A dying tradition: the leg-rowers of Inle Lake

I’ve been struggling to write about my time in Burma. The magnitude of visiting this country continues to follow me. I dream of pagodas, I feel the delicate strands of silk when I wrap myself in scarves, and my taste buds dance when I indulge in tea leaf salad, the supply of pickled tea leaves I brought home rapidly dwindling. How can I do the people justice? Continue reading

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I see you shiver with… Anticipation

I sat up wide awake at 5:30 this morning.

This is not unusual for me. I’m an insomniac at the best of times, despite trying desperately to go to bed at a decent time every night and get in a good 7-8 hours of sleep.

But this time, I sat up in anticipation. In about 5 weeks, I’m taking a well-deserved holiday from a summer of moving twice due to flooding, a broken bone, a pet dying, and unbelievable work stress. I’ve been planning this holiday since January, which is a particularly long time for an impulsive person like me.

I’m going to Burma. (Or Myanmar, if you prefer.)
Shwedagon Pagoda

My flights are booked. My immune system is pumped full of fresh boosters. I’ve gone through the diplomatic waltz of getting a visa, which was surprisingly uncomplicated as long as one follows instructions. My pet sitter is ready for miss Interrobang. I am carefully squirreling away spending money for a country that for the most part is off the credit card radius, does not accept traveller’s cheques, and has very few functioning ATMs. And I’m bringing a relative travel virgin with me to boot.

I don’t think we will come back the same.
Temples of Bagan

And tonight the realization hit me. I haven’t been this giddy to go exploring in years.

But first, I must conquer sleep. Baby steps.

Borders crossings

Growing up in Canada, I took borders for granted. I grew up in a magical time when you could cross the Canada/U.S. border with a birth certificate and a driver’s license or a government issued health insurance card. Now I realize this magical era only officially ended in June 2009, but the era of the easy border crossing truly ended back in 2001. Continue reading

Obligatory toilet post

If you get enough travelers together in one location, a few inevitable topics of conversation inevitably come up. The usually revolve around a few basic subjects:

  • I almost died doing this stupid thing
  • I can’t believe how cheap the beer was in this location (there was one bar in Sihanoukville on the beach that had draught beer for $0.25 a glass – that night ended painfully)
  • I got ripped off doing this
  • I pooped where? There? Really?

Continue reading