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Katie Taylor travelled to Myanmar with InsideBurma Tours in November 2016. Here, she gives us just a few of the highlights from a fantastic trip. Thanks Katie for sharing your beautiful photographs and memories!
Picking out the highlights of our three-week trip to Myanmar is hard – there were no lowlights and we loved every minute! But here are a few real stand-out memories:
1. Kuthodaw Pagoda at nightfall
Visiting the stunning Kuthodaw Pagoda at the bottom of Mandalay Hill, just as night fell. The contrast of the hundreds of white marble shrines against the dark blue sky was magical.
2. Hsibuye Paya, Mingun
The scale and beauty of the whitewashed Hsinbyume Paya in Mingun – like a huge meringue.
3. Waiting for the train at Naung Pain
Waiting for a train at the tiny rural station in Naung Pain, Shan State and watching the build-up to its arrival. Local ladies cross the line with five minutes to spare, some carrying big vats of home-made food to sell to passengers on board. I was amazed when out of the blue a young girl presented me with a bowl of steaming hot noodles. It was simply a gift, a gesture of friendliness and a chance to open up a lovely chat with us.
The railway line is under the greenery, somewhere!
4. An adventure in Chin State
A wonderful four-day adventure into Chin State, in the capable hands of Bobo our guide and Nimo our driver. First stop is Chauk market where we marvel at the freshness and variety of the fruit and veg.
The scenery as we go on is stunning – rice paddies, betel nut, teak, bamboo.
We stop for lunch at a tea house in Saw. So many side dishes, all of which are delicious and have been cooked in the tiniest of kitchen areas.
The drive up to Kanpelet is winding, steep and sometimes shrouded in cloud, with beautiful views back over the plains. Many creeks flood across the road and the water buffalo seem to enjoy wallowing in the mud!
Kanpelet is perched on a ridge, with houses seeming to cling on to the mountainside by magic. At around 6,000 feet it’s significantly colder than Bagan.
The next day we drive to Mount Victoria base camp and walk up to the summit at 10,000 feet. There are breath-taking views in and out of the cloud all the way up. The tree silhouettes remind us of Chinese paintings.
By the time we get to the top we are wearing hats, gloves, fleeces and waterproofs – it’s English-style cold but so worth it. It takes us around four hours to trek up and back down to base camp.
We drive on to Aye Camp where we spend the night. The accommodation is basic, but the location, the friendly welcome and the delicious Chin beef meatballs cooked over a woodfire more than make up for it. We wake up at sunrise to crowing cockerels and a beautiful view across the valley to Mindat.
On day three we are guided by the Chin National Park Ranger, who folds himself into the boot of the car along with our luggage to get us to the start of today’s trek. We walk through wonderful rural scenery and villages to Kyardo, meeting some very colourful characters on the way.
This chap reckoned he was 110 years old! His wife scuttled off to change into her Chin national dress especially for the photo.
The path down to Kyardo is steep and the temperature is such a contrast to yesterday’s – we are peeling off layers as we descend. The cicada noise as we reach the valley bottom is intense -some seem to be imitating car burglar alarms.
On day four, after an overnight stay in Mindat, we begin our descent and the beautiful drive back to Bagan, via Pauk where we stop for a cup of sweet tea and watch the world go by.
The magnificent collection of stupas at Inthein on Inle Lake.
6. Cycling in Ngapali
A relaxing cycle ride along the coast at Ngapali, topped off with a wonderful sunset.
If after seeing these stunning photos you’d like to follow in Katie’s footsteps, take a look at our Untouched Burma itinerary, which includes stops at all the destinations mentioned here – and more!