Giving to
Bryn Mawr

Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center

Burma - Tradition and Transformation:
Old Asia on the Brink of Change

March 5 - March 18, 2013

Visiting Myanmar, the land of a million pagodas, is an opportunity to step back in time and experience the Southeast Asia of old. The country still moves via ox cart, and water buffalo plough the fields. It is common knowledge to all that the political situation in Burma is problematic, and that the military dictatorship there is one of the most repressive in the world. It is important for you to understand that our tour operator, Asia Transpacific Journeys, uses private tour operators and hotels, so that there is minimal benefit to the government. Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Laureate and charismatic leader of the opposition party, has reversed her long held stance that travelers should boycott the country, and now believes that they may help bring about change.

This largely untouristed and undeveloped country offers so much—incredible archaeological treasures, great natural beauty, colorful bazaars, joyous religious festivals and a people who are among the kindest and loveliest to be found anywhere on Earth.

This journey reflects the perfect combination of places, activities, personal encounters, beautiful lodging and beyond-the-ordinary special features you won’t find anywhere else.

Our trip captures the essence of the land now known as Myanmar. The tour company running our trip rejects government-run agencies, to work directly with private guides and privately owned hotels and restaurants, many owned by long-time friends. Our grassroots approach results in an insightful, authentic connection to Burma’s people and places, and its economics directly benefit locals. Opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Ms. Suu Kyi, who had previously discouraged travelers from visiting Myanmar, has been released from house arrest in November 2010, and many travelers now feel more comfortable visiting Myanmar, a country whose great allure lie in its warm-hearted and welcoming people, peaceful Buddhist culture and bucolic landscape. It’s a golden moment to see Myanmar, a country on the brink of transformation.

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Preliminary Itinerary
(please click on location to reveal details)

FULL ITINERARY

DAY 1: Monday, March 5 - Depart

You’ll depart the United States on your flight.

DAY 2: Tuesday, March 6 - En Route

Traveling

DAY 3: Wednesday, March 7 - Yangon

Meals Provided: L D

Welcome to Myanmar! On arrival set your watches back 30 minutes - or is it 30 years? Yangon is old Asia, with tree-lined avenues, Victorian architecture, pungent markets and a raucous waterfront. The people wear the traditional longyi, chew betel with great vigor, and paint their gentle faces with swirls of thanaka powder.

After clearing Immigration formalities and Customs, exit into the Arrival Hall and meet your English-speaking guide and transfer to your centrally located, boutique hotel for check-in. An authentic colonial mansion restored to its former glory, the Savoy offers superior service and unequaled comfort. Masterful woodwork is complimented by colorful silks and indigenous works of art. Settle in with the remainder of the day free at your leisure. Overnight at the Savoy Hotel (Deluxe Room)

DAY 4: Thursday, March 8 - Yangon

Meals Provided: B L D

This morning depart on a full tour of what is arguably Asia's most charming capital city. Laid out by the British in a typical colonial grid, Yangon's shady streets are a delight to roam. Wander on foot or aboard a trishaw through the downtown, with its frenetic markets and aged buildings with fading colonial facades. Pass Buddhist pagodas, Hindu and Chinese temples, Islamic mosques, Anglican cathedrals, and even a synagogue.

Visit the Kalaywa Tawya Monastery where over 1,300 monks and novices reside. Witness them gathering to partake in the midday meal, which is their last of the day.

End your afternoon with a visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda complex, which is said to house eight hairs of Lord Buddha. Over 350 ft. tall, gilded in gold and gems, the Shwedagon is the most revered shrine in the country. It is the dream of all Burmese people to see the Shwedagon at least once in their lifetime. The current of humanity that surrounds the pagoda and grounds is quite a spectacle and a perfect introduction to the Golden Land. Overnight at the Savoy Hotel (Deluxe Room)

DAY 5 : Friday, March 9 - Yangon

Meals Provided: B L D

This morning after breakfast, depart on a two-hour boat ride to Twante. Traditionally known for its pottery industry, Twante is now home to the Asia Transpacific Foundation's Clean Water Initiative. The project is run in conjunction with UNICEF. Spend the morning visiting and learning about the project before returning to Yangon.

Late this afternoon visit the National Museum, housing interesting exhibits on Burmese history, culture and ethnic groups. Of great interest in the museum is the glittering Lion Throne of King Thibaw, an extraordinary work of art that stands over twenty feet tall and is covered with carvings depicting scenes from Burmese mythology. Also fascinating are the Mandalay Regalia (a collection of gem-studded arms) and displays on Burmese pre-history, crafts and musical instruments.

