Skyfall

One of the things that has always been on my bucket list is Bungy Jumping.

Maybe I’m crazy but the adrenaline that I imagined getting from Bungee-ing has been something that is always on my mind. Even with reports of the dangers of Bungee-ing, I still knew I had to tick that item off the bucket list one day.

With that done, maybe I’ll want to advance to higher levels of Bungy Jumping in the future (maybe the Macau Tower? heehee).

The large part of my trip to Chiang Mai revolved around this very activity. Fong Wa & I both kinda agreed that apart from us getting closer, the main highlight of the trip had to be the bungy jumping.

Aware of all the dangers associated with the sport, I did my research on X-Centre, the company that does all sorts of extreme activities in Chiang Mai. Set-up by a New Zealander who is registered as a jump master and with the company boasting an excellent safety record, Fong Wa & I felt pretty much at ease. Afterall, it was a mere 50m drop – nothing compared to the one from the Macau Tower!

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Due to the fact that we went to Chiang Mai in March, which is the off-peak season, we were the only two jumpers of the day. That meant that I was Fong Wa’s supporter & she was mine. Also, it meant that we had the luxury of choosing who could go first. Fong Wa went first as she was afraid that if I jumped first, it’d be harder for her to jump later.

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The whole procedure was very careful. The guys took our weight, strapped us into the leg guards, put the rope on, snapped shut the carabiners, went through several routine checks, and sent us (one after the other) off to ascend the crane. The feeling while going up was so surreal. It felt like I was going to fulfil my childhood dream or something along those lines haha. The guy who went up with me asked me if I was scared of heights. When my response was a negative, he excitedly told me to look down. WOW. I’d never have expected him to ask me to do that. But of course, I had no qualms about doing it heh.

Looking down made the whole thing slightly more scary and even more surreal. I imagined how it was like for Fong Wa who had jumped before me, wondering whether I’d be gutsy and just take that leap of faith and jump off, or stand there weighing my options of whether to jump or not. When we were at the top, the instructor told me to stand at the edge, and then release myself, head first.

What really surprised me was how I was able to count and shout out to Fong Wa that I was going to jump at that very moment. That really made me wonder if there was something wrong with my brain. How was I so calm and composed at a moment where I was jumping off a 50m high platform?! Then I did it. I swept up all my courage and jumped.

But I jumped wrongly.

So the instructor had said head first. I was supposed to be diving in air. Instead, I had leapt off legs first. HUGE mistake. I couldn’t scream for the first few seconds as I went forward. Thankfully, my brain was alert and I was able to recall all the techniques that RAG Cheer had taught me and locked myself at the right time to prevent my back from screwing itself up. Once I was flipped the right way, I screamed my lungs out in happiness that I was safe, alive and more importantly, fulfilling one of the must-do’s on my bucket list.

Seriously, I cannot even begin to describe how exhilarating the feeling of bungy jumping is.

If you’re one who isn’t afraid of heights, I’d say GO FOR IT!

Perhaps next up on my list: Verzasca Dam in Switzerland – beautiful scenery & 220m (just four times) high, what could be better?

Well that brings me to the close of my highlight of the trip. I’ll be back with more updates about my first day in Chiang Mai soon!

Love,

Eugenia

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Defying Gravity

Beautiful sunrise going up to the Golden Rock

Beautiful sunrise going up to the Golden Rock

Hi guys!

So after dropping our bags at Thiri’s place, her uncle came over and sent us + her mom & aunt to the bus station. We were the last six people to reach the bus station (and also about 10 minutes late) oopsie daisy!

The bus ride was 5 hours from Yangon to Bago and finally Kim Pun Base Camp, where we would stay (there are many rooms available for rent) for another 4 hours before we could catch the 6am lorries to go up to Kyaiktiyo (Golden Rock).

The three of us were so relieved that Thiri’s mom had decided to get a room (thank you auntie!!!) because we felt pretty disgusting having not showered (but were totally prepared not to – disgusting traveling exchange students) the day before.

