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  #1  
Old December 8th, 2013, 05:34 PM
pacmom pacmom is offline
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Wink for Travlin Judy

If my memory is as good as I hope it is, you will be leaving for your trip in Burma (easier to spell than M.) soon. Please let us all know the trip is--we take that itinerary in early March.. Bon voyage and travel safely. Pat
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  #2  
Old December 27th, 2013, 05:44 AM
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Default Burma/Myanmar trip

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Originally Posted by pacmom View Post
If my memory is as good as I hope it is, you will be leaving for your trip in Burma (easier to spell than M.) soon. Please let us all know the trip is--we take that itinerary in early March.. Bon voyage and travel safely. Pat
Hi Pat,
Sorry it took me so long to answer, but I was on the Burma/Myanmar trip until yesterday. I went with GCT, and did a pre-trip to Cambodia and Ankor Wat, which was wonderful. We got a good view of Cambodia overall, visited the "Killing Fields" near Phonom Penh, and spent 3 days in Siem Reap as well. Saw Ankor Wat, Ankor Tom, and Ta Prohm, all of which were on my "bucket list."
The Myanmar part of the trip was 3 days in Yangon, and 7 days on the Paukin 2012 traditional teak river boat (much like Pandaw's, although this one only held 33 people.) In Yangon we stayed at the Sedona Hotel, which was a very nice hotel (undergoing some rennovation) with very good service. It was during the SEA Games, so there were tons of Asian tourists in Yangon. The hotel was across the street from a lake, so offered a nice walking opportunity. The food at the hotel was good, although not excellent.
The highlight of Yangon is the absolutely incredible Shwedagon Pagoda. It's hard to find the words to describe it. I've seen a lot of temples and Pagodas, but none compare to this. The complex itself is very large, and we were fortunate to see it at sunset and subsequently see it lit up. Fantastic!
We saw many things in Yangon, walked through some of the city's neighborhood and interacted with the people. I must say, Burmese people are the sweetest, friendliest people I have ever met. If you greet them with "Mingalarba" their faces light up with a smile from ear to ear. They are deeply devoted to Buddha, and very accepting--(sometimes too accepting) of their fate in life. The children are beautiful.
We flew to Mandalay and boarded the Paukin 2012, which was chartered by GCT. There were only 19 people on our cruise, so the ship was not full. The ship was all teak wood, and we had to wear slippers while on the boat.
Each time we went a ashore, we would put on our shoes before exiting, and take them off upon return, and put them in a basket with our room number on it, and they would be cleaned by the staff.
I had a single room on the 3rd level of the ship, which was quite small, compared to the other rooms. I could have moved since the ship wasn't full, but my room was spotlessly clean and compact, and had a big picture window, and everything I needed. It actually felt somewhat "cozy" so I chose not to move. There was no elevator on the ship, but that wasn't a problem for anyone. The bar was on the same level as our rooms, but noise was never a problem. The dining room was on the second level, and was large and bright, but might have been a bit tight if the ship was full. The breakfast and lunches were buffet, with sit down dinners. The food was quite good overall, but after a total of 25 days in Asia, I don't think I could look at another bowl of noodle soup! Really, though, some of the food selection was somewhat geared to Americans, since GCT charters this ship for most of the year. Due to food concerns, we ate most of our meals on board the ship, returning from our excursions in time to do so. We did eat in a hotel or resort once or twice.
Before I continue, I have to say something about the ship's staff. I have been on 51 cruises and have NEVER experienced the exceptional service that I received on the Paukin 2012. It was truly outstanding--from helping us on and off with our shoes, to the cold towels and welcome back drinks after every excursion. The staff had memorized our names within 2 hours of our boarding, and always addressed each of us by name every time we saw them. Since there are no docks in most of the places we stopped, the entire staff would get off the boat and form a "helping" line, assisting each and every one of us on and off the boat and walking many of us all the way to the bus or spot where it was level to walk. Nothing was ever too much for them. They went out of their way to please in every single circumstance. Service was impeccable. They set a standard that is hard to match. And they loved Americans, wanting to learn everything they could from us.
As for the stops in villages and towns, they were very interesting and I felt we got a good exposure to Burmese life, customs, traditions and food. And, of course, Pagodas and Stupas. Most of us were "pagodad out" by the end of the trip. However, Bagan was another real favorite with it's pagodas from the 8th and 9th century.
Finally, the weather. We were very lucky--this was really the month to travel to Myanmar. We had no rain (rainy season ended in November), and cool mornings and evenings--they said it was the coolest weather they had had in years. I had to borrow a sweatshirt from someone as I was unprepared for it. By "cool" I mean around 63 degrees. The days were warm and pleasant--low 80's, with no humidity to speak of.
In summary, Myanmar is a great place to visit now--before it is overrun by tourists. The people are lovely. The facilities are limited--especially medical facilities. The history is fascinating. But it's not a place for people with limited mobility at this time.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
Hope this gives you some idea. I understand Pandaw is similar to Paukin.
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ciao for now, travelinjudy





