Thursday, November 5, 2009

28. Nov 2009. Yangon-Bagan-Lake-Inle 5D/4D by Simon

Asia USA Realty (S) Pte Ltd
Licensed Singapore Travel Agency
Tel: +65 9668-6468, 6254-3326

Nov 5, 2009 Tour Package:

5 Days 4 Nights Package to Myanmar

Day 01: Bangkok - Yangon

Arrive to Mingaladon International Airport. Please look for your guide who holding the signboard with your name and transfer to centrally located hotel in Yangon. After lunch, guide will accompany for sightseeing of Reclining Buddha (Chauk Htat Gyi) which is of 70m stretch. Visit down town area of Yangon City and pay homage to Shwedagon Pagoda, the golden dome rise 98m. Stay overnight in Yangon.

Day 02: Yangon - Bagan

After breakfast take a morning flight to Bagan, one of the biggest archaeological sites in Asia. Arrive to Nyaung Oo Airport. Visit Nyaung Oo Market, then excursion to Shwezigon Pagoda,prototype of later Myanmar Stupa, and other famous Pagoda in Bagan. Afternoon visit to traditional handicraft (lacquer ware work shop).In the evening sunset view from Shwesandaw. Stay overnight in Bagan.
Day 03: Bagan - Pindaya - Inle

After breakfast transfer to Nyaung Oo Airport for flight to Heho. Upon arrival, proceed by road to Pindaya Cave passing the beautiful hill road. Pindaya is renowned for the extensive lime stone cave, a unique site housing 8000 of ancient Buddha statues lie within. Afterward, visit to traditional hand-crafted Shan paper and umbrella workshop. Drive to Inle Lake, check-in and overnight stay at hotel.

Day 04: Inle

After breakfast sightseeing boat trip to Inle Lake, a stunning grand lake each side is banked by tall hills and community of small villages. Visit to local workshops which include silk weaving,silver smiting, cotton weaving, cheroot (Shan traditional cigar) and Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, which accommodates a collection of legendary golden statues of Buddha. Stay overnight in Inle.

Day 05: Inle - Yangon

After breakfast transfer to Airport for flight to Yangon. Arrive Yangon, continue to Singapore.
Price for Package: 785 SGD per person (minimum 6-8 pax group)
Price for Package: 1,290 SGD per person (single accompany)

Price include:
1. Accommodation at mention hotel with breakfast
2. All transfer in private air condition car
3. Tours as mention in itinerary with entrance fee
4. English speaking station guide
5. Domestic air ticket RGN-NYU-HEH-RGN
6. Full board meals

Price exclude:
1. Places not mentioned in itinerary
2. Visa to Myanmar at 45 SGD per person
3. International air ticket SIN-RGN-SIN by Silk Air 365 SGD (valid till Feb, 2010)
4. Departure tax at Yangon airport 10 USD per person

Hotel Names:
1. Yangon: Park Royal Hotel
2. Bagan: Bagan Thande Hotel
3. Inle: Golden Island Cottage

Pictures are at:
For more info:
Tel: +65 9668-6468, e-mail

Thursday, October 22, 2009

27. Lake Inle - Bagan 5 Days 4 Nights

Oct 23, 2009.


The Strand Hotel is a unique hotel full of colonial and Burmese history and is in the same class as the Raffles Hotel, Singapore. It appeals greatly to older couples who have travelled many times and do not want a modern common-looking 5-star hotel. Myanmar Treasure Resorts as a group offers upscale hotel accommodation in Lake Inle and Bagan. The Lake Inle Resort villas by Lake Inle are up to international hotel standards of a boutique hotel and is rated 4.5 stars.

5 Days / 4 Nights

14 Dec 09 Arrive Yangon (_,_,_) (MI 512, 09:20)
(Mon) Upon arrival at Yangon Int'l airport, welcome by our local guide and transfer to hotel and check-in at hotel.
Today's tour includes: Thanlyin's Kyaik Khauk Pagoda and Kyauktan Island's Kyaik-Mhawwun Yele Pagoda. Lunch at Monsoon Restaurant.
Then special evening visit to the great Shwedagon Pagoda.
Welcome dinner at Karaweik Palace Restaurant with cultural show.
Overnight at The Strand Hotel in Yangon.

15 Dec 09 Yangon- Bagan (by W9 009, 06:40-07:25) (B,_,_)
(Tue) Breakfast at hotel. Morning transfer to airport to fly for Bagan. Arrive Bagan and transfer to check-in at Hotel. Visit Nyaung Oo market, Shwezigon Pagoda, Kyansittha U-Min, Lawkanda Pagoda, Lacquerware Industry, Gubyaukgyi Temple, Htilominlo Temple, Ananda Temple, Thatbyinnyu Temple, Dhamayangyi Pagoda and Shwesandaw Pagoda to see sunset view.
Lunch at Sunset Garden Restaurant.
Dinner at Nanda Restaurant with puppet show.
Overnight at Myanmar Treasure Resorts in Bagan.

16 Dec 09 Bagan-Mt. Popa (by car) (B,_,_)
(Wed) After breakfast at hotel, transfer to Mt.Popa which rises 1518 metre from the flat surroundings. It is a core of an extinct volcano and believed to be the abode of the legendary “Nats” or the Spirit Gods.
On the way to Mt. Popa, en route stop at Toddy field to observe how to make Jaggery, Toddy Juice and Peanut Oil.
Lunch at Mt. Popa Resort.
Dinner at Mt. Popa Resort.
Overnight at Popa Mountain Resort on Mt. Popa.

17 Dec 09 Mt. Popa-Bagan -Heho-Inle Lake (by W9 141, 08:05-08:45) (B,_,_)
(Thu) After early breakfast at hotel, drive back to Bagan to fly to Heho for Inle Lake.
Then drive to Nyaung Shwe pier and transfer to hotel by boat.
Today tour includes: visit Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda, wonderful floating gardens, Nga Phe Chaung (Jumping cats’) Monastery, silversmith workshops, traditional weaving industry, blacksmith and cigar making factory by private boat.
Lunch at Ann's Restaurant.
Dinner at Hotel.
Overnight at Myanmar Treasure Resorts on Inle Lake.

18 Dec 09 Inle Lake-Heho-Yangon (by W9 009, 09:25-10:20) (B,_,_)
(Fri) Yangon Departure (by MI 517 or MI 519)
Breakfast at hotel. Then transfer to Heho airport for fight back to Yangon. Lunch at Royal Thanzin Restaurant. Visit Myanmar Gems Museum before departure flight.

