Deb & Roger’s YB Travel Adventures to Myanmar 2006 & 2012
Quite unlike any land you know about’ – Rudyard Kipling Burma (also known as Myanmar) is a spectacular jewel that has remained hidden for decades, but which is now opening up to the world revealing astonishing natural beauty and an unparalleled cultural heritage.
With a civilisation that’s more than 2,500 years old, Burma is a mysterious and magical land with magnificent temple architecture set in timeless and sublime landscapes.
In 2006 I had the good fortune of being invited by a company in Hong Kong to teach Meditation on their annual trip incentive for employees. I have always wanted to go there! This company closes their office for over and week and each year takes all of their employees on an exotic adventure, complete with life coaches, business coaches, and spiritual coaches. How progressive! And employee focused.
The timing was perfect as I had spent my two months in Bali, and was headed back to Thailand at the right time, and trying to figure out where to go next. After arriving in Bangkok I spent a week preparing for this while Roger took the opportunity to visit the island of Ko Chang, near Cambodia. Our friend from Koh Samui had opened a Spa there that included the fasting program we usually do, and we wanted to check it out. Samui continues to be our first choice.
Roger returned and yes, they included my husband so we flew out of the new airport in Bangkok, the first day of operation, so were a bit nervous. The new airport isn’t as efficient as the old one, and it quite a long way out of town, but things proceeded in an uneventful way, and that is the most important thing. So we were happy.
Everything about this trip was first class. When you are an independent traveler, traveling for more than six months at a time, you have to stretch your dollars. So this was so welcome, and greatly appreciated. Also, at this time, you couldn’t travel through out Burma (Myanamar) unescorted, so a tour is the only choice, and a first class one, outstanding!
We met up with everyone in Rangoon (Yangoon). Our hotel, The Governor’s Mansion, was amazing, and we were invited to everything. Beautiful meals, all of their meetings which took me back to my corporate job. I enjoyed the creativity, colloboration and strategizing. But in America things had changed, and in my mind for the worse, which is why I left a successful career for good in ’98. But in Asia corporate seems to still embody the things that are important to sustainable success. It was beautiful to be a part of this if only for a short time.
Yangon is also known as Rangoon, literally: “End of Strife”) is a former capital of Burma (Myanmar) and the capital of Yangon Region (formerly Yangon Division). Although the military government has officially relocated the capital to Naypyidaw since March 2006, Yangon, with a population of over four million, continues to be the country’s largest city and the most important commercial centre.
Yangon’s infrastructure is undeveloped compared to those of other major cities in Southeast Asi a.But, Yangon has the largest number of colonial buildings in Southeast Asia today. And while many high-rise residential and commercial buildings have been constructed or renovated throughout downtown and Greater Yangon in the past two decades, most satellite towns that ring the city continue to be deeply impoverished.
After few days here we took a morning flight from Yangon to Bangan for our “Road to Mandalay” cruise. We did so much each day and this is just an overview of the primary things. On arrival we transferred to the Road To Mandalay berthed on the Ayeyarwady River. At Bagan over 2,000 temples and pagodas are scattered over an awe-inspiring plain beside the river. After lunch we joined our guide and visited the inside of some of the more significant pagodas. Later in the afternoon our guide took us to watch the sun setting over a field of glowing pagodas. Then we enjoyed dinner and local entertainment on board.
The next morning after breakfast we joined the guide to explore some of Bagan’s local markets selling wood carvings, fabrics, longyis and rattan goods. We also saw Myanmar’s famous lacquerware being made. Then we hired a horse-drawn cart and explored this enchanting area on our own. Mid-morning the Road To Mandalay began its cruise north towards Mandalay. We relaxed on the top deck and watched the fascinating river life glide by. Our guide gave lectures on local places and customs then the ship moored mid-river for the evening and we enjoyed a casual cocktail party followed by dinner on board.
Day 3 we arrived at the village of Shwe Kyet Yet after lunch. In the afternoon, there was a guided tour of the key sights of Mandalay regarded as the centre of Burmese culture and Buddhist learning. Then we returned to Road To Mandalay stopping enroute to take in the sunset over the river. Dinner and local entertainment was on board.
This morning we cruised to Mingun to visit the most important sights such as the very pretty Hsinbyume Pagoda and the world’s largest uncracked bell. Then returned by ferry for a late lunch. In the afternoon we visited the Sagaing Hills, considered to be the living centre of the Buddhist faith in Burma. Sagaing is also famous for its silver and silversmiths who still work in much the same way as their ancestors did. We closed another wonderful day with dinner and local entertainment on board.
After an early breakfast we transferred to Mandalay airport for our flight to Yangon. Once we arrived and checked into our hotel, the bus was there to take us to the awe inspiring Shwedagon Temple. Gleaming in gold and decorated with diamonds, the huge Shwedagon Pagoda (also Shwe Dagon Pagoda or Shwedagon Paya) in Yangon is a spectacular work of Burmese temple architecture and is the holiest Buddhist shrine in Myanmar.
This was one of the most amazing journeys we have ever taken, which is saying a lot, as we have been traveling and living in most parts of the globe since 1992. We are so grateful for the opportunity, and hope to do it again. Want to join us!