Photography Trip to Burma Help!

Old Nov 6th, 2010, 09:21 PM
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Photography Trip to Burma Help!

Am in the beginning stages of planning a 2 week trip to Burma if it's not too late to get frequent flyer miles tickets there. Fodors Forum members have always helped me so much. Trip would be for Jan or Feb in 2011 or Nov-Feb 2012 if I can't get free tickets there right away. My main goals are photography, culture, experience, relaxation, people! I have read the forum. So far, I am thinking of Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake, and Mandalay. I love capturing the ordinary scenes of life--markets, villages, and other arty shots. (like a little shopping as well) We're pretty independent but realize the Santa Maria Group would be good for us. Like to save money but also like to finish a trip with nice accomodations. Please, any suggestions. (Previous trips--like India and Morocco--photos are posted at www.pattyroth.com) THANKS for any recommendations!!!! Patty
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Old Nov 6th, 2010, 09:36 PM
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You can book almost everything on your own except intra-Burma flights. For that, you'll need a local travel agent. A local agent may (but not always) be able to get you better rates at hotels. That said, you can use an agent like Santa Maria for other arrangements (e.g., driver, guide) but you don't have to.

Tell us about the price range you are looking for in accommodations so we can make recommendations. And where do you expect to finish your trip (for the extra-nice place to stay)?
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Old Nov 6th, 2010, 09:43 PM
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Kathie! Thanks! I am really in the beginning stages and don't know the best way to set this up. I've been wanting to go to Myanmar and realized that the best season is now! So I mostly want nice, clean rooms (for my husband and me), with a shower and bathroom in good locations. Budget is flexible. Did I say we are 62-63? But in great shape. I'm used to carrying a heavy backpack of camera equipment. Does that help?
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Old Nov 6th, 2010, 09:53 PM
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I guess I'm following other photography tours that have started in Yangon, then Bagan, Inle Lake and then Mandalay, but we are flexible.
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Old Nov 6th, 2010, 11:02 PM
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The only fairly up-to-date guidebook to Burma is Lonely Planet. Do get a copy as it will help you figure out some of the logistics.

Flights in Burma are a bit odd - they all seem to be what we used to call "milk runs." That is they go from A to B to C to D before going back to A. If you can figure out the flights, that may facilitate your planning. We had to stop at Mandalay both on our way from Yangon to Inle and on our way from Inle to Bagan.

We stayed in very nice accommodations while we were in Burma, so our hotels averaged around $200 a night. I'm guessing that's more than you want to spend.
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Old Nov 6th, 2010, 11:07 PM
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I did buy the Lonely Planet guide and am working on logistics. I think I would prefer to stay in less than 200 hotels, except at the end of the trip. But I have read some of your posts---extremely helpful.
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Old Nov 6th, 2010, 11:11 PM
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I mean $ 200 hotels.
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Old Nov 6th, 2010, 11:17 PM
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Also Kathie--were the $ 200 hotels worth it?
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Old Nov 6th, 2010, 11:24 PM
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Patty,

We did the same trip a few years ago and found that for lens a medium wide angle zoom around 24 - 70 or 105 plus your 70 - 200 should be the perfect combination. The Lowepro backpack will be very useful again and I would bring a sensor cleaning kit along as well.

I highly recommend the balloon ride in Bagan as this was a very good photo op for me.

My pictures from Myanmar: http://khun-pook.smugmug.com/Travel/...34875798_hLvnn
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Old Nov 6th, 2010, 11:30 PM
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patty, just steal all of Kathie's planning and notes. That's the most efficient way. Why re-invent the wheel? I'm being serious. Kathie slaved over her pre-trip planning for, it seems, over two thousand years, and if she couldn't find it, you won't be able to either. So don't try.

A camera and Burma are ideal bedfellows. You'll go crazy. The trick is to get to places at the right time.