For more information on personalised tours to Myanmar

Tel: +65 9668 6468

Saturday, July 4, 2009

26. Ecotourism travel to Lake Inle for 2009

Singapore licensed travel agency
Tel: +65 9668-6468

Fascinating Myanmar
4 Days / 3 Nights

Day 01 Arrive Yangon
Arrive in Yangon and transfer to hotel. Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is still a relatively quite and charming city. Its impressive colonial and spiritual heritage makes Yangon one of the most fascinating and authentic capitals of South-East Asia. After lunch, a city tour includes Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda’s 70m long reclining Bouddha, downtown Yangon with its faded colonial atmosphere, and then visit Shwedagon Pagoda. After visiting Shwedagon Pagoda, a wonderful dinner invitation awaits you at Karaweik Palace- a restaurant located on the Royal Lake where you can also enjoy traditional dance show. Overnight in Yangon.
Option : Open Bar classique with DJ. 20USD per person

Day 02 Yangon-Bagan
After breakfast at the hotel transfer to Yangon International Airport for the flight to Bagan. Thousands of ancient stupas and temples in this area make Bagan, one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in Asia. From the 11th till 13th century, when Bagan was the capital of Myanmar, the rulers of constructed huge stupas and temples, many of which are still standing today on the banks of the Ayeyarwaddy river. On the arrival, morning sightseeing features the colorful Nyaung Oo market , the Shwezigon Pagoda and its magnificent golden stupa, Wetgyi-In Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple with exquisite jatakas murals paintings and the elegant Htilominlo temple noted for its fine plaster carvings and glazes sandstone decorations. Lunch at one of the river view restaurant. After lunch, observe the process of traditional lacquerware, one of the best-known Myanmar handicrafts and speciality of Bagan. After that visit Ananda temple, an architectural masterpiece of the early-style temple with two original standing Bouddha images whose facial exprerssion change depanding on the distance the statue is viewed from. After that stroll around one of the typical village Pwa Saw and enjoy the village life. At the end of the day with a horse cart, touring among Thanugbi village, Sulamani Temple and the massive Dhammayangyi noted for its remarkable brickwork. Enjoy the sunset over the site from one of the temple. Return to hotel. In the evening a moonlit longyi party held with a traditional puppet performance. Overnight in Bagan.
Option : Longyi Party for longyi – 10USD per person, during the dinner, every participant can take photo with traditional dress, and all the photo will be presented to the groups upon departure day.USD 200 per group.

Day 03 Bagan – Heho-Inle Lake
After breakfast at the hotel transfer to Nyaung Oo Airport for the flight to Heho. From Heho, enjoy a scenic drive to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway to InleLake, one of Myanmar’s Best known sights. On arrival at Nyaung Shwe village, proceed to the jetty and transfer by motor boat to the hotel situated in the lake. Lunch at Nanpam.An afternoon sightseeing tour by boat includes the chance to see the leg-rowing fishermen and the floating gardens, built up from strips of water hyacinth and mud and anchored to the bottom with bamboo poles. The tour also includes a visit to Paung Daw Oo Pagoda, the weaving village of Inpawkhon and the newly opened ara In Dein. Return the hotel in the late afternoon. Dinner at your hotel and enjoy your evening by lakeside . Overnight at Inle Lake.

Day 04 Inle Lake- Heho – Yangon
After breakfast, visit a local market to observe the many difference minority coming down from their mountain villages to sell their goods. And then transfer to the airport to Yangon. Arriving to Yangon around 12 noon and lunch at Kandawgyi park. After that transfer back to the airport to Singapore. < Upon arrival from Heho, our company staff will make a pre-check in for the group.

Tariff period between 1 October 2009 – 31 March 2010.
Hotel based on 4 Star Hotel ( price in USD )
16-24 pax 25-30 pax Single Supplement
535 510 100

During Christmas and New Year Eve, there is compulsory gala dinner which we will advise one month a head of the season.

FOC policy-
For every 15 paying pax (15+1 ), 1 pax F.O.C on half twin basic.

Includes Excludes
(1) 3 night accommodations with daily breakfast (1) visa fees
(2) 3 domestic flights (2) international flights
(3) sightseeing with local tour guides (3) Personal expenses ( drinks/laundry/souvenirs)
(4) all entry and zone fees (4) tipping at hotels and guides
(5) ground transports ( car / boat ) (5) airport departure tax (USD 10 per person)
(6) porter charges at airport and jetty
(7) meals ( lunch & dinner )

Yangon Grand Plaza Park Royal Hotel
Bagan Thiripyitsaya Sakura Hotel
Inlay Myanmar Treasure Resort Hotel

Day 01 Lunch -Green Elephant Dinner- Karaweik Barge
Day02 Lunch – Sun Set Riverview Dinner-Thiripyitsaya Hotel
Day03 Lunch – Nan Pam restaurant Dinner-Hotel
Day 04 Lunch – White Rice

Above quotations are a guideline for planning. They are subject to changes in exchange rates and peak season increases. Final quotations will be discussed. Please tel: +65 9668-6468 or e-mail to

Friday, July 3, 2009

25. Procession - Becoming a novice monk?

Sat Jul 4, 2009
To: Shirley

Around Dec 30, 2008, I saw a procession along the road from Pyin Oo Lwin to Mandalay. Boys of around 7 years old sitting on ponies lead by man to a temple probably. Young girls in their best dresses sitting in carriages. White cows pulling several carts and slowing traffic. Golden umbrellas. Flowers and lots of people. Long procession. Dust. Diesel smoke. Extremely colourful. Something important was going on.

My tour guide was unable to explain to me in English as to what's was happening. He was a man of few words. The driver could not speak English well.

From what I read, I presume the boys were being sent to become novice monks. The girls were to have their ears pierced for wearing of ear rings. And one other reason.

I shall be most grateful if you will explain to me what's the tradition. My Canon EOS 40 D camera broke down. Camera just would not focus after the Myitkyina trip a few days ago. Maybe the rocky trip in Myitkyina upset the branded Canon digital camera lost its focus bearings. I was cursing as I expect a branded new camera to be reliable. Lesson learnt: Always carry a backup camera on your tour. Have a Plan B.

Picture from Yangon International Airport's Wall painting is similar to what I saw. Some artists have painted such scenes too.

