Thread Your Way Through Burma

Prices from £3,595

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15 Nov 2018 - 28 Nov 2018
Duration: 13 nights
Ref: 18011
With: Karin Hellaby

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Prices from £3,595
Single Supplement: £640
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We are delighted to offer you this unique opportunity to join Karin Hellaby on our first textile holiday to magical Burma (now known as Myanmar).

This special tour will introduce you to an array of textures, rich colours and the cultural treasures of this quite remarkable country. Wondrous sights include glittering pagodas, vast plains, ancient Buddhas and the beauty of Inle Lake. Along the way we’ll meet weavers and local artisans and engage with these skilled craftspeople in their workshops. There will be plenty of opportunities to browse in the vibrant markets and purchase traditional fabrics and other local handicrafts too.

CRAFTS:

We’ll visit cotton and cane weaving villages on the banks of the Irrawaddy River and traditional tapestry and puppet making workshops in Mandalay. We’ll also enjoy a visit to a silk weaving shop, renowned for some of the finest “longyi”, a sarong like garment which is integral to the Burmese national dress and worn by women and men. On Lake Inle we’ll discover rural workshops that specialise in traditional paper and unique umbrellas. We’ll also discover the delicate art of lotus flower weaving and visit silversmiths and traditional canoe makers. There will also be the opportunity to engage with young students studying textiles and the fashion industry in Yangon.

Also included are two workshops led by Karin, giving you the opportunity to get creative after being inspired by the many wonderful sights you have seen.

YANGON:

Our Burmese textile adventure begins with a visit to the incredible Shwedagon Pagoda which dominates the skyline of Yangon. Other highlights of the capital, formerly known as Rangoon include the Royal Lake, Kandawgyi Park and the 72 metre reclining Buddah. No visit to the city would be complete without a visit to Scott Market with its bustling atmosphere and tempting wares.

BAGAN:

Known as the "city of four thousand pagodas” nothing prepares you for the splendid sight of the Bagan plains and the sheer number of temples that dot the vast landscape. There will be plenty of time to explore and experience this wondrous sight and we’ll also get a taste of river and rural life too with a cruise on the Irawaddy River and visits to local communities, farms and villages.

MANDALAY:

Immortalised by Rudyard Kipling in his famous poem ‘The Road to Mandalay’ this iconic city is a showcase of architecture and art and also the location for many monasteries and convents. We’ll join nuns for lunch and spend time amidst the serene surroundings of the Shwenandaw Monastery. After climbing Mandalay Hill we will be rewarded with fine views of the city and a stroll across the historic teakwood U Bein Bridge at sunset will be the perfect conclusion to a wonderful day.

INLE LAKE:

Stilt-house villages and glittering Buddhist temples rise above the marsh fringed waters of 13.5 mile long and 7 mile wide Inle Lake. This is where we will encounter the Intha fishermen who propel their boats with their unique technique of leg-rowing. Surrounding the lake are the Shan Hills, home to the minorities who travel from their villages to the markets that take place around the region on a five-day cycle. During our stay we will explore many aspects of life on the lake and learn more about this unique water world and the magical floating gardens.

DAY 1 - DEPART:

Today you will board your flight from London Heathrow to Yangon.

DAY 2 - YANGON (L, D):

Your flight will arrive in Yangon this morning and you will transfer to the Rose Garden Hotel for a two night stay. This afternoon we’ll enjoy an unforgettable visit to the legendary Shwedagon Pagoda considered to be the most important religious site for the Burmese. We’ll witness the colours transform on the 100-meter chedi which is literally enclosed in over 40 tons of gold leaf and learn about the rituals of the Buddhist people and the meaning behind the offerings that are made.

DAY 3 - YANGON (B, L, D):

A highlight today will be a visit to Bogyoke Market, better known under its colonial name "Scott Market". Stroll through the colourful stalls filled with handicrafts, paintings, jewellery and antiques. A whole department of the market is dedicated to textiles. Longyis are piled up along narrow alleys and seamstresses work in tiny rooms surrounded by all kinds of fabric rolls. Why not treat yourself and pick your favourite fabric.