There are a few cruising options that might appeal; short and long. Mandalay to Bagan is nice.

www.pandaw.com
http://www.orient-express.com/web/rt...o_mandalay.jsp
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Old Nov 7th, 2010, 04:38 AM
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Tow of my own long planning threads, which may or may not be useful to you:

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...ll-me-more.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...p-planning.cfm

I can tell you lots about the 14-day Pandaw cruise if that appeals.
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Old Nov 7th, 2010, 07:24 AM
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I love Fodors Forums!! Feels like reconnecting with old friends. Hi Pook! (Hanuman) and yes, I'll be taking those lenses and the same camera bag you recommended for India. To think I hadn't been using it and it works so well for lighter loads. My husband couldn't believe you would remember--but I said that's a photographer for you! I'll look into the balloon ride and did you take a tripod to Burma?
Dogster---thanks also for the link and suggestions. I love following others work on planning to save me some.
And thanks ekscrunchy! I've been reading some of your reports already and will check these links.
Can't wait to see your photos, Pook and check these other links. (On my way out the door in minutes, though)
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Old Nov 7th, 2010, 08:06 AM
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Patty, I can comment on the hotels we stayed in. The Strand is now one of our favorite hotels. I read everything I could find about Burma in the - ahem - 20 years of planning that went into this trip (I cancelled trips a number of times because of the bad behavior of the junta). In almost every book, there is talk about the Strand. So I felt I was connecting with "old' colonial Burma. The hotel has been wonderfully restored. All of the rooms are small suites, and there is 24-hour butler service. We paid $200++ (which is $240) a night, booked through the Strand website. Santa Maria could probably get you a similar price.

The Inle Lake View Resort was wonderful. And I love the approach of the Burmese woman who owns it. She used as many local materials and workers as possible to build the place, she carefully trains locals to work there, grows much of the produce, and is starting more farms to both supply the hotel and contribute to local economic development. Not only was the hotel worth the price, but I felt my money was gong to a wonderful cause.

The Hotel at Tharbar Gate has an ideal location in Bagan. The hotel was larger than I like, and there were European Tour groups who stayed... so it was a perfectly fine experience, but not a place I'd rush back to. Next trip, I might stay there or at one of the places on the river (inside the gate).

I researched the ownership of each hotel I considered to put as much money as possible into the hands of the people as opposed to the hands of the generals.

Here's a direct link to our Burma photos: www.marlandc.com/Burma/index.html

In addition to my trip report I have a thread on books about Burma: http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...-bookshelf.cfm I should update the list as I've added to it since.
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Old Nov 7th, 2010, 01:39 PM
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fodors forums are really nice and helpful too. they helped me in every single way and i am really glad to see the best response too..
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Old Nov 7th, 2010, 04:29 PM
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Patty,

My friends and I are talking about returning to Myanmar in January as well! Perfect time to go weather wise and for us it's only a 1 hour plane ride away.

IMO Bagan, Yangon and Inle will offer the best photographic opportunities.
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Old Nov 7th, 2010, 08:40 PM
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Pook--you have awesome photos of Myanmar! The balloon over Bagan is outstanding and I can see why you recommended the balloon ride. The kids on boats, fishermen, Shwedagon Pagoda, prayer room, etc., etc.
Do you think Mandalay is worth it or not?
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Old Nov 7th, 2010, 08:59 PM
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Patty,

I wasn't too thrill with Mandalay as a tourist destination but many people here do like the town. The main attractions in town like Mandalay Palace, Mandalay Hill etc were just so, so IMO as they are pretty newly renovated or constructed and they both looked a bit fake to me. If you have allocated a lot of time for Myanmar then why not since the plane will most likely stop in Mandalay en-route to either Bagan or Inle.
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Old Nov 7th, 2010, 09:16 PM
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Eks, I'm in the midst of reading your planning links. Thanks mucho. They help.
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Old Nov 7th, 2010, 09:18 PM
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Pook,
Thanks for the info about Mandalay. I'll try to read more but it won't be a top priority.
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Old Nov 7th, 2010, 09:19 PM
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Mandalay is an acquired taste BUT it is the centre for a whole lotta good stuff in the surrounding area. The traditional Mandalay day tour is a horrible shlep.
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