Will be great if your father can explain in English the custom and tradition of what I saw.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

24. Advert is Apr 12, 2009

ANTI-STRESS ECO-TOURISM HOLIDAYS 2009. Scenic Lake Inle, Myanmar. May 2009 and monthly. 10 single couples wanted to make up a tour. A relaxing tour to de-stress with fellow Singaporeans. Scenic tour of Lake Inle. Friendly villagers, unpolluted air, clear waters, rolling green mountains, back to nature, trekking, upscale hotel, good food, far away from high rises and traffic jams and the concrete jungle. Be rejuvenated and alive.

Asia USA Realty (S) Pte Ltd. Singapore Travel Agent No. 01800
Details and photos at:
Tel: 9668-6468, 9664-0404,

Asiahomes specialises in Myanmar Travels but has:
1. PERSONALISED VACATIONS to various parts of Myanmar for couples, families and companies.
2. CUSTOM TOURS - Myanmar, Vietnam, China for companies
3. AIR-TICKETING - Cheap air-tickets to Europe, USA etc. Tel 9664-0404.

More info: e-mail,, Tel: 9668-6468

(1,000 characters). Advert has software bugs. Keeps asking me to provide description which is compulsory. Can't upload advert because PREVIEW PAGE has no SUBMIT after rectifying errors in * (compulsory fields).

Advert is recorded in this blog.

Friday, April 10, 2009

23. Inle Lake - Ecotourism


The Legendary Golden Land ‘the Land of Pagodas’, a country of friendly and generous people-this is still the Myanmar of today.

The Union of the Myanmar is a Vast land of 676577 Sq Km, comprising seven Division & seven State with over one hundred national groups. The name Myanmar embraces all the nationalities with the major races being the Bamar, the Kachin, the Kayah, the Kayin, the Chin, the Mon, the Rakhine and the Shan. Shan state lies in the eastern, most part of the union of Myanmar.

More then 50 national races of Shan people are stay together in Shan state. There are many tourist attraction place in Shan state. Such as the tranquil summer resort of Kalaw, the mythical caves of Pindaya, the ancient Pagodas of Kekku, the border towns of Tachilike, Mong La and Muse, the famous Inlay Lake & Floating market in Nyaung Shwe. And the indigenous Shan nationals. The Shan plateau possesses cultural ,historical, religious and ecotourism attractions of domestic and international travellers.

Among them, Inlay Lake is very famous and interesting place. Inlay lake is an ecotourism destination in Myanmr, famous for its fishermen who row with their one leg locked around a long oar and the other foot firmly gripping the flat stern of the boat.

Inlay Lake is situated in the heart of the Shan state, the (22)km long and (10)km wide.

In Inlay lake, the following places are normal visiting for travellers. Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda; Phaung Daw Oo pagoda is one of the famous Principle Pagodas in Myanmar which house five Buddha images. This Pagoda is the main attraction of Inlay Lake and is situated in the middle of the lake.

Inn Paw Khon Village ; -Typical Handicrafts, work shop and sales centre.
-Silk & Cotton fabric
-Iron Smith

Once Five Day Market
- Nam Pan Market ; The Largest Market in Inlay Lake
- Maing Thouk Market , Khaung Dine Market, Pagoda Market, Floating Market, Nyaung Shwe Market, Inn Dein Market, Thann Taung Market, Taung To Market & Shop Keepers
And Customer are selling & buying by Boat.

Religious Buliding ; Buddhist monestry are in every villages in Inlay Lake. Mosque are in MainThouk Village and Nyaung Shwe Town . Church is in Naung Shwe Town.

Handicraft work shop; Pottery (Kyauk Tai Village), Sliver & Gold Smith, Shan paper (Heya Yarma Village).
Padaung House ; Padaung Laday (Long neck Lady) in Nampan village, Heya Yarma village.

Other activities ; Canoe boat, Trekking, Excursing to InnChan (Floating garden).

Bird Watching ; the Inlay Lake gives an ideal opportunity for bird watching.

Inlay and its Environs ; Taunggyi, a splendid cool, pine clad natural resort is the capital of Shan state, located in the eastern part of the Union of Myanmar. Being situated over 1400 meters. (4712 foot) above sea level. Taunggyi is an ideal tourist destination known for its scenic beauty and pleasant climate, Taunggyi stays colourful with lovely flowers, pine trees and green orchids, cool the whole year round for travellers especially during the summer.

One exciting scene in Taunggyi is the early morning activities of the hilltribes. They bring down their crops as early as down for sale in the market. The crops available are ripe strawberries, colorful flower and fresh vegetables.

Hot Air Balloon festival ; The most spectacular event of the year is the Hot Air Balloon festival held every November in Taunggyi commonly called the Taunggyi Tazaungdaing Festivals. This Festival also includes the celebration of Tazaungdaing with Kaktein (Offering of monk robes).

Heho - Gateway to Inlay ; Heho is are gateway to the Inlay Lake, especially for those who travel by plane. This town is located halfway between Aung Ban and Shwe Nyaung Junction south to Nyaung Shwe and Inlay Lake.

Kalaw - a popular hill resort town; Kalaw is another peaceful and tranquil summer resort, located (71)km west of Taunggyi .Beautiful and cool with fragrant pinewoods and lovely walks makes Kalaw perfect for trakking and indigenous cultural experience. The road from Kalaw to pindaya is an exciting experience of panoramic views.

The town Pindaya ; Pindaya is about (45)km by car from Kalaw and only about (2) hours drives from Heho Air port. This town is (1183) meters above sea level. The foot of a western Cave of mountain which are over (1525) meter high.

The road from Kalaw to Pindaya passes through the little town of Aung Ban ,which is famous for its sweet tangerine groves. The scenic road between AungBan and Pindaya also passes through villages where Shan, Pa O, Palaung, Bamar, Inther and Danu people live.

Trekking Pindaya - Kalaw and the surrounding hills; on the mountain range around Kalaw are the village where trekking is an experience which varies from one day to five days study the traditional costumes of the Palaung people in Taraw village, a tourist attraction which has kept its ancient look.

The sight of tea plantations and other seasonal crops, quiet parkways are there, except for the chirping of the birds.

Trekking along the path from Kalaw to the Inlay Lake is even more interesting. Enjoy the unspoiled natural scenery of Inlay Lake which leads to Kakku Pagoda complex.

Compiled by Management Team of the Myanmar Treasure Resorts, Inle. 08/04/09.

Monday, April 6, 2009

22. Lake Inle Tour for 10 single couples

10 couples
The purpose of the tour is to make it relaxing and enjoyable. Getting to know each other far away from the concrete jungles of Singapore. Not to visit as many places as possible. Time out and be one with nature - crystal clear waters of Lake Inle, blue skies, blue green mountains and golden sunset, breathing in unpolluted fresh air. Friendly villagers. No high rises. Peace of mind away from deadlines.
Day 1 - May 28, 2009
Singapore - Yangon (ETA 9.30 am). Yangon - Heho Airport (ETA 5 pm). Heho-Myanmar Treasure Resorts Inle, - (ETA 7 pm, dinner in Hotel).

