Archive for the Category »Burma «

May
20th
  Why Burma is the Hot Spot

The president of Burma, Thein Sein, is in the United States and will visit the White House today. This is significant because it is the first Burmese leader to do since since 1966 .  President Obama’s visit to the Southeast Asia country in November was the very first by a U.S. sitting president!

Because of this new relationship, Burma is a hot ticket for travelers these days!

Decades long sanctions have been lifted against Burma –  so travelers are clamoring to visit the region before it is overrun with American fast food chains. (Warning though – some don’t agree with the sanctions being lifted and argue that Burma still has a lot to do in the way of human rights and preventing ethnic violence.)

American businesses are dying to get a piece of the 60 million Burmese…. and change is coming fast. In the two years that the civilian govt has been in place and some sanctions lifted, Ford is opening a car dealership this summer, Coca-Cola will be on the streets, and Hilton is working on a hotel among other things

From travelindochina.com

So now is a good time to go if you want to see it while still pure. But – just know, the infrastructure is pretty primitive compared to other Asian countries.

I visited last year…. and blogged about it. But Burma is still a hot topic and I wanted to post again, because you will surely be hearing more and more about it – especially with the president of Burma in the US today.

I was lucky enough to travel around Burma by sailboat along the coast and through islands.

Burma

I never saw another tourist, and there are very few hotels.

 

Burma

The water was beautiful…

 

and we encountered many local villages on the water…

 

and local fisherman to whom we brought gifts.

It was a trip of many water sports.

Burma

 

But you can also visit by land. It is a spiritual place, with many temples.

Burma is not the cleanest of countries… and hotels aren’t four star by any means. But strangely enough, you are still required to take off your shoes upon entering some temples.

The markets revealed the low standard of living.

From ancientwonders.com

Most tourists visit the magical town of Bagan in the Mandalay region…. known for its more than 2000 spiritual temples. I’d like to go there some day. And, if possible, before there is a Starbucks on every street corner. But change is a coming… and fast!

I wouldn’t bring my kids because I can’t say I would feel comfortable in a medical emergency. I’d highly recommend an organized tour if you want to go. They are more and more available – another sign of the times in Burma.

 

 

 
Mar
29th
  Comfort Food Travel: Out on the Water

I recently turned to my young daughter while in an airport and had a senior moment. “Ava… WHAT CITY ARE WE IN ?”

I’d rather think of it as a rock star moment, caused by waking up in many different destinations, and exhaustion from fun late nights and rock n roll.

It might be because I HAVE been on the road a lot this year…. but have also gone down some new roads in life which have left me preoccupied.

A close friend, diagnosed with a terrible disease, at too young an age.

My daughter, possibly leaving the womb of her tight knit soccer team to join a club team.

So.. after that little cathartic rant, can I ask – aren’t we all longing for that peaceful place?  Where in the world have you been that you just feel it in your bones… a place that goes right to the core of you? Where do you feel a worldly connection?

I call it comfort food travel -For me…. one obvious place is out on the water. It is a unique, and peaceful perspective from which to admire the world…and the rhythm of the gentle waves reverberates for days after. There are many destinations in the world where you can access the ocean, bay, etc and here are a few suggestions:

SUP -Stand Up Paddling or kayaking- If you’ve never tried it, there are schools all over the world to help you. It is always fun to learn something new on a trip – let this be your take away.

Burma

You get up close with the marine life, admiring brightly colored coral and schools of fish. (I SUPed over baby sharks here in Burma!) No to mention, bring a friend and it is a bonding outing.

www.balisupschool.com in Bali.

www.standuppadlesurfschool.com in Maui.

www.360surfschoolcancun.com

Lucky Catch Cruises, Portland Maine

A working lobster boat in Maine:

If you make it to Portland Maine, you gotta take a Lucky Catch Cruise. This is one of my travel highlights – Capt Tom takes you out on his lobster boat during lobster season, and involves you in the process of catching lobster – a huge industry for the state of Maine. Kids are more than welcome, and learn so much about the cycle of food – from the bottom of the ocean to your dinner plate. You can buy the lobster you catch for a mere $5!!

To top it off, on a nice day it is a relaxing cruise where you can take in the gorgeous Maine coastline and some iconic lighthouses. I will write more about this one of a kind experience at the beginning of lobster season.

www.luckycatch.com

Newport Beach

Rent an electric boat: This is fun because you can be your own captain.

