Ever since I started working at The Adventure Travel Company back in November, I’ve had my eye on Burma / Myanmar. I’ll be honest. I know very little about it … and, it may surprise you to know that I plan to keep it that way until I travel there.
Can you imagine traveling to a place you’ve never been, on the other side of the world and knowing nothing about it?
So many people out there won’t even step out of their ‘Caribbean’ vacation comfort zone or off the resort, let alone go to a country that still has some civil unrest and is little known to the world.
Some of you may ask ‘How do you know you want to go there if you know nothing about it?’
Well, isn’t that the question of the day!
Here’s what I know about Burma:
It has not always been open to tourists.
Tourism is permitted, but is regulated. Some people agree with these regulations. Some don’t.
It is in Asia, just west of Thailand and south of China.
Some areas still regularly have civil unrest (but then again so does much of the world!)
It is hot and humid.
I look at that list and think, wow … that sounds like a pretty poor list.
And then I think about the possibilities!
The reason I want to go is because it is such a new destination for tourism and it isn’t popular yet. Lots of people have been to China, Thailand, Vietnam … but who do you know that has been to Burma? (In 3 months, you can say you know me … and at that time I will be on my way to Burma)
I can’t wait to be part of the chaos of tourism where all the bugs aren’t worked out yet. I can’t wait to be one of the few (relatively speaking) travellers in the world who have experienced Burma. I can’t wait to be surrounded by locals and not looking at the land being overrun by tourists. I can’t wait to take my camera everywhere with me and capture hundreds of photos.
I am picking away at some research about Burma as there are things I need to know before I go.
I’ll be making my appointment with Napier Travel Health soon to find out what vaccines are required or that I need updated before I go. I don’t know for sure if I need to get my yellow fever vaccine or not, but with much more travel to do in the next few years, it is probably about time that I just get it. It’s good for 10 years, so I can have it again when I’m 45 and be covered for another 10 years.
I’ll be starting my visa applications soon as I need them for Burma, Vietnam and Cambodia. That’s a lot of paperwork! And, for at least two of those I think I have to send my passport away. Don’t want to leave that until last minute!
As of yet, I haven’t gotten down to the nitty gritty of learning any of the language or even finding out what currency is used there, but I know that ATMs are hard to come by, so I’ll have to take a chunk of cash with me and pay for everything I can before I go.
I also know there is an optional activity to do hot air ballooning for sunrise or sunset on one of our days. I don’t care if sunrise is at 4am, I’m going to be on one of those balloons! And I can’t wait to write the blog post about it! Then, if it isn’t raining, I plan to pay the money to do it again for sunset (if I like the sun rise one!)
I also found out today that I’m going to be there during monsoon season. So, looks like I’m going to be looking for some waterproof things before I go!
Other than that, I know that Burma has a war-torn history and is still sorting things out. I know that it has an amazingly beautiful, but crazy Paper Balloon Festival where groups of people get together to decorate beautiful paper balloons, then they attach lights and fireworks to the basket and send it up in the air, unmanned! The fireworks then shoot out (and down) toward the crowd. I won’t be there for this festival, but watched several videos about it over the weekend. Most of the videos show balloons crashing, but this video showed a beautiful balloon rising up up and away, the way it is meant to!
Here’s a quick overview of what my tour will be covering … take a look at some of the activities and locations on line if you wish … for me, I’d rather see it with my own eyes than have it tainted by someone else’s opinion before I get there. I’ll form my own opinion, for better or worse and I can’t wait to share it (for those who do like tainted views and choose to read mine when I return).
Day 1 – Yangon (capital)
Day 2 – Shwedagon Pagoda. Overnight bus to Mandalay.
Day 3 – Mingun – cruising up the river. Yadanabon market.
Day 4 & 5 – Bagan temples guided bike tour, sunrise or sunset hot air balloon ride over Bagan (super excited about all of this!)
Day 6 – Visit local villages & Elephant conservation centre where I’ll get to wash and feed the elephants. (crazy excited about this too!) Ride the elephants and trek into the jungle.
Day 7 – Inle Lake visiting floating gardens and sampling local tea. Visit a local market & local cheroot factory. (I don’t know what cheroot is yet!)
Day 8 – Travel back to Yangon – visit local markets, view colonial buildings, enjoy the Yangon river. Visit the Shwedagon Pagoda, illuminated at night.
Day 9 – Depart Yangon & off to Vietnam (I think!)