Day 2 - May 29, 2009
9 am Breakfast

10 am - Relaxing Lake Inle Boat Tour and photography of sceneries. Vist tomato and other farms, one-legged fisherman and nearby villages. Ask the boat man to stop if you wish to take certain scenes.

1 pm - Lunch near the Phaung Daw U Pagoda. Visit the Pagoda - one of the 3 principal shrines in Mynamar. Houses five 12th century Buddha Images).

3 pm - Visit Cat Jumping Monastery (160 years old) and visit surrounding villages.

6 pm - Evening Lake Tour to appreciate the beautiful sunset in serene mountain and clear water surroundings, take photographs

8pm - Dinner.
Day 3 - May 30, 2009
Late breakfast and lunch combined. Relax.

12 noon. Half-day trip to visit hill tribe areas. Trekking along the blue mountains by Lake Inle.

6pm Dinner at a good restaurant.
8pm Back to Hotel. Relax.

Day 4 - May 31, 2009
After breakfast, go to Heho Airport and Yangon. Return to Singapore.

Please keep your notebooks, handphones and PDAs in Singapore. They may not work in Lake Inle.

Myanmar Treasure Resorts, Inle is an upscale hotel (5-stars).
Tel: +65 9758 7551, 9668 6468
e-mail now!

A few pictures of a custom tour of Lake Inle for small groups/families in October 2008 by Fairness Travels for asiahomes are shown at:

Lake Inle Travels will be most enjoyable and memorable for Singaporeans - young and old couples. To make a booking or enquire further, tel: +65 9758 7551, 9668 6468, e-mail now!

Monday, March 23, 2009

21. Free & Easy To Yangon, Myanmar in Mar 2009

Yangon is a very interesting and safe place full of history. But you must be energetic enough to walk along the busy roads downtown. There are magnificent old colonial buildings for the Immigration and Passport Offices and the Marine Departments.

There were a few Caucasian tourists seen during my December trip. Such tourists usually appreciate history. Yangon was also under British administration and many massive buildings used by the administrators are now government offices. I did not enter any of them as I was not sure whether it was out of bounds to tourists.

Just stroll downtown Yangon and you will know what I mean if you love history and architecture. Young Singaporeans may be just interested in shopping but there are many sights of the old Singapore to see.

Most visitors to Myanmar are Thai tourists coming as they are Buddhist pilgrims and there are several thousands of pagodas and temples all over Myanmar to visit. Apparently there are 426 cities and towns in Myanmar according to one person I spoke to. According to the same source, there were 400,000 tourists in 2008 - a large drop from 500,000 due to Cyclone Nagris. An increase in tourism will provide employment for the young people and help to increase their standard of living.

I was surprised to see street vendors selling cooked pork with lots of lard and oil. In old Singapore, I was brought up to appreciate pork belly meat as it was a luxury for most families in the 1950s.

The Singapore Health Promotion Board Officials will definitely shake their heads vigorously when they see the picture of the street vendors selling high cholesterol pork meat deep fried and oily.

After meeting a Singaporean who has lived in Myanmar for several years, he suddenly said: "Singaporeans find it strange that there are vendors selling high cholesterol pork meat. Many locals do not eat meat often and the pork meat with lots of fat is very filling." I used to enjoy eating lard too. I loved the can of pork belly meat with porridge but now as a senior citizen, I have to restrain myself.

As at March 2009, the estimated cost for a free and easy visit to Myanmar, 3 days and 2 nights and Silk Air are:

1. Hotel: 4-star including breakfast
Grand Plaza Park Royal Hotel: S$619
Sedona $649
Trader $669

2. Airport Taxes $28 + $86 = $114

Total will be 1+2.
For example: 3 Days 2 Nights by Silk Air, staying at Yangon's Grand Plaza Park Royal Hotel will cost around S$733.
3. Visa Fees for Permanent Residents and Work Permit Holders in Singapore $70

4. Visa requirements: 3 photos for passport tourist visa.
Some agencies want a tourist indemnity letter.

For more information:

Asia USA Realty (S) Pte Ltd
Singapore Travel Agency Licence No. 01800
Contact, tel +65 9668-6468, 9664-0404 (air ticketing)

Friday, March 13, 2009

20. Myanmar's "Mount Olympus" is Mount Popa

Dec 28, 2008
From Bagan Airport, my family reached Popa Mountain Resort in the evening. The mountain air was fresh. Dinner was at a restaurant before we reached the Resort. Our driver said that the food was less expensive and better at a hotel halfway up the mountain to the Resort. A waitress with a bald head served us. I asked my guide whether she was a nun. Do nuns work as waitresses in Myanmar? My guide asked her. She said, "No, I am not a nun. I was living in the nunnery for 7 days." I don't have the word for her action - getting enlightenment? Lots of fresh vegetables served during dinner to my delight. This area has fertile soil with ashes from Mt Popa some 250,000 years ago when Mt Popa was an active volcano.

At Popa Mountain Resort, guests stay at the wooden bungalows with high ceilings. It luxurious accommodation, so much different from living in the average small hotel room in the city. Tall green trees, starry nights, tranquility.

A big group of German and/or French tourists were already having breakfast. There were local families with their children at the breakfast balcony. Maybe around 100 people as this was a time of recession.

The Popa Mountain Resort has several wooden bungalows with high ceilings built to merge with the slopes of the mountains. Spacious bedroom with balcony facing green forests. No mosquitoes. Fresh air. Tranquil nights. For romantic couples from fast-paced cities like Singapore, a 2-night stay will be great.

Mt Popa, 1500 metres or 5000 sq ft is in the right of the picture. A most important worship centre of Myanmar. Thousands of pilgrims go to the Mahagiri Shrine which is on the top of Mt Popa to offer flowers and food to the 37 "nats" or spirits. Hence Mt Popa is reported to be the "Mount Olympus" of Myanmar. Mount Olypmpus is where the Greek Gods live.

I did not attempt to climb up the 777 steps to the top as I did not know whether my previously injured left foot would be able to take the stress. Monkeys are present along the way up to the Mahagiri Shrine of Mt Popa. I climbed up around 100 steps. Shops along the way.