We woke up, tired faces, eyes barely opening, and dragged ourselves to the lorries. At 6am, the sight of it all was a tad bit too overwhelming. People squeezing and struggling their way up to the lorries, pushing frantically, running from one lorry to another (I still have no idea why)… Wayyy too much for me to take in at 6am.Two of Thiri’s friends that we’d met at Acacia also surprised us in the morning. So our group of 6 now became a group of 8!

The ride up (an alternative would have been to trek up ~ 4-6 hours) was one of the most exciting and fun things I’d ever done. It literally felt like a roller coaster without any safety harness or what not oops! So the way the lorry is panned out is that there are rows and rows of wooden plank seats. We climbed in and squished ourselves tight (while that was uncomfortable, I think that made it safer). We were seated near to the back and that was probably not the wisest decision. These pseudo F1 drivers were driving at breakneck speed and swerving a hell lot at every possible bend and turn.

When we’d finally reached, my bum was totally sore. I think it was probably more effective than one of the uGallop stuff that Osim sells haha. Way to go! Exercise quota for the year covered!

It was a super interesting sight once we reached the area. There was still way more for us to hike and wearing our traditional Burmese outfits didn’t make it the easiest and most comfortable trek. Yet, wearing the outfits made me feel very much like a local. People were starring at us because it was kinda strange that we had a very tall Albert who does not look local + two Asians who could potentially be Burmese but ALL dressed in Burmese outfits haha. Tons of people came to take pictures with us (including some who’d been on other lorries and were waving to us the whole way). I guess you could say we had our one-minute of fame heehee.

Also, since Kyaiktiyo is really popular amongst Burmese people both young and old, some locals native to the area came up with something really smart – services for carrying baggages AND for carrying you! So how this works is that you can pay for people to carry you on a sedan chair or to carry your luggages cos you may just be too tired to do so yourself.

As per all the other pagodas in Myanmar, we had to remove our footwear & walk barefoot. This was our fourth day and we were getting so used to walking barefoot. Snapped up tons of pictures of the Golden Rock & stared in wonder at its beauty and splendour.

Legend has it that the Golden Rock rests on a strand of Buddha’s hair, making it a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists. As you can see from the picture, the Golden Rock seems to defy gravity  *cue Defying Gravity from Wicked* as it perpetually seems like it is going to roll downhill. It is the third most important Buddhist pilgrimage site in Myanmar, after the Shwedagon Pagoda and Mahamuni Pagoda. If you look carefully, the rock appears to be resting atop an elephant’s head. Super cool stuff here!

Men cross the bridge to paste golden leaves on the rock as a sign of respect and deep veneration. Unfortunately, women aren’t allowed to do so 😦 This is something I noticed in Myanmar, where men are given more rights than women. Not really sure if it’s a cultural thing or more of a religious thing though!

From a distance

From a distance

 

We then took a really long walk (all still barefoot) around the mountain and stuff. I’m not quite sure where we walked to cos we were just following Thiri & her friends, but they brought us to this area where we got to just chill and look out into the distance. It was really nice just spending three hours relaxing and appreciating nature.

When we finally decided to head back to meet with Thiri’s mom & aunt who weren’t up for the long climb, the floor had gotten extremely hot. The 2pm sun (heh, the K-pop group is named that cos 2pm is the hottest time of the day in Korea) really made the floor unbelievably scorching and impossible to walk on. We were on our tippy toes and prancing from place to place half the time :S

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Our super long climb

Tried all sorts of snacks while we were there – yes, we were being constantly fed that I was going to explode. It wasn’t funny. Mel reached a point where she had to go “AIYOYO, TOO MUCH. ENOUGH” & that she even skipped dinner .

We then took the lorry back to base and caught the bus back to Yangon where we would spend our last night before heading for the airport.

The best I could ever ask for <3

The best I could ever ask for ❤

And with that, our Myanmar trip came to a close.

Myanmar was so great to us – the sights were beautiful, the people so welcoming, the food so delicious. Probably one of the most memorable trips that I would ever have in my life, all complete because of the lovely company of my two travel buddies Albert & Melanie, but definitely made possible only because of the most generous and hospitable host, Thiri.

