Ask Harriet: Burma temple visits

You might not think that going “across the pond” would make one feel more patriotic, but our The Seine: Paris to Normandy River Cruise did just that for John Duhig, a four-time traveler from Bedminster, New Jersey, who recounted his 2010 trip—and the unforgettable experience of visiting Normandy on the 66th anniversary of D-Day. John submitted an email and a photo of himself to Harriet with World War II veteran and fellow traveler William Chamberlin, who was still able to wear his original uniform six decades later!

“I am shaking hands with Bill in front of one of the German gun emplacements. Bill was on the other side of the planet on the real D-Day fighting in Okinawa.

The entire Seine River cruise was fantastic but the highlight was Normandy. Walking the beaches and looking down from the top of Pointe du Hoc vividly brought back images from all of the books and documentaries we had all seen. But the most touching memory of the trip was our visit to the American Military Cemetery and memorial. To see all of those tombstones, many identified only by the words ‘Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known only to God’ brought tears to my eyes. I was only seven years old when they died, most of them lost their lives at a very young age. I felt a mixture of sadness, pride, patriotism—but most of all gratitude to these young people whose sacrifices allowed so many of us and our children to live in freedom.”

This year, as we honor the 68th anniversary of one of World War II’s most important battles, Grand Circle Cruise Line is proud to recognize veterans worldwide, and give our travelers opportunities to interact with them whenever possible.

Have you met any veterans on your travels, or experienced another country’s national holidays? Please share your stories and photos with me by emailing me at

Ask Harriet

Isolated from the rest of the world until recently adopting a democratic government, Burma remains mysterious to many—which is exactly why we’re excited to offer our new trip, Burma & the Irrawaddy River: Bagan to Mandalay. This month I’d like to focus on a question that one of our travelers left on our forum.

Q: My husband cannot go barefoot for medical reasons and I am trying to gauge whether he will be able to go into the temples in Burma, and on our pre-trip extension to Laos. I wonder how much—if anything—he will miss in both countries. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

—Rhonda Mills & Bobby James, 3-time travelers from Hollywood, Florida

A:  Thanks for asking—I’m sure this is a question a lot of travelers have. According to our regional associate Pattaranan Jay Sappattarabune, wearing socks in Burmese temples is not permitted, though some pagodas do allow socks. However, most of the temples and pagodas in Southeast Asia are complexes with architecture just as stunning on the outside. Think Rangoon’s Shwedagon Pagoda, a 300-foot stupa sheathed in gold; or the Grand Palace of Bangkok, a sprawling compound of gilded spires and ornate structures that served as the royal Thai throne for 230 years.

If you have other questions specific to this trip or want to know about physical requirements, you can download the Travel Handbook here. For Burma-specific guidelines, click here.

It’s always good to ask questions ahead of time instead of arriving at your destination and not being able to see everything you anticipated. Also feel free to ask our Sales Associates and Travel Counselors these questions over the phone. They’re well-versed in the unique itineraries for each of our destinations.

Ask Harriet a question or share your thoughts with her

Do you have a question you’d like to ask me, or comments about the stories featured in Harriet’s Corner? Please email me at—and your submission could be featured in the next Harriet’s Corner update. I look forward to sharing what you have to say!