Still Wowed by Burma


Dec 8th, 2011, 12:44 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,540
Still Wowed by Burma

It is rare for us to revisit a place… it always seems like there are so many new places to see! We visited Burma in 2009. I’d planned this trip for almost 20 years before finally going. Burma was everything I thought it would be and more. My childhood dream of seeing Bagan was well-realized. Our time on Inle Lake was lovely, an idyllic trip back in time. We had to make choices about what to see on our first trip, and there were places we wanted to see that had to be left out, like the Ancient Cities area around Mandalay and Mrauk U. Burma is a country in a different time zone – by decades. I knew as I walked in the temples of Bagan, Cheryl and I the only visitors at most, that it would not always be this way. So it seemed wise to plan a return trip to Burma before too much time had passed.

While no one held much hope that the “elections” in November 2010 would usher in any real change in the country, change has begun to seize Burma in the last 6 months or so. Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) was released from house arrest, and was invited to meet with government ministers. There has been a release of several hundred “prisoners of conscience” and promises of more releases. Banks have been allowed to open foreign currency exchanges, exchanging dollars (and Euros and Singapore dollars) at real market rates rather than the artificial “official rate” (of about 6 kyat to the dollar) that meant both visitors and locals exchanged on the black market. Many internet restrictions have been lifted, making many more websites accessible, without the awkward (and only partially successful) work-arounds like the use of proxy servers.

Recent weeks have brought even more reasons for hope. The government has been in talks with the IMF about joining the international financial community. The National League for Democracy (NLD) was asked to participate in politics again, and ASSK and the NLD have both agreed. Burma asked to be back in the rotation to chair and host the ASEAN conference in 2014, and the ASEAN nations agreed. The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton went to the new capital, Naypyitaw, and met with the president and other high government officials. This was the first official state visit by the US in over 50 years. She also met with ASSK in Yangon. These events unfolded during our trip. Indeed, Hillary Clinton was in Yangon at the same time we were.

As all of this unfolded, I was so glad that we had scheduled our trip for this year, and that I had booked six months in advance. Burma will see the largest number of visitors ever in 2011. I wondered how much impact the increased number of visitors would have on our experience, but remembered that Burma has a miniscule number of visitors in comparison to other countries in SE Asia. There were more tourists than we saw last time everywhere we went. At the Rupar Mandalar, a Russian group checked in our last day, taking up almost the whole resort. We saw a number of European tour groups in Bagan at the Trypitysaya, but we did not run into any tour groups while we were out at the temples. Several small groups were at the Princess while we were there – 6 to 8 person groups, and a huge 20+ person group checked in the last day we were there. In spite of this, we saw no large groups while we were out and about and ran into only a few small groups while we were at the temples at Mrauk U. We saw a big tour bus parked in front of the Strand, and one at the Governor’s Residence, something we didn’t see last trip. Hotels were full, flights were full. The limited tourist infrastructure was stretched as far as it can go.

A few basics for those considering a trip to Burma: A trip to Burma requires more research and preparation than trips to anywhere else I’ve been. Do inform yourself about the political situation in Burma. If you want a short primer, read the sections on whether or not to go in the Lonely Planet. LP is the only current guide to Burma available, and a new edition is due out in December. For more depth and detail, read The River of Lost Footsteps by Thant Myint-U. Emma Larkin’s Finding George Orwell in Burma is another excellent book. I put together a reading list in advance of my last trip. Here is the link:

Tour companies that previously boycotted Burma are now taking large groups in. If you are going on a group tour, please inform yourself about the situation in Burma. Don’t expect that your tour company will tell you about the history or the political situation in Burma. Tours are well-known for skimming the surface of things. Some of the surface of Burma is deceptively attractive – gilded spires of stupas, smiling monks and nuns, cordial, warm people. The uneducated visitor may simply see a poor, underdeveloped country. They may miss the fact that Burma was formerly one of the richest countries in this part of the world, with abundant natural resources and fertile lands that made it the top supplier of rice to other countries in Asia. And they will miss the fact that the political system has destroyed the economy and oppressed the people, arresting, imprisoning and torturing many thousands of dissidents.
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 8th, 2011, 12:50 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,540
Talking Politics: Don’t. Allow the person you are speaking with the raise the topic if they would like. Remember, an overheard comment can have dire consequences for a local, while you will leave the country unscathed and unaware of the trouble you have left behind.

