• Woman taking photo of temple at sunset in Myanmar

    Myanmar Democracy Leader Begins Landmark Tour of US

    <p>In a fantastically unusual twist on the expected, news out of Myanmar is creating a rare moment of unity and celebration between Republicans and Democrats.</p> <p>Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (pronounced like “Oun San Su Chee”) has arrived in Washington to begin a marathon tour of the US. It’s the most recent milestone in a remarkable personal journey that has led her from house arrest as a political prisoner to world traveling parliamentarian. Happily, her journey mirrors the evolution of her country, as it has transitioned from five decades of oppressive military rule toward democracy.Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi kicks off her 17-day tour of the US in Washington D.C.</p> <p>Coinciding with her visit, Myanmar announced today that it is releasing more than 500 prisoners, including dozens of political detainees. Adding to the good news, the government has replaced a press watchdog agency that has been criticized as oppressive with a new, more liberal council. This move is seen globally as a boost for freedom of expression.</p> <p>As part of her 17 day visit to the US, Aung San Suu Kyi will receive the highest award Congress can give. Republicans and Democrats have supported her and the transition of Myanmar (formerly Burma) toward democracy.</p> <p>During the course of her US visit, she will spend time in Washington and New York, then the Midwest and finally in California. Her visit precedes by one week that of Myanmar’s president, Thein Sein, who will be in New York to speak to the UN General Assembly.</p> <p>At Classic Journeys, we’ve been fascinated by Myanmar for years. It’s that mesmerizing combination of gentle people going about their daily lives and traditions untouched by the modern world, while just-recently opening to travelers now that it’s been given the chance to emerge from isolation.</p> <p>And so building on our years of experience and travels in Southeast Asia, we’ve created a memorable journey through this magnificent country. Our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/dates/" target="_blank">trip schedule</a>  celebrates Myanmar’s transition toward democracy with a nine day eight night cultural walking <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/myanmar/" target="_blank">tour of Myanmar</a>. Some highlights from the Myanmar trip include:</p> <p>YANGON – A genuinely delightful mix of rustic colonial buildings and modern, gilded pagodas.</p> <p>INLE LAKE – So very different to other parts of the country. Here we’re out on the water, surrounded by nature, lovely vegetation and ethnic markets. Walks here through the villages are different due to the ethnicity and the natural backdrop of hills, fields and water. The climate is a bit cooler here also, so it makes for very comfortable walking.</p> <p>MANDALAY – On our tour of Myanmar we visit the Golden Palace Monastery; so different to others due to its almost entirely wooden structure and intricate carvings. But the key here is the introduction in the monk way of life which is something travelers generally do not see elsewhere (even in Bagan where most temples and pagodas are not home to monasteries).<br><br><img alt="Monks in Myanmar" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7ns&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qB5" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>BAGAN – The whole atmosphere here is extraordinary, in the same way the Angkor complex in Siem Reap is but far fewer tourists (so far!). It’s not so much the pagodas themselves that are glorious, but the whole journey between them including the wide open setting on the plain that makes it even more special. There is no development, no shops, no commercial ventures, just miles and miles of open land and pagoda spires that have stood the test of time and isolation. We’re moved by the spirituality of the place and the peacefulness.On Classic Journeys’ tour of Myanmar, you’ll explore the 2000+ mind-boggling temples of Bagan.</p> <p>You can enjoy some beautiful photography of the countryside and people we meet on our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/myanmar/" target="_blank">tour of Myanmar</a> by visiting Classic Journeys’ website. Take a moment to enjoy the photos. And if you’d like to receive the full daily itinerary for our Myanmar trip, just call us at 800-200-3887.</p>

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  • Tajines in the Market, Morocco

    Morocco travelers dine with professor to discuss constitutional reform

    At <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys</a> we pride ourselves on our guides’ ability to change plans spontaneously to take advantage of opportunities that make our adventure travel tours even more enjoyable.<br><br>This week offers another example of that in action, as we’ve arranged a remarkable cultural interaction for the 14 guests who are on tour right now as part of our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco/" target="_blank">Morocco walking tour</a>.<br><br>The guests have just left our private tented encampment in the Saharan Desert near the 1000-foot-high sand dunes of Merzouga. In two days, they’ll cross the High Atlas Mountains and settle in for two nights in Marrakesh.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco/" target="_blank"><img alt="Berber encampment in Morocco" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7og&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002sry" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>  <p>An already special dinner in Marrakesh becomes even more memorable for Classic Journeys Morocco guests with the addition of a university professor on hand to discuss government and politics.</p> There, our country manager, Tarik, has arranged for Professor Abdellah Ghazi from Universitaire De Marrakech to join our guests for dinner at a spectacular private mansion called a riad. Professor Ghazi, who is fluent in English, will discuss the political and cultural upheaval taking place elsewhere, as well as the unique steps Morocco is taking to avoid it…and in the process, become a success story for other nations to follow.<br><br>While events in the Middle East and North Africa continue to make headlines, Morocco is soaring above the fray in its determination to remain calm and keep the peace.<br><br>If you’d like to join a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys’ walking tour in Morocco</a> or one of our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/moroccofamily/" target="_blank">family vacations in Morocco</a>, give us a ring at 800-200-3887.<br><br>And if your dates don’t line up with ours above, ask us to create a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/private/" target="_blank">private tour to Morocco</a> for you on any date of your choice.

