12 days on Burma

Old Dec 31st, 2010, 11:17 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 102
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
12 days on Burma

Hi – I had an amazing trip to Burma in October – or Planet Burma - as we began to call it. I’m not sure where to begin but I must start by thanking Kathie, ekscrunchy, craig & Nywoman, for their wonderfully informative reports (and photos) which inspired me to start thinking about this country, which led to reading more about it, and ultimately led to my visit.

One small step…
After researching an independent trip to Burma and considering the unique logistics of visiting the country and the looming possibility of its first election in 20 years, I adjusted my focus to cruises and small group tours. I would be able to get away in October but would have to go solo because my usual travel partners were not available or not interested. (Or maybe they thought I meant ‘Bermuda’ ?) I knew a small group tour would be a hit or miss for me but I was ready to gamble and try something new.
I ended up choosing an Adventure Center (Peregrine) tour which covered my big three highlights (& more) in 12 days: Rangoon, Bagan and Inle Lake. The dates, small group size, price & pace were all good. The agent I worked with had visited Burma and was wonderfully helpful throughout. I signed the dotted line and was ready to go. I just had to obtain a VISA and get myself to Rangoon to meet the group.

The Others
Our group consisted of 6 people: 5 absolutely delightful Australians (2 husband & wife sets; 1 lady) and myself. I really hit the jackpot with my fellow travelers! To be in Burma was a dream – but to experience this country in such lovely (and hilarious) company was a beyond any expectation and made for such a memorable trip. We have stayed in touch and hope to travel together again.

The Itinerary:
1 Rangoon – Walk to Shwedagon Paya before meeting group
2 Rangoon: AM Sightsee: PM Fly to Mandalay
3 Mandalay: Mingun, Amanpura, U Bein Bridge
4 Mandalay: Maymo, Moustache Brothers
5 Ferry to Bagan
6 Bagan: Tour by van
7 Bagan: (Group to Mt Popa) – Min Thu & horsecart
8 Fly to Inle Lake: Kakku
9 Inle Lake: tour lake & Phaung Daw Oo Paya Festival
10 Inle Lake: Indein hike & tour lake
11 Fly to Rangoon – (free) Scott Market & Stand Hotel for a drink
12 Rangoon – Inya Lake & depart

The Hotels
Hotels were clean and (mostly) in good locations. Not much to rant or rave about. I liked trying hotels that I would not have picked myself. Here is the list: Summit Parkview Hotel in Rangoon, Mandalay City Hotel, Thazin Garden Hotel in New Bagan & HuPin Khaung Daing Resort on Inle Lake.

Take me to your leader
Our guide/group leader would surely benefit from additional training and English lessons but he was so very sweet and kind. He would repeat his phrases nodding his head that we should understand him and the group would continue to guess at possible translations. At some point, this became the norm for conversation and I became thankful he was a man of few words. This was the only disappointment of the trip.

The Sorties
On the day the group visited Mt Popa from Bagan, I remained at Bagan for a second day - to spend the day with the duly famous Mr. Min Thu & his horse cart: [email protected] (Kathie - Thank you for recommending him!) I was never more grateful to have a wonderful guide than for this day. I even had a small adventure meeting him.
And upon arrival at Heho airport, one of the Australians and I left the group to visit Kakku. My guide’s office in Rangoon arranged this. We drove up to Taunggyi to pick up our lovely Pa-O guide, named Hnin Nwe, and on through the countryside to Kakku. On the way back, we stopped on the roadside and walked out to the fields to chat with Pa-O farmers who were in the midst of harvesting using simple hand tools.

The Highlights
It was really a trip of highlights. My favorite memories include: wandering around Shwedagon Paya barefoot in the rain; sitting in a (cheroot) smoke filled garage to see the quirky Moustache Brothers Show in Mandalay; seeing Bagan at a horsecart pace with Min Thu as my guide; witnessing the golden Buddha boat procession (Phaung Daw Oo Paya Festival) on Inle Lake; and watching and listening to the Indein schoolchildren sing their morning prayers.

The Weather
As forecasted, it was hot, steamy & sometimes rainy. Even when the sun wasn’t fully out, sunscreen & hats were essential. (The unique paper umbrellas make a very practical souvenir.) My Balloons over Bagan flight was canceled due to rain. I knew October was at the end of the rainy season, but I think they received more rain than usual this year. We saw flooded roads in Mandalay – some washed out in Bagan – and sadly, so many homes & crops flooded. And this was before Cyclone Giri’s arrival.