Money Matters: The money situation is less complicated than out last trip two years ago. There are now bank-run official exchanges at the International terminal In Yangon airport and in the Mandalay and Bagan airports. There are also a couple of exchanges open in Yangon, one is just two blocks from The Strand Hotel. Hotels and stores will sometimes exchange money at the same rate as the bank exchanges. You still must have perfect US currency, $100 bills to exchange for kyat (we exchanged $300 for 16 nights). We got 780 kyat to the dollar. In general, you need US dollars to pay for hotels and charges in hotels, plane and train tickets, and admission fees. You need kyat for meals outside of hotels (except for a few expensive places) and any purchases, especially from individual vendors. It is illegal for most locals to possess foreign currency, so they have a great deal of difficulty exchanging US dollars and when they can, they get poor rates. So bring along a good variety of new US currency so you can pay the exact amount of your bill.

While the old rules still apply, we saw more blurring of these lines this year with the fall of the US dollar against the kyat. Kipling’s, the restaurant in the Savoy was priced in kyat; Ashoka, a free-standing Indian Restaurant in Yangon was priced in dollars; L’Opera, a free standing Italian restaurant in Yangon was priced in kyat, but Le Planteur, a French restaurant was priced in dollars. Some inexpensive guesthouses are now asking for payment in kyat.

One other thing to be aware of – do not access your bank accounts or credit card accounts online from Burma. Because of the international economic sanctions against Burma, your financial institutions will suspend your internet access to your accounts if you do access your accounts from within Burma.

If you are buying items from a craftsperson or a vendor, please do them a favor and buy with kyats. It is illegal for private citizens to possess foreign currency. Thus, it is difficult for them to exchange the dollars you gave them into kyat they can spend, and they will get hassled when they try. Some people have specific permission to accept dollars, like taxi drivers in Yangon and horsecart drivers in Bagan.

Booking: You will need the help of an agent in Yangon to book flights and hotels. An agent can get you better prices for hotels than you can get yourself. Agents will offer to book transfers, a car and driver and guides for you as well. Book what makes sense for you. You don’t need to purchase all of these things for an agent to work with you.

Planning: This was a more difficult trip to plan than our first trip because we wanted to go to Mrauk U. We had learned from our experience two years ago, and as soon as I had a rough outline of the trip, I contacted Santa Maria. They were very helpful in rearranging our itinerary with the fewest number of “lost” days (single overnights for the purpose of getting from one place to another). Our trip was all planned and booked and our deposit sent by wire transfer to a bank in Bangkok many months in advance. Just two weeks before our trip, the flooding situation in Bangkok was such that it seemed wise to spend less time than usual in our favorite city. I contacted Santa Maria and they were able to book us an additional night in Mandalay at the beginning and two more in Yangon at the end, at a time when everything seemed to be booked full. We ended up with an itinerary that would allow some time for relaxation as well as more time for exploration. I carefully chose all of our fights, and found when we got to Yangon that every flight in our itinerary had changed times. This is very common. Do the best you can, and if a change really doesn’t work for you ask your agent what your options are.

Getting There: We flew Thai Airways from Bangkok to Yangon, business class. When I first made our reservations in June, the economy class seats for the dates we wanted were already sold out. It was only because we were in business class that I was able to change the dates of our flights two weeks before our trip. Economy was full on nearly every flight. A representative from Santa Maria met us at the airport, and I gave him a stack of new US currency for an envelope of domestic plane tickets and hotel vouchers. Meanwhile, Cheryl used one of the bank-owned exchanges to get some kyat. The exchange rate was 780 kyat to the dollar for US$100 bills. We had a flight to Mandalay scheduled for two hours after we landed, and it was easy to make that connection. It was a 10 minute walk to the domestic terminal from the international terminal. We wanted to walk and did, but it turned out that taking a car for 2000 kyat (which several people in the airport advised) would have been much easier. There were no swarms of young men vying to get our suitcases as there had been last trip, and, while there was a sidewalk between the terminals, the height of the curbs and the number of cuts in the walkway made it more practical to walk in the street. We got to the Yangon Air check in counter in plenty of time. The weighing of our luggage consisted of a man lifting one of the three suitcases we had, and nodding his head to the woman at the check-in counter. We had an hour to wait for our flight in the rather dark and dirty domestic terminal.

