You've hit the travelling mother-load at Mother Land Inn 2
Have you ever been so happy to see a place that you nearly cried? In truth, it wouldn't have mattered what Mother Land Inn 2 looked like, or how friendly the staff were, or how comfortable the rooms were. We rolled into Yangon after the worst travel experience of our lives, 20 hours of pure misery on the overnight train from Bagan. It was a bone jarring, flesh bruising, filth accumulating experience and MLI2 appeared to us like a mirage, then an oasis.
The small reception area was buzzing with activity. While there were several staff members behind the desk, one woman in particular was clearly in charge. I wish I had asked her name, as she was an absolute dynamo! While her younger colleagues were still struggling to find our name on the reservation list, our new friend remembered our names without looking at the list, right down to the amount we had pre-paid by Western Union. I was impressed!
Some of the friendly staff of the Mother Land Inn 2. They're seen here with Butters the Cat. Butters is the feline friend of Jessica Muddit, who took this shot. Jessica's blog is a wealth of information about Myanmar - she even includes comprehensive information about travelling there with pets! http://jessicamudditt.com/tag/pet-care-in-myanmar-burma/
This senior staffer was constantly on the move and we never once saw her relaxing. She was always on the phone, booking tickets, arranging transportation, answering tourism questions, and essentially keeping her thumb on the pulse of everything that was happening. The lobby had the feel of a busy youth hostel, with lots of travelers joining forces to see the sights together and using the guesthouse as their home base for broader explorations.
Our third floor room (which was actually on the fourth floor, as the ground level is considered floor 'zero') was a corner unit and while there wasn't air conditioning the temperature was relatively cool with both windows open and the overhead fan working. Yangon was sweltering hot, inching upwards of 46 degrees in the humidity, so the fact that a room without air conditioning was tolerable was a real treat.
Our room consisted of two single beds with a large night stand between them, some hooks on the wall, and a large ensuite bathroom with toilet, sink, and shower. The shower wasn't enclosed, meaning the entire bathroom got sprayed down when it was in use but that was a small price to pay for what was arguably the best shower of our lives. The suds coming off our bodies were brown with the grime from the train and never had clean water been more welcome!
I always say the most important thing in any form of accommodations is having a good nights' sleep and MLI2 did not disappoint. Granted, I would have likely slept on a heap of mud since I was so tired but instead I had nearly 16 hours of solid, comfortable sleep on their basic but clean beds. Things were very quiet at night and, while the early morning dawn and neighboring roosters had us awake bright and early, we were quite refreshed once we got going.
While I came to Yangon with a long list of cool restaurants I wanted to try, I have to admit I had no energy to venture any further than the restaurant attached to the MLI2 on the main floor. The plates of vermicelli noodles were massive and cost around 1,600 Kyat (under $2), while chicken based dishes cost about double. Local sodas (including "Quench", which is like Sprite, and "Crusher", which is like Orange Crush) were just 300 Kyat (~$0.40), about half the price of their brand name counterparts. There was also a banana milkshake (more like a pureed banana milk drink over ice) that was an absolute lifesaver for fighting our dehydration.
Come morning, you have the choice of a traditional Myanmar breakfast or a continental, Western style breakfast. Our stomachs still weren't back to normal after the train so we ate light, with an orange, "Tang" style juice, instant coffee, and a fluffy, sponge-style breakfast cake.
MLI2 is a little bit out of the way from Yangon's main attractions. While we did explore our immediate neighborhood on foot (an ATM was about 5 blocks away, a convenience store was directly next door to the guest house), a taxi was required to see the main sites, like the Shwedagon Pagoda and National Museum. Before you dismiss MLI2 because of the location and the cost of getting around, remember that they offer free airport pick up and drop off. This is a huge added bonus - if you need it - and for us it definitely mitigated the cost of getting around town. (Costs as of November 2013: From main train station to MLI2: 2500 Kyat. From MLI2 to Shwedagon Pagoda 2000 Kyat. From National Museum back to MLI2 2000 Kyat. Our bargaining skills were admittedly weak in our post train daze. There were several taxis parked outside MLI2 at all times)
If I had to find any critique of MLI2, I would have to say it was the internet, but even that's a half-hearted concern. Traveling with the most recent edition (2011) of Lonely Planet Myanmar/Burma, we had been forewarned that internet was virtually non-existent in the country. Fast forward two years and everywhere we went had internet - and it was fast. But the free Wi-Fi on the main floor of MLI2 was very spotty and we only connected once. The pay per use computer terminals (I think it was about $1 for an hour) offered a big improvement over the Wi-Fi but was still on the slow side. The only reason the internet issues are worth mentioning is for travelers staying at the MLI2 to have realistic expectations. I imagine half the travellers are expecting nothing at all, while the others are surprised things aren't as fast as many other locations.
Prices at MLI2 range from $27 for a single room with a fan and shared shower to $35 for a double room with air conditioning and an en suite shower. Without question it's the most popular budget accommodation provider in Yangon (and deservedly so) and booking well in advanced is highly recommended. If you have limited mobility (or just hate the idea of climbing a lot of stairs), make note that there is no elevator. You will most likely be asked to secure your booking by paying in advance with Western Union. This seemed like an unusual request at the time but we soon learned it's quite common in Myanmar.
MLI2 is exactly what budget conscious travelers need in Yangon. The staff are there to take care of every travel need imaginable, the value priced food is great, and the minor inconvenience of the location is of little consequence compared to the comprehensive services available. I wouldn't hesitate to stay here again and I would especially encourage first time visitors to Myanmar to stay to connect with other travelers.
Heading to Myanmar? These articles are sure to inspire!
Navigating Mandalay Airport
Kipling, Orwell, and Harry Potter: A Day in Mandalay
Sailing Down the Irrawaddy: Traveling by Boat from Mandalay to Bagan
The BEST Travel Experience of my Life: Balloons Over Bagan
The WORST Travel Experience of my Life: The Overnight Train from Bagan to Yangon
Besotted with Bagan: Day 10 &11 of Our Round The World Trip
At Long Last: Yangon. Day 12 &13 of Our Round The World Trip
Where To Eat In Bagan