You can rent these little electric boats that fit about 10 people, and cruise through many water ways in the U.S. Florida, Maryland, and here in California to name a few. It’s not expensive, and they don’t go fast for you first timers. It doesn’t have to be summer – You can pull down plastic covers to block the breeze….

…Here in California, this winter night is crisp and clear. It gets more crowded and harder to rent in the summer.

www.duffyboatsflorida.com

www.experiencetheduffyboat.com

www.duffyofnewportbeach.com

Venice, Italy, 1988

A gondola ride in Italy:

- Really… I know it can be touristy, but ya gotta do it once. The first time I rode on the canals of Venice, I felt like I had been there in former lives. As you look out on the palaces along the Grand Canal, you are enveloped in the blanket of old world charm. A 60 minute ride typically costs about 100 euro, but you can try to negotiate.

A much less costly option is to take a vaporetto ride on the Grand Canal.

Take a ski boat or a fishing boat out – These can be arranged at most hotels in Cabo…

Florida Keys

or Florida. Once again, another fun activity for kids.

As we enter spring…  be mindful of what floats your boat, and go for it. You deserve the fun… and comfort.

 
Mar
05th
  Bikinis in Burma

Burma/Myanmar,  has probably not been at the top of your travel list. Until recently, this South East Asia country was boycotted by travelers because of a hard line military government, that disallowed opposition to its rule. Economic sanctions have been in place for decades.

But now, the Burmese democratic opposition is supporting responsible travel to Burma… (avoid tourist establishments with ties to the govt.) & the boycott: lifted.

On the way to Burma

So it’s time to go!

Somewhere in the Andaman Sea..far far from home.

I just went with four girlfriends… although we saw this undeveloped country from a unique perspective: from a boat in bikinis almost 24/7.

Yes, I visited the mainland town of Kawthoung…

Mergui Archipelago, Burma

but I spent most of my 8 days cruising the some of the hundreds of islands in the Mergui Archipelago  in the Andaman Sea, just off the coast of Burma.

How you travel there is up to you. Staying on land: it is very rough. Gotta be careful about what you eat… it is very primitive and raw – not many places like this left in the world. Very little internet service – it is reported on www.travel.state.gov that one tourist at a hotel tried sending a photo via email and was charged $2000. The govt reportedly views all emails as well. But – the things to see on land are incredible.

By sea: Gorgeous. Peaceful. And I admit – totally decadent. Not many people can afford to charter a yacht and do this.

Having said that, going by sea is a subject about worth learning…. There are responsible tours that don’t  have ties to the govt & help locals. These tour groups can assist you plan and even charter your own yacht.

We had a fantastic guide with us the entire time and felt completely safe. The locals we encountered were kind and happy to see us -

some invited us into their homes…

and the fishermen invited us on their boats.

It is an utterly different world, and snatched a piece of my soul.

To travel by boat, you get to visit places where there are no other tourists… we didn’t see any at all, except a Russian dive boat, and probably saw total about 40 other people/locals the entire time we were there.

We were anchoring at uninhabited islands… stand up paddling every morning to a beautiful sunrise…

walking every day on virgin sand littered with whole, unbroken shells.

Our favorite we named ‘Sand Dollar Beach” because curiously enough, only sand dollars littered the shore.

And did I mention oh so blue turquoise waters?

We sailed near dolphins…

and witnessed sunsets that would make even non-believers faithful.

Another advantage of the boat: We also felt safe eating the food because our crew stocked it form safe sources.

In my upcoming posts I will highlight specific islands or attractions from my trip. This is just a brief overview.. I know I can’t do this trip justice, but I will try. :)

If you are at all interested in exploring this region of the beautiful world, here are some sources – I can’t recommend them personally because I’ve never used them, but it is a place to start. Like I always say, “Dream Big.”

Some of the yachting companies I’ve researched charge around $1800 per person for 7 nights… that includes food and water activities – no entry visas, etc. The fuel is really expensive, so with the price of gas going up, so may your chartered yacht experience.

www.interyachtcharter.com

http://www.seasia.biz/CHARTER/default_charter.htm

www.goodnewstravels.com

Also a good current resource is www.lonelyplanet.com/myanmar-burma.

I didn’t find our own government’s website to be as current.