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Ten Days in Enchanting Myanmar plus Five Days in Siem Reap

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Jan 10th, 2019, 11:52 AM
  #1
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Ten Days in Enchanting Myanmar plus Five Days in Siem Reap

We just returned from one of the most memorable trips we have ever taken. My daughter thinks it might have surpassed even Patagonia (a place we have returned to). It was a difficult decision whether or not to go to Myanmar but in the end we decided that if we did it right, and made sure we put as much of our money into the hands of the locals, brought happiness to the people, and gave help where we could, we might be able to make a small difference in some lives. The conflict there is horrible-there is no two ways about it, but through touristís money and contact with outsiders comes education and with education comes change.

Our schedule in Myanmar was the following:
Two nights Yangon at the Savoy
Two nights Bagan at the Amazing Bagan Resort
Three nights Samka Lake at Inle Sanctuary Phayartaung
Three nights Loikaw at Loikaw Lodge


All of our accommodations in Myanmar were great-by far our most favorite was the incredible Inle Sanctuary Phayartaung. The hosts were friendly and charming, the trip there an adventure, the location spectacular, the accommodations cozy and comfortable, the food delicious, the village authentic, the opportunities to interact with and give back to the locals numerous-the entire experience magical. But please recognize this place for how removed from tourism it is.

Some highlights in Myanmar were the circle train and Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, ballooning with Oriental Ballooning-a professional company from start to finish and even for me-someone who is afraid of heights, I had no problem-it was spectacular, snd the village at Inle Sanctuary Phayartaung, including the monastery.

We brought an instant camera and gave out more than 100 photos-people loved it-the young and old alike. We never gave out money or candy (please donít!)

Loikaw as a city did not excite at all but Demowso Market was an experience, as was visiting some of the hill tribes, although the long neck tribe village felt set up for tourists-though we only saw one other group. Loikaw Lodge was great-our suite was fantastic-only drawback was that we thought the food but especially the drink prices were really high in comparison.

Our local flights were on Bangkok Airways, Air Asia, Mann Yadanarpon, and Myanmar National Airways. All were perfectly fine-our flight into Heho was delayed two hours (fog I think). Mann allowed us to change the date of our flight for $10 US per person (cash only-American in PERFECT condition).

We hired local guides in Yangon, Bagan, and Loikaw.
Yangon -Zaw Hein-he showed us lots of great spots-we left most of it up to him
email [email protected]
www.zawheinmyanmartravels.com
Bagan-Ei EI Nwe (facebook). She was great she also does a cooking class which is reviewed on Trip Advisor
Loikaw-we hired our two guides through Loikaw Lodge-Maung Ko ([email protected]) and Jolieuw (spelling?-he is friends with Maung so he can get you his contact)


Some notes on Myanmar:
-There is a 15,000 kyats fee to go to Inle Lake, Samka Lake-payable in cash
-Almost all of the electrical outlets accepted American plugs
-I had cell service almost everywhere
-Consider ear plugs for the boat rides
-Most hotels had no conditioner and if they did, it was worthless
-We had no issues with mosquitos anywhere-we saw a few at Samka Lake
-Check to make sure any guide you hire has their own transportation or if you are supposed to hire a car and driver as well.
-In Myanmar all American dollars have to be PERFECT in order for them to be accepted (not even a fold mark)-some serial #s and letters matter as well.

The people of Myanmar were as friendly as any we have ever met. They were unbelievably intrigued by us, even in Bagan. We were bombarded with requests to take pictures with them. Our guide said many had never really seen a westerner before, having come down from remote hill villages. My daughter especially, was a person of great interest with her naturally deep dark red hair-our guides were shocked to hear her hair color was real, they thought it was ďpainted."


In Cambodia we stayed five nights in Siem Reap at the Marriott Courtyard-a disappointment on many levels, but it was free on points. If you stay here make sure to hire Mr. Dan #9 (+85512343826-by phone or whats app) as your tuk-tuk driver-heís great! We also had a great driver Vy Sothea (+855 10 68 88 59 or +855 11 44 45 50) who took us to Being Melea, Komplong Khleang and sunrise at Angkor Wat.

Siem Reap was as everyone had described with the hordes of Chinese tourists descending on the temples. It was a bit overwhelming to be honest. And while we loved the temples-our favorite being Being Melea, we would not return to the Angkor complexes, just as we wold not return to Macchu Pichu. We also were taken by the remote fishing village of Kompomg Khleang-a very authentic experience.

