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Showing posts from June, 2018

Myanmar, Burma

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Myanmar, Burma



When entering a place
that has two names one must watch the streets where we place our feet as both traveler and citizen of the globe
a world of extremes gilt domes of temple worship bordering the tents of cities meant to be impermanent but never seem to disappear
how the hills are in our hands how the displaced are gems among the treasures
and that everything is precious


NOTE:

1. Photos by the author
2. I decided to publish this poem after watching the "Families Belong Together" rallies across the country.

Bangkok, Thailand

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I spent my fair share of time in the northern part of Thailand, volunteering at the elephant farm five years ago. I really enjoyed my stay with a local family and learned about their culture and where I began to understand why Thailand is called 'The Land of Smiles'.  For some reason, I never had a strong desire to visit Bangkok, probably because big cities are off-putting to me. It’s only now that I realized how much of a missed opportunity this had been and glad to include it in my epic Southeast Asia travel this year. I began my trip to Bangkok with the knowledge I learned from volunteering in the northern part of Thailand where I felt safe.

Right after landing at Suvanabhumi airport and going through customs, I went straight to a transportation booth to ask where I could find a cab to my hotel. Instead of pointing me to the cab waiting area, I was led to believe that I was in the right place. A man pointed me to the clerk at the counter who started preparing a receipt for…

Myanmar: The Road to Mandalay

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We arrived in Mandalay by plane, but it was a long highway from the airport before seeing the “Welcome to Mandalay” sign. The drive to our hotel at the foot of the Mandalay Hill continued for at least an hour due to traffic. It seemed like a boring town at first, bustling with commerce. It was not until approaching Mandalay Hill where the images of a romantic, bygone era came into view with the Royal Palace and impressive moat.



The road to Mandalay leads to popular tourist destinations: Mingun to the west, Amarapura to the south and Pyin Oo Lwin to the east. Our next day was dedicated to seeing the famous temples and pagodas in Mingun.
Mingun Mingun has two main attractions: the Pahtodawgyi Temple and Hsinphyumae Pagoda.
The Pahtodawgyi is a humungous stupa that should have become the largest stupa in the world with a height of 150 meters. Constructions of the stupa were started in 1790 by King Bodawpaya and was stopped due to the astrologer’s prediction that once the stupa was done t…

Myanmar: In the Land of the Longyi

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In the Land of the Longyi Based on the number of gilded temples and Buddha images I saw from Yangon to Pindaya Caves, it was easy to discern the obvious: Buddhism is the major religion in Myanmar. However, our guide kept saying that Buddhism is not a religion but a way of life. So I started to reflect on this statement. From the onset, I asked our guide if there's a topic that's off limits. He said nothing is off limits except for taking pictures of people in uniform, the military. I suppose the things that really left an impact on me are the people and culture. I could not comment on what was happening in another part of the country, but the locals that we had contact with were happy to share their moments with the camera. So, I'd like to share even a tiny fraction of the country's narrative like men wearing skirts called longyi and men, women, children and babies wearing a yellow paste called thanaka on the faces to protect their skin from the sun, and the traditiona…