Remembering the Marvels of Myanmar
“Each day on our Myanmar journey was like opening a box and finding something marvelous inside,” wrote one Geographic Expeditions traveler after a recent Inner Burma trip.
Many GeoEx staffers return regularly to Myanmar—one just finished their 20th trip there! Of course we revel in Myanmar’s iconic sights, such as the tranquil rolling plains of Bagan, blanketed by more than 2,000 temples, and majestic Inle Lake, where a boat slides across the still waters, rowed by an elderly man with one leg wrapped around the oar. But after more than 20 years of visiting and planning travel here, GeoEx has discovered many more unexpected jewels and authentic experiences that we love to share with travelers.
Two staffers—Natalie Crow, Director of Global Sales, and Wen Minkoff, Senior Managing Director of Marketing—recently returned from Myanmar, and we asked them about their experiences there.
What stood out as being different from other places you’ve traveled?
“The things that stood out most were how colorful everything was, and how photogenic: the people, the scenery—everything. Then there was the remoteness of it all. It was evident that Myanmar had been largely cut off from the rest of the world for many years. When I was in Yangon, there was not a single billboard, Starbucks, or anything else resembling American culture in sight.” –Natalie
“On the Irrawaddy River, our guide introduced us to local fishermen who cooperate with dolphins. The dolphins signal to the fishermen with movements, fin slaps, and bobbing, where the fish are, whether to follow or wait, and when to toss the nets. We learned that only 23 dolphins in the world do this. We also tried the local style of casting a net, balancing barefoot in the front of a longboat.” –Wen
How was the trip personally meaningful to you?
“The people were the number one thing that has stayed with me over time. We walked through so many villages and everyone was so welcoming and friendly. They were so happy to see us, and were surprised to hear we were American. They thanked us for visiting their country and invited us in for tea. I don’t think I have ever been as touched as I was in Myanmar with the locals and their treatment of travelers.” –Natalie
“Conservation is important to me, and I found it was to the people of Myanmar as well. Visiting with retired timber elephants and their mahouts (the elephant caregivers) and walking with these majestic animals, getting to know their individual personalities, and learning about the effects of the teak timber industry and the ramifications of the teak logging ban for over 3,000 elephants and mahouts was incredibly moving and meaningful.” –Wen
What sets GeoEx apart in Myanmar?
“Our guides are really superb. They can take you into places you would never find on your own. That, of course, and the logistical planning and access to hard-to-book hotels.” –Natalie
“Our deep relationships in Myanmar mean we have access to things others don’t. I love small villages, so I was delighted when we were able to arrange a stay at a small, gorgeous 5-star accommodation on the edge of a pottery village. I got to hang out in the village, getting introduced to local women who told me about and demonstrated their pottery techniques. I went for a bike ride with my hosts and we dropped in on a local monastery, chatted with the monk, met the kids studying, took an impromptu tour, and then continued on through lovely countryside to see what else we could see. The chef gave me an open-air cooking lesson based on the traditional recipes she and the other villagers use. I also got to hop in a longboat and go visit a water buffalo village across the river to learn about what that lifestyle entails. This was all right on point with what I love to do. With GeoEx, there’s no guesswork or things that are just ‘OK’—you get the best trip for you.” –Wen
As interest in Myanmar grows, the importance of having local contacts and skilled guides becomes key in designing a trip that reveals the wonders here while avoiding the crowds. We have built a strong local network which allows us to introduce you to off-the-radar places and the people who live there. Our trips are not simply tours, but immersive experiences, connecting with local people and understanding the influences that shape their lives and the landscape.
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Are you ready to explore the legendary sights and unspoiled gems of Myanmar? GeoEx’s experts will gladly help you plan your journey; give us a call at 888-570-7108.