Need a Guide in Burma (Myanmar)? – Look No Further

Steve and Mr. Han (in his signature hat) outside a Kachin restaurant in Bhamo, Myanmar

Steve and Mr. Han (in his signature hat) outside a Kachin restaurant in Bhamo, Myanmar

My husband and I just completed a 16-night trip to Burma. It was, without a doubt, the trip of a lifetime. On planes, trains, boats and cars from Yangon to Mandalay, to Mogok and Began; we experienced the beautiful people and rich culture of this land. Only because of our guide, Mr. Han, were we able to see and experience so much. It is fair to say that Mr. Han might be the most well-traveled guide for his age in all of Burma. As a child, he spent his summer holidays travelling with his father who was a lorry driver for the military. With his father, they covered every road in Burma transporting goods in every direction. For fun, Mr. Han memorized the names of all the villages they were in, in the order they visited and made note of the uniqueness of each place. With these experiences and his pride in his country, he is able to put together terrific itineraries based on personal requests and interests.
One of the things that sticks with me most about our trip is a memory of the request we made when starting to plan. I told him that I wanted to see the country and not just the touristy sites. He said to me, “I see, you don’t want to see a tourist, but you want to be one.” I loved the frankness and he was correct! I can say that, in several places on the trip, we were definitely the only western or European tourists for miles. We were told at the gem market in Mogok that we were the first Americans one man had ever seen there. We had lunch and cooking lessons in private homes and saw the relics of one of the most famous Buddhist monks in Burma.
From hiking the ice mountain outside Patao to river cruises on the Irrawaddy or Chindwin rivers to the dry lands of the temple-rich Began, Mr. Han can arrange it all for you. You will meet and support local enterprises, and villages, spread the wealth to the people in this emerging tourist destination.
One more thing to note, Mr. Han is a dedicated supporter of the National League for Democracy and Aung San Suu Kyi. If you are lucky and it is your wish, he might even be able to arrange a sighting of Burma’s most famous and dedicated servant. Mr. Han is amazing and so is the tours he provides!

Jennifer with a brief interaction wiht Aung San Suu Kyi. Mr. Han managed to capture the moment. At National League for Democracy Headquarters, Yangon

Jennifer having a brief interaction wiht Aung San Suu Kyi. Mr. Han managed to capture the moment. At National League for Democracy Headquarters, Yangon

Mr. Han Travels & Tours.
Address:No.162 /164 ,3rd Floor,Mahabandoola Road,Pazuntaung Tsp,Yangon,Myanmar.
Hot Line:+95 9 42102 3653,Tel / Fax: +95 1 9010403.
Email: mrhantravel@gmail.com or mr.han1000@gmail.com
Website: www.mrhantravels.com
www.vacationmyanmartour.com,www.myanmartravelservices.com

On the Road to Burma (Myanmar) Part I – Yangon

Rainy Yangon St.

Rainy Yangon St.

I was relieved as we approached the the International Terminal at Yangon airport. We could see from the taxi that our overloaded luggage cart was still there. After a busy, stimulating, inspiring, beautiful week-long visit to Burma (Myanmar), we hastily had left our baggage out in the open at the airport security desk in Yangon for more than four hours. We had planned to check our bags at the airport and go to dinner at our guide, and now friend’s, flat about 12 miles away. Our flight did not leave until 1:00 a.m. and we arrived from Began at 6:30 p.m. fully loaded down with bags.The Dragaonair ticket counter did not accept checked luggage before two hours from departure. We had done our very best to spread our money around in Burma and we had a lot to lug and show for it, too much to haul across town in a taxi.  At the assurance of two well-meaning English-speaking travelers, we left our baggage cart and headed for a taxi. Airport security had agreed, through our volunteer translators, to watch our bags. Not thinking twice about it, we jumped in a taxi and sped away. Only after we were in the taxi a few silent minutes did it sink in what we had just done. We left our bags without a ticket or a name or anything but a nod and smile. Oh well, worst case scenario would be that it was all gone when we returned. I could live with that.

Found safe and sound in the Yagon International Airport

Found safe and sound in the Yagon International Airport

So ended a fantastic trip to Burma (I will continue to call it Burma at the behest of Aung San Suu Kyi). It is a wonderland for those wanting to see an authentic and emerging country. Tourists are finding their way to Burma, and it will change dramatically and quickly. The Burmese people are anxiously awaiting the changes and hoping for all good things ahead. After the visit of President Obama and Hillary Clinton, the Burmese are eager to welcome American travelers of which there are very few compared to other nations. Never did we feel unsafe  and the Burmese people are welcoming and genuine. Obviously we felt this safety and friendliness as we did not hesitate to leave our belongings so easily.

We started our time in Yangon. We had a recommendation for a guide that had worked with other Americans traveling from Hong Kong. Mr Han (mr.han1000@gmail.com) is a treasure. He works for a local tour company, but is on the cusp of operating his own operation independently. He is well organized and plans well and he uniquely tailors your visit with your interest and considers safety in food and lodging above all else.

Swedagon Paya, The Strand Hotel, Feel Myanmar Food, the ferry to Dalah, Chaukhtatgyi Buddha, National League for Democracy (NLD) headquarters, Aung San Suu Kyi’s home, Inya Lake were some of the many destinations in Yangon.

Shwedagon Pagoda Yangon, Myanmar

Shwedagon Pagoda Yangon, Myanmar

Inside the Shwedagon Pagoda

Inside the Shwedagon Pagoda

Monks on the way to meal break in Yangon.

Monks on the way to meal break in Yangon.

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Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda Reclining Buddha in Yangon

One of the many roadside stalls for tea or meals in Yangon.

One of the many roadside stalls for tea or meals in Yangon.

Chili, sesame, pickled tea leaves, ginger, peanuts at Feel in Yangon

Chili, sesame, pickled tea leaves, ginger, peanuts at Feel in Yangon

 

 

The crowing event, and one of the most exciting and humbling moments of my life, was when we were present at NLD headquarters when Daw Anug San Suu Kyi, appeared. Being in her presence was palpable. She exudes grace, determination and peace. I was totally unprepared when she stopped and made eye contact with me directly and asked me “Where are you from?” Tongue tied, I managed to say the USA and how much of an inspiration she was to me and the world. She then extended her hand to me and replied, “Welcome to Burma.” With that, she was whisked down the stairs and into a waiting car. Wow……..my brush with greatness, I will never forget it.

Mr. Han managed to capture the moment. At National League for Democracy Headquarters, Yangon

Mr. Han managed to capture the moment. At National League for Democracy Headquarters, Yangon