As my Canon camera has started to malfunction by not being able to focus after my visit to Lake Indawgyi. I did not manage to get any good focused pictures here and for the next 2 days of my travel in Myanmar.

The two lessons to be learnt:
1. Bring 2 cameras and 2 lenses.
2. Travel when you are young or interested in the cultures of other countries as there is a lot of walking to do. Only by walking can you appreciate the flora, fauna and culture of the country you visit. The climate was cool on this visit. Bright sunshine. Hundreds of pilgrims.

Sitting inside the tour van going from one point to another will probably be what the average Singaporean will want, but much is missed in doing this. This trip probably suits Singaporeans and Caucasian expatriates who love to know about the cultures of other countries.

Asia USA Realty, a Singapore licensed travel agency organises visits to Mt Popa and Bagan or other places in Myanmar.

For more information, e-mail, tel +65 9668-6468, goto

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

19. Shwesandaw Pagoda, Bagan, Myanmar


There is so much to see if you love history and and travel. A one-day stay is insufficient. At least 2 nights must be spent in Bagan. I spent one night in Mount Popa and then travel by the van to Bagan. Bagan is filled with history and temples and pagodas are everywhere as previous kings built them over several generations.

Domestic airlines are packed with tourists in December as Bagan is a UNESCO's World Heritage Site.

The Shwesandaw Pagoda teems with tourists only in the evening (Lonely Planet - Myanmar) only in the evening. This was true as tourists from various countries climb high up to view the beautiful sunset and see the surrounding green fields. There is a big terrace at the top and it was a beautiful sunset on Dec 28, 2008.

Some younger Caucasian tourists cycle there as hotels do rent bicycles. Older ones take cars or horse carts.

If I am not mistaken, Bagan must be the most visited tourist place in Myanmar for Caucasians. Most of the Caucasian tourists were Europeans. They did not converse in English and were likely to be Germans and French. The small airport and the plane was packed with tourists on Dec 29, 2008 when I was there.

Readers interested in custom or corporate travel to Bagan or other parts of Myanmar, tel: +65 9668-6468 or e-mail

Sunday, March 1, 2009

18. Lightning bolts of Mt Kyaiktiyo

The famous Golden Rock Pagoda is said to have a gap where a piece of paper can slide through. I did not see any gap but then the lady guide was not permitted near the Golden Rock. Devotees believe the legend that the hair relic of Gautama Buddha enshrined in the pagoda had the power to stop the boulder from falling off the table top into the valley of Mt Kyaiktiyo which is 3615 feet above sea level.

In my October 2008 tour, my party reached the base of Mt Kyaiktiyo at around 6 p.m. Just in time for the last truck to go up to the Halfway house. The truck was filled with pilgrims.

My left foot was still hurting after my fall on Day 1 at Yangon. But I managed to squeeze my leg in between the wooden planks which are around a leg's width. As the truck roared uphill, the dark storm clouds burst. I ought to have brought a water-proof plastic to protect my camera but it was too late now. One of the slim ladies - a pilgrim farmer, in front of me lent me her spare umbrella. I thanked her. My guide was soaked.

I needed the umbrella to protect my camera. The rain poured in buckets. The trunk grunted uphill and turned corners shining its bright headlamps. It was one-way traffic and the driver was good. We reached a dimly lit fluorescent roof and a shop. Burly dark-looking men in shorts and tattoos. Hats covered their faces. Greyish cheerot smoke spiralised upwards. I thought this was the military checkpoint.

No, it was a provision shop. Our tour guide purchased raincoats for us. She was already soaked to the skin and shivering. A tough lady who would sample every local noodle dish in various destinations. It was cold and wet as we shot upwards to the top of Mt Kyaiktiyo. The rain threshed the group of pilgrims and my group. It was not the typical 10-minute shower in Singapore.

After some time, the truck stopped at the Halfway house. I returned the umbrella back to the kind farmer. Instantly I was soaked in cold bullets of rain.


I carefully put one good foot on the ladder provided to climb down the high truck. To avoid falling and crashing to the ground some 6 feet down. Cold rain soaked me. I managed to alight safely. Shivering started. Hypothermia. Hot cups of tea offered and drunk. Shivering continued. Drank more hot tea.

The tour guide was bargaining with the palanquin bearers who demanded double the usual fee as it was raining cats and dogs. There was no alternative actually. No more trucks were permitted to go up to the Mountain Top Hotel at night. There would be another 30 minutes by walking. It was too dark and too risky to drive. The government forbidded tourists to go by car to prevent any accidents to tourists. The other pilgrims had already alighted and made their way to the much more affordable huts and accommodation around the Halfway House. I could not walk. A disabled person. So palanquins were the answer.

The picture above shows a palanquin going down Mt Kyaiktiyo. Everything could be seen during daytime. But on that dark and gloomy night, it was an uncommon experience for city folks like me and my Singaporean office ladies. Lightning flashed around corners as the palanquin bearers marched uphill. Just like bombs exploding in Baghdad flashing their light when they landed if you had watched the TV during the Iraqi War.

I don't know whether lightning would strike me. I was exposed on one side of the mountains as the 4 men marched uphill. Some smoked the cheerot. I had time to reflect on my past. How fortunate I had been. No major illness, no high blood pressure or diabetes at the age of 58 years.

Here, I was exposed in the palanquin to non-stop multiple forked lightning bolts. 4 thin men who needed to earn a living carried me, braving the rain. Upwards their slippers swished. After some 15 minutes, they slowed down. Put me down. They could rest and smoked the cheerot.

My raincoat covered the camera and shoes well. Swishing of the slippers of the palanquin bearers continued. Clear raindrops swished past me. Visibility was very poor. I could see the shadows of trees when lightning struck. The bearers grunted as they talked and swung to the rhythm of cornering.

One command and they shifted the poles onto the other shoulder after a while. It was hard labour carrying an adult human of 80 kg up the hill for over 30 minutes. Reached Mountain Top Hotel after a long time. The other family members and guests were somewhere in front of me.

Finally we reached Mountain View Hotel. All safe and sound. The rush to change to dry clothes. The two office ladies were not pleased with this encounter with nature. Soaked to the bone. Hypothermia. Wet, wet, wet. Complaints. The guide had left their luggage at the bottom of the hill as the bearers demanded a lot of money to carry the luggage uphill manually in their baskets. So the guide got the luggage in the van with the driver who stayed at the foot of Mt Kyaiktiyo.

Lesson for tour guides to Mt Kyaiktiyp: Ask the tourist to take along another set of clothing for the overnight stay when they get into the truck. Give them raincoats and provide umbrellas.

