View Full Version : Anyone interested in trek to Myanmar
01-07-2004, 01:23 PM
Seems I just put a post in the wrong forum (the General one)...
So again: I wonder if anyone wld be intersted in a trek to Myanmar in November /December? I could arrange workshops with pro photogrpahers and for the Burma part to be led by an award-winning Burmese photogrpaher. Maybe 10 days, and for no more than, say 15, people. If enough interest I'll look into details.
01-07-2004, 07:12 PM
I am interested, Philip. I was thinking of doing just that this April/May when I returned for my annual visit to VN. Any reason why it has to be in Nov/Dec?
01-07-2004, 07:48 PM
I am interested Philip, it sounds great. November would be better for me certainly. December my be difficult, unless it was late december (after about the 20th). Let me know, I would love to participate.
01-08-2004, 01:54 AM
I think April/May would be too short a lead-time for organisation (finding hotels, arranging things generally). And also that's the hottest time of year - November/December is cooler. But let's see what the general feeling is. I'm open to suggestions.
01-08-2004, 01:56 AM
I'll keep you informed. If a few people from TE are interested I'll start looking more widely, on other photo sites.
01-08-2004, 03:54 AM
Any idea about estimated cost? I am thinking of returning to SEAsia this fall, perhaps en route to Japan to teach English. I'll continue to check this thread.
01-08-2004, 04:20 AM
Cost will depend of how long we stay and what we do/where we go. I checked out some tour operaters - one for 17 days staying in top hotels and traveling around by air (internally) for 0ver $3,000 a head (ouch!). I tihnk I can get cheaper hotels, 3 and 4 star instead of 5, and travel by train and boat instead of by air. Plus less sightseeing, more photogrpahy, means avoiding entrance fees (and the Govt of Burma charges entrance fees everywhere! - but there are places to go for photos that have no fees). That can reduce costs. On the other hand, having my pro photographer friends do workshops and accompany the group, might well eat into those savings.
At the moment I foresee an itinerary like this:
Day 1: Arrive Bangkok. In the evening, workshop on travel photogrpahy by a professional photogrpaher based in Bangkok.
Day 2: Arrive Yangon. Workshop by an award-winning Burmese photogrpaher who will lead the group. Special performance of Burmese classical dance with opportunities to photograph.
Day 3: Photo-oriented visit to Shwedagon in the morning. Midday in the hotel (it's hot out there!) Later in the afternoon, visit to the Rangoon waterfront and Strand hotel, chance for street photogrpahy.
Day 4: Yangon. Free. (Take your own photos.)
For anyone interested, a trip across the river to Dalla, chance for street photogrpahy/rural photogrpahy.
Day 5: Train to Manddalay.
Day 6: Maybe a temple festival out in the country, or maybe visit to Bagaya monastery to photogrpah monastic life.
Day 7: Boat to Bagan.
Day 8: Burmese tour leader to show how to create pictorial photos in the setting of a temple, using novice monks from a local monastery.
Day 9: Free.
Day 10: Return to Yangon by boat.
Day 11: Yangon.
Day 12: Return to Bangkok.
If enough people express interest, I'll check out more options and contact my photogrpaher friends in Bangkok and Yangon.
01-08-2004, 06:05 AM
Of course it is impossible to organize it for April/May timeframe. I was thinking of omitting from my trip and go somewhere else for my April/May trip and join the gang for Myanmar. :D
01-08-2004, 06:14 AM
Sounds sweet :) I rather stay with the local if I have the choice as long as I can charge my batteries and laptop, I am a happy camper. That's said $3,000 is not a small sum either :D. I don't mind travel by bus or train.
01-08-2004, 11:00 AM
Ok Thien - let me know if you can keep the November/December timeframe open, love to meet everyone, would be great! :-).
01-09-2004, 12:53 AM
I know that hotels don't have to cost $100 a night - I stay in a very decent one in Yangon for $27, and you can get down to $12 and still be comfortable.
Travel by bus also reduces costs substantially - but boat seems to be generally out, as it's very slow!
I think we can get costs down to $1000-$2000 for 10-15 days - I'll look into it.