Our absolute highlight in Siem Reap was spending two wonderful days touring with Ponheary Ly with one of those afternoons being spent at her incredible foundation handing out new backpacks to the 99 children grades 4-6. Ponheary is a most remarkable woman, selfless and humble, having lived through the brutality of the Khmer Rouge only to rise from it and make the difference in thousands of childrenís lives through education. What she has accomplished is nothing short or miraculous. She was one of ten people nominated as a CNN hero for good reason-an old soul she is. Check it out:

The Ponheary Ly Foundation

and for tours run by her guesthouse

https://www.sevencandlesguesthouse.com


Here is a link to my blog with day to day adventures and lots of photos and videos.

https://totravelistolive678431148.wo...-and-cambodia/

I am happy to answer any questions.
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Jan 11th, 2019, 04:25 AM
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Odie, thank you for your report. You and your family obviously had an amazing time. I'm very impressed with the itinerary you designed. It covered a lot of different experiences and parts of the country.

Having just recently returned from Myanmar myself, I am in complete agreement with your thoughts about it. The only thing that would separate us is that, given a choice, I would return to Patagonia - Torres de Paine - first. But for me, that spectacular scenery is so different to home. Also I have been to a number of Asian countries so I had previously been exposed to a number of similar cultural differences already whereas this was your first Asian trip. I hope it won't be your last. Asia encompasses so many different cultures and landscapes there will always be something new to see. I'm looking forward to Sri Lanka later this year which I haven't been to before.
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Jan 11th, 2019, 05:05 AM
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Thanks for sharing, Odie. I have thought about a similar Burma and Angkor trip. Disappointed to hear about the crowds at Angkor; sounds like there may not be a good way to avoid them anymore.

Shandy, I really enjoyed Sri Lanka. It remains one of my favorite places in Asia.
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Jan 11th, 2019, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by shandy View Post
Odie, thank you for your report. You and your family obviously had an amazing time. I'm very impressed with the itinerary you designed. It covered a lot of different experiences and parts of the country.

Having just recently returned from Myanmar myself, I am in complete agreement with your thoughts about it. The only thing that would separate us is that, given a choice, I would return to Patagonia - Torres de Paine - first. But for me, that spectacular scenery is so different to home. Also I have been to a number of Asian countries so I had previously been exposed to a number of similar cultural differences already whereas this was your first Asian trip. I hope it won't be your last. Asia encompasses so many different cultures and landscapes there will always be something new to see. I'm looking forward to Sri Lanka later this year which I haven't been to before.
Don't get me wrong-we will return to Patagonia again and again and again. I think the experience with the people is what what so enchanting. While it was pretty, Samka Lake especially, there is no comparison in natural beauty. TdP is stunning, I would love to do the W trek. El Chalten is our favorite though. We are thinking 2020 for our next trip!

trip planner-We were also there over New Years which made a difference in the crowds. The horrendous traffic definitely let up following Jan 2 but yes, even our guides said it has become very bad.

I don;t know how to multi quote! Argh!
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Jan 11th, 2019, 07:26 AM
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I should have also made it clearer, that the Inle Sanctuary Phayartaung is not on Inle Lake-it is 3 1/2 hours south on Samka (Samkar) Lake. Check it out here:

Inle Sanctuary at Phayartaung
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Jan 11th, 2019, 09:33 AM
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Did you get to Inle Sanctuary Phayartaung by boat from Inle Lake? Or did you get there via a land route?

Samka/Samkar is considered a part of Inle Lake. I looked back at my report and saw that the Lonely Planet said it would take 3.5 hours to get there from Inle, but our boatman took only 2.5 hours.

The design of the lovely rooms at your hotel is very similar to the place we stayed 10 years ago. We loved our rime in this area. I'm glad you had such a good experience.
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Jan 11th, 2019, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Kathie View Post
Did you get to Inle Sanctuary Phayartaung by boat from Inle Lake? Or did you get there via a land route?

Samka/Samkar is considered a part of Inle Lake. I looked back at my report and saw that the Lonely Planet said it would take 3.5 hours to get there from Inle, but our boatman took only 2.5 hours.

The design of the lovely rooms at your hotel is very similar to the place we stayed 10 years ago. We loved our rime in this area. I'm glad you had such a good experience.
It took us 3.5 hours by boat from Inle. I wonder if the idea of going there came from you? I know I read it in someones trip report somewhere, but I can't remember whose?
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