I have these important questions you ever visit Myanmar (Burma), due to its repressive government that when I met a group who assured me the amounts paid would go to the people and not the government, which I signed. I booked Craft World Tours Byron, New York.
The purpose of the visit was visiting artisans and their villages, going “behind the wall” so to speak, to meet the locals. Our small group was made up of artisans, teachers and buyers, and the prevailing sentiment was to promote tourism in this region so that the government will win an open mind. Everywhere we went we were greeted with a smile and a warmly welcome.
A little shine
January-February ’06 Our tour began in Los Angeles with a long flight to Bangkok, where we spent the night at the Amari Airport Hotel convenient connections to the airport.
This first class hotel has many restaurants, services, and best of all, take your luggage trolleys at the airport. We left our luggage through Yangon, so it was easy to get to the plane.
Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the capital of a moment of Myanmar, has all the bustle and traffic of the main cities. We stayed in the super deluxe Grand Plaza Parkroyal Hotel, where we were greeted by hotel porters in colorful ethnic clothing.
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The most famous of Yangon is the Shwedagon Pagoda, a giant stupa in a temple complex and other pagodas all covered in gold – a brilliant show in the afternoon. It was full of people who love the many Buddha statues that could be found at shrines surrounding the main stupa, he said to contain relics of Buddha.
The next day we rested on a sunset cruise on the Yangon River – interesting for the boat as well as tourist attractions. The ship was like a rusty bucket, and we sat in the upper terrace courtyard phones plastic chairs watching the action on the river. There were many people in the water taxis put-put around the wide brown river, and saw people fishing from boats. The sun was brilliant!
For a domestic flight the next day, we went to Made, the small airport near Inle Lake. While waiting for my flight, I felt as if I had stepped back in the 1950s we waited until our flight was “called” and then went through security in a room of rigid lines of seats orange plastic, which continued our wait . When the boarding time came, the announcement was made on a blackboard carried across the room by staff for all to see. We walked from the plane and then took off.
When we arrived at the Hotel Hu Pin, we were cheerfully greeted by a group of musicians with drums and cymbals and a big red flag. After settling in, we went for a boat ride on Inle Lake. We saw houses on stilts, colorful clothes, people washing dishes and clothes in the lake, and men on fishing.
There are many “islands” of man in the lake created from scratch a stacked first water hyacinths, which otherwise clog waterways. These islands, which have years to make and is held in place with long bamboo poles, are floating vegetable gardens and flowers.
In the big market on the other side of the lake, we had an hour, I used to buy interesting crafts.
We made a stop at the lake in a textile factory to see how the ikat weaving is done and how the yarn is dyed. As one of the women was pulling “thread” in the lotus stems, she showed us how was strong.
We continue to Mandalay, where the largest book in the world can be found at Kuthodaw Paya. Here, a series of white lime stupas each containing a marble plaque on which is carved a page from the writings of Buddha. There are hundreds of stupas, and says it takes eight years to read it!
Then he went to see the famous sunset of Mandalay. The bus ride up the mountain was a challenge. The pilot of the old, decrepit vehicle first could not get it going. When he did, he sprang to life and made us jump the hairpin curves of the hill. Our descent into darkness was even hairier, the driver uses the few lighthouses.
Visits of the day included a craft workshop in gold leaf, where men hammering large gold coins with heavy mallets make a symphony of percussion and a small factory where the flakes used to create complex kalagas (the tapestry) is make.
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During our visit to a pottery village, I saw thousands of pots arranged in a giant circle about six feet tall. Straw men placed over and between the pots, preparing them for cooking. A woman showed us how drawings are working in clay hammering gently with a palette with a pattern on it, and another woman unexpectedly rose four pots on his head, two in each hand.
In Bagan Crusing
Our tour includes a cruise on the Irrawaddy River and just loved it. The elegant brass polished teak board and were truly “old world”; Again, the cabins were very comfortable. Wicker chairs lined up on deck, where we could just sit and watch the river.
The river is one of the major rivers of Myanmar, and the boat stopped each day to visit a different town. The cruise ends in Bagan (Pagan), and before even hundreds of pagodas and temples were visible, shining gold needles in the sun.
The architecture of the temples and pagodas of Bagan combine Hindu and Buddhist styles. The masonry buildings was incredibly beautiful, and it was a wonder how they could have been created using the tools available are limited.
The large brick arches convoluted swollen face many of the structures and the upper decks for watching sunsets and the other temples that populate the plain.
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