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Old 23.09.2011, 09:56
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Tour of Myanmar

Hi all,

While looking for possible vacation destinations for a trip in January, I stumbled upon a travel offer that picked my curiosity, and I am seriously considering it. It works out perfectly in terms of travel period, it is within my travel budget, and that time of year is apparently the best (climate-wise) to travel in the country.

It is a 10-day tour of Myanmar: Yangon, Lake Inle, Mandalay, Bagan. Added bonus: a 2-day stopover in Singapore, where I have friends I would love to visit. I have never been to Asia, so that is an added plus.

I admit I was looking at totally different destinations, but the more I think about it, the more I am liking the idea. Any thoughts from someone who has been there already? Any absolute must-see or absolute don'ts?

I will be reading up a lot on the country, but I would like to know your experiences.

Thanks in advance.
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  #2  
Old 23.09.2011, 10:00
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Re: Tour of Myanmar

Get yourself the book "The Glass Palace".

Burma had some of the most beautiful palaces in Asia, but those that actually survived the English Empire, where either destroyed by later wars or earthquakes. Most buildings are (not so good) reconstructions (yes yes yes, I'm a bit of a prick when it comes to architectural holidays ).

Other than that, it's in my list of places to see. I have family members that went there and loved it.
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Old 23.09.2011, 10:11
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Re: Tour of Myanmar

You might still make it to find free or very low cost flights within SE Asia ( also from Paris Orly to KL for less than EUR200 ) via AirAsia. They had a huge promotion 2 days ago, servers crashing and all that.

http://www.airasia.com/my/en/home.html

http://www.airasia.com/sg/en/promotion/rr1780510.page
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  #4  
Old 23.09.2011, 10:20
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Re: Tour of Myanmar

.
i have absolutely no hesitations in recommending it - it really is one of those places that just blows you away, for so many reasons.

I could fish out and post up some pics if you'd want? If not, no problem

If you really go have the chance, go!

(Am hoping to head back there next year, too )

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You might still make it to find free or very low cost flights within SE Asia ( also from Paris Orly to KL for less than EUR200 ) via AirAsia.
I think the problem's usually not really the flights, it's getting the entry visa if you're not going with a "recognised" tour operator.
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Old 23.09.2011, 10:43
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Re: Tour of Myanmar

One of the world's most respected and recognised Political Freedom / Human Rights advocates and Noble Prize for Peace winners - Aung San Suu Kyi - has asked tourists to boycott going to Burma / Myanmar (Her life is being serialised in a new film).

Also, she presented some of the prestigious BBC Reith Lectures this year. Listen to one here.

I find it strange that Myanmar / Burma is so loved by Swiss people, willingly blind that it's a pariah state and the common people live in terrible conditions.

Read up a bit perhaps before spending your CHFs. Your money won't be going into the hands of the people. The Piedmont is lovely at any time of year...

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Old 23.09.2011, 10:48
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Re: Tour of Myanmar

Thank you Uncle Max, I agree with you, Burma is not on my list. Why not try Cambodia, that has not been spoilt yet (Or has it?)
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Old 23.09.2011, 16:16
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Re: Tour of Myanmar

Many thanks to everyone for the inputs and insights, I appreciate it very much
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Old 23.09.2011, 16:33
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Re: Tour of Myanmar

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Thank you Uncle Max, I agree with you, Burma is not on my list. Why not try Cambodia, that has not been spoilt yet (Or has it?)
I think it has... I'd recommend Laos instead (i was there in 1996) although that also probably isn't what it used to be anymore.

Myself, I intend to go to North Korea early next year.
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Old 23.09.2011, 20:02
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Re: Tour of Myanmar

North Korea!!! geezeee! even worse than myanmar in ethical terms
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  #10  
Old 23.09.2011, 20:18
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Re: Tour of Myanmar

How about Syria? That should be exciting.

Seriously, the eastern coast of Malaysia is unspoilt.
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Old 23.09.2011, 20:49
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Re: Tour of Myanmar

Arguments both ways ... had a similar discussion when I lived in Beijing and a few people booked a tour to N Korea.

Tourism either ... helps the economy, helps some local people, allows some news in and out, and encourages the country to open up. Or ... validates a dictatorship, gives foreign currency to the elite, forces locals to act happy and make up stories as prompted by your "minders".

I didn't go to N Korea as I went for the "or". Not sure where Burma fits in the scheme of things.
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Old 23.09.2011, 21:11
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Re: Tour of Myanmar

Burma is on my bucket list, but I won't go and support the economy of the current regime.

Thailand feels like a tourist trap but very rich in culture and history.

Cambodia is still very much developing and transforming very rapidly. The recent history of the Khmer Rouge is fresh on people's minds and it's worth while to hear the oral histories while they're still alive. Finding someone willing to teach you their story can eye opening.
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Old 23.09.2011, 22:28
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Re: Tour of Myanmar

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How about Syria? That should be exciting.

