Annapurna and Myanmar Circuits in May

Mar 15th, 2015, 05:42 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
Annapurna and Myanmar Circuits in May

Returning to Nepal to do the Annapurna circuit and then fly to Myanmar for the nice cool (hahahahahaha) month of May. Well, hey, I was gonig to be close, I planned it and THEN I looked at the temperatures. So my backpack and gear bags will be carrying gear for high altitude and gear for 40 degrees C. Oh well. You gotta love travel.

I'll be doing a trip report under another title but wished to invite those of you who have experience especially in Myanmar to fire me some thoughts and recommendations.

Here's what to know: I am 62, travel solo, prefer non touristy sites, off the beaten path experiences, hostels to hotels, village visits, love staying close to the earth, could care less about expensive places to stay until perhaps the last night of the trip. For those who've been to Myanmar I would so love your insights and advice.

My current destinations include of course Yangon, Bagan, Heho, Inle Lake, Kengtung, and then I have no clue. I was going to fly down to Kawthawng to the archipelago but the resort is under repairs (Agoda was happy to make a reservation and take my money but nobody happened to inform me that the place was closed until October- something I just found out myself when I was reconfirming reservations).

I'd like to get down the coast a bit and see the golden boulder but also just dig around. i"m not a beach girl so other options are better. Please kindly, those of you who have been, please make suggestions..

My itinerary is already set for flights, but what I do around these areas is all up in the air. Thanks to all for your kind thoughts and suggestions.
jhubbel is offline  
Mar 15th, 2015, 06:51 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,881
Alas! My favorite off the track place is Mrauk U and you can't get there in August (Torrential rains and flooding). In fact getting to anywhere on the coast may be difficult for the same reason.

The best advice I have is to take it slow. Since the country has only recently opened up, there are some rough edges. The tour groups have started to arrive, but if you take one step off their route, you'll see very few non-locals.

Enjoy your trip - one of my favorite destinations.
Kathie is offline  
Apr 5th, 2015, 08:27 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
Kathie,

Thanks kindly for your response. One of the main attractions of Myanmar is that tour groups haven't arrived in droves yet. It's precisely what I hope for. I liked Thailand, but so do LOTS of tourists. So you've confirmed what I hoped for most. Yay!

I leave in three weeks or so and am spending May there. Mrauk U may still be off limits, due to the weather. I'll look into it.
jhubbel is offline  
Apr 5th, 2015, 08:47 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,977
If you want to get off the tourist trail I would recommend being driven rather than flying, and going north from Mandalay.

I did the former back in 2004, when I was trying to keep my money out of the hands of the government, and it was cheap. May be more expensive now, you could take the train but it is supposed to be VERY slow. Friends of mine did the latter a few years back - they crossed the border overland from China and then: "[after] a long car ride to Bhamo, a super long boat trip down the Ayerwaddy River to Katha, and an overnight train, we are now relaxing in Myitkyina in Kachin State."

I don't know how un-touristed Myanmar is now. Seems that every tour company brochure I see now includes Myanmar, and I read reports here about difficulty finding places to stay. That said, the sooner you go the better!
thursdaysd is offline  
Apr 12th, 2015, 04:25 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
thursdaysd,

So very great to hear from you. Your comments are always so welcomed. Actually, my flights are already purchased, so that's given. Your point about being more expensive, you are SPOT ON. Everything that I've researched has indicated an appalling boom in pricing, with many hoteliers doubling their prices or more every year. Last year when Myanmar was just a glimmer in my eye, I honestly thought it was going to be like Vietnam with five dollar hostels. HAH! Not even close. Think $30-35 bucks a pop.

Its isolation for so long is much of the allure, and its now open season. I've been told that the tourist infrastructure isn't there if you get out far enough. That's what I plan to do, and I just got my second Japanese Enceplalitis vaccine to make that safe. Ouch both in the arm and the pocket book, think six hundred dollars, and a booster next year. Yeowza.

Part of the reason I'm flying is that I have three weeks instead of four in Myanmar this trip and I want to maximize my time in each place.

What I plan do to when I get to the local areas is just what you suggest: find a driver/guide and get shown around. I heartily agree that this is the way to do it. This is exactly the kind of immersion I'm seeking.

Interesting side note: While the Andaman Resort is owned by the guv, I still wanted to go down there to see the archipelago and go diving. It would have been late season but still. I booked six days there through Agoda. Come to find out that not only have they been under construction for some time, but that those repairs have been extended through October 2015. Natch, I didn't know, didn't find out til later, and Agoda was still happy for me to prepay my reservation. I find this a funny story, as I am now in struggles with Agoda to get my money back, but it is a fair warning to curb your enthusiasm and make sure things are all they seem.

