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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-05-2015, 09:01 AM Thread Starter
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Where have you been?

(With or without Havs?) I recently returned from a trip to India, and I want Lalla to tell us all about her Burma trip!
I'll get some photos together of my India trip that you might enjoy.

Anyone else been anywhere interesting that they want to tell us about? It doesn't need to be so exotic either. Beautiful places in the U.S. (or where ever you live!) are fun too!


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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-05-2015, 09:23 AM
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I'm going to Los Cabos Mexico at the tip of Baja California with my Momi and Popi in 10 days. !ARRIBA! I'll be vacationing there for about two months. I'm gonna soak up some sun and sand on the beach. My Popi promises me that it is tropical there and looks a lot like Cuba.

besos, Ricky Ricardo

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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-05-2015, 09:43 AM
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Burma is utterly wonderful; I'll post some photos when I've got my jet-lagged act together, Karen. I look forward to hearing about other people's holidays, too, I'd love to hear about India. I've been there a couple of times, most recently two years ago for the Jaipur Literary Festival, which was really exciting. The hugest difference in Burma is the total lack of hassling - it has been so isolated for so long that tourism is relatively new; a country still recovering and not entirely out of the throes of military rule, waking up to the world around, totally unspoilt in so many ways with delightful, generous-hearted people. They appear to have come through decades of horror seemingly able to be calm and welcoming, gentle and hospitable - perhaps it is simply the deep-rooted Buddhism that pervades their lives. How a people can suffer so much and be so lacking in resentment or anger (apparently) is difficult to fathom. The sheer beauty of the country, the pagodas, the villages, Inlé Lake in the Shan hills with its idiosyncratic one-legged-rowing fisherman, the great meandering Irrawaddy River.... I feel overwhelmed by the wonder of it all and humbled by the kindness of its people.
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-05-2015, 10:06 AM
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Hi, I am planning a trip to India this spring. First visit there so planning just for Golden Triangle. Any suggestions as to how long? There are tours for every preference it seems. We usually book private tours though our hotel and focus on specific sites. I like a balance of being there long enough but short enough that I leave wanting more.

Re. Burma - I would love to go there this year but I dont think I can get a trip together fast enough. Looking forward to hearing more!
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-05-2015, 10:43 AM
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No amount of time spent in India is long enough! There's just so much to see and do - on my first trip there we only 'did' Rajasthan, travelling around on a train, to Jodhpur, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer...all over. And then went on to Calcutta. We were only there for three weeks and it all seemed hectic and rushed, but India IS hectic, and everyone rushes. Next trip was just Jaipur, and actually I was grateful for staying put in one place, time to breathe and semi-relax. I think it probably helps enormously to have a guide looking after just you, rather than being in a group where you are necessarily herded according to schedules that are more or less inflexible.

Burma is totally different, in every conceivable way - gentle and peaceful, at least to tourists - there are still troubles in some parts, and tourism is still restricted, but these are early days in a country waking up from decades of isolation. We went on a seven-night trip from Mandalay down the Irrawaddy by boat to Bagan and back again; it's not actually all that far, given the huge length of that impressive river - the 'road to Mandalay' IS the Irrawaddy, which makes sense of lines like 'where the old flotilla lay', which I'd never understood before! So there were lots of stops along the way at various small towns and villages, and then the most spectacular balloon ride imaginable, over the four thousand or so pagodas of Bagan - totally breathtaking, beyond wonderful. Our pilot had ballooned all over the world, including in Iran, Turkey, Australia, the States, parts of Europe...he said that absolutely nowhere came anywhere close to the marvel of flying over the pagodas of Bagan. I don't doubt his word. Then we went to Inlé Lake, tucked in amongst the Shan hills, vast and placid and beautiful beyond belief, accessible only by boat, and populated by the stilt-village dwelling Intha peoples. Weavers weave lotus silk on looms that must date back hundreds of years, only the elderly women allowed to do the spinning, again on ancient wheels with ancient tools, producing incomparably beautiful yarn from the lotus stalks, dyeing them with ancient recipe dyes, weaving them into exquisite cloth, the rare and valuable lotus yarn intermingled mostly with ordinary silk and/or cotton. The fishermen, on their long elegant punt-like boats, balance at one end on one leg, rowing with an oar hooked around the other knee and ankle, the better to free up their hands for manipulating their nets. We went on a two and a half hour boat ride down a meandering, glorious channel from Inlé to a lower lake and the almost un-visited pagodas of Sagar, unrestored, eerily beautiful, some of them semi-submerged, the only sounds the tinkling of the htees, the little bell-encrusted top-knot 'umbrellas' that surmount each pagoda and blow in the breeze. Hardly any tourists go there, it's a ghost place, beautiful and strange, and a far cry from the bustle of the stilt-villages, the market places, the to-ings and fro-ings of laden river boats and the fairly numerous tourists in the main lake. As you see, I could go on and on! This is a magical moment to visit Burma; there are elections in November of this year, and breath is bated awaiting the outcome; Aung San Suu Kyi is poised to take a majority, but no-one knows what the outcome will be, other than that she would not be allowed to take office even if she won - the constitution forbids any leader who has been married, as she has, to a foreigner, and the constitution is unlikely to change. So who knows what will happen. I think it would be hard to go backwards, and close the country again as it has been since the military coup in 1962. But the situation is fragile. If it does go on opening up it will surely not be long before commercialism and opportunism changes forever the gentle place that it is now. I long to go back. I learnt a lot of Burmese before going - just a mass of phrases and useful things to be able to say, hardly a 'language', more a tool kit; but it stood me in good stead, and people seemed to appreciate any attempts on the part of a foreigner to speak their tongue beyond the usual 'mingalaba' ('hello') that everyone can manage! It was fun being able to understand quite a bit, and say a few words. And I learned a lot more while I was there.

