Burma Now – Why and How

Shrouded in decades of secrecy and isolation, suffused with mystery, the Burma travel window has been flung open to reveal one of the most exciting travel destinations on the planet.  A spectacularly beautiful cultural/aesthetic intermix of China and India, Myanmar (as Burma is now named) has shaken itself free of military shackles.  As you travel into this thrilling country, time unwinds and the clock, amazingly, almost stops.

The best way to see Burma and any other exotic country, especially if traveling solo, is to place yourself in the hands of a highly experienced outfitter who will enable you to see more and better. Additional perk: benefit from any trip with like-minded fellow travelers.

R. Crusoe & Son is just such an outfitter and not parenthetically, publishers of the most romantic brochure in the industry. Their next exclusive hosted 11-day tour will be next November 14-25, 2013 but they specialize in private, custom-made itineraries.  **If you are ready to roll now, however, see their late-breaking news below.

Their “Burma & the Road to Mandalay” tour is hosted by Alex Kerr, their senior and stellar Asia expert with 50 years experience.  Take advantage of his expertise to understand the exotic basics of Burma, see beneath the surface, and pick up on insider information that can be overlooked or misunderstood.  In a recent newsletter, he writes:

Myanmar, a truly miraculous survival of a beauty lost in most of the rest of East Asia, is still mostly intact. So now is the time to go. Change is coming with breathtaking speed, and the country, in the form we’ve known it, won’t always be there.

Highlights: Yangon (formerly Rangoon) the capital and nose around the golden, gleaming, gigantic Shwedagon Pagoda.  See and meet with some of the Intha natives of Inle Lake who live among its handful of cities and villages, visit the floating markets, watch the unique skill of leg rowing locals, meet canoe makers, silk and lotus weavers and traditional cheroot-rollers.  A cruise aboard the gorgeous Road To Mandalay riverboat (best on the Irrawaddy River), will be the experiential heart and soul of the trip: Sagaing, southwest of Mandalay, is an important religious and monastic center heavily dotted with Buddhist monasteries and pagodas in the hills along river, and then arrive at the UNESCO World Heritage Site — awesome, breath-taking Bagan. Thrilling at sunrise and mysterious even in the bright sun, a dusty plain of many thousands of scattered, ancient sacred Buddhist shrines and temples.  (Anyone for a hot air balloon floatover?)

Luxury-oriented, this trip, priced from $8,680 per person (double occ),  Click:  www.rcrusoe.com.  Call 888-490-8019 or e-mail Jane Franklin at jfranklin@rcrusoe.com.

**Stop Press. Memo just in (late Sept.):  A cancellation for this year’s hosted Burma journey with Alex Kerr — one room for two travelers — suddenly available. Departs October 25, 2012 and returns to the U.S. November 4, 2012.

Other fine award-winning Burma tour resources:

National Geographic Expeditions http://www.nationalgeographicexpeditions.com/

Abercrombie & Kent   http://www.abercrombiekent.com/

Indochina Travel, headquartered in SFO  http://www.indochinatravel.com/


Down By the Riverside… Waaay Down

Cruise the Mighty Mekong River

Got a yen to see China, Tibet, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam the old fashioned way?  Go with the flow and cruise the mighty Mekong River, the heart, soul and breadbasket of Southeast Asia, on a handsome traditional-style riverboat. Almost 3,000 miles long, the Mekong is second only to the Amazon in its amazing abundance of plant and animal life, including the awesome, stellar stingray with 14-ft wingspans.

Down By the Riverside… waaay down

Cruising the Mekong is a smooth and cool way to see, hear, feel and enjoy the vibrant river markets, tribal life, ancient temples. The multi-award winning Uniworld Boutique River Cruises now has two beautiful and small 30-cabin ships, the River Saigon and the River Orchid, handcrafted in the colonial style with French balconies that open onto a spacious promenade. They now offer over 100 departures on 8 itineraries from 10 to 24 days.

Click: http://www.uniworld.com or call them in LA at 800-733-7820.

And hey, if you happen to be in the market for some real snake oil wine, you’ll be in the right neighborhood to shop around.

Other Mekong choices

The 2-cabin Dragon Eyes, a traditional slim riverboat, can slip in and out of the skinny side canals.  5 in crew.  Bikes on board.  And a talented chef who offers cooking lessons en route. Surf to: http://www.mekongeyes.com/en/home

FLASH: Pandaw River Expeditions has 10 luxury ships set to sail in 2012, all styled after colonial river steamers, some dedicated to explore Cambodia and Vietnam on the Mekong and others in newly-opening-to-the-world Burma on the Irrawaddy and Chindwin Rivers.  Click: https://www.pandaw.com/index.php of in the U.S. call 800-798 4223.