a trip review by Rita Jansson-Ericsson
Myanmar is one of those countries I’ll never forget. It’s on top of my list of magical places I’d like to visit again. The food was beautiful and the people were so friendly and welcoming. The ‘old’ Burma, now Myanmar, doesn’t get that many tourists every year so it’s very ‘untouched’. I was lucky to spend 11 days in Myanmar.
I stayed at Hotel Savoy in Yangon for 3 nights. This colonial hotel is close to the Shwedagon Pagoda and only 4 km from Bogyoke Market and Chauk-htat-gyi Paya, a 70 m. reclining Buddha statue.
I had my first cooking class on this trip in a Yangon apartment at Three Good Spoons. The cooking school is run on a voluntary basis by Chef “Kevin” and his team. Kevin used to work at the American Embassy and once made a dinner for 500 people, two of them being Hilary Clinton and the president Obama!! He shared some of his Burmese, home-style cooking secrets with us.
Short plane trip from Yangon to Inle Lake’s Heho airport
We visited the colourful local Shan markets of Heho on the way to Kakku, to visit the amazing Stupas. Kakku is a remote Buddhist site said to have 2,548 monuments. We enjoyed a delicious Pa-Oh banquet lunch overlooking this spectacular site.
Stayed at Inle Princess Lake Houses for 2 nights. A resort in the ‘floating village’ which has its own ‘floating’ vegetable gardens! These lake houses are in Pyinkado style of teak and bamboo-thatch nested in tropical gardens with lily ponds and overlooking a bird sanctuary and the Shan Mountains.
You arrive to this resort in a traditional boat (looks like a long canoe) and for the last bit on this quiet inlet, the ‘captain’ at the back, turns the motor off and one of the local men jumps onboard and ‘one-leg paddled’ us to the resort. The traditional way the fishermen go about their fishing on Inle Lake.
I had my second cooking lesson, Inthar cuisine, at Inthar Heritage House which is a hospitality training centre on Inle Lake, using fresh locally- sourced and organically grown produce. It’s also a Burmese Cat Sanctuary for the nearly extinct species. (The Inthar are the people who live on Inle Lake)
Heho airport and a plane trip to Bagan.
I then boarded the river cruise vessel, Sanctuary Ananda for 3 nights, for a voyage along the Irrawaddy River to Mandalay.
The cruise was definitely breathtaking and a true discovery of this river. Visiting temples, pagodas, palaces and monasteries along the way towards Mandalay. This river vessel has only got 21 suites and a ‘mini’ pool on the sun deck! It was built by original Burmese design and chic in an atmosphere of five-star comfort with polished teak, lacquer-ware and heritage arts, crafts and textiles.
I had my third cooking class on the Sanctuary Ananda with Thai celebrity chef Sumet Sumpachanyanont. Sumet has started restaurants in over 15 countries and been a host of famous cooking shows. He was also one of the judges on the first ‘Master Chef’ in Myanmar. The final was even filmed on this river vessel – the Sanctuary Ananda!
Stayed at the stunning Mandalay Hill Resort for only 1 night after the Irrawaddy river cruise before flying back to Sydney.
An absolutely amazing trip!
Trip review by Rita Jansson-Ericsson, May 2019
Photo credits: Chris Riou, Newport Travel
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