Last edited by Lalla; 01-05-2015 at 10:46 AM.
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-05-2015, 12:53 PM Thread Starter
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Lalla, can you travel on your own in Burma or do you need to go on an organized tour? We like to rent a car (or in India a car and driver!!!) and go where we want when we want. We will have a general idea of where we want to go, but like to be able to spend more time in an area we find particularly interesting, or move on if we don't. Do they allow that kind of "loose" tourism there at this point? (I know that in China, for instance, it's pretty much still all organized tours)


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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-05-2015, 02:46 PM
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I'm not absolutely sure, Karen, but I think it is still fairly restricted; I do know that driving yourself is a complete no no - nobody is insured in Burma and if you are in an accident you will end up being the one who pays, whoever is to blame. Driving in Yangon is frenetic - I wouldn't do it if I were paid!! I think it would be very difficult to manage without a guide, in most places. I guess that it might be possible in some places, but am not sure it's allowed yet. There are whole areas in Burma where tourists are still not allowed to venture, mostly because there are tribal wars still going on - such as in the far north of the Shan States. The tourist route is fairly restricted, mostly to Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inlé Lake. We went through a travel agency called Abercrombie and Kent, and had our own guide, both on the river trip from Mandalay to Bagan and back, and then a different guide met us in Mandalay and flew with us to Heho airport, by car to where we picked up a boat to go to one of several hotels on Inlé Lake itself. I don't think, without a guide, we would have known how to find the various places we visited around the lake, and down the channel to a smaller, connected lake where Sagar is. It simply is not a flexible place yet, the military are still in power, and although they are encouraging tourism it is in a restricted way still. That may change after November's elections but could go either way, from what I was hearing.
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-05-2015, 04:43 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not absolutely sure, Karen, but I think it is still fairly restricted; I do know that driving yourself is a complete no no - nobody is insured in Burma and if you are in an accident you will end up being the one who pays, whoever is to blame. Driving in Yangon is frenetic - I wouldn't do it if I were paid!! I think it would be very difficult to manage without a guide, in most places. I guess that it might be possible in some places, but am not sure it's allowed yet. There are whole areas in Burma where tourists are still not allowed to venture, mostly because there are tribal wars still going on - such as in the far north of the Shan States. The tourist route is fairly restricted, mostly to Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inlé Lake. We went through a travel agency called Abercrombie and Kent, and had our own guide, both on the river trip from Mandalay to Bagan and back, and then a different guide met us in Mandalay and flew with us to Heho airport, by car to where we picked up a boat to go to one of several hotels on Inlé Lake itself. I don't think, without a guide, we would have known how to find the various places we visited around the lake, and down the channel to a smaller, connected lake where Sagar is. It simply is not a flexible place yet, the military are still in power, and although they are encouraging tourism it is in a restricted way still. That may change after November's elections but could go either way, from what I was hearing.
That won't work for us then. If we can't visit the kinds of biotopes we are interested in (with aquatic plants) and those are rarely places any "normal" tourists are interested in, it's too expensive to go to JUST be a tourist. We'll just have to wait a few more years!


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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-05-2015, 04:47 PM
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That won't work for us then. If we can't visit the kinds of biotopes we are interested in (with aquatic plants) and those are rarely places any "normal" tourists are interested in, it's too expensive to go to JUST be a tourist. We'll just have to wait a few more years!
I'm afraid that's right, Karen; it's all too difficult at the moment, I fear, but perhaps one day...xxx
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 01-05-2015, 07:09 PM
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Not to change the subject, but welcome back Lalla. Glad you had a good vacation in Burma. I know you've been really busy with your old actors' home, but it's nice to have you posting again.

BTW, I saw your "kids" and DH in the Havanese Breed Magazine. I love the moment Richard and Cuba are having. I also enjoyed the article which was quite thought provoking.


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