Narratives of the East

Asia

“The trip was wonderful. The hotels, food, etc., were great! Thank you!”
Diane, Tennessee , Dehoney Traveler

Explore the marvelous and exotic countries of Myanmar and Thailand.  In Yangon, see the Independence Monument at the heart of the city and the Chaukhtatgyi reclining Buddha image.  The 2,500 year old magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda is sheathed in 11 tons of pure gold and 4,350 diamonds weighing 1800 carats and at sunset offers a stunning show of lights and shadows.  In Bagan, tour a lacquerware-making facility and visit the Ananda Temple, an architectural masterpiece resembling a Greek Cross.

Take in a spectacular panoramic view of Mandalay from the vantage point of Mandalay Hill, see the exquisite wood carvings at Shwenandaw Monastery, and view the giant stone slabs of Buddhist scripture at Kuthodaw Pagoda.  Chiang Mai offers a visit to a working elephant camp to observe the elephants’ skills, strength, and dexterity, and a 30-minute jungle trek aboard an elephant.  Take a long-tail speedboat ride on the Chao Phraya River, and visit the gilded spires, ornate buildings, and rich murals that make up the Royal Grand Palace.  Conclude your Far East adventure on the enchanting island-nation of Singapore, enjoying its scenic harbor, impressive buildings, and sculpted gardens.

The sequence of touring and days may be altered to adjust to religious holidays, special closings of sites, air schedule changes, etc. Hotels listed subject to availability. Meal inclusions may vary by departure.

DAY 1, USA/TRANSATLANTIC

Departure from Birmingham to Charlotte, where we connect with our flight to New York. In New York, we then board our transatlantic flight. (meals aloft)

DAY 2, IN ROUTE

We continue our journey, traveling via Frankfurt to Singapore. (meals aloft)

DAY 3, SINGAPORE/YANGON

Our flight from Singapore arrives in Yangon late this morning. After arrival we transfer to Traders Hotel. Dinner this evening is at an outside local restaurant. (B,D)

Giant Buddha

DAY 4, YANGON

Today we see some of the major highlights in Yangon: Sule Pagoda; Maha Bandoola Park with Independence Monument, located at the heart of the city; Chaukhtatgyi reclining Buddha image; and the 2,500 year old magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda sheathed in 11 tons of pure gold and 4,350 diamonds weighing 1800 carats. At sunset, the Shwedagon offers visitors a spectacular show of lights and shadows. We also have opportunity today to visit with our Baptist contacts, and this afternoon we visit the Bogyoke market – a shopping market with more than 2000 shops selling all kinds of products, including the beautiful exotic “Shan Bag” velvet slippers, lacquer ware and all sorts of handicrafts. Lunch and dinner will be at outside local restaurants. (B,L,D)

DAY 5, YANGON

After breakfast at the hotel, we visit the Baptist school. We then continue to more sites of Therevada Buddhism, highlighting Kabar Aye Pagoda, which is significant for its Sixth Synod which was held in its large compound in 1954, and Mahapasana Cave, located in the same compound. In the late afternoon we visit Nanthida Jetty to see people coming and going for work from either side of the Yangon River. We proceed to China Town and its evening market, where various kinds of food, fruits and products are sold. Lunch and dinner at outside local restaurants. (B,L,D)

DAY 6, YANGON/MAWLAMYINE

After an early breakfast at our hotel, we drive to Mawlamyine. Lunch will be at a local restaurant en route. We arrive in the evening and check in at Ngwe Moe Hotel, where we have our dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

DAY 7, MAWLAMYINE

After breakfast at the hotel, we have a morning visit to the Leprosy hospital, the gravesite of Ann Judson, and the Judson Baptist Church. Lunch and dinner will be at local restaurants. (B,L,D)

DAY 8, MAWLAMYINE/YANGON

After breakfast at the hotel, we drive back to Yangon, visiting a local village on the way. We arrive in Yangon in the evening and check in at the Traders Hotel. Lunch & dinner will be at outside local restaurants. (B,L,D)

DAY 9, YANGON/BAGAN

After breakfast at the hotel, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Bagan. On arrival we will be taken to Shwezigon Pagoda, a prototype of later Myanmar stupa. Then to Wetkyi-in Gubyaukkyi Temple with fine mural paintings of Jataka scenes. We then transfer to the Thiripyitsaya Sakura Hotel. Lunch will be at an outside local restaurant. Our afternoon sightseeing continues with visits to the lacquerware industry where you can study traditional Myanmar lacquerware making; Manuha Temple with gigantic Buddha images, a captive king’s impression of life in prison; and Nanpaya, an Early-style temple with the finest stone carvings. (Although it has a spotlight installed, it would be wise to bring your own flashlight as electricity supply can be shut off from time to time.) In the evening we will be visiting the Ananda Temple, an architectural masterpiece resembling a Greek Cross. Dinner will be at an outside local restaurant. Afterward we return to our hotel. (B,L,D)

