Cultural Jaunt Through Myanmar
In October 2015 this year I was very fortunate enough to visit the beautiful Myanmar (Burma).
I arrived in Bangkok, staying overnight at the Novotel Suvarnabhumi Hotel. Flying Thai Airways for the first time I was impressed with the service on board making an overall exceptional experience on a long flight.
Arriving in Yangon, I met up with the group. We had lunch and a quick tour of the Governor's residence, before heading back to the airport for our flight to Bagan where we were met by the charming Belmond Orcaella -- such a beautiful vessel with amazing suite accommodation. We enjoyed a tour before heading out for pre-dinner drinks and a meal in the exceptional dining room.
Up and early for breakfast ready for our transfer to the Road To Mandalay, we boarded and met our tour guide Thet. After lunch we joined our guide and visited some magnificent pagodas of Bagan. Late in the afternoon we headed out to watch the sun setting over the field of pagodas - what an amazing experience.
The next day we explored the local markets in Bagan and the surrounding area. We set out on our journey to Mandalay with an evening cocktail party and dinner.
Arriving in Mingun we visited the enormous ruined pagoda of King Bodawpaya, and stopped in the local area to chat with residents about their everyday life.
Cruising into Manadalay, we disembarked for a tour of Amaprapura to Shwe Kyet Yet Village. We also visited the Saging Hills and learned a bit more about the Buddhist faith in Burma. Hiring mountain bikes, we explored and followed the monks through the local villages.
Mandalay was a truly fascinating place, made better by visiting the Jade market and watching the traders cutting and polishing. There were various snack foods made by hand and produced, packaged and sent to local markets for sale. We also visited the "World's Largest Book", which is a collection of some 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings.
Overnight accommodation was at the Mandalay Hill Resort. It was such a beautiful hotel and the day spa facilities were amazing.
The next day we headed out of Mandalay and back to Sagaing. We visited a local nunnery and we contributed food at the daily elms, before staying for a home-cooked lunch. We chatted to the head nun and learned so much about their lives and spiritual devotion.
Arriving at Inle Lake, our first stop was a local winery for lunch before heading to Villa Inle Lake Resort by boat. It was such a beautiful and picturesque moment.
I thought it was amazing to see so many floating gardens on the lake and the local fishermen steering their boats and maneuvering a cage/net to catch the fish. Visiting the markets and locals was also a highlight.
We stayed at the Sedona Hotel. I had never seen such a big buffet of food, highlighted by the chocolate fountain. While in town, we visited the magnificent Schwedagon Pagoda and also stopped in at a local tea house.
Our farewell dinner was a great night of reminiscing the amazing places we had visited and the wonderful people we met along the way. It was truly an exceptional experience and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.
Words by Natasha Leventeris, cruising expert at Cruiseabout, West Lakes
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