Jacqueline's Myanmar (Burma) Travels
Posted on 17 February 2014
“This is Burma”, wrote Rudyard Kipling. “It is quite unlike any place you know about” and how right he was: more than a century later Burma (Myanmar) remains a world apart. *Lonely Planet
Approximately 18 years ago I visited Rangoon, Burma (renamed Yangon, Myanmar by the military government) and backpacked for about a month just long enough to be captivated to visit this beautiful country again with my family and very good family friends in December.
This trip was to not only reintroduce myself to the traditions and simple pleasures of Burma and visit relatives who live in Rangoon and Moulmein, but to also introduce my husband and two daughters ages 13 and 10, and show them the beauty of this golden land.
It took approximately 8 months to plan this holiday (private tour), with the help of a travel agent and when we arrived in Rangoon we had a fantastic tour guide, Nyi Nyi Lwin who travelled everywhere with us.
YANGON – (I still like to refer to as Rangoon)
Accommodation: Traders Hotel (Excellent)
Favourite Restaurant in Rangoon: Monsoon
Favourite Dishes: La Phet (pickled tea leaves), Mohinga (traditional Burmese dish), Chicken Coconut Curry
• Shwedagon Pagoda for sunset.
• Take a taxi to the jetty, hop on a boat to the opposite bank of the Rangoon River to Dala village and hire a sidecar and look around the town. It will take about half a day.
• Pop into the famous Strand Hotel and have a Gin and Tonic or local Myanmar Beer ( just like the following literary luminaries like, Orwell, Maugham, Kipling and Coward who have also walked the corridors of this famous hotel and had their afternoon tea and enjoyed a Gin and Tonic or two…)
MANDALAY – (Former Capital or Burma)
Accommodation: Rupar Manalar Resort (Excellent)
• Visit the 200-year-old U Bein Wooden Bridge in time for the sunset.
• Visit the original palace
Highlight: Coming across 3 very young Novice Monks
BAGAN – (One of the most impressive archaeological wonders of Asia)
Accommodation: Aureum Palace Hotel – Palm Villa (Stunning/Excellent/Best Hotel Ever)
Restaurant: At the hotel – the Chef cooked traditional dishes upon request. Delicious!
• Enjoy the sunset view from one of the ruins
• Visit the local markets
Accommodation: Inle Princess Resort (Lovely and Peaceful)
Favourite Meal: At the resort – Traditional Shan Meal
• Hire a boat with guide and explore the local life.
• Christmas Day – visiting villages and handing out gifts to the local children.
MOULMEIN – (Once was the capital of British Burma from 1827 – 1852 During which time it was a teak port)
Accommodation: Strand Hotel (The best in the city but very basic. Not to be mistaken with the Strand Hotel in Rangoon)
• On the way to Moulmein (by car) stop off at Mt Kyaiktiyo (Golden Rock)
• Cross river by private boat and visit some of the local Karen villages
Highlight: Visiting relatives and having dinner with them at their home that has been in the family for 5 generations. Try the local citrus fruit, the Pomelo - delicious.
I would definitely recommend Burma as a travel destination, especially before it becomes too westernised and loses its innocence. The Burmese people are so friendly and very helpful (with no hidden agendas) and very interested to know where you are from and practice their limited English with you.
Traditional Burmese food is like no other dishes you have tasted. A must to try is Mohinga which the locals usually have for breakfast. You will see adults and children in the morning having a hot bowl of this delicious noodle dish by their favourite roadside stall. If you aren’t too game to eat at a roadside stall, most good hotels will serve this as part of the buffet breakfast.
My favourite beverages would have to have been Gin and Tonics at the Strand Hotel, Myanmar Beer, Burmese Tea and a good bottle of French Champagne on New Year’s Eve.