Our flight was full. It ran on time, with a stop at HeHo before flying on to Mandalay. We were met and ushered into a taxi for our hour-long drive to the Rupar Mandalar. I had no idea where to stay in Mandalay when I started my planning, and asked Zaw for a recommendation. Rupar Mandalar was his suggestion.

The Rupar Mandalar is a small boutique property with 10 deluxe rooms, 2 junior suites, 2 family suites and a Presidential suite. It is beautifully constructed of teak with heavy teak furniture as well. The bathrooms are teak and marble. The grounds are nicely landscaped and there are two swimming pools, one a free form pool, the other a large rectangular pool, perfect for swimming laps. There is an attractive dining area set in a garden. They offer free wireless internet, though the speed ranged from non-existent during the day to glacial at “cusp” times and slow but acceptable in evenings, nights and early mornings.

Breakfast was included in our room rate, and the spread at breakfast is lavish, with options for freshly cooked eggs and a fresh noodle soup made to your order as well. The Rupar Mandalay gets our award for best breakfast buffet of this trip. We thought the food was very high quality and well-prepared, and the prices were very reasonable for a 5 star property.

The staff was very attentive, anticipating our needs. When we had to check out at an ungodly hour the day we left, there was an employee awaiting our request to get our luggage. The manager spoke with us the night before and arranged a full breakfast for us, including freshly cooked eggs, juice, fruit, breakfast breads, and tea. The manager personally served us.
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 8th, 2011, 01:21 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,892
I've been looking forward to this - good start, Kathie.
Craig is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 8th, 2011, 01:43 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,721
Hi Kathie-Welcome home. I too have been looking forward to your TR. so I can get all of my unanswered questions answered. I'm so glad you and Cheryl had a wonderful trip.

I know your comments about group travel increasing are absolutely true because I have gotten emails from 3 groups that I have travelled with in the past saying that they are now offering trips to Myanmar. When I first started planning my trip to Myanmar last May, none of these tour groups offered tours to Myanmar. I am sure it will only get busier as time progresses, so I am glad I am going now.
shelleyk is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 8th, 2011, 03:50 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,159
Hi Kathie - glad to see this.

Wow, tourism really is picking up! When I went in 2004 I bought my plane tickets just a few weeks ahead of time. And I got a LOT more kyat for my dollars!
thursdaysd is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 8th, 2011, 08:30 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,540
I appreciate the encouragement. Thursdays, I was amazed by the difference from 2009 to now, so the difference from 2004 would be even greater. Shelly, I hope this section will help with your previous question about the Ancient cities.

Mandalay: Our first full day in Mandalay we scheduled to visit the three ancient cities. When I was planning this trip, I was initially dubious about seeing all three ancient cities in one day. But others here on Fodors had done it, and Santa Maria said it was very do-able, so I went ahead with it. I usually study the various sites and draw up a schedule, but with a few exceptions, it appeared that the attraction of the ancient cities was the overall experience as opposed to a few special sites. So I decided to go with a general ancient cities itinerary, knowing I could make changes as we went along. I was surprised by how close together the three ancient cities are, so the combination of the three sites makes logistical sense.

Our driver, “Joe” was arranged through Santa Maria. We opted not to use a guide. Joe was excellent. We talked through his recommendations for the day, and modified the plan as needed (e.g., no watching the monks eat). He picked us up at 8:00. He said if we wanted to visit the goldleaf-making workshop, this was the time to do it, so we started with that. It was one of the few workshops I knew I wanted to see. The process of making goldleaf is incredibly time and labor intensive, starting with the making of the special bamboo paper on which the gold leaf is made. So much of the process is done as it has been for generations – even the timing of the beating of the gold is done with a pierced coconut shell sitting in water. We enjoyed our short stop here.

Our next stop was the Mahamuni Paya in Mandalay. This is the second most holy Buddhist site in Myanmar (number one is the Shwedagon Paya in Yangon). The Mahamuni image originated in the area around Mrauk U, and is one of the images that, by tradition, is considered to be a true copy of the life-image of the historical Buddha. It was taken as war spoils and transported to Mandalay. While we enjoyed our visit there, we both wish we could go back again now that we have visited Mrauk U. Also, I noticed the Angkorian bronze sculptures there, but didn’t put together the history of them being taken as war bounty from Angkor to Ayutthaya to Mrauk U to Mandalay. It is amazing how many of the highly esteemed Buddha images have been the object of such military conflicts. The Paya is a big complex, including a museum, so we had plenty of information, it was the perspective that was missing for us, and perhaps you can only get that by having visited Mrauk U.

