(Excerpt from Myanmar aka Burma page…)
An earthquake hit the area of Bagan once again in August 2016 just before my wife Michele and I were to take a cruise up the Ayeyarwady River from Yangon to Mandalay. Not only that, but massive flooding had just swept through the river delta dislocating thousands of farmers and inundating hundreds of villages. Reservations were made and it was our intent to make the most of it. We were going to see the dawn come up across the river at least and hoped that on the road to Mandalay we might gain some insight into the transformation being undertaken by the country under the direction of Aung San Suu Kyi.
This would be my first cruise. I had been to sea on a freighter in the South Pacific so this was not to be my first time onboard a ship. But the idea of cruises had always given me pause. Well actually, I hated the idea. Aren’t most cruise passengers old and grey? Isn’t being waited on, provided for and shuffled around tourist sites for the geriatric crowd. By buying into this tour, wasn’t I giving up on a level of excitement and risk that made my past World Traveling so invigorating and enlightening. Taking chances and traveling with mindful spontaneity offered so many opportunities to fall into new and unusual circumstances. [And these were my concerns prior to COVID-19!]
But tour brochures were flooding our mailbox and I finally turned a page and found the trip to Myanmar that could still ignite a passion and have a touch of romantic allure. Only three years ago my wife and I had traveled overland through SE Asia for six weeks on our own…thanks to extraordinary planning and booking by Michele. And in June we had traveled for almost three weeks across Cuba, again by Michele designing our own tour. So by booking the cruise we were not accepting new limitations on our imagination, we were just taking precautions when health could be a concern and going to an “exotic” location where regular travel is still a challenge. We had watched Bourdain taking the train from Yangon to Mandalay and it looked excruciating. I had taken that route in 1973 and it certainly had deteriorated. We could search for epicurean delights without dislocating our spine.