IT was a chance to see old Burma as it was known, now called Myanmar, for Robyn Jones of Shepparton. This was to be a tour of discovery, fascinating places and people a real eye opener.
The group considered of 10 Aussies, first they flew into the old capital Yangon a city of 7 million people and the big attraction standing right in the centre of town was the temple.
The Shwedagon Pagoda stands 99m tall. Covered in gold, it sparkles as the sun sets and it so big you use a lift to get to the main entrance. The Pagoda is over 2,000 years old and it said to contain relics of the Buddha and people travel from all over Myanmar to worship there.
After visiting Yangon the group set off on a 15 day river cruise on the Irrawaddy River. Their ship was the RV Princess Panhwar, which is only two years old. Robyn says everything looked new. The cabins were great and so was the food. There were only 36 cabins and 38 crew and the service was excellent.
The river runs through the centre of the country and each day they would stop to see the local sights. The ship would pull into the bank and staff would walk you off the gang plank to see the sights.
They visited schools and met the local children who gave them a big warm welcome. They saw Pagoda’s, an orphanage and much more
At Bagan they saw many ancient temples and took a hot air balloon ride over the temples and jungle below. Robyn’s pilot was an ‘Aussie’ who spends part of the year flying balloons over France, then moving to Myanmar for the season before returning to Australia to fly.
Robyn says he was very good at manoeuvring the balloon through the sky. The wind was low and at one stage it looked as if they would have to land on the river, but there pilot managed to bring them safely down on the sand bank.
At Inle Lake, they visited floating villages and homes on bamboo stilts. They even had floating gardens and together with fish the food was good.
While on the cruise the crew taught them how to dress in the Longi. Both men and women wear the Longi but tie it in different ways. Everyone purchased one at a local market and attended a special dress up night.
Finally their boat reached Mandalay. Robyn says at one stage it was doubtful if the river would be high enough to reach their destination but the river came up and all was well.
In Mandalay, they visited the Mahamuni Budda Temple, climbed Mandalay hill for the views, saw Buddhist scripture inscribed on 729 marble slabs and visited the Shwenandaw Monastery.
Their tour was now complete and it was time to fly back home to Australia. Robyn would like to thank Lyn McNaught Travel in Mooroopna for arranging everything and thank Lyn who personally escorted the tour from door to door, picking everyone up at their home before heading for the airport and delivering everyone safely back home.
Until next time,