Next, we headed to Amarapura. We drove through the stone carving area, which was interesting to see the dozens of identical Buddha statues in various state of completion. We’d seen plenty of stone carving workshops, so opted to simply drive through on our way to Pahto Daw Gyi. This lovely white temple is supposed to have a great view from the top, but we were disappointed to find that women are not allowed to climb this temple.

We next stopped at the monastery, Maha Ganayon Kyuang where all of the young novices are. We just wanted to walk around a bit and Cheryl wanted to get some candid photos of the young monks. We left before mealtime. I noticed several tour buses already parked on the grounds, so it seemed like the mealtime was going to be a real zoo.

I’m very interested in textiles, so will almost always opt for a stop at a weaving shop. We next stopped at Shwe Sin Tai Silk. I found myself comparing the techniques and technology here with that at Inle Lake (Inle Lake technology was more primitive). They had some nice items in their shop, and I picked up a piece for a friend.

From there we went to Sagaing, our favorite of the three ancient cities. Sagaing has a lovely atmosphere. The area is green and lush and filled with gilded stupas and pagodas. There are lots of monks and nuns, as this is a center for monasteries and nunneries. We stopped at several interesting places, and it was apparent that there were many more. We especially enjoyed the 30 Caves Temple, Umin Thounzeh. It was lovely being at the top of Sagaing Hill and overlooking the lush landscape, with gold spire and white stupas scattered about. If I were to go back, I’d spend a whole day in Sagaing. Joe agreed that there was enough to see in Sagaing to spend a whole day there. We had a very nice lunch in Sagaing. The food was good and the setting was nice.

Ava (Inwa) was our least favorite place. In part that has to do with the arrangements there. You take a small boat “ferry” to an island, and you get a horsecart there. The horsecarts take you to four places. I asked if we could pay more and go to other places instead, but I got no response from the drivers. Then head guy said “no” and pointed out that there are four stops and only four stops for tourists at Ava, and read the list loudly. Next, we got a horsecart that was quite old and beat-up. This was the most uncomfortable horsecart I’ve ever ridden in. We started off, and the driver encouraged the horses to gallop, making a rough ride intolerable. After the first stop, we emphasized that the horses needed to go slowly, which made the ride less uncomfortable. But all of the stops were filled with other tourists, so none of the places were quiet or spiritual. We were, frankly, glad to get off the island. Still, looking back at Cheryl’s photos, we saw some nice places there, in particular a brick and stucco monastery, Maha Aungmye Bonzan. There is also an old teak monastery, Bagaya Kyaung worth the visit.

From here, we headed to the U Bien Bridge. Everyone raves about this bridge, and I feared I would be disappointed. But we were not – the bridge was a highlight of our visit to the Ancient cities. We timed it to get to the bridge well before sunset. As soon as we got there, our driver headed off to get us a boatman. I think this boatman may be his favorite, and he brought him to us with a smile. This old guy spoke just a little English, but he knew the views to get for photographers. We agreed we would walk to the middle of the bridge and meet him below to go out in the boat. Two children attached themselves to us and gave us a running commentary. It was a nice stroll on the bridge, watching the people and the ever-changing light. When we got to the middle of the bridge, we went down to the island, had a seat and some cold water to await the sunset. The small boy who walked with us told us that our boatman was 80 years old. I have no idea if this is true. We went out in the boat, the boatman taking us to one side of the bridge, then the other, moving with the light. By the time he came ashore it was almost dark. What is so remarkable about this bridge? Well, the stream of humanity crossing the bridge, for one thing. It’s a wonderful people-watching opportunity as you are watching people do what they do every day. This, in combination with the reflectivity of the water and the ever-changing light makes this place a photographer’s dream. Cheryl took over 400 photos there, and plans to put just 40 photos on her website. It was after 6:00 by the time we got back to our hotel. It was a long day.

I’m glad we visited the Ancient Cities, but the day was a mixed experience. What would I do differently? If I were to do it over again, I would spend a whole day in Sagaing, finishing the day at U Bein. Then I’d opt for a second day of a few sites in Mandalay, Ava (I wish I knew how to make this stop better) and sites in Amarapura, and perhaps a return to the U Bien Bridge.
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 9th, 2011, 12:44 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 99
kathie...this is great. the info on the ancient cities is so helpful. thank you.

smacdvanbc is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 9th, 2011, 06:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,918
anxious to read but too busy today
rhkkmk is online now  
Reply With Quote
Dec 9th, 2011, 06:52 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,721
Hi Kathie,

Thanks for posting such a detailed trip report.As expected, I have several questions.

