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Author: dgevry

Joined: 9/4/2010
Posts: 66
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 1
Traveler Since: 2010

November 22, 2013

We just booked a Last Minute Deal on the new Burma Cruise with the post trip to Inle Lake (leaving December 30th). The online travel book says to bring a warm jacket for the post trip if traveling Nov.-Feb. If anyone has been to this area on a post trip with another OAT or GCT trip, and could tell me what the weather was like I would appreciate it. The weather chart indicates a low of 45. I was hoping to get by with layers- fleece, sweatshirt & perhaps a light sweater. I am petite and get cold easily, but don't want to carry a heavy jacket around, if possible. We live in the northeast, but plan to warm up the car for the ride to the airport. Also if anyone has been to Burma on this or any other trip, we would appreciate any helpful tips. This trip wasn't on my "bucket list" and I hadn't done any research on Burma. My husband watched the video Monday night, came upstairs and said he would like to go on that trip. I think I muttered "maybe someday. I haven't researched it and it's a new trip." Anyway the next morning we see it on the "Last Minute Deal" list and we're calling GCT.  The Visa application was Express Mailed yesterday and PVS assured us that we had enough time. We have a Travel Clinic appointment and have ordered "new" money.  I'm excited as I love to travel, but a little scared, so I would appreciate any recommendations. So much to do - prepare for the holidays, figure out what to bring and take a crash course on Burma.

Author: esther

Joined: 10/8/2012
Posts: 10
GCT Trips Taken: 2
OAT Trips Taken: 13
Countries Visited:

140 countries; 46 states (have been at this awhile)

Traveler Since: 2009

November 22, 2013
I just did a program  for a group of women visiting Burma for humanitarian purposes. I visited in 1993 and in 2013.    This is from the handout I prepared for them and I hope you can use some of the suggestions too.
 
Some Travel Hints for Burma/myanmar
 
Before departure  register with the State Department  (travel.state.gov) Click on “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program” for information.      The registration page is : https://step.state.gov/step/
 
1.  Money -- take crisp, clean (no marks, tears) US Dollars in various denominations.   There is no black market any longer so feel free to change money at the airport.   You will get a slightly higher rate for $100 bills.  Bring the new colored one if you can.    Check each kyat note  and do not accept torn or taped  bills. You can use local money for small items -- snacks, drinks,etc.    Also have a selection of small denomination USD notes for shopping - especially 1’s and 5’s.   There are a few ATM’s in the major cities: Yangon, Mandalay, Inle Lake. Credit cards are not widely used. Bottom line, its pretty much a “cash only” destination.
 
2. Snacks -- take  some high-protein bars and water with you on your excursions
 
3. Things to do on your free time:
 
In Yangon -- visit Schwed agon Pagoda in early evening when it is beautifully  lit up and families have come to worship
 
In Mandalay -- take in a “Moustache Brothers” show.  This show is part history/part poking fun at politics.  The brothers have been in prison for performing, but they are now so popular the government is a bit afraid of them.  The show is in a makeshift theater on the ground floor of their home.    Go early for a good seat.
 
In Bagan:  arrange for a horsecart ride (2 or 3 can ride in each cart) to the outlying temples at dawn or dusk.  And consider the early morning balloon ride.  
 
4. re: Temples: your shoes will be on/off several times during the day as you visit various temples.   Bring wet wipes with you to clean your feet afterward.    You are not allowed to wear just socks,as in other countries. Womens’ shoulders and knees should be covered.
 