01-09-2004, 10:37 AM
Hi Alex, Thien and Darren (and anyone else interested)
Here are some thoughts on hotels:
You can stay below $10 a night in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan. I've done it. But I'm now 53 years old and like some comfort. Personally I'd go up a notch nad stay in the City Star Hotel in Yangon ($20 a night for the standard single room, guaranteed electricity, good breakfast, great views over the roof of the Town Hall to the spires of Sule Pagoda, middle of downtown), and in the Royal City Hotel in Mandalay ($23 a night, same as City Star). I'll look into Bagan.
I'm finding out about air fares to/from Yangon/Bangkok, and internal traval. Thai flies in every day, and I took the bus when I was there before - night bus from Yangon to Bagan, another bus to Mandalay, another one back to Yangon.
This brings up the questyion of where, in Burma, we want to go, and how long to stay. Yangon/Bagan/Mandalay is the tourist circuit. Life is more exciting if you go further off the beaten track - to Mrauk U, say. Ay ideas?
Also, what about time? How long can you spend away?
01-09-2004, 10:15 PM
Hi Philip. The more I read about this, the more interesting it all becomes. Just my thoughts on the total time involved. Because I work and live in Asia, this likely will not be my only vacation to SE Asia in the calendar year. Because of this, what would be ideal for me, is if I were to be able to do the trip without missing more than a week of work. I would be most comfortable with arriving in BKK late on a friday night, and leaving again the next sunday. This would mean for me that the meat and potatoes of the excursion would be 8 days (Saturday-Saturday). I am guessing many of the other photographers who would be interested are also residents of Asia., Perhaps such a schedule would work for them as well? I believe (I heard it on the intercom the last time I was in the Taipei airport) there are direct flights for me into Yangoon as well. Perhaps there are others who have such options.
Philip, thank you in advance for suggesting this trip, as well as the obvious work involved with putting things together. Please let me know if there is any help I can offer.
01-11-2004, 02:24 AM
I am not as old but my body is also craving for comfort like yours :).
I am not as lucky as some of you to actually live in Asia :(. I will have to take into account the time to fly from Canada down to Asia so there would be a 3 days difference for me and for the photographers that are based in Asia. My vacation time for Asia are normally a minimum of 2 weeks. Anyhow, if we stick with Darren 8 days schedule then I would have a few days to see what Thailand can offer. Not bad at all.
01-18-2004, 12:23 PM
Ok, I'll work on 8 days in Burma. I want to add on, for those interested, a workshop in Bangkok with a friend of mine who's a commercial photogrpaher there, but I'll regard that as optional. See some of Marc's work at http://www.thaidigitalphoto.com/ - he knows a lot about using light and setting up shots to best advantage.
02-05-2004, 10:09 PM
this is a great idea Philip, but I'm afraid that it will be hard to satisfy everyone's requests (schedule, where to go, money...)
Personally, I find 8 days a bit short, and thus hard to avoid the tourist circuit Yangon-Bagan-Mandalay-InleLake, something I'm not interested in.
However, do not hesitate to put infos here, I will follow this thread attentively.
02-07-2004, 09:36 AM
I've done some research on in-country costs - it can be done for under $1,000 by staying in decent hotels that aren't actually 5-star - I think the 5-star hotel syndrome, plus the air-conditioned coaches, are the reason that luxury tours to Burma quote prices 3 times more than that!
After accommodation, the next big expense if travel - bus is cheap but takes up a lot of time, so air has attractions but costs $100 Yangon/Mandalay one-way.
The Yangon/Bagan/Mandalay circuit is indeed a bit obvious, but what else can you do in 7 to 8 days? And if you've never been to Burma before, you can hardly go home and tell everyone that you didn't see Bagan!
We may be able to have a very interesting guide with us - the Vice-Pres of the Myanmar Photographic Society, no less.
Anyone interested in joining this trek, please let me know. No commitment, just say if you're interested.
02-07-2004, 10:11 AM
Why not skip Mandalay, concentrate on Yangon and Bagan? Bagan deserves a few days, there's lots of good stuff close to Yangon such as Bago and the opportunity to spend a few hours on the river.
Car and driver rental is fairly inexpensive, you could do a loop up Highway 1 through Taungoo and Pyinmana, over to Bagan and back Highway 2 through Pyay. With privately hired car(s) you could determine start times, shoot early, do most of the driving during the middle of the day when light is at it's worst, stop for interesting sights and sites, and arrive at a stopping point for the Golden Hours.