(Cruise #45!)
Oceania Regatta- Lisbon to NY - 9-11-12
Oceania Marina - Rome to Rio - 11-22-12
Azamara Quest - Miami to Seville - 3-14-13
Sea Explorer - Ireland & Scotland - 5-16-13
Viking - Budapest to Bucharest - 8-15-13 cruise #50!
GCT - Angkor Wat & Myanmar- Irrawaddy River Cruise -12-3-13
Azamara Journey -Singapore to Hong Kong 2-03-14
Celebrity Xpedition - Galapagos Islands - 4-06-14

Upcoming Cruises:

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Ft. Lauderdale - 3-01-15 - B2B
Azamara Quest - Bali and Barrier Reef -12-22-2015
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  #3  
Old December 27th, 2013, 09:42 AM
pacmom pacmom is offline
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Dear Judy,

Welcome back!!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, for remembering my question. Sounds like the trip was good. Boat sounds lovely. Have printed out your response to keep while we get ready to go. Noticed you are from Phoenix--our dear friends from college live there also.

We start our trip in Saigon with Avalon and finish in Bangkok and then pick up the Grand Circle trip. Both are on the same size boat. Like you we will be gone over a month. Am sure there will be more questions as we get ready to go.

This is off topic--saw you are going on the Celebrity X--we went in Feb. of this year--a fantastic trip. We were the last group into the old airport and let Quito the weekend the new airport opened. If you want to bring some of the great chocolate home buy before the airport--prices very steep. We seem to have the same tastes in travel--Oceania, Azamara and of course river cruising.

Again welcome home and thanks for the report. Pat:
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  #4  
Old December 27th, 2013, 01:42 PM
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H2Otstr H2Otstr is offline
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Judy, welcome home. We are on the same trip in Nov.

How was your flight? Did you do your own air or did you use GC's? Who was your carrier and what were the flights that you had?

How were the toilets? Were they holes in the floor or Western style?

Anything that you wished that you had brought that you didn't?

Thank you so much for answering my questions.
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Grand Circle: Burma & the Irrawaddy River with Phnom Pehn and Angkor Wat pretrip. 11/25 to 12/16 2014. Ship: RV Paukan
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  #5  
Old December 27th, 2013, 04:59 PM
beverlyjack beverlyjack is offline
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Judy,

A great report. Are you going to post it asa GCT Trip Review?
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  #6  
Old December 27th, 2013, 10:03 PM
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Default answers

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Originally Posted by H2Otstr View Post
Judy, welcome home. We are on the same trip in Nov.

How was your flight? Did you do your own air or did you use GC's? Who was your carrier and what were the flights that you had?
I booked my own air--on Cathay Pacific, and the flights were great. 777's all the way. Los Angeles-Hong Kong-Bangkok and the same back. Some who had booked GC's flights had awful schedules.

