthy, so the majority of (if not all) buses travel overnight. We were anticipating spending about 20 hours on the bus to Lake Inle and were prepared for this. We were, however, not quite prepared for there being no seats available on the direct bus. The balloon festival that drew us to Lake Inle, apparently drew many other people also. The bus was booked for days. We were told we could get an overnight bus to Metila, and then get a pick up (a ute) for one to two hours to Lake Inle. This sounded acceptable to us, so we paid for our tickets. Upon confirming the details, the time in the pick up extended to five to six hours. Ok, fine, no problem.
The bus left at 7pm. It was so cold. I left Australia just before winter, and have been in Cambodia for six months. I haven’t been cold in over a year, so I had forgotten what it was like to be cold. It also never occurred to me that I would get cold in Myanmar. I was wearing a skirt and t-shirt, and the only shoes I had taken with me were a pair of thongs (flip flops). I shivered away in my seat, was startled more than once by a spider that seemed to like my leg. I tried to sleep, but sleep on transport has never come easily to me.
We arrived in Metila at 4am, much earlier than we had anticipated. After asking around about getting to Lake Inle, we climbed atop a pick up very similar to the one below.
Thinking initially that we would be taken to the bus station, after forking out 10,000 kyat each (just over $10USD) we soon discovered that it would be taking us all the way to our destination. As the lower section of the ute was full, we were put up the top with four Burmese men who lay comfortably across half the space, and three other foreigners (two Germans and a girl from Hong Kong) who were squashed into the front half with the three of us.
It was so cold, and once the sun rose it became very hot. After nearly ten hours of driving up and down a mountain, wobbling precariously due to our top heavy load, sunburn, dehydration, and being squashed on top with over 15 people, we arrived at our destination. It was a wonderful adventure and one of the highlights of our trip. If not for that we would never have seen the beautiful countryside of Myanmar, and this beautiful sunrise (Vy’s first ever sunrise. What?!).
All that being said, we were very relieved to get seats on the direct bus back to Yangon.