And if money is an issue there are 'just fine' places to stay in the $10-15 range. The Motherland II in Yangon, for example, offers private room and bath, air-con, breakfast, quite, clean, pleasant for $12. Basic private bath, air-con rooms in Nyanung (the village just next to the Bagan temple area) can be had for well under $10.
Those who wish to spend more than a week can strike out on their own to Inle Lake, Mandalay, Kyaiktiyo (the Golden Boulder Stupa), and so many other great destinations. After a week with an experienced guide most people would find it quite easy to travel Myanmar on their own.
02-07-2004, 01:04 PM
Thanks Bob. I must admit I hadn't thought of a car and driver. But it has a lot of attractions - travel at your own pace, see places you otherwise miss. I can find out about prices. And we could do a sort of basic tour plus add-ons - the organised trip to take 7 or 8 days, then those who wish can strike out on their own. Thanks for a really good input!
03-15-2004, 01:27 PM
I just discovered this wonderfull website 3 days ago and registered
last night ...
I'm afraid I can't yet share my photos with you as much as I want to
as 85% of my work is in slides and 15% on paper and I have no idea
how to scan properly from either - the results I've had from scanning
paper photos so far are best kept private ...
My other great passion is travel and actually though a trained archaeologist I've been working in the travel industry for the past
17 years ...
I have organised and led many tours to Myanmar and would be happy to help with this tour you are planning and if you want with prices as well.And am actually based as tour operator for a large travel company in Cambodia with excellent connections in Vietnam Laos Myanmar Thailand and further afield.
Myanmar is a very large country and access to some areas is restricted or off limits.
The domestic flights are not expensive and for the time frame you are talking about make more sense than car+driver. If the time frame
would have been longer than car+driver is a great opportunity.
The hotels: while there is no need in staying at 5 star hotels you still want to have clean pleasant comfortable accomodation where your equipment will be safe and where you can rely on the electricity
for charging batteries,lap tops, and digital cameras and equipment.
Phillip, this is a great idea, please let me know if you need any help with the organisation and operation of this tour.
03-15-2004, 06:17 PM
Dror - I'll send you an email with more detail, but thanks for the post and for the offer of help.
I agree about air travel being the best option to get around inside Burma for the short time we'll be there. I've never found cars to be good for photo-expeditions - when you're travelling at 60 or 80 kph, it's just too much trouble to stop the car simply because you see something out the window that might be interesting, and yet you lose a lot of valuable time simply sitting and looking out that window at fields and villages rolling by.
Hotels: I have in mind the City Star hotel in Yangon, which is clean, comfortable, air conditioned, has a generator, and is quite cheap. In Nyaung U (the village for staying in while seeing Bagan, as you know), there are many good guest houses. In Mandalay I stayed in 2002 in the ET Hotel, very cheap, but no reliable power and no hot water, so I think we'll go a bit up-market.
What I do want to do on this trip is (a) have a very good Burmese professional photogrpaher either join us for the whole trip or else give a workshop one day in Yangon, and (b) have a private performance of traditional dance for us to photogrpah. I can arrange both of these, I believe.
Anyway, I'll send you an email soon.
03-15-2004, 06:19 PM
Dror - I'll send you an email IF you send me your email address! My personal email address is firstname.lastname@example.org (That's a bit misleading - I'm actually in Australia, not the UK!)
03-15-2004, 06:30 PM
Philip, I'm sorry ... I thought you could send me mail via the forum ...
My mail is : email@example.com
03-15-2004, 06:42 PM
You can send mail to ppl if they have an email link activated next to their name on their portfolio page - but you don't seem to. Thanks for this anyway. I'll send the email tommoroow - it's 2.30 in the morning and I should go to bed... :-).
03-15-2004, 06:53 PM
sweet Dreams :)
there's already mail in your mailbox
05-03-2004, 09:16 AM
At the moment 3 people have expressed interest in this trip - Alex, Thien, Darren and Fil Dabrowski. I just sent them all an email updating them on where we are. Birefly:
1. Trip will be for 8 days, in November - exact timing to be settled (and settled soon, I should think!).
2. Costs will be kept under $1000, and well under at that.
3. Travel will be by train Yangon/Mandalay, bus Mandalay/Bagan, and plane Bagan/Yangon. Hotels will be in the range $20-$30 a night, single room (up to you if you want to share). Hotels will all have reliable power (something that can't be taken for granted in Myanmar), air-con, and restaurants. All are centrally situated.
