I wasn’t going to bother writing one of these summaries for Myanmar because, to be honest, you wont find many places to get online and this doesn’t bode well for the mobile worker. I left my computer and my big backpack behind in Mandalay and spent most of my time exploring with only a small bag which was great. I didn’t get a thing done online but I managed todo a few things offline away from the distractions of the internet.
- Nicest people ever – I’ve never met people as nice as the ones I met in Myanmar. Except for the gross man that kept falling asleep on my shoulder on the bus and then wanted my phone number, I didn’t meet a single person I didn’t like.
- Lots of quiet time – There weren’t a lot of other travellers around when I was there and it’s not exactly a place known for crazy nightlife so if there is work you can get done offline then you will certainly have the time to do it.
- Very cheap to live – Myanmar is one of the cheapest places I’ve been to. You can survive on $10 per day if you don’t need to take long (and expensive) train and boat rides. I didn’t manage to pull that off but a friend of mine did, so I know it’s possible.
- Need to watch what you say – Government spies really are everywhere, according to the people I managed to sneak in conversations with. People are willing and eager to talk to you about all sorts of things but you have to be careful, mainly for their sake, about who might be listening. It sounds paranoid but it seems to be the reality in Myanmar.
- Very few decent internet cafes – There are a few internet cafes scattered around Yangon and Mandalay but I only managed to find one that wasn’t painfully slow that was able to sneak past the tight government controls and even this one was closed every few days because of server issues.
- Internet is monitored – Apparently the government here has ways of reading individual emails, and they do. It’s very creepy. I couldn’t even get proxy servers to work here (not that I know a lot about it though) so it seems like the government have more control than in China.
- No wifi anywhere – I didn’t come across a single wifi connection which wasn’t surprising given the lack of decent internet cafes. I wasn’t really expecting to find any though.
- Terrible food – I really didn’t like the food in Myanmar and was sustaining myself on a diet of apples. Oily curries, fish dishes and a cold soupy type dish were common and I didn’t like any of them. But I’m super picky so it could have just been me.
- People littering – I don’t know if students in Myanmar don’t get a lesson on the environment or what but everyone, young and old, chucks garbage around like crazy. Out of train windows, off the side of boats… plastic bottles, plastic bags… everything. It’s kind of sad to see.
- Difficult to get around – You have to fly into and out of Myanmar which is annoying to start with. Once you get there, travel on the ground is very slow and delays of multiple hours (I sat on a train for 10 extra hours!) are common. There are common tourist routes and buying tickets is easy but getting from place to place is slow going so give youself lots of time.
I ended up cutting my month long trip to Myanmar short by a couple of weeks and managed to miss out on all of the major sights so I will be back for sure at some point. You probably won’t get any work done online but, hey, we all need a vacation from it now and then and Myanmar is a great place to come to escape the net.