Myanmar on the Mind
Editor’s Note: It should go without saying that in many ways, travelling is an act of trust: trust that you will find your way, trust in people to assist and share in some local knowledge, even the trust that you’ll emerge from your journey with a fresh perspective and appreciation for a locale that was such an unknown just days or weeks earlier.
Of course the farther afield we travel, it seems, the more keenly we feel this sense of reliance upon others. Sheila McCracken placed her trust squarely upon the shoulders of B&R on a recent edition of our Myanmar Biking trip. Below, she provides us with a firsthand account of why trusting in B&R made for an extremely memorable experience.
Myanmar: A “Must-Do” Country
Having just signed up for my 20th trip with Butterfield & Robinson, I really don’t question why I travel to a specific destination anymore. With B&R, I just do it. It’s not about bucket lists for me, rather I’m drawn in by the mystery and intrigue of countries. We have often chosen our next destination based on our B&R guide’s suggestions. We trust their travel experiences and trust that they will “guide” us to our next destination. In the case of Myanmar, it was a few years back that Tom Abraham (our guide for Bhutan and now, a friend) suggested it was a “must-do” country—one of his all-time favourite Asian countries.
Naturally, Myanmar did not disappoint and as always, B&R offered insights into a country few have travelled. The sweet nature of the people—and doesn’t it always come down to the people?—was a highlight for us. Our local guide Cho Cho was informative and, more than anything, wanted us to experience the kindness of her people. At the end of the trip she emphasized not just the importance of visiting her country for its beauty, but because it truly helped her countrymen.
My husband had a lovely conversation with Cho Cho one morning asking why the average life expectancy for men was 64 while the women’s was 78. She responded, “Women talk with each other, supporting each other through life’s challenges, while the men smoke cheerots, drink too much and don’t talk.” No matter where one travels, those similarities persist!
Changing a Family’s Life
While Bagan is celebrated for its unique beauty (it was stunning), we were most touched by our travels in and around Inle Lake. The spectacular beauty of quietly arriving at sunset, paddling in to the Inle Princess Resort was worth the long journey. We loved the daily boat rides, observing as men fished, admiring children as they paddled to school and especially the experience of looking on as the monk blessed four newly built homes, which were generously donated by B&R as well as those of us in attendance.
As our group was divided up between each home, we witnessed the monks chanting and blessing the new home. We were given gifts of food and drink in return for our kindness but more importantly, given the experience of seeing firsthand how we could help change a family’s life.
For us, Inle Lake represents Myanmar’s most unique region and was distinct from all other areas where we ventured. Having been to Angkor Wat in Cambodia and seen its amazing archaeological sites, temples, pagodas and stupphas, Inle Lake stands as a rare experience. The hospitality and creative design confirms the Inle Princess Resort as the jewel of accommodations. The spa is something to behold and the four-handed massage is a treatment like no other. Add to that the inviting rooms, wonderful service and creative touches of the owners, and there’s no end of reasons to stay.
Another memorable experience was our time aboard the RV Paukan. Our cabin doors swung open to reveal captivating scenes along the Ayeyarwardy River. We could have easily spent another day lounging and taking in the scenery this way.
The food throughout the trip was wonderful and the diversity of choices was an unexpected pleasure. Thankfully, there was no concern for stomach ailments thanks to the team at B&R ensuring quality control. Thank you for re-introducing Myanmar to the roster of your trips. And thanks to Tom Abraham who suggested we consider travelling to one of his favourite countries. Remember this—it’s often your guides who give a hint of where to travel next, and this country certainly did not disappoint.