Random little things you didn’t know about Burma

22 10 2014

As with most destinations it is the quirks and differences found in a place which makes it interesting and distinct and lucky for us, Burma is full of surprises.  With the ‘Beautiful Burma’ tour currently on the road out of Mandalay, we wanted to give you a list of random facts and tidbits you probably didn’t know about the country.

1. The cars are all right hand drive and they all drive on the right,……..

Cars2. On Inle Lake locals use one leg to row their boats. This unique technique allows the rower to stand high above the water and use their hands to cast fishing nets.

Inle fishing

3. Everything that can be is gold – as in everything! The effect is such that Burma literally glitters. In every town and city you will find statues, monuments, pagodas and monasteries and places of worship covered in gold and even the markets are full of small golden Buddhas’, gold leaf and golden charms.

Gold Buddha

Gold Temple

Gold Boat

Hpa An in Gold

Gold Hpa An Mawlamyine

Golden views

4. The gold leaf is bashed flat by hand, not machines. The men spend hours and hours whacking the books of gold leaf so that the gold spreads from a small bit into a wafer thing ‘leaf’ brtween the pages of the book. The ladies then separate and package the gold leaf into tiny plastic bags ready to be sold. It is incredibly hard work.

Gold leaf hammer

5. Burma is home to over 135 distinct tribes.

Inle people

Inle People

Inle people

Spot the difference

6. Phone boxes don’t exist.

Phone ladies

 

7. On Inle lake they have a stilted Burmese cat sanctuary

Cat sanctuary

Happy cats

Just a few interesting points of note from this very different country. There is plenty more intriguing elements to this beautiful and culturally unique country….all will come out in this blog soon.





The road to Sapa – a photo tour of northern Vietnam’s minority heartland

15 10 2014

The town of Sapa sits in the shadow of Mt Fansipan, Vietnam’s highest peak, and has long been a popular destination for the adventurous traveller in search of spectacular scenery and an introduction to Vietnam’s minority cultures.
Until now travel to this mountainous region of northern Vietnam has been something of a challenge, with overnight train journeys to and from the border town of Lao Cai the only practical option. The September 2014 opening of the new Hanoi-Lao Cai Highway, however, more than halves the driving time, meaning an early start from Hanoi could have you strolling through the rice terraces of Sapa by lunchtime. This is one of Vietnam’s most scenically dramatic regions, as the images below attest, so this new driving option offers a fantastic opportunity to include Sapa as part of a classic Vietnam holiday.

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Cambodia’s Watery World – Tonle Sap

13 10 2014

Our good friends at the BBC are doing a tremendous job of promoting the joys of Cambodia at present. Shortly after the conclusion of the excellent Jungle Atlantis mini-series which traced the rise and fall of the great Angkorian Empire, the country’s natural wonders are under the spotlight in the 5-part Wonders of the Monsoon series.

Episode two featured the remarkable Tonle Sap, Southeast Asia’s greatest lake, which is located in the heart of Cambodia within easy reach of Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor. During the monsoon the waters of the Sap River, which joins the Mekong at Phnom Penh, reverse their flow under the tremendous pressure of water coming downstream, and Tonle Sap swells to an enormous scale. At peak water the lake is more than six times its average dry season size, engulfing fields and forests in a remarkable annual cycle.

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Hoi An Lantern Festival – 2015 Dates

6 10 2014

It may seem like we spend quite a lot of our time enthusing about Hoi An, the delightful old port town in central Vietnam, but there is a very good reason for this. There is nowhere else in the country, and arguably in the whole of Southeast Asia, that is quite so blessed with attractions as Hoi An.

Hoi An Lantern Festival

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Angkorian Adventures – Our Top Ten Highlights

29 09 2014

With the current two-part BBC Jungle Atlantis documentary unearthing the secrets of the great Khmer Empire, we thought it would be a good time to put together a short guide to visiting this awe-inspiring archaeological wonderland. Read on to find our Top Ten Highlights of Angkor, and a handy guide to planning your trip.

Angkor Wat
The first episode charting the rise of the Empire can be viewed on the iplayer. The second episode which focuses on the decline and eventual abandonment of Angkor is broadcast on BBC2 on Thursday 2nd October at 8pm.

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How to choose a Halong Bay cruise – the definitive guide

22 09 2014


For many people the unique scenery of Halong Bay is one of the main inspirations for their trip to Vietnam, so choosing the right option for exploring these beautiful, island-strewn waters is key.

Here we provide a handy guide to Halong enabling you to make the right choice for you.

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A Photo Journey through Vietnam

9 09 2014

Our tour leader Tara has done a fair amount of travelling throughout Vietnam, yet is never short of fantastic photos to send back to us in the Bristol office. Here are a few pictures taken during the recent Highlights of Vietnam tour….

Here she shares 20 snapshots of day to day life in this beautiful country:

Vietnam motorbike

Hanoi hustle & bustle! Can’t find a parking spot for your motorbike…?

Vietnam Photo Blog

Sure you can! You’re always ‘Welcome’ at the jeweller’s! :-)

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