Margaret's Burma Trip
Thursday 02 January 2020
‘Quiet unlike any land you know about’ was Rudyard Kipling’s interpretation of this magical land. Burma (Myanmar) is one of South East Asia’s largest and most diverse countries. From a historical perspective the recent elections have brought an end to a military regime which lasted over five decades and currently a new government has been formed from the National League for Democracy. So before too much modernisation takes place, this is the time to visit this extraordinary land, where the traditional ways of Asia endure and areas previously off-limits are opening up. To this day Myanmar remains one of the most mysterious and undiscovered destinations in the world. A land of breath taking beauty and charm this is a country that attracts those who seek adventure and the desire to go a little of the beaten track.
Myanmar offers all the traditional delights of Asia with its Virgin
jungles, snow-capped mountains and pristine beaches, combined with a rich
and glorious heritage spanning more than two thousand years. Spectacular
monuments and ancient cities attest to a vibrant culture that is still home
to 135 different ethnic groups.
Margaret (Grenham Travel) reminiscing on her three week trip to this amazing country, shares her fascination, memories and experiences of her visit.
This is a bustling large city and with its ramshackle charms deserves a couple of day’s exploration. The buildings are awash with colour and reflect the city’s history of ethnic and religious diversity, but no structure stands out quite like the Shwedagon Pagoda, the monumental golden Buddhist shrine that is sacred to so many and attracts pilgrims from all over the world. We found the best way to enter is from the east side where there is a lift in situ. The city also has an astonishing range of museums, art galleries and markets, in which you can take in Myanmar culture and haggle to your heart’s content. Scott’s market with its array of goods is one of the best markets to buy gifts. Observation worth noting – Crisp clean dollar bills will only be accepted in both hotels and markets; if crinkled or worn they will be returned to you!
We hopped on-board the circular train in Yangon to get the authentic experience of the
city and its suburbs; this gives you the chance to witness daily life in the former capital as it passes through suburban districts rarely visited by tourists. Disembark to experience vibrant markets, colourful shops and Buddhist sites, plus stroll through Chinatown and Little India. Guided group tours are also available and local guides can give you in-depth insights to your surroundings.
The diversity which makes Yangon so architecturally intriguing is also
reflected in its restaurants and food, which have plenty of native cuisine
but are also heavily influenced by its surrounding countries Myanmar –
Thailand, China and India. The cost of living is economical with diner in 4* hotel averaging €25 and local restaurants from €8.
However, the lack of development that has allowed it to retain its colonial
charm also means that pavements and roads are in a terrible state of
repair, you may have a close encounter with a rat or cockroach, and there
is often no electricity. It is advisable to wear comfortable footwear and
keep the phone charged – you may need the lamp light! Incidentally, Wi-Fi is generally available which is advantageous.
If you would like to immerse in quietness after a day of constant
activities in this interesting hurly burly environment! a good choice for a 4* hotel is the
Chatrium Royal Lake Hotel. Situated along Kandawgyi Lake, the hotel offers
free shuttle services to Shwedagon Pagoda, Scott Market and City Hall. We stayed here and it was an oasis of serenity in the ‘busyness’ of Yangon.
It was time to head onto Lake Inle… When you arrive at Heho make sure you explore the Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery and then take a boat along the placid waters of the serene and misty Inle Lake with the Shan Hills as a backdrop. A fascinating and intriguing journey awaits you; Intha fisherman row flat-ended canoes with one leg; they love to pose for photos so they smile a lot. It is absolutely fascinating to see amazing floating gardens bursting with a variety of fresh produce; wooden homes perched above the water on rickety stilts in floating villages that sustain generations-old cottage industries; surreal visions for the Western onlooker. Idyllic hotels are dotted along the lake with local staff that are extremely friendly, hospitable and make your stay extra pleasant.
Time to relax on the long and idyllic stretch of white sand and palm tree-lined coast of the bay of Bengal, with a number of resorts spread out next to traditional fishing villages. Again, locals were delighted to engage with tourists and pose for photos with their ‘catch of the day’.
This is one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites. Float effortlessly over Bagan in a hot air balloon and absorb the magnificent view of more than 3.000 gilded pagodas and spiked temples. We did not get to Bagan on this trip but perhaps the next one! Speaking with fellow travelers who explored Bagan found it very interesting.
How to get to Burma
It is a long flight time and a good option is to fly to Abu Dhabi take an
overnight break or two nights if you wish to experience the United Arab
Emirates; fly on to Bangkok and then onto Yangon which is only one hour
away. Alternatively, Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City all serve as good bases
to stop by on route.
If taking internal flights ensure you are at the airport in plenty of
time. First impressions - they may appear to be disorganised but don’t
worry each person gets a colour coded badge and directions are manually
organised and work to perfection.
Where ever you go in Myanmar, there is always a feeling of adventure.
If you would like to visit this country contact Grenham Travel speak with Margaret; we will be delighted to share our experiences and help you plan an extraordinary trip.
Ph 090 6492028,