Our First Day in Myanmar | A Flight, A Drive & a Trip to National Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens
To get to Myanmar from Thailand we flew from Bangkok's DMK airport to Mandalay on Air Asia. It was an easy 2 hr flight. We arrived at the Mandalay airport where we were greeted by a GM Travels agent & were whisked into the Visa on Arrival office. About 20 minutes later we were getting our passports stamped & crossing through the Myanmar border. Our driver was waiting for us on the other side & showed us where to exchange money. We were given 980 Kiats for each dollar using mint $100 bills that were carefully examined with just one reject for which we supplied a more acceptable bill. After exiting the airport we began our 1 1/2 hour drive to Pyin Oo Lwin. We had clearly entered another world where people maneuvered mini horse drawn carriages, herds of cows, scooters and loud trucks with any type of engine that could be found. The rolling countryside was filled with banana and mango trees as well as dragon fruit cacti. The drive was definitely entertaining. Upon arrival in Pyin Oo Lwin we checked into The Royal Parkview Hotel, a quaint, peaceful place with a very nice garden. After leaving our bags in the room we enjoyed a quick lunch of Thai soup, recommended by the waiter & sautéed veggies. Because it was around 3:30 and we didn't have much time left in the day the people at the hotel suggested we visit the local gardens. We drove about 5 minutes up the road and came upon the National Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens, a beautiful park filled with many types of flowers, ponds filled with large catfish and white & black swans swimming & resting upon the shore.
There was a beautiful orchid garden with hundreds of orchids in a variety of shapes & colors. Next along the way was a butterfly exhibit showcasing butterflies & moths from around the world.
Finally we came upon a 12 story viewing tower which we eagerly climbed to take in the amazing view of hills, rivers and gardens. The countryside is truly stunning.
We then leisurely strolled back to the car enjoying the peaceful ambience amidst the pagodas and natural beauty of the park. It was a wonderful way to end the day.