Burma or Myanmar is a wonderful country. Most people apart from the government and military call it Burma! We chose to go with ‘All Points East’ who are recommended by the Responsible Travel Group because they offer a holiday encompassing the real Burma. The first morning we went on the local train in Yangon! It was at the time of the rail strikes here. No rail strikes in Yangon. No guards or ticket collectors to go on strike! To get to the platform opposite you walk across the track. All doors are permanently open. The market is right along the track. The people smile at one another and at you!
We saw many Buddhist temples and colonial buildings. The pagodas are all amazing from the ones tumbling down to the wonderful Dagon Pagoda in Yangon. We saw hundreds counting all the small ones.
We loved the girl following our horse and cart, from whom I eventually bought a bracelet and a small elephant, which I didn’t need but her English was so good and she followed us for miles on her bicycle!
We walked in the countryside and attended a wedding reception, which was a surprise!
And we went down the road to Mandalay, which is of course the Irrawaddy river. Lake Inle is an amazing experience, which will be ruined by tourist boats unless something is done soon.
The pluses of this holiday and travel company are many. You get a ‘real’ Burma experience in a very small group – there were 7 in ours. You experience things other travel companies don’t offer at a realistic price. The minuses are few but important. The air quality in cities like Yangon is poor. The food is variable. The best meal we had was in an Italian restaurant! Some of the Thai food was very good and some not. The tipping is not explained beforehand and you certainly need 100+$ to cover it. The guides are all local, which is excellent for their economy but some were much better than others. Our All Points East representative left early so the last day we were left to our own devices!
Overall this was a real once in a lifetime holiday. I don’t want to return but loved it while I was there. If you want to go do it soon before places like Lake Inle are spoiled and while the Irrawaddy river still has water in it!