The Shwedagon Pagoda

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The Shwedagon Pagoda There is no shortage of sacred sites to tour in Yangon, the most sacred being the Shwedagon Pagoda. This golden complex is a feast for the eyes. It is reported to be more than 2,600 years old and claims relics from each of the past four Buddhas. When you enter the temple area at the bottom of the hill you must remove your shoes as you proceed to the top of the hill. A long series of escalators practically line the way, moving people up and down. Vendors sell bottles of water and Buddhist paraphernalia the entire route, just like at nearly every famous religious site worldwide. At the top of the hill you'll pay an entrance fee of $8.00 US before you are given access to the interior of the complex. Once inside be sure to note which entrance you used or you will surely get lost in the circuit. Red-clad monks wander and parents with children ring large bells with gongs. Faithful followers pray and light candles. Numerous shrines and platforms for prayer line the inner and outer rings of the ring around the central Stupa, or golden dome, which is an impressive structure. On arrival at the Pagoda I posted a quick picture of the Stupa to Facebook and my friend commented that her daughter thought it looked like a diamond palace. She wasn't wrong! Per the official website: "Shwedagon Pagoda is covered with hundreds of gold plates and the top of the stupa is encrusted with 4531 diamonds; the largest of which is a 72 carat diamond." So there you have it, the Schwedagon Pagoda, Yangon's diamond palace.      … continue reading

Myanmar: Every Traveler’s Dream

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Myanmar: Every Traveler's Dream Every traveler dreams of getting off the beaten path and having real, "local" experiences. This is becoming more and more difficult with the advent of the modern world. Airplanes, automobiles and the internet have made our world a smaller, more accessible place. And because tourism, by nature, changes … continue reading

Culture Shock in Kuala Lumpur

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Culture Shock in Kuala Lumpur After two months on Bali, where life is slow and simple; where the roadways are so rural that I've only seen one stoplight outside of the Kuta metropolitan area. After two months living in a place where scooters are preferred over cars 100 to 1 and 12" footpaths are acceptable, normal roads, I have … continue reading

Three Realizations

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Three Realizations Three things have occurred to me since arriving on Bali. I submit to you my list: 1. FEAR First,  I am scared here. I am scared to drive here. I am scared to eat here. I am scared to explore. This place is so incredibly different from anywhere and everywhere I've ever traveled before that I don't know where … continue reading

Contrasting Mormon and Hindu During Balinese New Year

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Contrasting Mormon and Hindu During Balinese New Year All of Bali has been preparing for this weekend for months. In the Balinese Hindu faith, this weekend marks the New Year. And because Bali is more than 90% Hindu, the entire island celebrates this magnanimous event, which is is not only one for the calendar, but for the spirit … continue reading

The Best Way to Visit Bali

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The Best Way to Visit Bali Since I've been on Bali I've received numerous emails and messages from people who want the skinny on how to make the best of their time on the Isle of the gods. Although this island has been a crazy popular destination for more than one hundred years and tourism is the largest industry here, truly … continue reading