I'll be arranging for a Myanmarese (?) professional photogrpaher to accompany us as our expert photo-guide. I'll also arrange for a 'special event' - what I have in mind is a performance of traditional dance, specifically for photogrpahers (as oppsoed to the performances that are for looking at).
If anyone else wants to get in on this, please let me know.
05-17-2004, 03:31 PM
I'm sending an email to those who've already expressed interest, but the details of the trip are:
Dates: 6-13 November this year (2004)
People: We have 4 TEers expressing interest - room for more (leave a reply on this thread if you want)
Price: $400 (more exactly, I've been quoted $385 shared accommodation, plus $20 for single supplement)
Itinerary: Yangon-Mandalay-Bagan (includes such things as Shwedagon pagoda, Mandalay fort, U Bein bridge, the temples of Bagan, the nat-mountain Mount Popa, handicraft workshops, dances/puppet shows, etc). Travel by train and mini-van and boat.
Extras: A Burmese photo-guru to give advice and workshops.
As I said, there's room for more - leave a note on this thread or drop me an email.
05-21-2004, 07:28 AM
Hi all, just to stop by and offer to help answer any questions you might have with Myanmar. Other than that I wish all of you have a nice trip.
05-21-2004, 09:46 AM
Mingalabar Wai Kyi
Thanks for dropping by. And yes, I do have a question: Do you know, from your own experience, whether FECs are still required? Some people say you have to buy them, others say no. What was your experience?
05-21-2004, 09:53 AM
No, they no longer require that since middle of 2003. The reason is the FECs are getting better rate than $$$ now. That is why!!! 1$ is about 840-850 Kyats and 1 FEC is now around 10-20 Kyats more than 1$.
05-21-2004, 10:28 AM
Very interesting! Wonder why the FEC get higher rate the the $? Maybe because of all the counterfeit dollars around...
05-21-2004, 05:31 PM
As I recall the FEC/kyat exchange rate was a bit worse than the dollar/kyat rate when the FEC purchase requirement disappeared. The FEC exchange rate only increased after the requirement was dropped.
I wonder if there are things that the locals can only purchase/pay for with FEC (like in the 'Friendship Stores' in China). If that's the case then the demand for FEC would be forced up.
05-21-2004, 07:13 PM
Yes Phil and Bob. FEC is required to pay like cell-phone, Internet connection bills and other import/export items such as computer and electronic equipments. $$$ is not much used in trade now because of US ban on it except in personal use, $ trade and gold purchase.
05-27-2004, 04:12 PM
Date: about to be changed, probably to 20-27 November (this is because our Burmese photogrpaher-guru, U Thi Ha, is busy with another group till 18 November - but he still has to confirm with me this new date).
Cost: Because we dropped the English-speaking guide, the cost is now $324 each on a share basis, and $20 extra if you want a personal private room (this on the basis of 6 participants plus U Thi Ha - if more people come, the price drops again...slightly).
In Yangon, the Queen'a Park Hotel, superior standard room - see their website http://www.myanmars.net/queenspark/
In Mandalay, the ET hotel (they don't seem to have a website, but I've stayed there, it's ok tho nothing to write home about).
In Bagan: New Park hotel - no website, seems to be in Nyaung Oo, which is the big village on the edge of Bagan.
Email coming to particiapnts.
05-29-2004, 04:59 AM
Hi Philip and all,
Around last week of November, there is Ballon festival in Taung Gyi. In the fullmoon night of November, lot of ethnic groups of Shan state will gather at the pagoda where the festival is held. I am sure you are going to have lot of photo opportunities there.
I know there are famous Burmese photo gurus in Nyaung Oo. The two brothers named Nyaung Oo Pho Cho and Nyaung Oo Than Htay. They have numerous first awards from not only Burma but also from all over the world. I highly recommend that you meet with them when you are in Nyaung Oo. Pho Cho is famous on beautiful scenes and his brother is very famous for people photos. Hope this will help.
