Subject: Re: Where to go?
Hello Covadonga and fellow Ziners

Barbara Burgess and I recently returned from Burma. It was an amazing experience. A wonderful awful place, wonderful people and an awful government. Firmly entrenched in the 1950's, travel here can be challenging and frustrating but it's worth it to be there before it becomes overrun with tourists and we outwear our welcome as we have done in so much of Asia.

It is easy to arrange an independent trip. There is a well trodden path to the major sites and it is difficult to get too far off the beaten path as a lot of places are restricted. You need special permission to go to the area of the gem mines for example and as an independent traveler you wouldn't get it.

We booked all our internal flights on the non government owned 'safe' airlines with an agent in Yangon. She also reserved all our hotel accommodation, chosen by us from websites and discussions on online travel groups. To cover the major sites in 3 weeks we needed to fly between them. The roads are truly awful and journeys of relatively few miles take hours or days.

We visited Yangon (Rangoon), Mandalay, Maymyo, Hsipaw, Bagan, and Inle Lake.

Before you go to Burma you have a decision to make, do you honour the wishes of Aung San Suu Kyi and boycott the county and it's regime until democratic government is restored, or do you go and see for yourself? If you decide to go you will be very warmly welcomed by the people you meet. You can not avoid adding to the government coffers, from the enforced $US200 exchange to FEC's upon arrival, the temple fees, and the kick backs everyone has to pay to stay in business. The best you can hope to do is put as much money as possible into the hands of local people, stay in small privately owned hotel, eat at small family restaurants, hire local cars and drivers etc. I am so happy to have been able to visit now and would love to go back but it is something everyone has to decide for themselves.

e-mail me if you have any questions. Regards Sue Toronto (Sorry, no photos of Burma yet,)