“In the elephant logging camp, we helped the driver-trainers, or oozies, with their daily routine, then welcomed them to a feast prepared by our travelling chef.”
From a client’s travelogue:
Gazing up at the majestic pagoda of Shwedagon, the amber light of sunset glinting off its golden dome, the tinkling of thousands of bells filling the air, I thought of how incredibly far I’d travelled – on the planet and in my life – to reach this place I’d dreamed of since reading Kipling as a child. After working with the Brown + Hudson team to craft my ideal bespoke adventure, at last I could discover for myself the wonders of Burma (or Myanmar, as we seem to be calling it now) and make a personal connection with its gracious, deeply spiritual people.
From the capital Rangoon (now Yangon) we travelled north into the Himalayan foothills, then down through the jungles and archipelagos of the south. We explored the headwaters of the Ayeyarwaddy, walked pristine beaches, chatted with artisans in colourful markets and visited glorious Bagan, with its sea of ancient pagodas. We visited royal Mandalay, a thriving city at once engaged in preserving Myanmar’s heritage and leading the nation into the modern world.
The fact is there’s just too much to set down coherently. A few more memories:
• Staying in a traditional teak house (with modern amenities) at Inle, where we joined in the tasks of village life – and our Intha friends proudly introduced us to their tranquil lake, with its floating lily gardens and famous leg rowers.
• Visiting a monastery and hearing about the paths to enlightenment from the abbot (whose spirit was so powerful, even the kids and my atheist husband were captivated).
• Talking over a meal with local politicians and journalists about the recent changes that have seen Myanmar’s ruling regime begin inching away from pariah status.
• Rising at 4:30 a.m. for a private balloon flight over the temples of Bagan – a sight so incredible I’d get up that early any day to see it again.
• Flying by helicopter to Mount Popa, a breathtaking peak crowned with golden stupas.
• Journeying by chartered plane and 4x4s to Putao wilderness lodge in the rainforest, then hiking and rafting along the Ayeyarwaddy – in the northern region bordered between China and India – while learning about the Kachin people’s animist beliefs.
• And concluding with our private cruise in the Mergui Archipelago – great diving and snorkelling for the kids, plus fishing lessons from the friendly Salone “sea gypsies.”
And amid the sights, sounds, smells and memorable experiences at every turn, we discovered Myanmar’s greatest treasure: the Burmese people who, as in Kipling’s time, are the number one reason to visit this magnificent land.”
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