Finally, your other point is that Mynamar, like Malasia, seems to have become THE hot spot for reasons above, and when I began my research I was genuinely blown away by the number of companies offering (very very very expensive) tour packages there. Since I prefer not to travel with a group where possible unless I'm doing an adventure trek, I hope to be able to find locals who are happy to make some extra money. Lonely Planet has done a good job of naming many of those locals, and if they're aren't booked to the gills, I'm quite sure that there are other enterprising drivers happy to pick up the business.

Thanks so kindly again for your post and really good to see you on this thread. BTW, I just booked Laos and Cambodia for next January, and I am going to want to pick your brain pan dry for your thoughts as we get close.
jhubbel is offline  
Apr 12th, 2015, 06:05 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,977
Jh - thanks for the kind words. Looking forward to your TR, lol. Best of luck with agoda - I hate prepaid reservations but I have a bunch for my next trip already. Have had about all the jabs going, but not JE or rabies so far. Had to get special permission for yellow fever a couple of years back as I was over the recommended age! Fortunately it's good for ten years.

I never wrote up my Myanmar trip - it was near the end of a ten month RTW and I was running out of steam - but my friends did. You could go here - http://meckleyearth.blogspot.com - and take a look at their Myanmar posts. I found SEA such easy travel I haven't written much since my first visit in 2002 - http://wilhelmswords.com/asia2002/index.html
thursdaysd is offline  
Apr 12th, 2015, 05:17 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,413
I used a local tour guide in Inle Lake who was great. Her name is Phyu Phyu (pronounced like Pepe Le Pew). Her hut is located in the main road to the lake. I did write a trip report, more details are in there.

I was travelling solo in Myanmar for nearly three weeks, though fortunate to have some local contacts in Yangon and Mandalay.

I used AirBNB for a disastrous two nights in Yangon, but booked only a day earlier, so my bad. There seemed to be lots of good choices if you look earlier.

Having read about a few of your adventures, I reckon you'll find Myanmar relatively easy to travel.
sartoric is offline  
Apr 20th, 2015, 10:31 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
Thanks all again, and I will look the woman up in Inle. thursdays I sprung for the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine, it was over the top at about a thousand when you include the booster next year. Wowza. I kept thinking, man, that would buy a nice ticket somewhere very cool...

So far I'm booked, although I found myself in Yangon for an unexpected week. With luck I'll dig up some kind of local adventure. Nepal will certainly have it's own challenges, and as a contrast, I so look forward to a mild exploration. I'm flying everywhere, and that alone might be quite the adventure!

So appreciate your kind input. I leave in eight days, coming up so very fast. Oh and BTW, I am writing a book this year, or at least beginning it, my third, and this one is going to be a compilation of all the stories from the travels. It's going to be called The Spaces in Between, and the theme is about how when your plans go awry, or things go sideways on an adventure, that's when the real adventure begins. A space opens up, and you have an opportunity to go down the rabbit hole. To me, that's where the real experiences begin, when you lose a ticket, can't gt your visa, get injured and meet the locals. For you travel experts, this is old hat. However, for people who don't or haven't yet this could be a fun read. I well may be coming to you for your favorite stories!
jhubbel is offline  
Apr 20th, 2015, 12:44 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,881
Have a great trip.

An extra week in Burma is a wonderful thing. I'm sorry you will be there when you won't be able to get to Mrauk U or to most of the coast, though.

Your book sounds like fun!
Kathie is offline  
Apr 20th, 2015, 04:14 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 711
jhubbel, I just returned from Myanmar (March 2015) and I agreed always with Kathie on Mrauk U. I'm a bit confused that Kathie said you can't get there in August, but your first post says you will be in Myanmar in May. If you are going in May, you could easily get to Mrauk U and you must. There was an unexpected heat wave when I was there in early March (OMG--seriously) and it was 40C-41C every day. However, it was very dry and early morning and evenings were quite pleasant. I was stunned at the heat, but ate a lot of bananas and hoped for the best. I survived just fine. Also, those 15th Century builders were pretty smart and the temples are wonderfully "cool" relative to the outside.

If, in fact, you are going in May and not August, make sure you go to Mrauk U. We only saw one other tourist the entire time we were there. ONE. Seriously. One

I had the most brilliant guide in Mrauk U. Her name was Linn and her email address is [email protected] With all my traveling, she is seriously the best guide/fixer I have ever had in my life.

Oh, and thursdaysd! You are such a maverick. 2004? Wow. I'm impressed.
BostonHarbor is offline  
Apr 20th, 2015, 04:39 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,977
BH - I chose not to go when I was in SEA in 2002, but on that trip I met a Canadian woman in Vietnam who did go, and virtually adopted her driver. So in 2004 I used him, and she came along as well. It was a lot of driving but absolutely worth it to see the countryside. I had not gone in 2002 because of the government, but I am glad I got to go before it wound up on the "circuit".