While I was only in Myanmar for a proper 4 days, the whole trip was an unbelievable and unforgettable one. I’ll definitely be back for you, Myanmar, Bagan, temples, Mandalay, Inle Lake and all.

Love,

Eugenia

Rustic streets of Yangon

Hi folks!

Day 2

So we managed to sleep in (~7 hours) before waking up and heading over to one of the main attractions in Yangon – The Bogyoke Aung San Market (ဗိုလ်ချုပ်အောင်ဆန်းဈေး). I had chosen the hostel we were staying at (30th Corner) because it was located quite centrally, within walking distance of the market & the Sule Pagoda. However, that turned out to be a bit of a mistake since we ended up traveling out of Downtown area most of the time to explore Yangon from the perspective of a local (my lovely Thiri).

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Walking to the market, we got to see the developing streets of Yangon. It was pretty surreal to see something that was so backward – compared to what I have been seeing in Bangkok and most definitely what I see on a daily basis in Singapore.

 

As a major tourist destination, the market sold all sorts of knick-knacks: Burmese handicraft stuff, medicine, textile, jewellery, antiques… The list is never ending! The three of us weren’t too interested in buying stuff though, since we can get almost everything from Thailand. From what I know, most of the items there are imported from Thailand anyway (similar to Vietniane, Laos).

We did have our first meal that was picked by us though! In the market, there is this hawker centre sort of set-up. Walking in, we got poached by one of the stall ladies almost immediately. I won’t blame her, they do the same thing in Newton Centre in Singapore!

After the delicious meals I’d tried on the first day (thanks to Thiri once again), I was afraid that I would be disappointed. However, much to my delight, the food was spectacular. Very much like Thai food but just milder in every form, but more delicious to my taste buds. I guess something simpler (not so salty and sweet) was just something that I was craving after spending 2 months in Thailand. Also, unlike the petite portion sizes in Thailand, these were pretty regular sized. Me being unable to finish a whole plate of fried rice for breakfast signalled to me that I was getting much too used to the Thai portion sizes!

We headed back to the hostel after breakfast as we were supposed to meet Thiri (she was so hospitable that there’s no way I can even express it properly here). However, since something cropped up, Thiri actually arranged for one of her friends to pick us up instead. That was just too sweet of her – we were overwhelmed by the kindness of both her and her friend, especially since he had never met us before. We packed our bags and headed to the next destination The Yangon Museum!

Frankly speaking, the museum was rather backward – I’ve been spoilt by the wonder of the British Museum in London. However, the artifacts that it contained were pretty amazing. I wouldn’t say that it is a must go but that it is a place you could stop at if you still have time. You’re not allowed to bring your cameras in (explains the lack of pictures). I guess they’re really scared that tourists won’t comply with the no flash policy!

We then headed to General Aung San’s home. This was probably one of the biggest fan-girl moments I’ve ever had in my life. Being in his house, eating in his dining room, walking into his office – these are all things I never thought I’d have done. But I was able to do all of that. Really makes me think about how lucky I am (and how much beauty & splendour there is in Southeast Asia).

Headed back to Kandawgyi Lake so that we could see the Karaweik, a concrete replica of a Burmese royal barge built in 1972. However, it was cordoned off for some event so we could only appreciate it from afar (good enough for me!).

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Thereafter, we headed to tea at Acacia Tea Salon. Thiri was bringing us to all these splendid places – really made me feel very welcomed & glad that we were doing everything from the perspective of a local. If we hadn’t had Thiri bringing us around, we probably wouldn’t have been able to see what we did see.

After this, we headed to Thiri’s place to drop our bags and get ready for our overnight bus to Kyaiktiyo Pagoda (Golden Rock).

Hope you enjoy the pictures – Myanmar is truly a beautiful place and I really want to be back for it.

Stay tuned for my next update 🙂

Love,

Eug

 

P.S. I know I’m lagging behind like crazyyyy. Pardon me though 🙂