The Road Ahead : June July 2012
WWW.ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 30 THE ROAD AHEAD JUN/JUL 2012 TRAVEL DEPARTURE INTERNATIONAL at small villages and temples, this was an incredible way to escape from the tourist route and experience some different aspects of Burmese life. Wandering through small villages, we were besieged by well-wishing locals. My daughter was followed around like the Pied Piper with smiling, giggling children (and adults) all wanting to say hello to her and offering small gifts and food. We disembarked in Bagan where more than 2200 temples and pagodas provided enough such viewing for one holiday. Staying right in the centre of the historic area, we spent our days exploring the local historic sites on a horse and cart, or eating at local restaurants. I don't normally spruik local eateries, however, you must try the eggplant and tomato salad at Star Bean, our favourite place to eat in the whole country. Our next stop was the magical and mesmerising Inle Lake. This stunningly beautiful 116 square km vibrant-blue lake is accessible via longboats. The locals live on the lake with entire villages precariously perching on stilts. Unusually, they propel their boats standing up, using a leg to hold the paddle. Inle Lake boasts a multitude of local artisans: silver smiths, weavers (including those that weave the fibres of the lotus plant), lacquer ware and woodcarving. It's worth a visit to the Jumping Cat Monastery, where the monks train cats to jump through hoops. Locals still fish with traditional methods and the lake is famous for its floating vegetable gardens -- kilometre after kilometre of gardens built upon reeds and silt with rows of tomatoes, cucumbers and other produce. We decided to end our trip with a few days at the stunning Ngapali, an almost untouched coastal area. We spent lazy days on the beach and one day on our own private boat, snorkelling and swimming, before being dropped on an atoll where the locals cooked us fish straight from the sea. The water was warm, like tepid bath water; the beaches, long and pristine. All this for less than $50. Burma has made news headlines recently with lessening of military control, the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and her recent election win. The country still has a long way to go in terms of human rights. However, if the current trends continue, it is a positive step for the Burmese people. Recent visits by political leaders and the proposed lessening of sanctions will all help Burma to become one of the must-see Asian destinations. I suggest you visit now -- before everybody does! MAIN IMAGE: VILLAGE ON STILTS, INLE LAKE. NOVICE NUNS IN YANGON. SHWEDAGON PAGODA, YANGON. TRAVEL OFFER: BURMA RIVER CRUISE Enjoy savings of up to $1000 per person on an 11-night Orient Pandaw luxury cruise package exploring Burma's beauty and sights, with departures from June 29, 2012, through to April 27, 2013. This unique package includes eight nights on the Orient Pandaw, with meals, three nights' pre/post accommodation and extensive sightseeing with expert local guides. Call your RACQ Travel consultant for more details on 1300 888 449 or email travel@ racq.com.au.
April May 2012
August 1st 2012