Bogyoke market is located in the multicultural heart of the city. We’ll cross the Muslim and Hindu neighbourhoods and reach Sule Pagoda, the symbol of downtown. This construction dates back over 2,000 years. We’ll also see the Independence Monument and Mahabandoola Garden. Other highlights today include the Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, home to a 72 meter long reclining Buddha statue that features detailed carvings on his feet. Later we’ll continue through the city to the Royal Lake, a popular spot with locals, located in Kandawgyi Park. Catch a glimpse of Karaweik Hall, a reproduction of a splendid royal barge and enjoy a spectacular view of the Golden Shwedagon Pagoda.

DAY 4 - YANGON/BAGAN (B, L, D):

We’ll take an early morning flight to Bagan for a three night stay at the Myanmar Treasure Resort. Known to be one of the greatest architectural sites in Asia, Bagan was at the centre of Burma from the 11th to 13th centuries. The ruling kings built multitudes of massive stupas and pagodas here, scores of which are still present on the shores of the Irrawaddy River. We will visit this magnificent sight this afternoon, taking in the panoramic views from an elevated location and visiting the Ananda Temple and other key structures to experience a variety of architectural styles and the artistic wonder of the period. Enjoy a taste of rural life in this “living museum” where farmers still work amongst these historic monuments. Later board a river boat for a cruise on the Irrawaddy. We will be treated to unforgettable scenes of daily waterside life, riverside villages and more views of the Bagan temples. A stop at a village will provide the opportunity to meet interact with the locals. Our cruise also includes a visit to a cave temple where recessed alcoves are used for meditation.

DAY 5 - BAGAN (B, L, D):

This morning we’ll cross the river by boat to explore the east bank of the Irrawaddy. Drive through peaceful countryside to the small village of Myit Chay where many families run cotton weaving businesses. We’ll take a stroll around the village and learn more about the traditional techniques used in the workshops. Some families even have small farms where they collect cotton, harvesting this in March and April. We’ll also have the opportunity to discover other cottage industries too including cane weaving.

This afternoon enjoy a hand quilting workshop with Karin at the hotel. Details of Karin’s project and the equipment to bring will be sent to you before you travel.

DAY 6 - BAGAN (B, L, D):

We’ll enjoy a leisurely day in Bagan. Shop for local souvenirs at the market or maybe hire a bicycle for further exploration at your own pace. Alternatively relax by the pool and enjoy the company of your fellow quilters.

DAY 7 - BAGAN/MANDALAY (B, L, D):

We’ll take a morning flight to Mandalay for a two night stay at the Mandalay Hill Resort. Mandalay’s streets are crowded with craft workshops and as we travel through the city there will be opportunities to stop and browse. Local crafts include traditional tapestries and puppet making. We’ll drop by and observe the skillfull craftsmen and women using ancient techniques to give life to beautiful items. Our sightseeing includes a visit to the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, known as the pagoda of the Great Marble Image. The huge Buddha here is carved from a single block of marble and it is said that it took 10,000 men almost two weeks to transport this from the riverside to its current location. We’ll continue to Kuthodaw Pagoda also known as the “The World’s Biggest Book” due to it’s collection of 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings. We’ll spend time at the Shwenandaw Monastery and then visit the Golden Monastery, the only enduring structure from the Royal Palace of the 19th century. This impressive building is celebrated for its remarkable woodcarvings. Our tour continues with a visit to the Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda houses one of the country’s most honoured Buddha images completely covered in gold leaves that are applied every day to the statue by male devotees.

This evening we’ll enjoy a performance of music and dance. Performers are trained by Inwa School of Arts, a community project based in Mandalay that endeavors to keep the traditional arts alive. The colourful costumes are all handmade by the students.

DAY 8 - MANDALAY (B, L, D):

We’ll start the day with a walk up Mandalay Hill which rises 240 metres above Mandalay. At the top our reward is a full panoramic view across the city and the hazy blue outline of the Shan Hills beyond. With 600 ivory coloured pagodas and monasteries, Sagaing Hill is regarded as the spiritual hub of Myanmar. We will visit some of the most important pagodas and also enjoy time in the local village which is renowned for the production of traditional water pots. Lunch today will be in the unique setting of one of the convents. There will an opportunity to make your own donation before enjoying a selection of dishes prepared by the nuns. This afternoon we’ll visit Kan Daw village where all of the families produce longyis and other textiles. Although no longer made 100% by hand, the production process is still fascinating to see. Tea and a light snack will be served in a family home. Our journey continues to the former royal capital of Amarapura for a visit to a silk weaving shop renowned for quite exquisite work. We’ll then take a break from the “click clack” of the weaving machines and visit the home of a family of dyers where traditional techniques have been used for generations.