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  • Panoramic of Marrakesh, Morocco

    King Mohammed VI announces major Moroccan constitutional reform

    <p>Our head guides in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco/" target="_blank">Morocco</a>, Jalil and Saida, just called in with some really exciting cultural news. Yesterday, their king, Mohammed VI, went on TV to announce plans to reform Morocco’s constitution. It’s long been one of the friendliest and most peaceful countries around. I just wish you could have heard how proud and excited they are about these developments. (It’s one of the perks of our job – to have these windows inside life in other countries.)<br><br>The king, whose ancestry goes back to the 1500’s, is creating a constitutional monarchy like those in Britain and Spain. He’ll give up his final say in Moroccan politics in favor of a popularly-elected Prime Minister. The Prime Minister will become the head of state and the king will become a ceremonial figurehead, similar in power to Queen Elizabeth II in Britain.<br><br>“I am…deeply committed to giving strong momentum to the substantial reforms under way, of which a democratic constitution is both the basis and the essence,” the king said.<br><br>With the Moroccan constitution announcement, the king appointed a committee to work in concert with political parties, trade unions, and civil society groups to prepare proposals by this June in advance of next June’s scheduled elections.<br><br>It’s hard to imagine what a moment this is for the people there. In one fell swoop, the reform will make the judiciary independent, provide for a freely elected parliament with new powers, and a prime minister from the majority party. The constitution will also recognize the country’s multi-ethnic identity (which is one of the aspects we love most about the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco/" target="_blank">culture of Morocco</a>).<br><br>Saeed Binjebli, an organizer of the youth-led movement for change in Morocco politics, said “This was a very bold speech. The king responded favorably to all our demands on the constitutional front.”<br><br>Jalil and Saida, our popular head guides in Morocco, are looking at this announcement from really interesting viewpoints. Both are married and parents. Jalil is a father of two boys and a girl, and Saida is a mother of two girls. Both have been guides for over 15 years, and Saida was also a journalist.<br><br>The changes will just have a huge impact on their families and their futures. I can already hear them talking up the changes with our guests who are headed to Morocco.<br><br>They took the opportunity to provide me some additional historical background and context on this monumental announcement, “Morocco obtained its independence from France in 1956, and men and women have participated actively in elections since then. All Moroccans age 18 and over are eligible to vote, and our participation in political parties is quite active. We have two main political parties: the USF and the Independents, who each represent about 25% of the voters, with the balance of Moroccans’ political views represented by a number of smaller third parties. Historically, we’ve elected two-thirds of the members of parliament with the king appointing the other third and the Prime Minister. Now, we citizens will elect 100% of parliament and also the Prime Minister.”<br><br>Jalil summed the country’s feelings on the Morocco constitution reform by saying, “We’re thrilled to be living through this wonderful moment of change for our country and to share it with our guests.”<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys</a> operates regularly-scheduled departures dates of our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco/" target="_blank">cultural walking adventures in Morocco</a> in January, March, May, September, November and December, as well as our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/moroccofamily/" target="_blank">family vacations in Morocco</a> timed to coincide with school breaks in March, April, June, November and December.<br><br>Our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco/" target="_blank">adventures in Morocco</a> immerse guests into the history and culture of the country through a combination of easy going walks in spectacular settings, along with meeting up with interesting local people to discuss all aspects of life including Morocco politics, and visiting historic sites in creative ways. In addition to the regularly scheduled <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco/" target="_blank">9 day and 8 night Morocco tours</a>, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys</a> can adapt the itinerary as a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/private/" target="_blank">private custom tour</a> to fit the schedule and special interests of any travelers or group.<br><br>If you’d like more information on our adventures in Morocco, drop us a line at <a href="mailto:blog@classicjourneys.com" target="_blank">blog@classicjourneys.com</a> or download an itinerary at <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/itineraries/" target="_blank">www.classicjourneys.com/itineraries</a>.</p> <br> 

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