Finally enjoy a private music recital at the Gitameit Music Center. In Pali and Burmese “gita” means music, and “meit” means friendship. Gitameit Music Center was started in 2003 by pianist Kit Young and colleagues from Myanmar in order to build a supportive community of musicians and audiences locally, and to encourage sustained, meaningful contact with international institutions, teachers and performers. Gitameit Music Center is a non-profit community center and music school in downtown Yangon devoted to music teaching and nurturing, performing, offering exchange possibilities for Burmese students to study abroad, and inviting international artists and teachers for performances and workshops in Yangon. Overnight at the Savoy Hotel

DAY 6: Saturday, March 10 - Yangon / Mandalay

Meals Provided: B L D

This morning transfer to the airport in time for your flight to Mandalay. Fly Yangon to Mandalay, Economy Class

Upon arrival in Mandalay this morning, transfer into Mandalay, about an hour away where you will check in to your centrally located hotel.

The Sedona Hotel sits on four acres of landscaped gardens in the heart of the city. Expect a tradition of gracious, Burmese hospitality set against an exotic, resort-style setting. After settling in, depart on a full day exploration of Mandalay. Begin with a visit the Maha Muni Pagoda, one of the most important religious sites in Mandalay as Kuthodaw Pagoda and the Shwenandaw Kyaung or Golden Palace Monastery. Continue exploring based on time and interests.

Finish the day at the U Bein Bridge, a long meandering structure built of teak, spanning a seasonal lake. You will also enjoy a private sunset cruise under the U Bein Bridge. Overnight at the Sedona Hotel

DAY 7: Sunday, March 11 - Mandalay / RV Paukan

Meals Provided: B L D

This morning prowl the Zegyo Market with its endless panoply of color, hustle and heady aromas. The adventurous may try a bowl of mohinga—fish curry on noodles. Then transfer to the Mandalay river pier and board the RV Paukan for a two day journey down the Irrawaddy River to the ancient capital of Bagan.

The Paukan is a colonial-style Irrawaddy River boat, recently restored to its original condition, featuring local hardwoods and colonial furniture. Cabins are air-conditioned with en suite bathrooms. Interior walls are finished with hard wood tongue and groove paneling and on the upper level, the original teak decking has been retained. Beds are traditional teak ships cots with brass marine fittings. Old prints, maps and oil paintings decorate the rooms. Local hand-woven fabrics are used for the curtains, bed covers and cushions.

The Irrawaddy gives Burma its life. Named after the Hindu eravati or "elephant river," the river (like the Ganges is to India) is a spiritual entity and the provider of life, happiness and material and spiritual well-being. Rising in the southern Himalayas, it dissects the land from north to south for 1,350 miles, emptying through a nine-armed delta into the Indian Ocean. In colonial times, before railways and land roads, the river was known as the "Road to Mandalay." To follow the Irrawaddy's entire course, from its undiscovered source lost in the Himalayas to the Delta, would be to run the gamut of Burma's varied climatic zones.

Enjoy the day as you cruise up the mighty Irrawaddy River, passing magical scenes of old Asia—women pounding their laundry on rocks, old paddle steamers churning the muddy waters, ox carts inching down rutted roads and small children waving gaily at your passing vessel. Overnight on board the RV Paukan - Irrawaddy River

DAY 8: Monday, March 12 - RV Paukan

Meals Provided: B L D

Below Mandalay, just above the confluence with the Chindwin, the Irrawaddy seems to break up into a myriad of channels and streams separated by sandbars and gleaming white islands. Here, the river is several miles wide and just to cross from one bank to another can be a day's sail, zig-zagging through the maze of dune covered humps. Yet, when it rains, the water level will rise a hundred feet, drowning this archipelago of silt and sand, washing it away in a brown torrent at speeds of up to eight miles an hour. Desert becomes ocean and the fishermen and cultivators who have camped on these fertile islands are up and gone for the duration of the monsoon. Overnight on board the RV Paukan

DAY 9: Tuesday, March 13 - RV Paukan / Bagan

Meals Provided: B L D

Shortly after sunrise the Paukan will once again begin its down river cruise to the ancient capital of Bagan. Before arriving in Bagan you will start to see ancient pagodas perched precariously above the river and you will notice a change in the terrain as the savannas of the Ayeyarwaddy flood plain give way to the arid, desert-like scenery of the Dry Zone.

On arrival at 10:00 transfer to your river-front hotel for check-in.

This elegant hotel is the finest in Bagan. Wood, local materials and traditional fabrics compose its sumptuous décor. Nestled on the banks of the mighty Irrawaddy River, overlooking 800 years of history, this charming collection of villas is located in one of the finest sub-tropical gardens in Asia.

After getting settled depart on a full-day exploration tour of the ancient monuments and temples of Bagan.