As the sun sets we’ll make our way to the legendary U Bein Bridge, the longest teakwood bridge in the world. There will be time to enjoy the special atmosphere and watch as the locals return home as the sun casts it’s long shadows.

DAY 9 - MANDALAY/INLE LAKE (B, L, D):

Morning transfer to the airport for the flight to Heho. On arrival we will travel by road to Nyaung Shwe, gateway village to Inle Lake. Along the way, there will be opportunities to visit rural workshops that specialise in traditional Shan paper and unique handcrafted umbrellas. We’ll also stop at the teak monastery of Shweyanpyay to witness the intricate wood carving artwork and craftsmanship of the monks. A visit to the Nyaung Shwe market is also included. Locals gather here to buy and sell fresh produce from the lake and its surroundings. We’ll continue by local trishaw to our private motor boat for the journey onto Inle Lake where our hotel is located. We’ll pass villages built on stilts and perhaps get a first glance of the local leg-rowing fishermen. We’ll stay at the Amata Inle Resort for four nights.

DAY 10 - INLE LAKE (B, L, D):

We’ll spend today exploring the calm waters of Inle Lake. We’ll visit one of the morning markets and mingle with the locals as they trade their wares. There will be opportunities to observe the local fishermen and view the ‘floating gardens’ which are built up from strips of water hyacinth, earth and anchored to the bottom of the lake with bamboo poles. Lunch today will be with an Intha family in their home. Discover typical ingredients and culinary techniques as your hosts prepare traditional dishes for you to try. This afternoon we’ll visit Inn Phaw Kone, the weaving village of the lake. Here you will witness all stages of the delicate art of lotus silk weaving, from the spinning to the final creation of intricate longyis. Women from all around the lake come to work in these workshops. We’ll also stop at a local silversmith and a traditional canoe workshop before returning to the hotel.

DAY 11 - INLE LAKE (B, L, D):

This morning we’ll discover more of the traditional agricultural methods of the Inle Lake area. Take a scenic walk through Thalae U, a typical lakeshore village where you will have the opportunity to observe daily life. The fertile soil produces an abundance of vegetables which are sold across the region. With the lake to the east and the hills to the west, the setting here is very special too. You’ll have the opportunity to join farmers in the fields and learn more about the day-to-day activities of these communities. This afternoon is free to relax and enjoy the facilities at the hotel.

DAY 12 - INLE LAKE (B, L, D):

We’ll enjoy another leisurely morning exploring the lake. Our tour includes a visit to Khaung Daing. This traditional Inthan village is renowned for tofu, rice cakes and fried beans.

This afternoon enjoy a hand quilting workshop with Karin at the hotel. Details of Karin’s project and the equipment to bring will be sent to you before you travel.

DAY 13 - INLE LAKE/YANGON (B, L, D):

Transfer by boat to Nyaung Shwe and continue by road to Heho for the flight to Yangon and a final overnight stay at the Rose Garden Hotel. On arrival we’ll visit the Radhar Fashion and Design School. This small school trains young men and women for a profession in the textile industry. Visit their workshops and enjoy tea and snacks as you exchange views. The students will also demonstrate their skills and, if you wish, help you to create a tailor-made longyi with fabric that you may have purchased during the trip. Later we’ll visit two small workshops: Flame Tree and White Lotus. Both initiatives provide a fair living wage to impoverished women. Using their skills, those women receive training and create colourful home décor items and children clothes. There will also be another opportunity to visit Scott Market for any final purchases of gifts and fabrics. Enjoy a farewell dinner and “show and tell” this evening.

DAY 14 - YANGON/UK (B):

Transfer to Yangon Airport for the return flight back to the UK. You will arrive back in the UK later today.

B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

Important Note: A tour in Burma is always an adventure. We recommend you are of a reasonable fitness as this tour often involves long walks and uneven surfaces; this tour is not suitable for those who require special assistance.

