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

The Big Buddha

We decided to be tourists around Hong Kong today. So off we went to see the Big Buddha on Lantau Island and the Po Lin Monastery. Good choice. It was a lovely, relatively low-humidity day and we got there early.

The trip was a mix of old and new, commercialism and simplicity. The MTR (subway)brought us to the island, and then we took a glass-bottom tram to the Buddha.

The tram station had all the feel of an over-the-top amusement park, and we walked in lines and snaked through dividers to enter the tram car. Once in the car, it was quiet and we started off over the hills and then out over the water. We were probably 600-800 feet high over the water, and then the tram started up the mountain. Below was lush vegetation and many birds. We could hear the birds in the trees as we went over the tops. The ride lasts about 25 minutes and after climbing higher and higher up the hills, we reached the top and could see the Buddha sitting even higher kind of floating above the trees.

Once you leave the car and start the walk to the Buddha, you have to go through an amusement-style village street. Very weird and obviously not part of the Monastery. There were Starbucks and several different noodle shops and souvenier shops along the way and amusemen-park-style music playing the same obnoxious tune over and over again. At the end of the street, it opens up and you can see a lovely working monastery beautifully cared for and a big sign telling you “go to the big Buddha.”  You smell incense and every garden is meticulously cared for, and there are big dogs lazing around in the grass and sleeping in the sun.  There are 240 steps to the base of the lotus that the Buddha is sitting upon. It is serene and calming to climb the stairs. At the top, there were 40 or so monks, nuns and Buddhists in active prayer, working their way clockwise around the base of the Buddha.

We spent quite a bit of time here taking in the view and considering where we were.  At one point Steve says, “can you believe we are living here?”   And, I can’t quite believe it.