05-29-2004, 05:21 AM
Thanks Wai Kyi. The festival in Tounggyi sounds really interesting. If the others say they're interested I'll ask Myanmar Travel for a change of itinerary.
I looked for the two brothers Pho Cho and Than Htay on google but coudn't get anything that showed photos by them. Do you know where I can see their pics?
05-29-2004, 06:42 AM
Make sure when is the fullmoon day! from your arrival to Burma. Hmmm... I don't know how to find either. But they did photo shows in Rangoon a couple of times. The last time was in Jan 2004 and also their photos are on some publications and yearly calendars. Give me some time and I will get back to you. Thanks.
05-29-2004, 07:28 AM
Hi Phillip and all,
I just noticed this thread and it sounds like an awesome experience. Could you please add me to the email list as I am seriously considering joining along(assuming that there is still space.) Ultimately for me it will be the final date chosen and overall costs that determine whether i can make it. Thanks
05-29-2004, 09:49 AM
Hi bgladman (sorry I haven't looked up your proper name yet :-)
I'll add you to the email list. All the current info is in my post on this thread, about two posts above this - the dates are 20-17 November, the cost is $328 (from moemeory) share or plus $20 if you want a single room. Itinerary is Yangon-Mandalay-Bagan-Yangon, with a stop in Popa (between Bagan and where we catch the train back to Yangon). Accompanied by U Thi Ha, a top Burmese pro photogrpaher (I never met him, but from his emails I get the impression of one of those old-school British educated Burmese - which might be quite wrong of course - but he does write good English so communication shld be no problem).
06-08-2004, 02:32 AM
As promised, here is Nyaung Oo Than Htay address. He live in Mandalay not in Nyaung Oo as I said before.
Nyaung U Than Htay
No. 115/28, BALA Street, Block 3
He is semi-retired, does mostly traditional photography
on his own as freelance. Had a exhibit called "A picture
must tell a story" in Bogyoke Market in Rangoon on January earlier this year. He had no online exhibit as of this date. You can also ask your contact about him too. Take care.
06-14-2004, 07:40 AM
Thanks Waysai. Thi Ha, who will be with us and is Vice President of the Myanmar Photog. Society, says he wants to organise a get-together with the photogrpahers of Mandalay one evening in the November trip, so we should meet Than Htay then. I hope you'll be able to come to Burma on some future trip (I want to organise more of these trips).
06-15-2004, 01:37 AM
I will be going to Burma around mid-late August this year. May stay for a couple of months or at least 2 months. Not sure I will be there until you guys arrive. Will see.
07-01-2004, 05:35 AM
Here's the latest on the Burma trek:
At the moment looks like 8 people coming, which is $480 each (plus $20 for those wanting a single room), or if 7 coming it's $510 each, +$20 again for singles. Please let me know if you still think you can come - give me an indication how likely you think it is you'll come. No need to pay yet.
4+1 US$ 545,-- per person in twin sharing room
5+1 US$ 540,-- per person in twin sharing room
6+1 US$ 510,-- per person in twin sharing room
7+1 US$ 480,-- per person in twin sharing room
Single supplement US$ 25,--
(I got the trip re-costed for airtravel so we have more time for photos. Anyone prefer the train? Thi Ha says you can't sleep on Burmese trains).
Day 01 Yangon / arrival day
Queens Park Hotel.
Day 02 Yangon - Mandalay
Transfer to the airport for the flight to Mandalay, by 6T-403 (Etd: 06:45 / Eta: 08:05). ET Hotel.
Day 03 Mandalay
Overnight at ET Hotel.
Day 04 Mandalay - Bagan
Early morning transfer to Mandalay jetty for the express boat to Bagan (Etd: 05:30 / Eta: 16:00). New park Hotel. (NOTE: I'M SEEING ABOUT REPLACING THIS WITH ROAD TRAVEL< SO WE CAN STOP WHEN AND AS WE WANT)
Day 05 Bagan
New Park Hotel.
Day 06 Bagan - Mt. Popa - Bagan
Excursion to Mt. Popa. Overnight Bagan.
Day 07 Bagan - Yangon
Transfer to airport for the flight to Yangon, by Air Mandalay 6T-403 (Etd: 09:35 / Eta: 10:55). Full day in Yangon. Queens Park Hotel.
Day 08 Yangon departure
Morning and afternoon free till transfer to Airport.