PRICES:

Twin/double share: £3505 per person
Single supplement: £640

INCLUDED IN THE PRICE:

  • Return flights to Yangon via Bangkok with Thai Airways
  • English-speaking local Tour Manager to accompany the tour from arrival in Yangon
  • The company of UK Textile Artist and quilt tutor Karin Hellaby who will accompany the tour throughout
  • 12 nights’ accommodation on a full board basis. Lunch and dinner will be arranged at local restaurants or at your hotel
  • All workshops and visits as detailed in the itinerary
  • All transfers by private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Internal flights from Yangon to Bagan, Bagan to Mandalay, Mandalay to Heho and Heho to Yangon
  • Porterage at hotels

NOT INCLUDED:

Optional excursions, drinks, meals other than those specified, travel insurance and items of a personal nature, i.e. telephone calls, laundry etc.

TOURIST VISA:

A visa is required for tourists visiting Burma. For further details please see the Embassy of Myanmar website. There are many visa handling agencies which can be found online, such as The Travel Visa Company.

CURRENCY:

It is important to note that travellers cheques are generally not accepted. ATMs can be found in most towns and can be used to withdraw kyat, the local currency. Maximum amount per withdrawal is MMK 300,000 and daily maximum amount of withdrawal is MMK 1,000,000 subject to the limit set up by the issuing bank. The ATMs charge a small fee of MMK 5000 or equivalent for each transaction.

However ATMs are still not reliable and therefore we recommend that visitors bring sufficient cash (best in USD but € are also increasingly accepted). All notes must be in pristine condition (no creases, fold lines, blueprints, etc.). Make sure serial numbers do not begin with CB as this will possibly result in the bill’s rejection due to rumors these series are counterfeit. Money can be exchanged at the current market rate at the airport or at any licensed money changer on presentation of your passport. You can ask your local tour manager for assistance.

NON-CRAFTERS

Why not bring a non-crafting partner with you?
If a non-crafting family member or friend wishes to accompany you on any of our holidays, and is sharing a room with you, then the following reductions will apply to the price the non-crafter pays:
Worldwide - £75

WHY NOT MEET US THERE?

Stitchtopia Holidays are designed with all crafters in mind, wherever you live in the world! If you would like to make your own flight arrangements and meet us at our first hotel, please let us know - we would love to tell you more about our “meet us there” holiday discounts.

THE "STITCH TOGETHER" PROGRAMME

For single travellers who are interested in our trips, but don’t have a friend able to come with them why not join our "Stitch Together" programme to help with the costs of a single occupancy room? We have designed a way for you to find someone to share a room with on any of our Stitchtopia Holidays.

Find out more about our "Stitch Together" programme >>

Rose Garden Hotel, Yangon

Located close to the heart of downtown Yangon and within walking distance of the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda the Rose Garden Hotel is ideally located for exploring Yangon.

GUEST ROOMS:

  • En suite facilities
  • Air conditioning
  • Tea/coffee maker
  • TV
  • Minibar
  • Room safe

ADDITIONAL FACILITIES:

Facilities include restaurant, bar, outdoor pool, fitness centre and business centre.

Myanmar Treasure Resort, Bagan

Surrounded by swaying palms and landscaped gardens Myanmar Treasure Resort is located within the Bagan Archaeological Preservation zone and within easy reach of all the important sites.

GUEST ROOMS:

  • En suite facilities
  • Air conditioning
  • Tea/coffee maker
  • TV
  • Minibar
  • Room safe

ADDITIONAL FACILITIES:

Facilities include restaurant, bar and outdoor pool.

Mandalay Hill Resort, Mandalay

The Mandalay Hill Resort is located at the foot of Mandalay Hill and just a short drive away from the Royal Palace and other city centre sights.

GUEST ROOMS:

  • En suite facilities
  • Hair dryer
  • Air conditioning
  • Tea/coffee maker
  • TV
  • Minibar
  • Room safe

ADDITIONAL FACILITIES:

Facilities include restaurant, bar, business centre, outdoor pool, fitness centre and spa.

Pristine Lotus Spa Resort, Inle Lake

The Pristine Lotus Spa Resort is located on the shores of Inle Lake. We will be accommodated in the new duplex in guest rooms with views of the lake.

GUEST ROOMS:

  • En suite facilities
  • Hair dryer
  • Air conditioning
  • Tea/coffee maker
  • TV

ADDITIONAL FACILITIES:

Facilities include restaurant, bar, outdoor swimming pool and spa.