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LiL’s Adventures in Myanmar – Part 3 : Hotels, Food and Shopping

September 27 2010 at 12:54 AM

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It was a hectic trip for us as we had to wake up early almost every day to catch the internal flights. Lucky for us, our travel agent booked us into what is considered luxury hotels by local standards. It makes a big difference when one has a good night's sleep.

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At Lake Inle, we stayed at the Serenity Inle Resort which is located on the eastern bank of Inle Lake and is surrounded by bamboo forest and Shan Hills

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The resort offers recently renovated Wooden Cottages, built on stilts over the lake with private boat-yard.

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Sunset at Serenity Inle Resort

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Reflection

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Pretty in pink

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Fellow travel buddy using his latest HTC gadget to locate the whereabouts of the moon

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We gave the Leg Rowing technique a go but it is much more difficult than it looks to execute

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In Bagan, we stayed at the Thiripyitsaya Resort which is is situtated on the banks of the Irrawaddy river. The Resort sprawls over 24 acres of landscaped gardens, which is home to mature tropical trees and flowering plants, as well as native birds and a number of small tame animals.

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It is a good place to practice your night photography

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If you want to spoil yourself silly in Yangon, I highly recommend The Strand Hotel. It is a Victorian-style hotel, built in 1896 by Aviet and Tigran Sarkie, two of the Sarkies Brothers. During the colonial period, The Strand was one of the most luxurious hotels in the British Empire with a clientèle of exclusively whites.

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Its teak and marble floors, mahogany furniture, and canopied beds complement original pieces, like period bathroom fixtures. But unlike the other grand old hotels in the region, the Strand's restoration remained true to its architectural past, and it has no new wing, and no swimming pool or tennis courts.

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However, if budget does not permit, Sedona Hotel would also give you a good nights sleep. It is rated 5 stars by local standards.

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The best thing about Sedona Hotel is that it is overlooking Inya Lake. If you want to take a look at Aung San Suu Kyis house, it is walking distance. Please refer to Part 1 for the photo.

Good food is a must whenever we travel. This trip we were spoilt for choice.

We loved Shan food

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We ate at a villagers house in Lake Inle

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Typical Burmese meal in Bagan

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Our local friends treated us to a yummy meal at Utopia Restaurant in Bogyoke Park, Yangon ( thanks Ye, Miss Nyaw and everyone else for making our trip memorable )

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And this is what their hawker food looks like. But we were not brave enough to give it a try as we wanted to avoid potential stomach problems

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Shopping wise, you have to be careful what you buy as not all items of value are allowed to be taken out of the country

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Costume jewellery and gems are a plenty and value for money. Honestly speaking, compared to the prices I get back home, I would classify the price of gems as dirt cheap.

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As mentioned before, the generally population in Myanmar is poor, and so we tried our best to support the local economy

We bought jaggery from the locals in Bagan, which is harvested from toddy palm syrup. Around Bagan, toddy syrup is collected solely for the purpose of making jaggery. From the toddy palm tree one can get a diversity of goods ranging from writing material akin to papyrus, strong lumber, fruits, flavourings to savory snacks

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The translucent white syrup is boiled until it becomes golden brown, and then made into bite-sized pieces. It is considered a sweet and is eaten by children and adults alike, usually in the afternoon along with a pot of green tea. It has been referred to locally as Burmese chocolate.


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In the early morning, before it gets too strong, it is a refreshing drink; some who can climb the palms go up to the branches to enjoy both a cool breeze and the cool drink. In some areas of central Myanmar, lofts are conveniently constructed out of bamboo around the trunk of the palm itself, high enough so that wives would be unable to drag their men home if they had been sitting up there too long.

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In Myanmar, the origins of the lacquer seems to come from Bagan about 12th - 13th century. The raw material used to manufacture lacquerware is the bamboowhich comes from the forests of the Chin State.

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The bamboo then is cut out, softened, worked to give the shape of the desired object ( bowls, dishes, vases, cuts, plates, various boxes ), most famous being the box for betel leaves and nuts. The craftsman draws up the bamboo on forms. In certain cases one uses also the hair of horse.

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We bought packets of cheroots at Lake Inle. Since cheroots do not taper, they are inexpensive to roll mechanically, and their low cost makes them particularly popular. Apparently, Cheroot smoking was also associated with resistance against tropical disease. Most likely the cheroot's aroma, by sticking to the skin and hiding the scent of sweat, which draws mosquitoes, contributed to making the smoker less of a target for their bites.

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At Lake Inle, we lingered to watch the blacksmiths make tools and decorative items.

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Brass bell we marvelled at elaborate carving designs on this work of art

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We were amazed by the lotus fibre weavers in Lake Inle.

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To weave a set of robes for a monk, you would need the fibres from 120,000 stems of the dark pink lotus. This unique fabric, found nowhere else in the world, was invented about a hundred years ago by a woman living at Inle Lake as a gift to her revered abbot. Now, scarves are also woven from this rare material.

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The fibres must be used within three days after the stems are pulled from the lake. The stems have a thorny surface which must be scraped smooth first. About five stems are held together in one hand and a small blade used to circle around the whole fistful at about four inches from the end. This is broken off and pulled apart so that silken filaments flow out from the cut ends. The filaments are laid gently on a wet table surface and with a quick turn of a wrist, the fibres are rolled into a thicker thread. The next batch is twisted onto the end of the previous one so that bit by bit, the thread grows. The collected yarn is washed, starched and spun before it can be woven.

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Its natural colour is an earthy, light brown but can be dyed to any shade your heart desires.

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There is an old Burmese saying at a time when every household had a handloom and the womenfolk wove all the longyis for the family

Men who cannot read are like the blind; women who cannot weave are like the cripple


You must be wondering what a longyi is. Longyi is a sheet of cloth widely worn in Burma. It is approximately 2 m long and 80 cm wide. Cotton is the basic material but all sorts of fabrics, both imported and home-grown, may be made into longyis

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In Burma, longyis worn by males are called paso

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while those worn by females are called htamain.

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They are not strictly speaking unisex attire as the way they are worn as well as the patterns and makeup are different between the two sexes. Men's pasos are generally stripes or checks apart from plain colours and may be worn upside down or inside out with no difference. Women's htamain however has a black calico band called a htet sint for the waist; they wear more multicoloured and floral patterns too. The cloth is often sewn into a cylindrical shape. It is worn around the waist, running to the feet. It is held in place by folding fabric over, with or without a knot.


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The longyi certainly suits the climate in these parts as it allows some air to circulate and keeps cool in the hot sun. Silks are unique in keeping warm in the winter as well as cool in the summer.

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Note how safe it is in Myanmar that you can tuck your wallet behind without fear of getting pick-pocketed.

Longyis are a great present to bring back for your loved ones and when I visit Myanmar again, I will be sure to buy back a dozen

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Thanks for viewing and stay tuned for future series of LiLs Adventures.

For Part 1 of LiLs Adventures in Myanmar, please follow this linkhttp://www.network54.com/Forum/225160/thread/1285062624/LiL%92s+Adventures+in+Myanmar+%96+Part+1+-+Bagan+and+Lake+Inle

For Part 2 of LiLs Adventures in Myanmar, please follow this linkhttp://www.network54.com/Forum/225160/thread/1285303682/LiL%92s+Adventures+in+Myanmar+%96+Part+2+-++New+friends+and+our+fun+filled+day+in+Yangon

( Please note that some of the text has been lifted off other articles on the Internet but the photos are all original. The opinions expressed here are based on my personal experience )

 
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