The front of the truck has some seats (cost more) for those who wish to avoid the rain. The memorable experience and fun for those who are able to appreciate nature is the drenching of the rain on the way up. But few readers will agree with me?

Well, the best time to go up to the Golden Pagoda may be during the afternoon. There may be no thunderstorms during daytime, it seems. We descended during daytime. There was no rain at all. Oct to April are the dry seaons and usually there is no rainfall.

Lessons to be learnt for amateur travel photographers
Get a plastic bag to protect your camera in case it rains! I do read about this advice in travel magazines but did not heed it.

Asiahomes --- Start-up Travel Agency focused on Myanmar Travels and Tours

In February 2009, the Singapore Tourism Board licensed my company, Asia USA Realty (Singapore) Pte Ltd (asiahomes), as a travel agency.

Asiahomes focuses on Myanmar tourism for Singaporeans and expatriates. Over the past 2 decades, very few Singaporeans tour Myanmar.

In general, I estimate that less than 1% of Singaporeans visit Myanmar as it is a country perceived as "not safe" for tourists. Very few travel agencies in Singapore advertise Myanmar travels and tourism as they have greater demand for visits to Australia, New Zealand, Korea, China and so many countries as reflected in their Straits Times advertisements.

In a small survey, one Singaporean vet's wife told me that the planes are not safe although there have been no international reports of air crashes in Myanmar in the past years. One husband of my Toa Payoh Vets cliente told me that he would never visit Myanmar because it is a dictatorship. Another of my client told me of the frequent blackouts when he visited Myanmar 10 years ago. Much has changed and the tourist hotels have generators to provide electricity during blackouts immediately in the event of a blackout. Yangon (known as Rangoon previously) is rapidly developing compared to 5 years ago and property prices have had gone up 100%.

After 2 exploratory visits of at least 7 days each, in October and December 2008, I find that Myanmar is a safe place for tourists. I had a local guide and my driver as I wanted to experience more of the local culture and take pictures. A group guided tour will not permit time to enjoy the beauty of the rural areas.

With custom travel, I can visit various places and stop at others without the pressure to rush to view various places of interests. In my December 2008 visit to Lake Indawgyi, my hands-on experienced bike repairer guide even helped a damsel in distress as her bike was on the verge of breaking down. While he and my driver repaired the bike, I walked around photographing the farmland on that bright and sunny morning.

Myanmar is a big country of 55 million people and 8 ethnic tribes and two visits can't do justice to its variety of cultures and food. There are still many places I will like to visit.

Asiahomes provides the following services to Myanmar in particular and other countries in general:
1. Airline Ticketing (tel: 9664 0404)
2. Hotel reservation
3. Free independent Travel for a group of young people.
4. Custom Travel for small groups who wish to travel without the pressure of a fixed schedule. A tour Guide and driver, rental of car, van, mini-bus, horse or bullock carts and bicyles. Let the guide know when you want to stop the vehicle to take pictures or rest. I find this custom travel to be the most enjoyable.
5. Guided tour for small groups of families, friends, Singapore expatriates or undergraduates about to graduate.
6. Corporate incentive tours at affordable rates.
7. Luxurious tours staying at upscale hotels.

Contact +65 9668-6468, 9664-0404, 6254-3326, e-mail, goto for more info.

The following are a summary of places of interests to tourists from Singapore:


Myanmar is a big country with more than 55 million people unlike Singapore with 6 million. There is an impression in Singapore that the country is not safe for tourists. Myanmar is safe for tourists nowadays. Several thousands of Buddhist pilgrims from Thailand and China visit the pagodas in this country.

Foreign tourists are not permitted to visit certain areas like certain parts of Myitkyina. However many more areas are now open to tourism. There are so many places of interests, more than an average traveller will have time for.

BAGAN Many German and French tourists visit Bagan which is a unique historical and archeological town. My stay of one night in Bagan was insufficient. It should be at least 2 nights to enjoy the history. Another 2 nights should be spent at Mount Poppa Mountain Resort which is 1-2 hour's drive away. My 5-month-old Canon Camera EOS 40 failed me as it could not focus at all. So all my pictures of Bagan are blurry. I ought to have a standby. One learnt from mistakes.

At least 2 nights to de-stress. A big inland lake with clear waters and the golden sunset. Many pictures are available in this blog.

YANGON Previous administrative capital. Many interesting historical areas of British colonialism to visit. Little India and China town are interesting. Boat rides to visit nearby villages can be arranged. The Strand Hotel is historical and excellent for your wedding dinners and/or honeymoon. Stay at least one night at The Strand.

PYIN OO LWIN The British officers re-located their administrative capital to Pyin Oo Lwin to escape the hot and humid climate of Yangon during summer. Its climate is cool. Flower festival in November. It is still a garrison town and there are many places to visit. Walking in Pyin Oo Lwin is great as the air is fresh and free of congested traffic.

Personalised tours for 4-8 people are best as they are more interesting. If you are the type who watch Discovery Travels documentaries from your armchair and wish to experience travel "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" without danger from insurgents, you will appreciate the safety of tours into Myanmar. Your major grouse may be the uncomfortable road travel unlike the good roads in New Zealand or Australia. There will be pot-holes in the outlying roads but not all roads are bumpy. Many towns have sentry outposts to collect road toll.

In conclusion, there is safety for the foreign tourists and there are no beggars pestering tourists for money. The climate is cool in October to April which is the peak tourist season. April to September is the rainy season and so is off-peak season. The hotel rates are much more affordable than those in Singapore and one may afford a stay in 5-star hotels in Myanmar's popular tourist resorts. In Singapore, the average person will not be afford to stay in a 5-star hotel like Raffles Hotel. Yet in Myanmar, the Governor's House at Pyin Oo Lwin is affordable and much more spacious and interesting than Raffles Hotel, Singapore.

Every tourism dollar earned helps to elevate the standard of living of the ordinary Myanmarese. If you wish to do a litte to help to improve the lives of the poor farmers and villagers, visit Myanmar at least once in your life-time. And when you are able to trek and walk and walk.

Contact +65 9668-6468, 9664-0404, 6254-3326, e-mail, goto for more info.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Singapore Office Ladies will like- Lake Inle, Myanmar

"I don't want to tour Myanmar," my wife's colleague shook her head vigorously. "I want to go to Japan."