5. Shopping -- Burma has wonderful jewelry as well as handicrafts.
• Rubies and Diamonds -- these are controlled by the government/military.  Best not to buy
• Freshwater Pearls and Jade --  often sold by local vendors, sometimes women at temples and markets. (This money goes right into their economy)   
• Laquerware -- hand painted items, including jewelry
• Silver items --  buy at family-run silver stores, most manufacture their own products in-house
(note:street vendors will offer  jewelry they call "925 silver."   It can be just silverplate with a 925 stamp.  I also noticed this at vendors outside of  Shwe Yan Pyay monastery, the wooden building with unique oval-shaped windows near Inle Lake)
* At Inle Lake -- There are several silver “villages” on the lake.  Ask your guide to stop at   Sein ThamarDi in Ywama Village  which has an excellent selection of jewelry designed for western tastes. Everything is sold by weight 
• Lotus Silk - this is manufactured only one place in the world - at a factory on Inle Lake.
• Gold Leaf embellished items
• textiles
 
Yangon Airport - Departure --  Surprisingly there is a good selection of  souvenir and jewelry items at the airport  upstairs after you go thru passport/visa control.   Prices are no higher, and sometimes less,  than what you’ve seen around the country.
 

 

Author: travelann

Joined: 3/12/2010
Posts: 45
GCT Trips Taken: 8
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2010

November 23, 2013

dgevry,

I just returned from this trip and all I can say is.... GO GO GO !!!!!!  This was the most fantastic trip I have taken in a long time. As the previous post suggested a visit to Shwedagon Pagoda is a must and you will do it as part of the trip at sunset. Also, in Bagan, you will visit the Bagan temples via horse cart as part of the trip. You travel two to a cart and is a lot of fun traveling thru and amongst all the temples. I am going to post a compete review on the trip site as soon as I get my act together. I am excited that you will be able to experience this trip and see part of the  "real " Burma.

Author: dgevry

Joined: 9/4/2010
Posts: 66
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 1
Traveler Since: 2010

November 23, 2013

Thank you Esther and Travelann for your replies.  I had not thought about registering with the state department, although we did that when we went to Central America a few years ago. Travelann, your enthusiasm for this trip is very reassuring. Could you tell me what the age range was for the children at the post-primary school in Setpagone and at the Thanlar Boys Orphanage?  I would like to bring suitable gifts that are light- weight and don't take up much space in the luggage. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you again.

Diane

Author: ed watts

Joined: 3/30/2010
Posts: 148
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

All seven continents, 113 countries and all states except Idaho.Plus some interesting places that are not countries such as The azores, Antarctica, Falkland Islands, South Georgia, etc.

Traveler Since: 2010

November 23, 2013

When wondering what the weather condition may be or is at a certain place , it is best to go to the Weather Channel or any of the other weather providers on the internet.  what someone else experienced a year or so ago  may not be what you will experience, especially with the many changes in weather patterns over the last couple of years...You can check it now and then just before your trip check it again to give your a better idea how  and what to pack because it will give you current as well as a 10 day forecast.  For your information, today at the Lake, the high was 73F with a low of 52F with some showers..tomorrow will be a tad warmer..

Author: travelann

Joined: 3/12/2010
Posts: 45
GCT Trips Taken: 8
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2010

November 24, 2013

dgvery,

Our visit to Setpagone Primary school was a lot of fun. The kids range in age from 5-12 years  and were very excited by our visit. They would love just about anything you bring since they do not have very much. Pencils ,books , toys, maybe a frisbee. Something that shows where you are from. We did not visit the orphanage; our boat stopped at a different village that day. Oh,and about snacks and water...the tour provides you with all the water you will ever need, both on the bus and ship. Snacks ? I ate so much on the ship I don't think I will ever need to eat again . Hah!

Author: thedavidking

Joined: 1/1/2014
Posts: 1

January 01, 2014
We just returned from Burma on Dec. 31. The weather was perfect, cool in the mornings and warm in the afternoon. Burma is the most exotic and romantic place I have ever been. I never saw a misquito and I had one bug bite in two weeks. You will very likely get tourista, the pharmacies sell good medicines or bring your own. I ate twice my normal calories and lost five pounds. The ship is a work of art and the crew will spoil you for life. The tour is physically very challenging. Irononically, this was the most infirm set of travelers I have ever seen on Grand Circle. Five ladies could not use a slit trench (eastern toilet) which is more or less required as you tour the countryside.

Author: h2otstr

Joined: 10/20/2011
Posts: 3
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2009

January 11, 2014

dgevry, I was wondering what your Travel Clinic said about immunizations. Would you please share what you were told by them?

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