How were the toilets? Were they holes in the floor or Western style?
The toilets were hit and miss. In some places there were Western style, and in many others only "squatters". Our guide, Lenny (who was superb, BTW) knew which ones were where and advised us accordingly.


Anything that you wished that you had brought that you didn't?
For our particular trip, due to the cold, I wish I had brought a fleece top, as they advised us to do. But I thought "Asia is always so hot" so I didn't. Also wish I had brought cranberries. Other than that, I can only reiterate--bring your own medicine chest --everything you think you could possibly need, because you can't get much in Burma. Only if you are in Yangon is there a decent hospital. The rest of the time you are on your own, and there is no doctor on the ship. Several people got "traveler's trots" and several had coughs. One fell and sprained her ankle.

Thank you so much for answering my questions.
Ask any more you might think of.
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ciao for now, travelinjudy





(Cruise #45!)
Oceania Regatta- Lisbon to NY - 9-11-12
Oceania Marina - Rome to Rio - 11-22-12
Azamara Quest - Miami to Seville - 3-14-13
Sea Explorer - Ireland & Scotland - 5-16-13
Viking - Budapest to Bucharest - 8-15-13 cruise #50!
GCT - Angkor Wat & Myanmar- Irrawaddy River Cruise -12-3-13
Azamara Journey -Singapore to Hong Kong 2-03-14
Celebrity Xpedition - Galapagos Islands - 4-06-14

Upcoming Cruises:

Celebrity Infinity - Buenos Aires to Valpariso to
Ft. Lauderdale - 3-01-15 - B2B
Azamara Quest - Bali and Barrier Reef -12-22-2015
Azamara Quest - Cairns to Sydney -1-05-2016
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  #7  
Old December 27th, 2013, 10:15 PM
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travelinjudy travelinjudy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacmom View Post
Dear Judy,

Welcome back!!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, for remembering my question. Sounds like the trip was good. Boat sounds lovely. Have printed out your response to keep while we get ready to go. Noticed you are from Phoenix--our dear friends from college live there also.

We start our trip in Saigon with Avalon and finish in Bangkok and then pick up the Grand Circle trip. Both are on the same size boat. Like you we will be gone over a month. Am sure there will be more questions as we get ready to go.

This is off topic--saw you are going on the Celebrity X--we went in Feb. of this year--a fantastic trip. We were the last group into the old airport and let Quito the weekend the new airport opened. If you want to bring some of the great chocolate home buy before the airport--prices very steep. We seem to have the same tastes in travel--Oceania, Azamara and of course river cruising.

Again welcome home and thanks for the report. Pat:
Thanks, Pat--glad I could be of help. It's a wonderful, memorable trip and I'm sure you will enjoy it. Must be flexible, though, because schedules changed daily.
Thanks for the info on the Galapagos trip. I'm looking forward to that.
Meanwhile, I leave for Asia again next month on Azamara--my favorite line. But this cruise will be more laid back, since I've done it before in 2011.
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ciao for now, travelinjudy





(Cruise #45!)
Oceania Regatta- Lisbon to NY - 9-11-12
Oceania Marina - Rome to Rio - 11-22-12
Azamara Quest - Miami to Seville - 3-14-13
Sea Explorer - Ireland & Scotland - 5-16-13
Viking - Budapest to Bucharest - 8-15-13 cruise #50!
GCT - Angkor Wat & Myanmar- Irrawaddy River Cruise -12-3-13
Azamara Journey -Singapore to Hong Kong 2-03-14
Celebrity Xpedition - Galapagos Islands - 4-06-14

Upcoming Cruises:

Celebrity Infinity - Buenos Aires to Valpariso to
Ft. Lauderdale - 3-01-15 - B2B
Azamara Quest - Bali and Barrier Reef -12-22-2015
Azamara Quest - Cairns to Sydney -1-05-2016
AzaC
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  #8  
Old December 28th, 2013, 01:29 PM
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travelinjudy travelinjudy is offline
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Default Very important thing I forgot to mention...