"Why don't you like Myanmar?" I was doing my survey as I have now been given a travel agency licence by the Singapore Tourism Board. This slim lady in her 40s could afford any trip as she had no husbands or children to support. She is the aunt whom nephews and nieces love as they get lots of love. One day she shocked me by saying, "I don't want to be associated with my nephews and nieces when I bring them to the Bishan Community library. I stayed far away from them." When I asked why, she laughed, "They are a noisy bunch". Fortunately, Bishan's community library for the children is in Basement Two. This is one library where the energetic progenies do not upset the others as they read and run wild.

Many Singaporeans are not keen on touring Myanmar and you can see that there are practically no advertisements on Myanmar tourism in Singapore's Straits Times.

"Too many potholes," the wife's colleague said. "Not comfortable travel."

I looked at my wife, "You have sabotaged my start-up business." She said, "The sunset of Lake Inle is so beautiful. Green hills on one side flowing past, calm waters. The sky's colour and hue are incredible..." Lake Inle will win the hearts of the office ladies of Singapore.

Before I could speak further, my wife asked me as she remembered my 2nd trip when my new Canon EOS 40 malfunctioned halfway during the visit, "Did you manage to take some pictures of the sunset of Lake Inle successfully? Did your camera malfunction due to the bumpy rides in Myanmar?" She associated rough rides to the damage to the Canon camera. I was holding the camera all the time, ready to take pictures. During my second trip, the camera could not focus. I should have brought more than one lens and camera - a lesson to be learnt.

"Yes," I said. I post three pictures here as the others are in other parts of the blog. Lake Inle is to be experienced as words fail to describe the serenity and beauty.

Lake Inle is worth at least 2 nights' stay to explore the villages and to hike. October is a good month but October to April should be good as the climate is cool.

Any office ladies or adventurers interested in making up a group of 6 to visit Lake Inle, tel 9664-0404, 9668-6468 or e-mail to> for a further discussion. The "danger" is only some bumpy rides in certain roads of the outlying districts.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wet Market, Myitkyina, North Myanmar

North Myanmar is off the radar for Singaporeans as this part of the country is never advertised in Singapore. Myitkyina will be the town where Singaporean tourists will stay.

For the internet generation, Myitkyina will be Singapore of over 50 years ago in many ways. The less hectic pace of life is evident here. For the baby-boomer generation, there is the nostalgia of seeing the history of urban development of Singapore some 50 years back. Bicycles and bikes are the major form of transport. You will be surprised if you see one teenaged girl cycling on the roads in Singapore. In Myitkyina Wet Market area, many young ladies just cycle to the market.

Visiting Myitkyina is like visiting history. The era before the bureaucrats developed Singapore into "First World". Nowadays, they must be thinking daily of how to "recover" the costs of new fees as there is no such thing as a free lunch. Some government units start to introduce new fees to regulate the businesses.

So, every year, the cost of doing business and living increases in Singapore. Something must be regulated. Get the private sector to pay. One medical equipment sales entrepreneur told me that in April 2009, every item he imports, e.g. a brand of suture is required to be inspected and fees are to be paid to the government. If he imports 1,000 items, he pays a hefty sum to the regulators. At least $20,000.

For small animal practices, there is a need to get an inspector to check the safety of the autoclave. That was because there was one explosion some years ago. So, every clinic with an autoclave must get an annual inspection or face the consequences. For safety reasons.

There have been some explosions of LPG gas used in apartments as not all Singapore homes have piped gas. Apartments have been burnt down. Should there be annual inspections of LPG gas cylinder valves for all apartments in Singapore. For safety reasons?

For example, the Wet Market in Singapore. Old ones are torn down and new ones are built with much smaller stalls rented out at very high rentals. The rentals are market rates and only those who can afford the rates will be able to rent the stalls.

In the picture of the Wet Market in Myitkyina, you will see that the fishmongers actually sit on top of the stall table to sell her fish. Therefore, more stalls can be set up. The Market is bigger than any in Singapore. There are many farm produce and fishes not seen in Singapore. It is a great visit for tourists from Singapore.

At night, there is a night-market selling all sorts of clothes and food. I walked the streets safely.

Myitkyina has some modern houses too but these are few. It has a big mosque and a beautiful church. Temples and pagodas predominate the religious landscape.

For those who love photography, there are so many scenes to take picture and practise their craft.

Readers who are interested in a personalised tour of Myanmar to de-stress and to bond with their children, e-mail or tel +65 9664-0404, 9668-6468.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

2 Myanmar pictures - street hawker & bungalows

2 pictures from Myanmar taken in Oct 2008

A famous temple where devotees pray to the snakes. A village near to Mandalay. Outside the temple, I have taken a picture of an ice-cream vendor.

Big spacious grounds are beautiful bungalows. On top of the hillock is The Governor's House recreated (see pictures in earlier blog). During the peak season (November to April), the rental of a room in The Governor's house is around US$300 per night.

These bungalows are more affordable to rent and contains a shower and spacious bedroom cum living room with space more than 4 x the average hotel room. Best time to visit is November and December where a hundred thousand flowers bloom. A visit to Pyin Oo Lwin will not be a "hardship" tour for Singapore wives who are not used to bumpy road rides and lack of good bathrooms.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pyin Oo Lwin - The Governor's House

Pyin Oo Lwin's best hotel would be The Governor's House. It is recreated as the original was burnt down during World War II. There is some dispute as to whether the British colonial masters burnt it to prevent the Japanese military from occupying it or whether it was the Japanese who did it.

The spacious master bedroom (picture) would have been the one lived in by The British Governor during his escape from the heat of Yangon during summer. During the peak season in November to April, the rental in the Governor's House can be as high as US$300 for the bigger room. There are chalets or small houses available for rent at a much lower rate. Those living in the chalets have their own breakfast room.

Lovers of architecture and history would appreciate seeing if not living in The Governor's House. My camera lens malfunction as it can't focus. I was confident of the Canon brand. I bought the camera, Canon EOS 40 in July 2008. Just 7 months ago. I used the camera almost every day. No problem in focusing, till around December 24, 2008. I had thought of buying a lens with a longer zoom but it costs $1,000. It will be heavy to bring 2 lenses for this tour. I did not think that the Canon camera would fail me. Well, it is an expensive lesson as photographs after Dec 24 were not sharp. It would be better to bring 2 cameras. Branded cameras are not what they used to be in reliability. A back up camera must be available.

Several competitors. I often wonder how they can sell all their perishable goods and how the smaller ones compete against the bigger ones with more goods. They are all selling the same agricultural products. Why are their customers? Do the smaller vendors with fewer products have loyal customers to survive? Is there severe undercutting of prices? My Myanmarese friends tell me that there is bad economic recession in Myanmar.

