Golden Hills of Burma
By: Al Donatio, Franconia, USA
I would like to commend the KE staff for proposing an alternative itinerary given the unstable political situation at the time. I had many follow up questions which were addressed and made me feel comfortable that the trip would be a success.
The hotel stays in the bigger cities were quite luxurious and comfortable. Sleeping in village schoolhouses, monasteries and local homes while on trek really added to the overall experience of living amoung the Chin people. The food was plentiful and excellent: fresh fruit and vegetables; freshly killed chickens and goat (always my favorite on a KE trip).
The support crew could not have been more helpful and happy. I heard laughter from them the entire trip. One of my favorite characters on the trip was our driver in Bagan. He was humerous during our long drives and offered his commentary on local sights. Our local guide, Sai, did an outstanding job of sharing his passion and knowledge of the Burma history and customs. He never tired of showing us the temples and monasteries. He was attentive to all of our needs. On trek, he looked out for us and made sure we had enough to eat and drink (rum sours before dinner every night was a nice treat) and that our accomodations were satisfactory.
I had a great time. I felt like an explorer as we hiked the Chin hills. We passed through villages that had probably only met a handful of Westerners. They were the happiest people that I have ever met on trek. Although they did not speak English, they always had a smile, a wave and most of all laughter. Every time they laughed it brought a big smile to my face. We would take their photo, show it to them and listen to their laughter. Meeting the Chin people was the highlight of the trip for me.
Please inform future trip members to bring a thermarest. I brought mine, but others did not and regretted it. You should also set expectations with future trip members that this is not Nepal. The country is still learning about porter support and transporting equipment.Once the original itinerary changed from trekking/mountain climbing in the Eastern Himalaya to hiking in the Chin hills, I knew things would be different. The trade off was we spent more time with the local people and that was the hightlight for me. KE is my Adventure travel company of choice.