Burma Explorer


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Myanmar (Burma), a decades long cloistered community, not long ago opened its doors to the outside world, offering exciting opportunities for the willing traveler wishing to experience a truly unique and wondrous journey. Thought of as the "Land of Pagodas", it has been one of the world's least traveled countries, and remains cloaked in ancient mysteries. Yangon (Rangoon), its capital, is the largest city and until the 18th century remained just a small fishing village. The warm welcome given travelers by the Burmese people adds to the charm and enjoyment of one's journey here. It truly is one of the more unique destinations, offering a wealth of fascinating venues, with infrastructure vastly improved these past years and means of transport reliable and timely. A first evening's visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred shrine within the country is an experience not soon forgotten. Its main spire reaches to a height of 396 feet and is adorned with hundreds of semi-precious stones, all surrounded by multi-layers of gold leaf. Buddhist pilgrims the world over visit this site, and there is a never-ending flow of Burmese who make it their daily habit to visit these revered grounds. It is the essence of Myanmar and a site that never fails to enchant the visitor.

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Continuing on one's journey, an early morning fight wings one above the brilliance of glittering temples set afire by the rising sun as one follows the path of the meandering Irrawaddy River to the plain of Bagan (Pagan), one of the richest archaeological sights in Asia. Dating back to 108 A.D., the town was destroyed by Khulai Khan in 1287. Most of the 13,000 pagodas, stupas, and temples, which once graced the plains of the city are now long gone; however, the remaining 2,000 or more orate the former elegance and stature once displayed across these plains.The panorama of temples and chortans against a backdrop of surrounding hillsides and the mighty Irrawaddy is as much an experience of feeling as it is a beautiful sight. Pictures cannot capture the essence of what is found on these plains; words cannot describe the emotion inspired by such beauty, such grace and such history. Bagan (Pagan) was known as the capital of Buddhism during its "Golden Age". Knowledge of that historical reality provides the local inhabitants with a measure of pride that reads clearly across their faces and in their strides. It is a tranquil and wondrous town that, once visited, will always be remembered as a special place within your personal diary of memories.

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Mandalay is renowned for the beauty of its architecture as depicted by the Shwe-Nan-Daw monastery. Nearby, in the township of Amarapura, a visit to the Mahagandayon Monastery to see the 700 monks and novices gather within the dining area for their one daily meal is a sight to behold. At dockside, embark on the ferry for a cruise along the Irrawaddy, en-route to colorful Minguin. The river excursion presents a myriad of delightful sights that provide an excellent portrayal of life on the Irrawaddy, Burma's lifeline. Bamboo rafts to Chinese-like junks move both passengers and materials in a seemingly never-ending procession of traffic on what seems and endless waterway. Close observation reveals the boat-pullers, usually women, as they walk the narrow paths along the shoreline, body harness attached, while helping to pull the boat back upstream. 

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Continuing the journey within Upper-Burma, one transitions to the remarkable brilliance and beauty of Inle Lake. Vast and beautiful, the lake stretches some 9 miles in length and 4 miles in breadth. It is here that you find the unique "leg-rowers" who, while standing atop their longboat, wrap the lower leg around the oar, and paddle both passenger and product to the innumerable floating villages and colorful markets. They often place their fishing basket on the boat and find their most favorable fishing area hoping for a bountiful catch for the day. 

A private launch glides the traveler across the waters to the western shore of the lake to discover the beauty of the hidden Indein Pagoda. Follow a stair path leading to one of the most amazing sights on the lakeshore, consisting of hundreds of small stupas laced with overgrown moss and vegetation. Continue on an easy pace along one of the many creeks, passing by rice paddies and cropland to the village of Sae Mae to gain a first hand look at village life in one of the more remote regions of Burma. Returning back across the lake, stop by a local monastery to observe some of their daily rituals. 

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An excursion to The Le Oo brings the traveler to the eastern shore and into the heart of the breadbasket for Inle. The inhabitants of this village are Inn Tha and Pa O ethnic minority groups, both well known for their organic farming skills. The major crops of rice, potatoes, garlic and a variety of vegetables are produced during the summer with sugar cane being the winter crop. The cane is harvested and transferred into the cities to be made into molasses and rum. Follow the agro trail that leads from the lake and winds through the village, curving once again back to the lake. A visit affords one the opportunity to gain a further insight into the various minority groups in Upper-Burma.

There are other regions to consider while visiting the country, including Kalaw, a former British hillside resort, the nearby by elephant rescue camp. an two-day trek from Kalaw down to Pindaya, Mount Popa and other fascinating opportunities that could be added to one's journey to Myanmar.

First Cabin Travel, creating luxury-styled custom tours since 1989, offers a wealth of ideas to form the perfect custom tour for those wishing to visit Myanmar or other worldwide destinations.

First Cabin Travel:  https://firstcabin.com/

CA Reg: 2016168-40