The air pollution in Bangkok, Cambodia and Myanmar is VERY bad. I have asthma, so I brought a mask to wear, and was very glad I had it. I wore it most of the time we were on land, including Bangkok, where most inhabitants wear them. Several people on the trip said they wished they'd brought one, as well. Although not a horrible as in China, I think these places will rival China in the near future. I strongly recommend bringing a mask with you, even if you don't have Asthma. You'll be glad you did!
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ciao for now, travelinjudy





(Cruise #45!)
Oceania Regatta- Lisbon to NY - 9-11-12
Oceania Marina - Rome to Rio - 11-22-12
Azamara Quest - Miami to Seville - 3-14-13
Sea Explorer - Ireland & Scotland - 5-16-13
Viking - Budapest to Bucharest - 8-15-13 cruise #50!
GCT - Angkor Wat & Myanmar- Irrawaddy River Cruise -12-3-13
Azamara Journey -Singapore to Hong Kong 2-03-14
Celebrity Xpedition - Galapagos Islands - 4-06-14

Upcoming Cruises:

Celebrity Infinity - Buenos Aires to Valpariso to
Ft. Lauderdale - 3-01-15 - B2B
Azamara Quest - Bali and Barrier Reef -12-22-2015
Azamara Quest - Cairns to Sydney -1-05-2016
AzaC
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  #9  
Old December 28th, 2013, 07:27 PM
DeeDC DeeDC is offline
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what sort of mask?...does the the inexpensive drug store type work...or you describing a respirator type?
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  #10  
Old December 29th, 2013, 09:02 AM
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travelinjudy travelinjudy is offline
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Default mask

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Originally Posted by DeeDC View Post
what sort of mask?...does the the inexpensive drug store type work...or you describing a respirator type?
I didn't get a heavy duty respirator type. I used one called "Breathe Healthy" but I don't think it filtered enough. I plan to get a Vogmask for around $20. for my upcoming trip.
__________________
ciao for now, travelinjudy





(Cruise #45!)
Oceania Regatta- Lisbon to NY - 9-11-12
Oceania Marina - Rome to Rio - 11-22-12
Azamara Quest - Miami to Seville - 3-14-13
Sea Explorer - Ireland & Scotland - 5-16-13
Viking - Budapest to Bucharest - 8-15-13 cruise #50!
GCT - Angkor Wat & Myanmar- Irrawaddy River Cruise -12-3-13
Azamara Journey -Singapore to Hong Kong 2-03-14
Celebrity Xpedition - Galapagos Islands - 4-06-14

Upcoming Cruises:

Celebrity Infinity - Buenos Aires to Valpariso to
Ft. Lauderdale - 3-01-15 - B2B
Azamara Quest - Bali and Barrier Reef -12-22-2015
Azamara Quest - Cairns to Sydney -1-05-2016
AzaC
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  #11  
Old February 14th, 2014, 02:27 PM
pacmom pacmom is offline
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Judy, we leave in less than a week for the first part of our trip--Saigon-Bangkok. Received some of our documents from GCT. Did you really have to pay all the shipboard tips in cash. We do not like to carry that much with us. Will there be an ATM near the hotel in Yangon or should we get money in Bangkok and then change it in Yangon? Really getting excited about the whole trip.
Happy Valentine's Day and thanks again. Pat
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  #12  
Old February 15th, 2014, 05:53 AM
HDS HDS is offline
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Judy, I enjoyed reading your trip report and I agree that Paukan sounds very similar to our Pandaw experience, especially in the staff's care and attention to the passengers which were outstanding. Even so, it is not a trip for those with limited mobility.
I hope you weren't afflicted by "travellers' trots". The only afflicted passengers on our cruise were those who ate and drank unwisely during an unexpected stop on our way to the ship.
Pacmon, we used ATMs in Mandalay and Yangon but they were not in the smaller towns where we spent most of our time. I've been told Yangon ATMs are at the Shwegadon Pagoda and Scott Market, we used one at the Chatrium Hotel, don't know about the Sedona. Because electricity supplies and internet connections are unreliable, an ATM may not be operating when you need it and for that reason visitors are advised to carry an emergency supply of US dollars.
Hope you have a fabulous trip.
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  #13  
Old February 15th, 2014, 04:16 PM
HDS HDS is offline
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Judy, one more request. would you post (re-post) your excellent report under a heading like "Paukan Cruise in Myanmar". People looking for information about river cruising in Myanmar may not read a post titled "For TravellinJudy". I would not have looked if you hadn't commented on my report of our Pandaw.
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  #14  
Old February 16th, 2014, 07:57 PM
pacmom pacmom is offline
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HDS,

