Husband and I are 50 something Aussies who get to travel at least twice a year. We're trying to experience as much of the world as possible, including our own backyard. He's a great travelling companion, but I do ALL the planning and decision making. That's his choice, and so far it's worked pretty well.
In 2011 with a fair amount of trepidation i booked a river cruise on a Pandaw boat going down the mighty Mekong River from Siem Reap to Saigon. I say with trepidation, because we are not group tour types, and I had concerns about being stuck on a boat for 7 days. What if the people and excursions were horrible ? What if the food sucked ?
Anyway, figuring we could handle only 7 days, we bit the bullet, went, and had an excellent time. That was in March 2011.
When the Pandaw newsletter arrived in my inbox offering the "only once every two years" "See all of Myanmar, 600 miles from Yangon to Mandalay on the Irrawaddy River" I was sold.
We went in August 2013, during the rainy season, for a 14 night cruise. Again, it was excellent, and was a soft introduction to The Golden Land where infrastructure for tourists is struggling like crazy to keep up with demand.
Of course you don't see "all of Myanmar" but the slogan was catchy enough to spark my interest, we knew what to expect from Pandaw, love the Buddhist culture, and can bear (just) the humidity that prevails in most of SEAsia.
The Pandaw company is a great one to travel with, totally focused on the safety and comfort of their guests, and gives back to local communities via sponsorship of schools and medical clinics.
We had a fantastic trip, the best part being the amazing Burmese people.
In October 2013 we met two Burmese teachers who were sponsored by Rotary International to come to Australia to learn about teaching methods and improve their English skills.
They stayed at the house of a good friend who lives close by. Our trip was still very fresh in our minds, so we grabbed the opportunity to talk everything Myanmar, and shared numerous meals and day trips with these two wonderful ladies.
At some point they mentioned that they get few native English speakers to talk with their students, so pronunciation can be difficult to learn.
Our next holiday was to be to Thailand and Laos, 3 weeks in February 2014. I thought to myself, "Myanmar is close to Thailand, I can read aloud, maybe I can help". The plan became; three weeks in Thailand/Laos with husband, then nearly three weeks in Myanmar on my own. I haven't travelled solo since 1989, but I felt confident that I could handle arrangements, and had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do.
So, I boarded an Air Asia flight at Don Muang Airport in Bangkok on Feb 23 for the two hour flight to Yangon. It cost about AUD $62, including 20 kg checked luggage. I booked via the airline directly after checking Skyscanner for options. My luggage consisted of one small suitcase weighing about 12 kgs, but I'm a lightweight, and knew I couldn't lift it into an overhead bin.
The flight was easy, smooth, on time, and I cracked up when the flight attendant announced on landing "Thank you for frying with Air Asia".
More to follow.
The Golden Land - Adventures in Myanmar
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