Share in a beautiful New Year’s adventure to Burma with our new contributor, Haiyin Lin.
As a photographer living in New York City, I’ve seen people from all over the world coming here to celebrate the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. It could be an exciting way to welcome the new year in Times Sqaure, but you may not want or need to experience it twice by standing 5 to 6 hours in a freezing wind until midnight.
When it came to this end of year, I decided to escape from the Big Apple and fly to Burma to give myself a warm start to the new year.
The first day we arrived in the city of Mandalay was an incredible experience. The locals were extremely heartwarming, welcoming and friendly. Everyone was happy to let me snap a portrait photo. The public transportation here was not very convenient — we took motorcycles to travel within the city. But I found it a more flexible and interesting way to see the city because we could simply have the driver stop by any spot that we wanted to take a look.
The hotel where we were stayed had no wifi connections. This situation lasted for a few days until we moved on to a more developed area. At first, I was quite worried that I could not check my emails and connect with my friends. However, after I got used to it, I found that having no internet really made it easier to appreciate the beauty of the country without thinking about my work, or updating my social media status.
My favorite place in Mandalay was definitely the U-Bein Bridge, the longest teak bridge in the world. While on the bridge, we spotted monks walking, students going to school, fishermen fishing…it was a wonderful experience to observe how people live their day-to-day life connected with this bridge.
In Burma, every boy is required to be a monk for a certain period of time. On the way back to our hotel, we encountered a parade that celebrates the locals’ sending of their children to temple to become little monks in the new year.
Inle Lake was our next stop. The lake, which expands for 25 kilometers, is surrounded by about 500 villages. We booked our hotel in the northern village called Nyaung Shwe. It is a really cool area to explore and it has the best selection of hotels with a great price. Backpackers would definitely prefer to stay in Nyaung Shwe.
The lake brought us a sense of serenity. Local people are famous for their rowing technique. Rowers uses one leg as a brace in the boat, as the other leg and arm are used to push and pull the long oar.
The last and the most important stop of our trip was in Bagan, to capture the new year sunrise. Bagan has over 2000 temples and pagodas, standing mightily for hundreds of years. It is an absolutely unforgettable moment to see the sun gradually rising on the top of thousands of pagodas!
We hiked to a pagoda where we found a nice view of the overall landscape. It was 5:30am and, when the sunlight first exposed the faraway horizon, everyone burst into cheers with excitement.
+ Now it’s time to make a very unique new year wish! What is your 2016 desire?