What a Trip: Visiting Burma en famille, and in ease


Charlie, Jake and Johnny Flack and Anne Fothergill bike past temples in Bagan, Burma. (Courtesy of Anne Fothergill)
May 15

Our readers share tales of their rambles around the world.

Who: Anne Fothergill (the author); her husband, Jake Flack; and their sons, Charlie Flack, 13, and Johnny Flack, 11; all of Takoma Park.

Where, when, why: We went to Burma (Myanmar) for 10 days in December. Our friends Samara and Eric Lindberg and their kids live there, and we wanted to see this country that until recently you couldn’t easily visit.

Highlights and high points: The sight of thousands of 11th- and 12th-century Buddhist temples in Bagan is amazing, especially at sunrise from a hot-air balloon. The local fishermen on Inle Lake are also amazing, and the way they do the leg rowing is so unique. At the beach at Ngwe Saung, the fishermen take hours collecting tiny fish in their nets and then bringing them in by basket and spreading them out to dry. The process involves many people and takes a long time. The kids also enjoyed seeing everyone with betel nut in their mouths.

Cultural connection or disconnect: When our car broke down on the way from Yangon to Ngwe Saung, we spent a few hours in a tiny village. We taught some young guys how to throw a football (they initially asked if it was a baseball). They really enjoyed it, and so did we.

In Bagan, when Charlie’s bike got two flat tires on a rural path, we walked more than a mile to a village called Minnanthu. While we kicked a soccer ball around with some children, a man in a straw hut next to chickens and cows managed to patch the tires (with who knows what!).

Biggest laugh or cry: We probably got our biggest laugh watching the crazy driving. There are no road rules, and drivers seem to use the gas pedal, the brakes and the horns simultaneously. The result is total chaos.

How unexpected: I think we expected the trip to be a difficult one, but instead everything was very easy and relaxing. We didn’t have any interaction with the military junta, and we were able to pay easily with the local kyat instead of needing to use only crisp $100 bills, as we’d been told. We saw very few Americans, and the Westerners we saw were Europeans. Not many people spoke English, and we really enjoyed greeting people by saying “mingalaba!”

Fondest memento or memory: In terms of a souvenir, Johnny is very excited about the handmade knives he got from the blacksmith shop at Inle Lake, where we saw them being made.

Overall, our greatest gift is knowing that our kids had a wonderful time and that they got to experience a totally different culture and way of life on the other side of the world. They really loved being there and hopefully will be inspired to do more traveling and exploring other countries and cultures as they get older. Myanmar is a lovely country and was a great place for them to experience something very foreign and different from their life here.

To tell us about your own trip, go to washingtonpost.com/travel and fill out the What a Trip form with your fondest memories, finest moments and favorite photos.

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Lifestyle