During its golden age in the 12th century, Bagan was known as “the city of four million pagodas." While Kublai Khan and several massive earthquakes have reduced that inflated number drastically, what remains is quite incredible. Explore the principal pagodas and temples of the archeological zone by means of a private vehicle. Built in 1090, the whitewashed and gilded Ananda is among the finest and best preserved temples, with delicate decorations in glazed tiles along its base and terraces.

Later in the afternoon, enjoy a horse and cart ride and then climb to the summit of a tall, serene structure and watch the sun drop into the distant hills. Overnight at the Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Hotel

DAY 10: Wednesday, March 14- Bagan

Meals Provided: B L D

This morning at sunrise, you'll have a special opportunity to view King Anawrahta's capital from a hot air balloon. The balloon is guided by gentle winds offering a serene and peaceful bird's-eye-view of the ancient temples drifting below.

A generation before William crossed the English Channel, King Anawrahta ascended to the throne of Bagan, conquered the formidable Mon kingdom of lower Burma and founded a dynasty that prospered until 1287, when it was overwhelmed by the forces of Kublai Khan.

Following breakfast before departing on a full day exploration of Bagan, starting at the village of Myinkaba, with the opportunity to explore the local market. From Myinkaba, drive to the 12th century Gubyaukgyi temple, an Indian-style monument that features exquisite interior murals. On your way back to Old Bagan, visit the Shwesandaw, a graceful 11th century temple. Climb the terraces and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding temples, including the 14th century Shwegugyi temple.

After lunch at the Riverview Restaurant, continue exploring Bagan. Begin with the Kyaukgu Ohnmin cave temple, then head for the beautiful 12th century Suliman pagoda, a classic example of Bagan's later sophisticated temple design. Notice the plethora of windows that allowed for improved natural lighting. Also, look for the monastic niches carved into the temple walls, a feature unique among Bagan's ancient monasteries.

This evening enjoy a very special dinner. Overnight at the Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Hotel

DAY 11: Thursday, March 15 - Bagan / Heho / Inle Lake

Meals Provided: B L D

Following breakfast transfer to the airport for your morning flight to Heho, the jumping off point for excursions to Inle Lake and the Shan State.

Fly Bagan to Heho, Economy Class

Upon arrival in Heho depart on the two hour drive to Nyuang Shwe on the northern shore of Inle Lake. Here, board your private long-tail boat for the hour long journey to your hotel nestled on the eastern shore of the lake. On arrival check-into your lovely resort.

The delightful architecture of this hotel draws on the history, tradition and culture of the Shan people. A stylishly appointed interior is complimented by colorful surrounding gardens.

After settling in, enjoy an easy walk along the lake's shores through a number of small villages and settlements from which the hotel's staff come from. Return to the resort with the remainder of the afternoon and evening free to enjoy the resort and it's wonderful spa. Overnight at the Inle Princess Resort

DAY 12: Friday, March 16 - Inle Lake

Meals Provided: B L D

Enjoy an early breakfast and then depart for Phuang Daw Oo, Inle Lake's more venerable temple where today's weekley market will be taking place. Spend the morning absorbing and enjoying this fascinating hodgepodge of bright flowers, flopping fish, and exotic spices.

Spend the remainder of the day exploring the lake. You will see the famous Intha fishermen rowing their boats with a swirling move of their leg. Visit the floating gardens, where villagers actually grow tidy rows of vegetables on the lake’s surface, and stop at a weaving village and visit several Shan temples, including one at sunset. You will be spending the night at the lake’s edge, so be sure you have some warm clothes as nights here may be quite chilly. Overnight at the Inle Princess Resort

DAY 13: Saturday, March 17 - Inle Lake

Meals Provided: B L D

At sunrise, the glassy waters of the lake reflect the surrounding hills and serene skies and birds everywhere. This morning, head off by boat to explore smaller canals and villages, where the locals weave lovely silks and cottons. The local markets rotate regularly from town to town. These are community markets that are held on a rotating basis in which a particular town or village hosts a market every fifth day. It is a wonderful opportunity to see various ethnic minorities from the area as they trade, sell and barter items in a manner that has remained unchanged for generations. You will have an opportunity to purchase unique items such as baskets, textiles, shoulder bags and traditional foodstuffs.

Today, the market will be taking place in a number of different villages bordering the lake, including Indein, home to an interesting collection of 16th and 17th century temples. Be sure to stop and absorb this fascinating hodgepodge of bright flowers, flopping fish and exotic spices. There will be photo opportunities galore. Getting there will be half the fun as you motor across the lake before entering a village and a series of canals and waterways that require your boat to speed up, in order to breech and cross levies built to irrigate the surrounding fields. Overnight at the Inle Princess Resort

DAY 14: Sunday, March 18 - Inle Lake / Heho / Yangon / Depart

Meals Provided: B L

Following breakfast transfer by boat back to Nyuang Shwe and then to Heho by car arriving in time for your midmorning flight back to Yangon. Fly Heho to Yangon, Economy Class

Upon arrival back in Yangon, enjoy lunch and continue exploring based on time and interests.

