Bagan: Southeast Asia’s Disneyland

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Bagan: Southeast Asia's Disneyland There is a city in Myanmar called Bagan. It is becoming more and more famous of late. Originally the site of more than 4,500 Burmese Temples, Bagan was once the religious epicenter of Myanmar. Today around 2,000 of those temples and Stupas still stand and can be visited. Ranging from massive churches still in use to tiny, deserted stupas and spread out over miles and miles of sandy, dusty, uneven terrain, Bagan's temples are not toured quickly or easily. The only means of transport are Horse buggy (bring a face mask for all the dust!!), bicycle (be sure to get a proper mountain bike and not one of the local street bikes!) E-bike (terrible contraptions designed to torture tourists, but at least one outfit rents decent models - look for the EBikes with big, scooter-like seats and NOT the ebikes with bicycle seats. Trust me on this). Lastly, you can tour the area via tour bus, but you'll miss out on the more organic, hands-on atmosphere available to those exploring on their own. Be adventurous! Take that dirt path! The city is currently not listed on the UNESCO world heritage site list because much of the reparations done to the temples in recent years haven't been done using original building methods and materials, which is why it is jokingly known among those "in the know" about the city as the Disneyland of Southeast Asia. Regardless, Bagan is a powerfully fascinating site well worth the effort to visit. Noteworthy: -When you enter the Bagan tourist zone you'll be required to pay an entrance fee of $15US, per person. This ticket is good for one week. There are no other entrance fees for the Temples in Bagan. -Internet service in Bagan is SO incredibly bad that you may as well not even try to get online. Terrible. The only time I was ever able to download messages was around 3am, when no one else was online. -If your hotel doesn't have a pool head over to the Aureum palace hotel and spend an afternoon. You'll pay a $10 fee, but it is well worth it to bask in the sunset view of the Temples from the refreshing infinity edge pool. They've also got a viewing tower with a restaurant inside where you go to get  a great view of the valley. -My favorite restaurant in Bagan was Da Ignazio, a great Italian restaurant owned by a man from the north of Italy. Great food, good prices and homemade bread each day (when you see the local wonder bread you'll understand why this is so important!). (Non-sponsored pitch for the restaurant! I simply enjoyed it!) -Take PLENTY of water and sunscreen. The climate is hot, dry and incredibly unforgiving. Also take a hat and medical face masks for the dust. … continue reading

Yangon to Bagan by Train

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Yangon to Bagan by Train One of the most interesting experiences of my life has got to have been traveling from Yangon to Bagan via train. Buying a ticket was the first of many local experiences on the grand adventure. Worried about getting a seat I had my taxi driver take me directly from the airport to the train station the … continue reading

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 … 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