Do you recommend dividing the ancient cities into
2 days because in doing it in one day you missed some sites
or it felt too rushed or both?

I've booked one full day to the ancient cities with SM. I plan to spend most of the time in Sagaing on the full day I booked with Santa Maria and return the next day by taxi to cover Ava and anything I missed in Amarapura on my own. Do you think I need a guide for Saiging or just a driver? I want to do some walking in Saiging and I am wondering if a guide would facilitate or hamper this plan. I presume you walked to the top of Saiging Hill.

Concerning Ava, when I go on the horsecart ride in Ava, if I had a SM guide for the day, do you know if the guide would ride along with me (is there room in the cart) or stay with the car til I am done. My DH sometimes has back issues. Is the horsecart ride so rough that it might throw ones back out, or is it just uncomfortable to sit on the hard bench.

It's hard to know current prices from my old and obsolete LP guide, so could you please tell me the price for the ferry and horsecart in Ava, and for the boat ride near the bridge. Are there seperate entrance fees for Mandalay sites, or are they included in a combination ticket with the ancient cities and what is the fee?

On an unrelated note, how long did it take to hear back from SM that your wired deposit had been received. I sent mine 4 days ago and have not yet heard from SM. to confirm it had been received.

I am looking forward to the continuation of your TR.
shelleyk is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 9th, 2011, 08:25 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,206
We went in '07 and it was a magical trip. We have been to over 45 countries and it is our favorite. We would love to return . . . and your report is making us want to return even more.

Thank you for posting . . . and you are a very good, descriptive writer!

Sandy (in Denton)
sandy_b is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 9th, 2011, 12:33 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,540
Shelly, let me try to answer your questions.

One of thing I learned on this trip is that not all horsecarts are alike. Min Thu's is quite comfortable - and he drives it like he cares about you back. The horsecarts in Ava were a different type, so less comfortable, and the driver drove like a madman over the very rough roads there. At one point, he came close to bouncing Cheryl and I out of the cart. If you had a SM guide, I'm not sure they could ride with you. Our cart had two guys up front (I don't know why) and the two of us in the back. If there was only one guy up front, then a SM guide could go with you.

I'd recommend dividing it into two days so you could see more in Sagaing. There were plenty of places there we didn't see. Having a good guide there for a whole day might be great - depending on the guide. I also think you could do it with just a driver.

Prices - these are from memory... the Ancient cities sites are covered by a combination ticket, the Mandalay sites are separate. We had to pay at Ava, no where else asked. $10 each. As I remember, the horsecart was 4000 kyat, the boat ride was 1000 kyat. The boat ride at U Bien is 4000 kyat, but the boatman was great so we gave him 5000 kyat.

It took well over a week to hear back about the wired deposit.
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 9th, 2011, 02:14 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,384
Loving your report Kathie!
lcuy is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 9th, 2011, 06:40 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 1,599
Great Report so far Kathie. Good advice about the trip to Sagaing, I may change ours to be over two days.
I just had lunch with Joan to discuss her trip too and she said she had trouble accessing her Gmail account but okay with hotmail. I have yahoo. Which site did you find worked for you for your email? Thanks and cant wait to hear more.
live42day is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 9th, 2011, 06:40 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,138
Yes, great report Kathie!
Femi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 9th, 2011, 07:37 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,540
Thanks to all for your encouragement. This report is a bit slow-going, as I came home with vitreous detachment in my left eye (due, perhaps, to that awful ride in Ava).

I was able to access both my aol account and my gmail account in Burma. Much of the problem with access this time was simply how slow the connections were because of over-loading. I actually opened a gmail account in anticipation of this trip. Santa Maria recommended I open a gmail account, as sometimes they have had problems sending to aol addresses. Indeed, last trip (2009) we were only able to access gmail - no other email account of any type.
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 9th, 2011, 07:40 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,540
The next day was our trip to Pyin U Lwin. This town was called Maymo by the British, and was a hill station, a place to escape the heat of the lower elevations. The moderate weather was much appreciated back in the days of no air-conditioning. The town has many lovely old stucco and half-timber houses surrounded by English gardens. Many favorite English garden plants thrive here. The primary reason I wanted to go here was for the botanical gardens. I have Amazon alert me to any new books on Burma, and after our last trip, one I was alerted to was The Weeping Goldsmith: Discoveries in the Secret Land of Myanmar by W. John Kress. This American botanist wanted to look for new plants in Burma, and wanted to confirm the presence of some plants described by British botanists back in the 1920s. The book is fascinating both for its plant descriptions and for its account of how to get to forbidden places in Burma.