Perhaps visit Yangon's Golden Valley district home to several of the country's best studios and galleries including the Golden Valley Art Gallery, Myanmar Gallery of Contemporary Art and Anawmar Gallery of Art. Most galleries in Yangon sell more recent works that reflect abstract, impressionistic, realist and cubist influences. The Anawmar Gallery features that city’s largest collection of paintings that date back to the early 20th century.

Late this afternoon transfer to the airport for your international flight back home.


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Cost and Program Inclusions

 

Tour Cost: $6,865 (per person double occupancy)
Internal airfare within Burma: $438
Single Supplement: $1,268
International Air: starting at $1,500
Guaranteed departure with 8 passengers minimum

CUSTOM LAND COST INCLUDES:

  • All meals as designated in the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • hotels as shown based on double occupancy
  • airport transfers as indicated
  • all transfers to and from hotels as indicated for planned activities and sightseeing tours–entrance fees, domestic permits
  • all applicable service charges and taxes (excluding some international or domestic airport departure taxes)
  • predeparture materials including a customized Travel Guide containing destination information, travel tips, and cultural primer
  • limited travel insurance coverage including emergency medical evacuation coverage up to $75,000 per person, and in-country emergency medical expenses up to $2,500 per person.

CUSTOM LAND COST EXCLUDES:

  • Any item not specifically included in your program including all snacks, extra personal beverages & bottled water, etc. other than during designated meals, alcoholic beverages; passport and visa fees, video fees, excess baggage fees, laundry, phone calls, internet and any other items of a personal nature not specifically indicated
  • tips for your guide, ground staff, drivers, hotel porters and other service staff; ADDITIONAL INSURANCE OF ANY KIND, including trip cancellation/interruption/delay, air ticket cancelation, additional medical, and lost baggage insurance
  • any and all expenses resulting from delays arising beyond our direct control due to bad weather, trail, river, sea, and/or road conditions, sickness, civil unrest, government action
  • or any other transportation delays for any reason beyond our direct control
  • optional activities, free-day activities, including any additional stopover arrangements not specifically included in the itinerary. We can make additional arrangements for you. Extra charges will apply.

AIR COST INCLUDES*:
INTERNATIONAL AIR: There is no international air included in this trip cost.

INTERNAL AIR: Yangon - Mandalay | Bagan - Heho - Yangon on preferred local airline carriers - Economy class.

* All airfare is subject to change until ticketed. We will always do our best to confirm the most desirable seats on internal and/or international air (if ticketed by ATJ). Confirmed seat assignments are never guaranteed and can be changed at the discretion of the airline. Often with minor schedule changes, seat assignments are cancelled by the airlines. Please feel free to contact the airlines on your own to check on your seat assignments

VISAS - CUSTOM TRAVEL: VISA FEES ARE NOT INCLUDED in your trip cost. You are welcome to obtain the visa on your own or through our recommended service provider G3 Visas & Passports (visit http://www.asiatranspacific.com/visas for links to their site and select 'Asia Transpacific Journeys Custom Traveler' to print all required forms). Following are requirements for your program for U.S. citizens (different regulations may apply for other nationalities). All visa information is subject to change.

  • Myanmar (Burma) - Pre-arranged or on arrival. Myanmar (Burma) requires a visa, which can be pre-arranged or obtained on arrival for Custom Journey travelers. Group Trip participants are required to obtain their visa in advance of their trip.


CANCELLATION POLICY :

  • From time of confirmation until 60 days before departure - cancellation fee is limited to your deposit or 25% of all land cost, which ever is greater.*
  • From 31 to 59 days prior to departure - cancellation fee is limited to your deposit or 50% of all land cost, which ever is greater.*
  • Less than 30 days prior to departure - 100% of land arrangements is non-refundable.

* There may be circumstances where non-refundable full payments or deposits have been made on your behalf for airfare, ship or other charters, hotel or other custom arrangements that will supersede the above policies.

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Host Lecturers

 

 Davies Stamm Davies Stamm is a native New Yorker and graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. He fell in love with Southeast Asia in late 1970s, moved to Bangkok where he worked as a writer and editor, and happily succumbed to Asia’s relaxed pace. A veteran guide with decades of experience, Davies has led dozens of tours to Burma for some of America’s most prestigious universities and musuems. With his great charm, wickedly dry sense of humor, and his extensive knowledge of the region’s history and art, Davies is a top-notch cultural interpreter.

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