Thursday, 7 November 2013

Fit for a prince: the 1922 Bagan Thande hotel

This was built in 1922 for a royal visit

I've now been back a week from my holiday to Burma/Myanmar, and thought I'd tell you a bit about the Bagan Thande hotel. While I wasn't fussy about which hotel we stayed at for most of the trip, there were two locations where I got specific. At Inle Lake I wanted to stay in one of the Golden Island Cottages hotels, as these are run by a co-operative of people from the local Pa-O ethnic group, and I liked to know the money was going into the area where I was staying, plus the hotel was actually on the water (little houses on stilts) so we could watch the boats of the local pagoda festival being rowed past. In Bagan I really wanted to stay in the Bagan Thande as it was built in 1922 for the visit of the then Prince of Wales (who became Edward VIII in his brief stint as King and then, of course, became the Duke of Windsor). 'Thande', the name of the hotel, roughly translates as 'diplomatic residence'.

'David', as he was known to his family, did a diplomatic tour of the Far East in 1921 and 1922. He didn't embark on the tour entirely willingly, and he certainly wasn't entirely welcome: both India and Burma were struggling for independence at this point in time. (I must admit, as a Brit I spent a fair bit of time on this trip wishing my countrymen hadn't been such arses, and at the same time as someone of mixed ancestry wished they hadn't been such arses to my ancestors. 'Us' and 'them' in one package!)

It's wonderful watching sunset by the river
Nowadays the historic building at the Thande is a restaurant downstairs and suites upstairs. We didn't splash out on a suite, instead having a really nice bungalow with a wonderful river view (handily not far from the riverside cocktail bar), but when the weather is damp they serve breakfast in the restaurant so we did get to eat on the ground floor of the Prince's building. It's a very nice teak building, very clean and shiny, though I have to confess I didn't get much of a sense of history from it.

The dining room is very large and open, and I have no idea whether it was originally designed to be a large reception room or if it's been altered. In fact, I've been unable to find out much at all about Edward's visit to Bagan, although I'm sure he enjoyed looking round some of the magnificent temples; you'd have to be a barbarian not to be dazzled by their beauty.

This trip was entirely paid for by Mr Robot and myself, no freebies. We booked via a Burmese agent, One Stop, who I heartily recommend - all our transfers and flights were organised for us, and booking through an agent can mean you make big savings on the prices hotels quote if you book direct. I'd also recommend using a Burma/Myanmar-based agent as you will save significantly compared to using a European agent or package tour company; the prices some European firms were quoting for one person was as much as we paid One Stop for both of us together.

1 comment :

  1. I have found your posts on Burma/Myanmar fascinating - thanks! My only connection is that when I was a child my father used to sing a song called "The Road to Mandalay" which included the memorable phrase "the dawn comes up like thunder", which stuck with me.

    I'm glad that you had such an interesting visit to the place of your ancestors.

    ReplyDelete