Seriously, the eastern coast of Malaysia is unspoilt.
Was in Syria 2 years ago already A beautiful country, fascinating historical sites (crusader castles of the type that go far beyond a childs imagination of "cool" castles, for instance), fantastic food, very friendly people, etc. - highly recommended, although probably not now.
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Old 25.09.2011, 13:00
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Re: Tour of Myanmar

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How about Syria? That should be exciting.

Seriously, the eastern coast of Malaysia is unspoilt.
Thanks Ittigen. Unfortunately, Syria is impossible, because I have about 30+ stamps of Israel in my passport, I intend to travel to the country again in the near future, and I don't want to deal with the hassle of justifying my travels to Israel in Arab countries (if they would let me in at all, that is...) or viceversa, explaining to the Israeli border control at the airport why I went to Syria. Gag...

My original idea, when I stumbled upon the travel option for Myanmar, was actually to do a tour of Cuba, which I've wanted to visit for years but I didn't want to deal with the hassle while I was living in the US in the last few years (similar reasoning as above) - I mean, I am not a US citizen and was not in principle forbidden to go, but explain it to the border control guy in Atlanta who decides about letting you back into the country or not, right?

Anyway, thanks again to all. Uncle Max, I had heard of the fight and struggles of Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, to be honest just by name but didn't know her full story. Now I am more knowledgeable about her story, so thank you for sharing that.

Having said this, I am a "see with your own eyes" kind of person, so I'll keep thinking about it. Meanwhile, I got "The Glass Palace" - thanks Helm.
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Old 25.09.2011, 13:30
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Re: Tour of Myanmar

I've never been to Myanmar but my husband has for business purpose as the textile industry is present there and he really likes it. all of my friends who have travelled there as tourists absolutely loved it. if this destination is your first idea I would definitely pursue , now to add on the lists given by the other posters nd if you are in search of adventure, I would add Buthan and Tibet ( if you can avoid having to go through the chinese that is!).
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Old 25.09.2011, 21:42
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Re: Tour of Myanmar

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One of the world's most respected and recognised Political Freedom / Human Rights advocates and Noble Prize for Peace winners
...
Read up a bit perhaps before spending your CHFs. Your money won't be going into the hands of the people. The Piedmont is lovely at any time of year...
...
How foolish of me to have an opinion based on knowledge on the ground - thank you for correcting me, Uncle Max

.
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Old 25.09.2011, 22:37
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Re: Tour of Myanmar

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Was in Syria 2 years ago already A beautiful country, fascinating historical sites (crusader castles of the type that go far beyond a childs imagination of "cool" castles, for instance), fantastic food, very friendly people, etc. - highly recommended, although probably not now.
I was touring Iraq during the first gulf war. Nice, very cultural, though had to take care to miss the scuds. Prob not the same place now I guess.

Also did a nice tour of al Qaeda controlled Afghanistan during the American invasion. Actually got to meet osama and ate some goat soup with him. I hear it's more touristy now so if your only into real raw countries I'd also head for north Korea, it's the only place left for the 'real' traveller.
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Old 26.09.2011, 08:35
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Re: Tour of Myanmar

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Having said this, I am a "see with your own eyes" kind of person, so I'll keep thinking about it. Meanwhile, I got "The Glass Palace" - thanks Helm.
No problem! It's an awesome book. I learnt a lot about Burma because of it (and about the second world war on that side of the planet to be honest). It gave me tons of tips and made my own research because of the things told inside.

It's a bit fat, but it's very well writen.

And Syria has some of the most beautiful ruins of the ancient world. I didn't have enough of it in the Pergamon Museum. I hope I'll be able to see them in my life time
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Old 14.11.2011, 11:54
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Re: Tour of Myanmar

Hi all, quick update: first, I loved, loved, loved "The Glass Palace". It is an excellent book, and I am recommending it to everyone. It will be one of the very few books I will read again and again in the future.

Second, I read, studied, and thought a lot. I considered all pros and cons, timing, moral considerations, convenience considerations, etc. and I decided to postpone at an indefinite date any travels to Myanmar.

Instead, assuming my in-progress visa request is approved, I am going to an eco-tourist African home lodge on the Eastern coast of Ghana, between two small villages. I will be getting my hands dirty with cooking local foods, my ears full with storytelling in the local school, and visiting places of historic interests which, sadly, are there to remind us of one of the darkest and most shameful pages in human history, slavery.

I am looking forward to this. Not so much looking forward to all the vaccinations I have to do (if my visa is approved, of course). By the way, if anyone needs a recommendation for a travel clininc in Zurich, I have an excellent one from a Swiss friend of mine, and they speak very good English, although the website is in German: http://www.travelclinic.ch/. Cheers!
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