DAY 10, POPA/BAGAN

After breakfast at the hotel, those who wish may take a morning cycling tour of nearby temples and markets. Then we drive to Mount Popa, an extinct volcano, which is the abode of Nats (Spirits). On top of the mountain, there are monasteries, pagodas and shrines in different styles. We also visit “Taung Klat” and the monkey sanctuary. This afternoon we drive back to Bagan and visit Lay Myathna and Phaya Thonezu Temple. We visit Pyathatkyi Pagoda for a sunset view. Dinner is at an outside local restaurant. (B,L,D)

China, MonksDAY 11, BAGAN/MANDALAY

After breakfast at the hotel, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Mandalay. On arrival we transfer to the Sedona Hotel for check-in. We proceed to the Mandalay Royal Palace and then to the sites of Judson’s imprisonment. Also included is a short visit to silk weaving, gold foil making, wood and stone carving, and bronze casting industries. Our tour continues to Mandalay Hill, a vantage point for a panoramic view of the city and a spectacular sunset view. Dinner at an outside local restaurant. (B,L,D)

DAY 12, AMARAPURA/INWA/MANDALAY

After breakfast at the hotel, we visit the ancient city of Amarapura, highlighting Bagaya Monastery, with a famous collection of Buddha images, and Maha Gandayon Monastery. We then proceed to U Bein Wooden Bridge, built since 1782, with over 1700 huge teak pillars. We have time to leisurely walk on the long bridge. We then continue to Inwa (Ava) a historical capital founded by King Thado Minbya in 1364. An extended visit will be made to Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery which is a fine example of Myanmar masonry art and architecture, Mainu Brick Monastery and the old watch tower. We return to Mandalay and visit the famous Mayhamuni Pagoda, one of the most sacred Buddha images in Mandalay; Shwenandaw Monastery, noted for its exquisite wood carvings; and Kuthodaw Pagoda, known as the world’s biggest book for its stone slabs of Buddhist scriptures. Dinner will be at an outside local restaurant. (B,L,D)

DAY 13, MINGUN/MANDALAY/YANGON

After breakfast at the hotel, we transfer to the jetty for Mingun to visit the unfinished giant pagoda, Phatodawgyi, and the largest ringing bell in the world. We return to Mandalay for lunch at an outside local restaurant. We then visit Zechyo market. We have an evening transfer to the airport for our flight back to Yangon. Dinner will be at an outside local restaurant. Overnight is at Traders Hotel. (B,L,D)

DAY 14, YANGON/CHIANG MAI

We transfer to the airport for our flight to Chiang Mai. You may wish
to ride a tuk-tuk during free time in the famous Night Market. Overnight is at the Chiang Mai Sheraton Hotel.

DAY 15, CHIANG MAI

An early departure takes us to one of the working elephant camps, where a 30-minute jungle trek aboard one of the elephants is included. We also enjoy a special performance from the elephants, showing off their skills, strength and dexterity. Elephant bath time is always a treat as well. Time permitting, we will also visit a nearby village to see how the Hilltribe peoples live, and perhaps an orchid farm as well. (B,L)

DAY 16, CHIANG MAI/BANGKOK

Today we transfer to the airport for our flight to Bangkok. There we take our own long-tail speedboat on the Chao Phraya River and its klongs, visiting the colorful markets and the famous Temple of the Dawn (Wat Arun). We also visit the Royal Grand Palace complex. This compound of gilded spires, ornate buildings, and rich murals includes the dazzling Wat Phra Keo, or Temple of the Emerald Buddha. We transfer to our hotel, the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel, for overnight. (B)

DAY 17, BANGKOK/SINGAPORE

We depart Bangkok this morning and fly to Singapore. Upon arrival, we enjoy a city tour of this enchanting island-nation. Popular places to visit are Queen Elizabeth Walk overlooking the harbor, City Hall, St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Victoria Memorial Hall, Singapore River, the House of Jade and Mt. Faber for a panoramic view of the city. Following our tour, we transfer to our hotel for overnight. (B)

DAY 18, SINGAPORE

Today is at leisure in Singapore. You may choose to visit the Tiger Balm Garden to see acres of sculptured hillside and grottoes depicting the Chinese vision of the soul’s pilgrimage. Also, wander through the Botanical Gardens, noted for its hybrid orchids. Or, do other sightseeing or shopping on your own. This evening we transfer to the airport for our return flight to the States. (B)

DAY 19, USA

We arrive in New York this morning and connect with our flight to Atlanta and from there back to Birmingham. (meals aloft)