Glad you had a good time despite the heat. Are you going to write us a TR?
thursdaysd is offline  
Apr 26th, 2015, 05:55 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
You guys all probably saw that yesterday there was a terrible terrible earthquake in Nepal, killing so very many people, and I am sick with worry about a dear friend of mine who is currently climbing Everest- my gut is in knots. I diverted to Phuket, easiest to just go to a neighboring country where I don't have to worry about visa requirements. Natch it's hotter than hades but at least I speak some Thai. First time I was there in I blew through Phuket in a hurry to avoid the crowds but with luck this time around the heat will ensure fewer folks.

I am sick about the loss of so many lovely monuments and beautiful places in Kathmandu, and I have good friends there whose trips I support. In the chaos no one responds, and all I can do is pray in absentia. The climber's name is Jim Davidson, he is a professional speaker and author from Colorado, and trained for years to do this climb. His last post from Everest was 21 April. All we know now is that there was an avalanche, beyond that, silence.

Thanks to all once again for your kind references and I am going to follow up. A TR will of course follow, although now it will focus on Thailand and Myanmar instead. One very very very toasty trip. On a lighter side, I spent several hours last night tearing apart my backpack and gear bag (all carefully packed for Tuesday's departure) to put away all the heavy high altitude gear and replace it with snorkeling, riding and hot weather clothing. My my my was it a sight lighter. On Sierra Trading Post I discovered Terramar underclothing, which does a lovely job of wicking. This by the way, is the same pair of undies that my Patagonian gaucho set on fire last November (said undies are now festooning my china cabinet, a lovely conversation starter) and they also come in cami form. I love that it tends to smooth over anything that is no longer smooth after fifty. Which is a lot.
jhubbel is offline  
Apr 26th, 2015, 06:04 AM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
Boston Harbor, I just sent Linn an email, and with luck she will write me back. I have a solid week in Yangon at the tail end of my trip that was unplanned and I have no intention of staying there- so I would LOVE to cancel that and go elsewhere.This sounds like the perfect diversion. I appreciate the recommendation.
jhubbel is offline  
Apr 26th, 2015, 06:12 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,977
jh - see also http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...april-2015.cfm - hope your friend is OK. There's a report in my local newspaper of a local guy who was trekking to base camp who is OK, but climbing would be more dangerous.
thursdaysd is offline  
Apr 26th, 2015, 03:28 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 711
thursdaysd, indeed I will do a trip report, but I am processing my oh, let's say conservatively, 6000-8000 images and trying to distill them to about 200. I hate disguarding my children : ) I was so fortunate. I was on a photography tour and there were only three photographer clients (all pretty good--one a pro) with two Nat Geo photographers. It was essentially a two week master class. Since it was so incredibly hot we shot from 5:30 to 10, did photoshop/lightroom lessons until 3PM and then went out to get the afternoon light. It was a pretty remarkable journey. I have some of the best images I have ever taken. TR to follow soon : )
BostonHarbor is offline  
Apr 26th, 2015, 03:34 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,977
BH - wow, that sounds like a fabulous trip (aside from the heat)! I totally understand about the difficulty of culling photos. Looking forward to the TR.
thursdaysd is offline  
Apr 26th, 2015, 06:28 PM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
Was just able to track down satellite communications from my friend Jim from Base Camp. Good news is he's fine. But his reports about what he's seen are awful. He's in a lot of pain about the tragedies on the mountain. Aftershocks continue up there.

BH, Swedish friends asked me to send them photos of our riding safari from back in late 2013. Still haven't done that- the task of photo sorting is so huge that it has never been finished.
jhubbel is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 06:17 PM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
All, just landed in Bangkok, starting a trip report in a few minutes. Thanks again for all your wonderful support. BH, your Linn has not responded, I still; have hope.

If you are interested, I am beginning a TR for Thailand and Myanmar. Currently sitting in my little restaurant overlooking a placid canal in Bangkok. Of course we're also overlooking an industrial area, but that's beside the point.

Many hugs to all, safe travels, see you in the other thread.
jhubbel is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
knycx_journeying
Australia & the Pacific
5
Dec 15th, 2017 11:04 AM
Lamorna
Europe
22
Nov 26th, 2017 10:29 AM
t9larson
Europe
0
Apr 20th, 2017 07:22 AM
Lolly100
Europe
7
Jul 20th, 2007 09:01 AM
novias
United States
19
Feb 25th, 2005 05:03 AM

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 -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:43 AM.