"Myanmar's cities, temples, traditions, scenery and beach make for a fantastic trip but it’s the people which make this destination so special".
Cathy Winston is a travel journalist and Editor of the fantastic 101 Singles Holidays. We met up with her to discuss her recent trip to Myanmar with Insider Journeys.
1. What did you imagine Myanmar to be like? Was it different to what you expected?
The reality was even better than I’d dreamed: knowing there are thousands of temples in Bagan doesn’t prepare you for seeing the sheer number of ancient buildings, while looking at photos of the fishermen on Inle Lake is no substitute for being out on the mirror-calm water and watching the effort which goes into the balletic leg rowing. Best of all, these tourist draws are part of real life – people still leave offerings at Yangon’s Shwedagon pagoda, the fishermen really are fishing on the lake.
2. What are the locals like in Myanmar?
Incredibly friendly and welcoming.
4. Can you describe the cuisine? What was your favourite meal?
The cuisine is incredibly varied depending where you are in the country, and there’s plenty of Chinese, Thai and Indian dishes and influences too. I loved the seafood on the coast in Ngapali Beach and the deep-fried snacks of Shan state, especially the spring onion fritters.
5. What was your most memorable experience?
One of my favourites was our boat ride on Inle Lake to In Dein where some of the stupas are overgrown with trees, others bright gold in the sunshine, with faded reds, whites and black in the forest of spires, as well as elephant carvings and Buddha statues. Travelling out of high season, we had it almost to ourselves and it felt like stumbling on a lost city, frozen in time.
One of Cathy's most memorable moments took place at In Dein, where she took this snap of two Intha women walking among the stupas.
6. You travelled with your daughter, was Myanmar child-friendly as a destination?
Very much so – the people there adore children, and I lost count of the number of people who wanted to talk to her, play with her and generally make a fuss of her.
7. If you had the chance to go back to Myanmar, where would you go and why?
I’d love another few days (at least) at Inle Lake, as there were so many little villages which we didn’t have time to explore. I’d have loved to see Kalaw up in the hills as well and I’m fascinated by the golden rock at the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda.
If Cathy could travel to Myanmar again, she would spend a few more days at peaceful Inle Lake. It's not hard to see why!
8. What’s your advice for first timers to Myanmar?
My advice is to go (it’s wonderful!) and go soon – in the few years that the country has been open to western tourism, it has already changed rapidly and that’s not about to stop.
9. Sum up your overall experience in 140 characters
Myanmar's cities, temples, traditions, scenery and beach make for a fantastic trip but it’s the people which make this destination so special.
10. What is your favourite photo from your trip and why?
I love this shot of the novice monks, chatting and giggling together before breaking off to chant, while the temple’s cats strolled around as they pleased, washing paws in front of the Buddha.
Cathy took over 1,000 photos on her trip, but her favourite was this shot of novice monks chatting and giggling together.
Credits: Cathy Winstonwww.101holidays.co.uk/singles
Cathy Winston is a journalist and Editor of 101 Singles Holidays. She travelled with us to Myanmar on a private itinerary in April 2016.