My name is Catherine Capozzi, and I’m from the golfer heaven state of Arizona in the US. Now, I live with my husband in India. Despite growing up in a place renowned for golf, I can’t say I’m very good at the sport: we don’t belong to any golf club, and the extent of our practice involves playing 9-hole courses around sunset at a discount. Nonetheless, my husband and I have made a concerted effort to improve our swing every time we go back to visit Arizona in the winter. And in this case, we decided to bring our burgeoning love of golf with us on vacation to Myanmar.
Myanmar had been on my family’s radar for some time: We knew it was an up-and-coming destination that hadn’t succumbed to the usual touristy pitfalls of over development and pollution. We heard it was rustic, clean, full of Buddhist history, had amazing cuisine and friendly people. All of these things proved correct, especially the hospitality. The unspoiled nature was easily one of the best parts, and I was amazed at how pristine the country was.
We didn’t think Burma and golf would go hand-in-hand, but the courses were actually quite beautiful. They unfortunately didn’t have left-handed golf clubs and we didn’t bring ours, so we had to alternate between using the back of a 5-iron for the left hand, or practising with my right and toting around the 7-iron as my defacto club (not that it helped). Thankfully, we found every bad swing rather amusing. If we were smart, we ‘d have brought our own clubs.
The caddies were the real heroes of our game, because they were out in the rough fishing out my husband’s golf balls practically every shot. They also were so attentive, setting up the balls in a makeshift tee from grass tufts. The ladies were great sports.
The courses were gorgeous. In Bagan, the course is situated among the famous pagodas so we enjoyed weaving our cart through these historic monuments. The Inle course was expansive and was very well-maintained. The weather was also cool here, but it started pouring rain around the 6th hole. One of my fondest memories of the trip will be how we careened down the course, making a beeline for the clubhouse as we all got drenched—especially the caddies, as they clung to the back while the rain pelted them. We gave up our golfing ambitions for the day once the rains hit, but we had a fabulous time.
GolfAsian made our vacation effortless and so enjoyable. The group consisted of my husband, our 15-month-old baby, my mother, and me. I was a little worried that the itinerary was too hectic (three cities by plane in a week), but the organization made travelling a breeze: someone was always waiting for us on the other side, our guides were compassionate, responsive and informative, and all we had to do was show up.
In Yangon, we were booked in a fantastic, spacious hotel called the Rose Garden. Our guide showed us some of the heritage buildings downtown, and gave us a tour of the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. We found Yangon to be lush, clean, vibrant, and full of friendly people. We had a great time visiting the market and buying jade, Buddha statues, paper umbrellas and other quintessential Burmese souvenirs.
In our next stop, Bagan, we explored the ancient Buddhist monuments that pepper the rustic city. Tharabar Gate was easily one of our favorite hotels, and we enjoyed the amazing spread of local cuisine (as a vegan, I especially enjoyed the local chickpea-based tofu and fresh carrot salads. The peanut sauce in Myanmar is the stuff of legends. My husband, on the other hand, couldn’t get enough of the fish). My mother and baby had a delightful time going through the green countryside in a horse-drawn carriage.
Our last stop was the Inle Lake region. There’s simply nowhere else in the world that can compare to this unique spot: they have floating gardens and an entire city built atop the water. Visiting these sites by boat was such a special experience that even the later rains didn’t damper the mood. Though the hotel didn’t have the best variety of food and the WiFi was intermittent, (as is the case in most hotels, was our understanding) the grounds were lush, expansive, and made for a beautiful walk.
8 days later, we all felt like we got the full Burma experience. We had a delightful family vacation!