Meandering the Irrawaddy on an eye-opening cruise in Myanmar (Burma) from Bhamo to Bagan

Cruising south on the Irrawaddy River through Myanmar is a lesson about the impacts of tourism. The farther south you go from remote Bhamo toward busy-but-beautiful Bagan, the closer you get to the more beaten track where souvenir sellers await and beggars line the paths to some of the most amazing temple ruins in the world. Best travel plan: Get a good look at the Bagan temples at sunset, then head north. Myanmar, which was off-limits to …

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The road to Mandalay: Post-Cruise journey to Shan State

ABOARD KINDAT PANDAW-Early on a cool, rainy morning, the first such weather of our trip, we downed a cold buffet breakfast and bade last minute “good-byes” before our guide arrived to transport us to Mandalay Airport. An hour’s drive from the “jetty” we boarded a plane for Heho, the airport that serves Inle Lake and other destinations in southern Shan State. We mentioned in our first post having arranged for pre-and post-cruise visits, beginning in Yangon before …

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The road to Mandalay: Reflections on a remarkable journey

ABOARD KINDAT PANDAW-Myanmar (formerly Burma) may not be at the top of the list for the occasional or less adventurous traveler. But for those seeking a traditional society and culture not yet overwhelmed by modernization, it’s got to be on a pretty short list of destinations. We think it noteworthy that all passengers aboard our Kindat Pandaw cruise were well-traveled. Most, if not all our fellow passengers have traveled to more places than we have, though we …

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The Road to Mandalay: Yandabo, peaceful if not prosperous – 6

ABOARD RV KINDAT PANDAW – Yesterday evening we enjoyed watching the crew moor our vessel to the riverbank. As we slowly edged toward the bank, depth was sounded employing a long, marked stick. A couple of crew members jumped ashore and drove a stake into the damp soil securing the mooring line to the stake. Then they secured that stake with additional stakes and lines so that any tension on the main mooring line would pull the …

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The Road to Mandalay: Experiencing the generosity of Myanmar’s people – 5

ABOARD RV KINDAT PANDAW – Perfectly timed to coincide with the hot-air balloon launch, we cast-off from Bagan just at sunrise. It made for a memorable vision, but caused a small pang of regret that we hadn’t managed to go up in one ourselves. The unfolding day promised a more relaxing schedule with a single 2.5 hour excursion to the bustling town of Pakokku, this time by tuk tuk. Kindat Pandaw nosed into the bank at Pakokku …

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The Road to Mandalay: Mingalabar in Yangon – 2

We were scheduled to arrive in Yangon, Myanmar’s (Burma’s) former capital, largest city and commercial hub around 00:10 AM. Needless to say, connections from Hong Kong airport to our destination leave something to be desired. If that weren’t enough, a delayed fight involving a double flip of gate assignments at our jumping-off point pushed our arrival back to a 1:00 AM. Our guide, Ye greeted us at Yangon airport after we navigated immigration, and whisked us through …

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The Road to Mandalay – 1

“Come you back to Mandalay, Where the Old Flotilla lay; Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay, On the road to Mandalay, Where the flyin’-fishes play, An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!” –Rudyard Kipling Just the title of Kipling’s haunting, romantic poem always stirred our sense of adventure. So, when we had the chance to travel that “road,” we made the quickest travel decision ever–we didn’t have to …

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Myanmar’s New Belmond Orcaella

Over a century ago, Rudyard Kipling described Burma (now Myanmar) as “quite unlike any country you know about,” immortalizing it in his poem “On the Road to Mandalay where the flyin’ fishes play an’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!” Thirteen years ago, I was a passenger aboard the “Road to Mandalay”, Myanmar’s only luxurious river ship at the time.  While visiting remote outposts along the Chindwin River, the gentle, smiling villagers …

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