A River Runs Through It – In Myanmar
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
If I were a better writer, I’d have a decent shot at describing the adventures we’ve had today. As it is, this sixth day of our Myanmar Explorer river cruise tour with Viking River Cruises was absolutely packed with experiences. That alone makes description difficult. But more than that, it’s putting into context the places, people, sights and sounds that we’ve experienced today that is giving me pause.
As an example: Today, we had lunch at an Italian restaurant, set on stilts, in a floating village on Inle Lake, in Myanmar. Have you had oven-fired pizza in Myanmar in a restaurant situated on stilts? I didn’t think so. It’s the kind of thing that, if you saw it in a movie, you’d say, well, I don’t believe that happened! Yet here we are.
We also walked through a traditional “pop-up” market that only appears in a small village near the Areum Inle Lake Resort on every fifth day. Here today, gone tomorrow. What’s more, we once again passed through the market as if we were invisible: Not a soul hassled us to buy anything, and at no time did I ever feel as if someone might rob or otherwise interfere with us. It was as if we were locals.
And yet, I am surprised at how developed Inle Lake is. It’s a far cry from some of the floating villages I saw in Cambodia two years ago; resorts almost outnumber villages here. Even Novotel has set up shop, with a new-ish looking property not far down the road from our own Areum resort.
Rather than go on and on with facts and dates and figures, I figure I’ll summarize today with this: I am, once again, impressed with how Viking handles its land operations. Today was a huge day excursion that saw us depart at 8:30 a.m. and return just before sunset. Yet everything was timed perfectly and our transportation – which ranged from mini-bus to walking to four-person wooden boats operated by local Burmese citizens – was faultless. A day like today has a lot of moving parts in it, and those have to be carefully timed in order to have a successful journey. They were.
Myanmar is just now on the verge of becoming a democracy. Tourism is opening to the West. Change is afoot. But I have to wonder: Will Inle Lake still look the same ten years from now? Or will this new openness to travellers from around the world alter its very essence in the same way it has in places like the Caribbean and Hawaii?
For me, that raises the biggest question: How do you encourage tourism while still protecting what is already there?
Viking Mandalay - Myanmar Explorer
|Day 1||Bangkok, Thailand|
|Day 2||Bangkok, Thailand|
|Day 3||Yangon, Myanmar|
|Day 4||Yangon, Myanmar and Shwedagon Pagoda|
|Day 5||Inle Lake, Myanmar|
|Day 6||Inle Lake, Myanmar|
|Day 7||Mandalay, Myanmar; Embark Viking Mandalay|
|Day 8||Mandalay, Myanmar & the U Bein Bridge|
|Day 9||Ohn Ne Choung, Myanmar|
|Day 10||Bagan, Myanmar|
|Day 11||Salay, Myanmar|
|Day 12||Yandabo, Myanmar|
|Day 13||Myint Mu, Myanmar|
Our Live Voyage Report from Viking River Cruises’ Myanmar Explorer continues tomorrow as we travel to Mandalay, Myanmar to board the Viking Mandalay! Be sure to follow along with our adventures on Twitter @deckchairblog.