Joe picked us up at 8:30. It is about a one and a half hour drive to Pyin U Lwin over mostly pretty good roads. The LP forewarned us that there is a lot of military presence in Pyin U Lwin. There are several military academies in town, and it appears that quite a number of the high-ranking military have homes here. We saw a fair amount of construction going on, mostly on mansions.

We started our day with a stop at the market. We saw no other visitors at the market. It was a fun market – an incredible array of fruits and vegetables and the usual household goods for sale. No geegaws or “tourist tat” in evidence. We bought some local coffee beans and some tea, but mostly just wandered the market. I’d read of a good place to buy older crafts, Pacific World Curio, so asked to stop there. The owner, Soe Moe, was there (he also has a store in Mandalay). He had an interesting assortment of items. I was interested in textiles and he had some nice ones. I bought a Naga piece for a friend. Cheryl bought a Shan reclining Buddha. We had a very interesting talk with the owner and his son.

We made a stop at a temple where Cheryl and I had a long chat with a couple of monks. Joe also drove us by some of the nicest old English homes. The homes were surrounded by typical English gardens, as if they had been transported through time and space and landed, improbably, in Burma.

We had lunch at The Club Terrace, located in an old English bungalow. It was a very nice setting, but the food was lacking in spice, despite our request for “spicy.” A tour group arrived by bus mid-way through our meal.

Next, we went to the botanical gardens. The gardens are huge, with many specialized areas. We were most interested in the orchids, so headed across the lake first thing. There are both black and white swans on the lake, and at one point, a swan would not allow me to take one path. We soon discovered why, as we saw a swan sitting on a nest, and later saw two little baby black swans.

On our way to see the orchids, we were enticed into the butterfly house. We chatted with a woman there who was working on her Ph.D. The place had a wonderful array of butterflies displayed.

The orchid garden was nice, with a good variety of species. I was most interested in the local orchids. There were quite a few Cymbidiums in bloom. I was hoping to see some local Paphiopedilum but there were none in bloom. We enjoyed our wanderings through the orchids. There were several other things I would have enjoyed seeing, notably the walk-in aviary. But there was a rock concert going on next to the aviary, so we decided to pass.
Just wandering in the park was nice. We saw lots of locals, feeding the fish and the swans, sitting on the grass, picnicking, just enjoying the weather and the scenery.

There are horsecarts in Pyin U Lwin, like miniature stagecoaches. They looked quite charming, but we didn’t take time for a ride.

We headed back to Mandalay, having had a very pleasant day.
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 9th, 2011, 08:58 PM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 171
Fantastic detail as always -- am left wondering again what you do for a living. Had a feeling things were changing in Burma when I saw the Governor's Residence on Jetsetter this fall. It seemed quite surreal.
When I was in Cambodia in 2000, I met a journalist who had managed to smuggle a tape of a conversation with ASSK out of then very officially Myanmar,in a wig. Those were very different times.
jenskar2 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 10th, 2011, 02:50 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 51
Kathie...thank you for the superb report on your adventures in Burma. You have convinced me that I must travel to this magical country. I volunteer in Hanoi (teaching English) and want to go to Burma prior to Vietnam. So Questions: How many days would you recomend for this trip? I would also like to know how long you were in Burma. I know mine can only be an over view for a future trip. What travel agency would you suggest I contact to "recreate" your trip? I will be going in November 2012....when would you suggest I begin to book? Thank you so very much!
rickyloo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 10th, 2011, 06:07 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,721
Thanks for your reply, Kathie. Hope your eye is better.
shelleyk is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 10th, 2011, 07:05 AM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 26
Sorry to hear about your eye Kathie.We were in Burma in 2010 and I remember that horse cart ride in Ava as being terribly uncomfortable.I'm not sure the sites were worth the ride.Enjoying your report. We loved Burma.
Katyt is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
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


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:48 PM.