Thank you for the info about ATMs. We are staying at the Chatrium in Yangon, so should have access to their ATM. What is the hotel like? Pat
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Old February 16th, 2014, 09:06 PM
EKML EKML is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacmom View Post
HDS,

Thank you for the info about ATMs. We are staying at the Chatrium in Yangon, so should have access to their ATM. What is the hotel like? Pat
We stayed at the Chatrium in October, and it was very nice. There is a currency exchange desk in the lobby with very good rates. You might want to compare rates w/the ATM. They will also exchange back to $ if you're there at the end of your trip. If you don't have a view of Shwedagon Pagoda from your room, go to the Club Lounge on the 9th floor, and you can get an excellent view of the pagoda-especially at sunset. There is also good restaurant right across the street, Bangkok Kitchen.
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Old February 17th, 2014, 07:29 AM
pacmom pacmom is offline
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EKML, thanks for the suggestion re: Bangkok Kitchen. In many countries the ATM rate is better, but when we were in China the rate was country-wide, no matter where you got money. We really don't like to carry a lot of money when traveling . Pat
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  #17  
Old February 17th, 2014, 05:05 PM
HDS HDS is offline
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Chatrium is a pleasant international 4-star hotel. We stayed there before and after our cruise, booked through the hotel website. I reviewed it on Trip Advisor, posting as HDStripad.
Our rooms were fine. Wifi was slow, a couple of blackout but lights and power kicked in again as soon as the hotel started its emergency generator. Free local newspapers each morning, interesting reading.
We ate buffet breakfasts and one buffet dinner. Buffet breakfasts were good. Delicious fresh fruit which we ate without ill-effects, eggs to order, hot dishes which were replenished frequently. I enjoyed the Asian style dishes more than the Western ones at both breakfast and dinner and unlike Judy I didn't tire of the soups at any time of day. I thought both the hotel and boat chefs presented Asian style fish, chicken and pork dishes best. I didn't tire of Asian style cooking but enjoyed a "steak on the barbie" when we returned to Australia.
We ate a couple of dinners at Bangkok Kitchen across the road from the Chatrium, also reviewed on Trip Advisor.
There is a great view of Swegadon pagoda from the Chatrium's 8th floor lift lobby. Nice chairs to sit in and enjoy the sunset or sunrise over the pagoda. (We booked a cheaper "district view" room.)
Happy hour (free drinks and nibbles) in the 9th floor "Club Lounge" was included in our packages. I don't consider it was worth paying for but several groups appeared to be making a substantial dinner of it. Mostly crumbed or battered deep fried stuff that had gone cold, supermarket biscuits, block cheese, dips and olives.
Chatrium is a $5 taxi ride from the centre of Yangon. Taxis were always waiting at the hotel. No problem to hail a taxi in the street for a return trip. Carry a hotel card but drivers usually spoke English and happy to talk about life in Yangon.
Hope you have a fabulous trip.
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