The Road to Rangoon
Getting yourself to Rangoon takes a few days from the US. I found this to be a great opportunity to get my independent travel fix. For my first stop, I had a long layover in Seoul, South Korea. The USO tour did not operate on this particular day, so I took the airport bus to the Lotte Hotel where I joined a tour which included the tunnels, DMZ & UN Joint Security Area. Then to Bangkok, where I bumbled around for a few pre and post Burma days. My last stop was Tokyo to meet my brother and sight-see for a few days before returning home.

The End
I loved my time on Planet Burma and hope to return and see more of this intriguing country. It does seem a world away. The people were warm & wonderful, the sights were incredible yet intimate and the 12 days seemed tantalizingly short.

Please let me know if you have any questions and feel free to check out my photos (and mini-videos, too): http://burmabook.shutterfly.com/
m_bran is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2010, 11:25 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,234
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for your report. I love hearing about other's adventures in Burma. Planet Burma, indeed!

And I'm so glad you had the opportunity to tour with Min Thu. He is a gem!
Kathie is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2010, 11:39 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,234
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I just toured Burma via your photos. They brought back wonderful memories!

I loved the photos of the festival at Inle. You were very fortunate to be there at festival time.
Kathie is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2010, 12:15 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,894
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Good report, wonderful photos! The photos at Bagan are THE BEST!
Craig is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2010, 03:42 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 102
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Kathie & Craig –

Thank you for your kind comments & for taking the time to read my report. Please keep contributing to this board and sharing your sound advice.

So glad the photos brought back memories. I love when that happens.

Bagan is so photogenic - it may be hard to take a bad photo.

If interested, there is a mini-video clip from the Inle Lake festival where you can see dozens of leg-rowers powering the floats. When traveling, I usually just miss the festival or local celebration by few days. So I do feel very fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time - just this once.
m_bran is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2011, 09:10 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 711
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the report and the great photos. I'm considering Burma as my next trip and your photos have inspired me. (as have the trip reports of Kathie and Craig & Jeane). Your sunset on U Bein bridge are stunning-- Nat Geo contest quality. Nice.
BostonHarbor is offline  
Old Jan 2nd, 2011, 10:52 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 102
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
BostonHarbor -

I hope Burma wins as your next destination. It truly is as special of a place as billed and definitely worth the extra effort it requires. (Although this is coming from someone who took the easy route – with a tour, right?)

Thank you for looking at the photos & your very generous compliment. Yes, I was so happy with the photos at U Bein – such beautiful light. But it was so photogenic that it was my p&s camera and index finger who did the real 'work'☺ You’ll see…

This forum has such gifted contributors. If you enjoy seeing photos from Burma, have you looked at dogster's website? They're gorgeous. Yet another source of inspiration for future travel.
m_bran is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2011, 02:50 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 12
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Very helpful. Sometimes a tour can be the simplest solution - how much was it if you don't mind me asking?

My daughter's who are currently volunteering in Chiang Mai at: www.culturalcanvas.com are planning a visit to Myanmar in the next couple of weeks and they have some money in American Express traveler's checks - my idea - I was thinking that would be safer than carrying a lot of cash - do people use travelers checks anymore? And if so, do Myanmar people recognize and accept them? Wondering if they should cash them into smaller denominations before leaving...

Thanks in advance for any answers - C
ClaireHL is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2011, 02:58 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,234
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Your daughter will not be able to cash travelers checks in Burma. She will need US dollars, some of which she'll spend directly (airfare, hotels or guesthouses, admission fees) and some of which she will need to exchange for kyat (for food, taxis, purchases). For money to echange, she'll need us $10 bills. All bills must be pristine - no marks, tears, etc.

She can go to a bank in Chaing Mai and ask them to give her US dollars for her travlers checks.
Kathie is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2011, 09:38 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 102
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
C -

Be sure to read (or have your daughter read) Kathie’s Burma At Last: http://www.fodors.com/community/asia/burma-at-last.cfm

It should be required reading!


For information regarding my tour:
http://www.adventurecenter.com/country/Burma
m_bran is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
BostonHarbor
Asia
22
Jun 13th, 2015 11:24 PM
Kathie
Asia
20
Dec 26th, 2011 11:11 PM
cestgaston
Asia
13
Mar 28th, 2011 03:38 AM
skyboy5858
Asia
15
Sep 28th, 2010 05:21 AM
WhitePelican
Asia
17
Apr 3rd, 2007 10:30 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:02 PM.