I had a wonderful opportunity to visit Myanmar in October with Abercrombie & Kent. It is truly a spectacular destination, still fairly unspoiled and well suited for the more adventurous traveler.
After spending a night at the Shangri La Hotel in Yangon, I flew to Mandalay where I boarded the brand new Sanctuary Ananada, a beautiful ship with only 22 staterooms. We encountered very few boats on the Irrawaddy River and it felt as if the river belonged just to our vessel. Watching the pagodas on the hills along the shorelines of the river made me realize what an exotic destination Myanmar is.
Along the way I visited the teak Shwenandaw Monastery near Mandalay Hill , one of the best examples of traditional Burmese style wooden monasteries, Mya Theindan Pagoda, and the Mingun Bell. This 90 ton bell is one of the heaviest functioning bell in the world.
Our next stop was Bagan with over 2000 pagodas, stupas, and temples, one of the most beautiful being Ananda Temple. Watching the sunset over hundreds of pagodas was one of the highlights of my trip! I had the opportunity to observe artisans weaving stunning silk cloths and working on the ancient craft of lacquerware making.
My trip ended in Yangon with a time exploring the sacred 2500 year old Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred and impressive Buddhist site for the people of Myanmar. This golden pagoda features over a thousand golden bells and is set with shimmering diamonds, sapphires and other gems.
One of the most moving experiences was the visit of a monastery in Yangon just before lunch when hundreds of young monks returned from collecting food to share at lunch. I will never forget the sight of a little 6 year barefoot boy standing in line for lunch after returning with his food bowl having walked for hours.
It was a memorable trip and I wanted to share the experience with you. If you have not travelled to this part of the world, consider putting it on your bucket list!