Recce’ing in Burma
Flying out of Rangoon, the golden pagoda pinnacles dot the cityscape, I peered through the murky plane window – that must be the empty 20 lane highway leading to the new capital, but I was bound for the empty shores of the Andaman Sea: I went to the Andaman Isles in 1998, so knew I was in for a treat. We bumped down at the tiny airport and ten minutes later I was on one the most empty and spotless beaches I’ve ever seen. This was my treat after a splendid but exhausting trip up the Irrawaddy leading a lively group to distant hill villages, golden pagodas and bustling markets (see Burma in January). Now I had two blissful days of clean, warm sea and empty beaches while ensconced in a relaxing teak beach-front villa. Fully restored, I moved on to remote Mrauk Oo with its temples, rustic villages and slow rural life: just getting there was an adventure with a six hour river voyage, much of it in the dark thanks to the delayed flight. The next morning, I set off in an open very bouncy jeep past rice stacks and beetle-nut plantations, to join my private boat for a journey up river to check out markets, have tea with Chin village chiefs, bargain for colourful blankets and meet the famous tattooed ladies.
Day 2 was in and around the town, starting with breakfast in a street cafe of sweet Burmese tea and strange but delicious pancakes, I jumped onto a bike to follow my two cheerful guides. Nervously, with no brakes, I negotiated the market traders, wobbled over little wooden bridges and followed along dusty roads to the magnificent temples, some literally stuck with stupas!
Buddha lined passages, deeply carved with elephants, crocodiles and birds disappeared round corners into the dark, time to find that torch app I had so carefully downloaded! It was fascinating, delightfully relaxed with no one much about , so it’s on the list and I’d love to take you there. The tour will be early in 2015 and details will be available shortly, but please enquire meanwhile.