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Topmyanmar

Because I've always wanted to...

 

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and travel-filled 2013.

I am regularly asked what is my favourite country. Impossible to answer but if SE Asia is the region, it would undoubtedly be Burma. It has everything you could ever want in a country including the phenomenal Ngapali Beach. In fact, if you have temple phobia, you could spend a very happy week or so just here! Our new Chairman Richard Price and his wife Nicky, had a fabulous adventure and his words below might provide you with some useful thoughts. Next month I plan to review the Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique where I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks in November researching a number of divine Islands!
Yours laterally,
Nick Matthews, Laterallife London, UK.


 Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda, The Golden Rock

When I spoke to Nick and Steve about going to the Far East for a holiday for my wife and I in my new role as Chairman of laterallife - I was thinking of a trip on what is now the fairly well trodden path of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. However laterallife are nothing if not lateral! Nick pointed out that, as undoubtedly beautiful and interesting as those countries are, if we wanted to experience something different, unexplored and untouched by western influences, now was the time to visit Myanmar (or Burma as most of us still think of it).

Now I must admit my knowledge of Burma was confined to it being an ex-British colony, the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and the military government and not much else - I suppose I thought of it being a bit like North Korea, I had no idea what actually lay behind my rather superficial impressions, how the people would be, what the country would be like and indeed whether there was any tourism industry.

This is a snapshot of some of the delights that await you in one of the most undiscovered and unspoilt parts of South East Asia - but the word is out and the world is catching on fast and tourism demand is beginning to outstrip supply - if you want to go to Burma - to get the hotels that you want you will need to book about 9 months in advance. October to April is the best time to visit just speak to Nick or Steve and let them do the leg work - but above all else (in the words of the Moody Blues) - Go Now!
Yours laterally,
Richard Price

the strand

The Strand, Yangon

 

Dating back to 1901, the Strand stands as an iconic landmark building on Strand Road and close to the waterfront. The hotel's Victorian influence is visible from the grand entranceway to the marble floors inlaid with teak and elegant chandeliers. There are 31 spacious suites located on the two upper floors which are attended by a team of butlers. The Strand Grill is one of the city's finest dining venues for Asian and Western cuisine while the Strand Cafe with its large windows looking out onto Strand Road creates an intimate atmosphere reminiscent of the hotel's historic past

Popa mountain resrot

Popa Mountain Resort, Mount Popa

 

An extinct volcano rising vertically 5,000 feet up on the plain with the stunning Taungkalatt Monastery perched bang on top - up 770 steps to walk up it so best just to admire the view from afar! The only place to stay is the Popa Mountain Resort - an eco-friendly teak-built series of cabanas high up in the jungle canopy with fantastic uninterrupted views over the Monastery and surrounding countryside. The peaceful location and beautiful cabins benefit from huge verandas to sit and admire the views - the like of which you won't have seen before. laterallife can advise you which rooms have the best views.

BlueBirdBaganHotel

Bluebird Hotel, Bagan

 

One of the most wonderful sights you will see in South-East Asia are 3,000 brick built temples and pagodas in Bagan - up to 1,200 years old but many very well preserved. If you can, book a balloon ride at sunrise over the vast plain where they stretch as far as the eye can see. As a major tourist destination in Bagan there are many hotels ranging from the backpacker variety to large international hotels. However we had a real "find" and stayed at the boutique 24 room Blue Bird Hotel - the rooms are very spacious and very well appointed - waterfall showers were a particular feature with a small pool and pretty gardens - quite an oasis of tranquillity. A spa is due to open later this year - and the service was second to none.

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Ngapali Bay Villas, Ngapali Beach

 

The beach at Ngapali is up there with the best you will find in the Seychelles or the Caribbean - fine white sand and palm fringed with warm shallow turquoise waters and a typical unhurried Burmese atmosphere. Ngapali is famous for its seafood and at the beachside restaurants you can indulge yourself with a whole lobster for about £7. There are 4 or 5 low-rise teak built thatched hotels along the 2 mile long beach. We were very impressed with a new boutique hotel Ngapali Bay Villas - built right on the beach - which has 32 cabins of a whopping 1000 sq. ft. each in size - possibly the best rooms we encountered in Burma. This is a quiet boutique Hotel with a splendid pool - 

MYR-Inle Lake-

  Inle Princess, Lake Inle

 A 45 square mile freshwater lake in the middle of Burma and home of the famous one legged fishermen. Many of the lakeside hotels are built on stilts or floating pontoons but the pick of the bunch is the Inle Princess Hotel. The hotel has beautifully landscaped grounds and lake view rooms where the hotel thoughtfully provides a pair of binoculars for you to watch the passing fishermen and the wildlife - not to mention the lovely sunsets - as you sit on your veranda with your favourite tipple. Also for those who want to pamper themselves the Princess has one of the most luxurious spas in Burma.

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