In recession Singapore, many companies just have to bring down their prices in order to secure a sale. Or they retrench their staff. Newer companies may charge 50% lower than older ones. At least in Myanmar, the villagers can still survive if they are farmers as they don't consume a lot like people living in developed countries.

I was talking to an unemployed dog owner who wanted to put his 15-year-old dog to sleep. The dog was blind and had difficulty breathing. It was humane to put an old friend to sleep to relieve his suffering. Could the dog live a year more if money was not tight?

The 28-year-old man was retrenched as a manager of a dormitory for foreign workers. The owner of the dormitory had many bad debts as construction companies stop or delay payments and therefore let him go.

"Foreign workers used to be sent back home if they complain," he told me. "Now, they band together to get the newspapers to publicise their plight of being abandoned and not paid by the employers to the MOM (Ministry of Manpower).

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Make hay while the sun shines

During my primary school years in the 1957 - 1963, the English teacher wanted us to study English idioms for examinations. One of them was "Make hay while the sun shines". Singapore does have plenty of sunshine but I had no idea what hay looked like. There were small pig and chicken farms in this era.

Nowadays, travel and internet pictures broaden the minds of Singaporean children. I snapped this picture at the right time. It was on the bumpy road where golden rice fields lined the route.

I don't know whether Singapore children still learn such idioms. But "Make hay while the sun shines" still apply to living and business ventures. Only that, the financial people have been making lots of money out of ordinary people by structuring complex financial investment instruments bankrupting the retirees and even top notch investment companies and banks.

Pyin Oo Lwin - Revisit in Dec 26-27 2008

Pyin Oo Lwin gets a thumbs up from my family. It is a beautiful and cool low humidity garrison town. Not a hardship tour as hotel accommodation at The Governor's House is 5-star. There are smaller chalets which cost much less than living in the recreated Governor's House.

I have 3 pictures for viewers and these are my reflections after viewing the pictures and visiting Kandawgyi Gardens.

1. Tourism is down in Myanmar for the past 2 years unlike Singapore which has outpriced itself in charging high hotel rates. In Pyin Oo Lwin and other parts of Myanmar, the hotel rates are value for money. The average Singaporean family can stay in 5-star hotels of The Governor's House without being bankrupted.

Just 2 days ago, I asked an ex-Singaporean why he stayed at the Swiss Hotel in Singapore when I sent him and his family back to the hotel after dinner. He said, "Why save money for my children to spend?" He could afford to indulge in staying in a 5-star hotel in Singapore, having sold out his shares just before the stock market crash. I doubt the average Singaporean can afford Singapore's 5-star hotel.

2. The flower festival at the National Kandawgyi Gardens is in November and December. The scenery reminds me of China's Chairman Mao's "Let a thousand flowers bloom" campaign. Lovers of history will know of the sad consequences.

For those who had seen the martial arts movie "Ip Man", see the young man with an oval shaped face and big eyes. He looked like the younger version of the Japanese General acting as the antagonist to Ip Man in the movie. Many female movie goers go for the handsome actor in the movie and the antagonist's eyes were charismatic and remembered by one lady in her 20s after viewing the movie! Looks do count in life.

3. Flowers in bloom. Children are expensive to bring up in Singapore as they go to school for many years. The younger generation seems to be careful - one child is enough. In a way, the younger generation is smarter as they have more spending money. Go on tour and live life to the fullest as there is no guarantee that children are excellent investments. Many young men die young due to their lifestyles. When they should be "flowers in bloom", they don't take care of themselves, get into drink driving and drugs or murders and robberies.

4. "Mum's little helper" photo. Bringing up a male child is very difficult. I just read about the young man who went out past midnight in Chinatown as this is what young men loved to do. He was killed by a gang arising out of a "staring incident". Several young men in Singapore died in crashing their cars due to drink driving or speeding thrills or getting involved in bike accidents.

5. "Smell the roses". For those over 50 years who can't walk or who have no appreciation for flowers at the Kandawgyi Gardens in November and December, a tram ride is available. When you are in your 30s, walking and hiking in Myanmar enable you to "smell the roses", the fresh countryside air. Instead of going from Point A to B in a tram ride, walk and check out the varieties of flowers and vegetables planted in the Gardens, de-stressing yourself.

In conclusion, Pyin Oo Lwin is not a "hardship" tour for the Singapore wife who dislikes discomfort and unexpected blackouts. No bumpy roads from Mandalay. Cool climate. Low humidity.

Myanmar Tourism helps the ordinary residents to earn a living as more tourists lead to increased employment of the villagers and improving their standard of living. Instead of going to Australia's Gold Coast for the 3rd time, why not bring your children and wives to Pyin Oo Lwin?

Singaporeans interested in tourism in Myanmar, e-mail or tel +65 9668-64686 and I will make some arrangements for you.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lake Indawgyi, Mohnyin Township, North Myanmar

Dec 24, 2008

A hundred sparkling stars dotted the black sky on Christmas eve in this village by Lake Indawgyi. It took 7 hours of car travel from Myitkyina. It was around 5 p.m. The only accommodation for foreign tourist was the military guest house. There were only two foreign guests - my family and a French man. This village is seldom visited by foreign tourists other than Buddhist pilgrims.

Yet there were many churches as I passed the over 20 villages on the way to Lake Indawgyi. The Christian missionaries were dedicated many years ago and brought education and care to the poor villagers.

I expected freezing cold winter days and nights in December. But the days were bright and sunny and cool. The nights were cold but not freezing.

"No electricity except from 6 pm to 8 pm" the guest house caretaker informed us. This was OK with me and the two sons who were now grown up. My sons had served national service for two years and were used to hardship. Except for the mother. It was just not her type of tour.

Dinner would be by candle light if taken after 8 pm. No hot water for bathing. The shower was not working.

I enjoyed this "back to nature" environment. Black skies with hundreds of stars in a village with no lights. Complete blackness. As there was an unhappy Singapore mother, I asked the guide whether this lack of electricity was the norm. The guide asked the care-taker.

"For 20,000 kyats (S$20.00) or a full house of 15 guests, I would have turned on the power generator to provide electricity." Even the Yangon travel agent had not known about this situation.

But it was the most memorable breakfast my two sons would ever have. A bona fide candlelit breakfast with no lighting outside. I don't know whether they appreciate the tour to visit and understand more about the ordinary Myanmar farmers and villagers. Definitely they would not forget the bona fide candlelit breakfast and mummy's complaints. Such tours are not for Singaporeans who want efficiency and comfort of first world countries!