Buddhist monks outside Mahamuni Paya, Mandalay, Burma
March 10, 2017
Kipling & Clark
Global Private Travel Snapshot
Greetings friends, clients, and trusted global suppliers!
Having visited Burma four times (!), it is no secret that this destination is perhaps our Lynch family favorite country in all of Southeast Asia.
Though we very much enjoy the more developed Southeast Asian countries of Thailand, Vietnam, et al., we feel Buddhist-centered Burma offers a more authentic, pristine, culturally-compelling private tour experience.
Based on the country’s recent political reforms and rapid ascendancy of Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma has opened up dramatically. Due in part to Burma’s self-imposed isolation, Western influence, particularly the grittier commercial aspects, is not to be found here. You will see few Burmese dressed in Western garb and you will see no Starbucks or McDonalds here (yet!).
100 years ago, Rudyard Kipling visited Burma and “thought it quite unlike any land you know about”. We fully agree!
Enjoy perusing our various Burma observations/images, an ideal destination for a unique family, private tour, as well as “Zen’s journal”.
Many thanks for giving us the opportunity to serve you + safe travels!
CEO Kipling & Clark and travNET
Best Burma Travel Times:
Late October through early March
Burma vs. Myanmar Country Designation
Though we have used both Myanmar & Burma country designations, we prefer to
follow the “Burma” name as recommended by the BBC. The name “Myanmar” was actually created by the ruling military junta back in 1989, though most Burmese, as well as their democracy-movement leader Aung San Suu Kyi, prefer the name “Burma”.
Ananda River Vessel
We love the luxury Sanctuary Ananda Irrawaddy river vessel! Inaugurated in 2014, this 21 all-suite boat surely lifts Burma river cruising to a whole new high-touch, luxury level. Limited to 41 passengers, the Ananda offers numerous amenities including its own spa, gym, and cabins that have individually controlled air conditioning (a real blessing given Burma’s stifling heat). The luxury suites provide private butler service, “monsoon” showers, and L’Occitane en Provence bathroom amenities (yes, a piece of our beloved Provence on the Irrawaddy!). Similar to the more 4-Star Paukan vessels, the new Ananda’s shallow draft allows village stopovers along the river which makes the cruise so much more culturally compelling versus the much larger, ponderous Road to Mandalay luxury vessel unable to make such stops. During the journey, you may admire the natural beauty of the river and the life of its banks while relaxing on the sundeck or just sitting outside your own cabin.
Unique to Burma and prized as a sunblocker, thanaka is commonly applied to the face of women and girls . We particularly enjoy seeing the many thanaka designs among the very young throughout the country. This yellowish-white paste from tree bark is certainly Burma’s global fashion statement.
Yangon’s Colonial Architecture
The Secretariat isan impressive, brick labyrinth and former colonial government headquarters of General Aung San, the father of Burmese independence who was assassinated in 1947.
With the many foreign investors, including high-end restaurateurs settling into newly-opened Yangon, the city is playing a frenetic sense of catch up. In the midst of Yangon’s economic transition, our hope is that the city is able to conserve and restore its rich legacy of 19th and 20th century British colonial buildings. Of special note are the red brick Secretariat (seat of the Gov. 1890-1948,) the current dilapidated teak Pegu Club, and the imposing Myanmar Railways Building (to be developed by Peninsula Hotels). A first-hand view of these architectural gems is a big bonus for any private touring of Yangon and is always on our list of stopovers.
Belmond Governor’s Residence, Yangon
The 49-room Belmond Governor’s Residence is by far our favorite luxury property in Yangon. Located in the leafy, embassy district of the city, the rooms have a nice aesthetic with local Burmese wares displayed throughout. The hotel’s main building is a historical 1920’s teak mansion with a nice wrap-around porch, adjacent to gardens across a tranquil lily pond. We enthusiastically recommend the property’s Oasis Spa. The Governor’s Residence is a particularly special place in the evening, with the property and lush grounds illuminated. Wi-Fi also works here!
U Bein Teak Bridge
Among our favorite sunset points anywhere, the 1.2km/0.75mi U Bein Teak Bridge, built in 1850, near Mandalay is believed to be the oldest and longest teak wood bridge in the world.
We feel Inle Lake to be the most picturesque, verdant, and idyllic area in all of Burma. Inle Lake, on the Shan Plateau, is an oasis where you will see the unique methods of farming and fishing which sustain the local residents. Fishing is done by means of a conical trap containing a net that the fisherman thrusts to the bottom of the lake when they see movement. All this is done while the fisherman perches tenuously on the boat stern with one foot while twisting his other leg around a long oar to propel the boat! The lakeside and islands are sprinkled with stilted villages inhabited by the resourceful Intha people. Scattered among the various shorelines are an estimated one hundred monasteries and a thousand pagodas (!)
Bagan is to Burma what Angkor Wat is to Cambodia. It is one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia – over 2,000 pagodas, stupas, temples, and monasteries were built during the Bagan Dynasty in 1044 AD. About a millennium ago, King Anawrahta, Burma’s unifier, brought the best builders from around his empire to establish a capital on the Irrawaddy River. King Anawrahta had allied himself with distant Ceylon (Sri Lanka), which sent architects to Bagan, building gleaming, bell-shaped gold domes that remain amid the weathered stupas and broken terraces. In contrast to Angkor’s jungle setting, Bagan’s open spaces emphasize solitude. Sunrise ballooning over Bagan is an experience that cannot be missed!
Now Business Class on domestic Myanmar Flights
Myanmar’s new all-jet carrier, FMI Air, has begun Business Class on the country’s internal flights. With three new CRI 200 jets, maintained by Canada-based JD Aero Maintenance Company, FMI represents a big step up in terms of the country’s service, safety, and comfort. Having experienced quite a few internal flight delays/mishaps by government-affiliated Burmese carriers in the past, we are elated with FMI’s inauguration!
Greetings Fellow Global Teen Travelers!
Being the last week of prep of our Francis Parker Spring Music, “Wiz”, my stagecraft duties are running late every night! Promise to get back to all of you next week!
In case you missed my Botswana Sanctuary Chief’s Camp vlog!