Category Archives: Myanmar

Are we sick in traveling?!

You can imagine correctly that moving around a great deal in different climates via planes, trains, and buses will bring its fair share of sickness. No Gammill has been immune! We’ve had colds, stomach issues, headaches, infections, and limb problems. Fortunately, nothing serious and most of it passes quickly (ha ha).

I, however, feel like the guru for worst experiences. Thanks to some bad food, Indonesia and  Burma left me feeling like the 2nd & 3rd doses of a colonoscopy exam! In Australia, I jammed my finger tackling Sebastian in the waves and did not bother to address it until Indonesia. By the time we got to Malaysia my pinky was a bent experience! I did visit 3 different doctors and am happy to report that the final doctor – a friend of Onn’s in Penang -determined that it was not broken and needs a long time to heal (ligaments). My left shoulder has had the same problem my right had a few years back and I’ve been slowly trying to recover from that using otc anti-inflammatory pills; it has finally started to feel better after 2-3 months of pains that have driven everyone crazy.

The bottom line is that colds and illnesses inevitably happen during travels. The good news is that medical care is excellent when we have needed it. In case of emergency, we do have a health plan (with high deductible) for our travels and I recommend that as a precautionary measure for any long-term traveler. On top of that, we carry around a small pharmacy of medicine that would put a smile on my father-in-law’s face. Considering all the fun things we’ve done: jumping 40+ meters off bridges, racing speed boats in rock gully, zip lines in 3 countries, river rafting and caving, not to mention taking red eye buses on 2 lane highways….well, we’re doing pretty darn well! Here’s to your health!

Happy Easter everyone!

Caving & Zip lines in Lao

Full safety caving & zip line in Lao!!

Road to Mandalay…and Pyin Oo Lwin

After our days in Bagan, our next stop was Mandalay. We decided against taking another painful bus ride and preferred to get up at 5:30am to take the boat along the Irrawaddy River. We knew the boat ride would be long but at least it was a slow pace and you could walk around the boat. Turned out to be more pleasant than we thought, even though we only arrived in Mandalay at close to 8:00pm.


Animal Farm, by George Orwell / Irrawaddy River


Sunset at Irrawaddy River, Myanmar

We spent 2 days in Mandalay walking around the downtown area and getting ready for our next destination: Pyin Oo Lwin, a hill town 2hrs from Mandalay and the former summer retreat for the British in Burma. It was a winding way up the hill and, as soon as we arrived, we could already feel the mountain air and cool breeze of the area.

Our cute Royal Green hotel was well situated and very comfortable. We rent bikes to ride around the town and noticed the British colonial architecture that is still very much present. We stopped at the Candacraig Hotel, the oldest hotel in Myanmar and formerly the British Club. It is also where George Orwell (“Burmese Days”, “Animal Farm”) used to stay often. Unfortunately it seems that the hotel is quite abandoned but, if remodeled,  could certainly bring back its old charm.


Candacraig Hotel, Pyin Oo Lwin


the bike rider

The highlight of Pyin Oo Lwin was certainly the National Kandawgyi Gardens (formerly National Botanical Gardens) where we spent a fantastic sunny day walking around the gardens, appreciating its beautiful flowers and posing for pictures with the locals (our kids felt like rock stars as locals wanted to take pictures with them…). We left Pyin Oo Lwin wishing we could have stayed longer.

We headed back for our last 2 days in Mandalay certainly pleased that we visited Myanmar before the tourists and crowds start invading the country.

**Note to readers:  We are about 2 weeks behind in our posts and are working to get it updated to reflect our current location in Laos. Stay tuned!


Sebastian and the girls


National Kandawgyi Gardens


National Kandawgyi Gardens



Mandalay Hill


Moto taxi in Mandalay


We Went To Bagan

I will start from the beginning in the overnight bus ride. We left Rangoon at 11pm and arrived in Bagan at about 5:30am. It was a brutal bus ride. Although not as bad as some other ones we have done. They kept the A.C. at full blast and it was really cold (especially our toes where the blanket could not go). When we arrived taxi drivers bombarded us asking if we need a taxi. After a little while my dad works up a deal with a taxi driver to drive us to the hotel. While we were driving to the hotel the taxi driver kept trying to persuade us to hire him to take us to the sunrise at a temple. After a lot of negotiating we finally went. We got some pretty good photos that you will see below. It was cool out and you have to climb three or four stories to get to the top of the temple. Once we climbed to the top, we noticed that everyone else had the same idea and it was really crowded with photographers waiting for the sunrise.


When we got to the hotel we did not do much because we had to wait for the room to get ready. When it got ready we had 2 rooms. one was in another building and the other was in another (aka the nice building with nice rooms). We requested to have the rooms in the same hall or next door from each other. To make this paragraph short we ended up upgrading the room Louisa and I would have stayed in to a NICE room like mom and dads and ours was right in front of the pool!

We also rented 2 mopeds and rode around viewing temples around town. That was pretty much it that day. The next day we did a chill day because we were going Hot air ballooning. We went in the pool and had fun. We did have a really good dinner at an Italian restaurant which was a nice noodle break.

Finally time to hot air ballon! It is truly an amazing sight! We left early so we could be high in the air with the sunrise. It was awesome! And it was the first time we used the gopro/selfie pole. We got some awesome photos that you can see below. The balloon goes up and down a lot.


Our balloon heating up!


We are flying higher than these guys above a temple


Balloons everywhere each sunrise