Golden Rock 3.31.17

Upon arriving in Myanmar, the first thing I noticed was the traditional dress of the people. I saw women wearing beautiful gold paint on their faces and men wearing elegant long fabric skirts. I appreciated that the standard of style and beauty in Myanmar reflects regional traditions instead of western traditions, a reality that may also be a…

Ngapali Beach 3.29.17

A month before I flew to Myanmar I borrowed digital guidebooks from the Hennepin County Library and started reading about the country. As I read the Lonely Planet guide’s Top 20 Myanmar list, I was surprised and excited to read about Ngapali, a beach the guidebook said is one of the best in the world. Contributing to my…

Bagan 3.27.17

GDP per person in Myanmar in 2016 was estimated at $6,000 USD according to the CIA Factbook. The same source says approximately 26% of the country’s 51 million people live in poverty. Given these statistics and what I was spending in other countries, I was surprised when hostels in Myanmar were more expensive than anywhere else I visited….

Inle Lake 3.24.17

In the Burmese language, the word mingalaba is the salutation people use to greet one another. The direct translation for the phrase is ‘auspiciousness to you.’ The greeting mingalaba became the default word for saying hello in the 1960s (source). Everywhere in Myanmar, and especially in smaller towns, I exchanged this singsong greeting with people I passed on…

Eating Well: Myanmar 3.18.17

  Tea leaf salad is a traditional food from Myanmar. The salad usually includes a crunchy bean or nut, tomatoes, a type of lettuce or other green vegetable and a dressing made from pickled tea leaves. I liked the salad because of the mix of flavors and textures and the innovative-to-me dressing made with tea leaves….

Hsipaw & Pyin Oo Lwin 3.14.17

A name is usually a fast, basic way to identify a person or a place. In Myanmar, deeper meaning is associated with the name of the country and citizens make politically minded decisions when they say their country’s name. Here are some facts about the country’s name: The military government officially changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar,…

Mandalay 3.12.17

Research shows checklists are a tool people can use in daily life to effectively improve organization and reduce mistakes. Every time I enter a new country, I like to make sure I do not miss information I need to know. To help me prevent hassles and problems, I made a border crossing checklist. This is the checklist of activities I…

Eating Well: Thailand 3.10.17

A common flavor in Thai food is tom yum, a combination of hot and sour flavors. I ate pizza, drank cocktails, and ordered soups and salads with this flavor profile. Tom yum is made from fresh ingredients including lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal (similar to ginger), lime juice, fish sauce, and crushed chili peppers. I think the flavor is especially tasty because the herbs are so fresh. I…

Railei West & Phi Phi 2.28.17

Tourism is a major contributor to Thailand’s economy. In 2014, it is estimated tourism accounted for almost 20% of the country’s GDP (source). With so much money coming from tourism, it is no surprise the Thai people have processes, infrastructure, and information to make visiting easy. Compared to the other countries where I traveled, travel in…

200 Days, 200 Places 2.27.17

I have traveled for just over 200 days in six countries. It is hard to say if 200 days is a long time or a short time. Time moves differently for me as a long term traveler. I have time to watch sunsets and the occasional sunrise. I lose track of the day of the…

Bangkok & Chang Mai 2.26.17

It is time to share a travel secret. The truth: most days during this Year of Sarah Joy begin around noon and include a maximum of 4 to 6 hours of sight seeing. Leaving the hostel before 8:00am is a rarity. My slower pace is a comical contrast to my life before travel. My morning routine as a traveler is one example…

A Visit with Peace Corp Volunteers 2.22.17

In January I dropped into the life of Peace Corp Volunteers (PCVs) Paul and Bob in rural Thailand. Brian, my former co-worker at the Carlson School, connected me to this amazing couple who are now one year into their two-year PC service commitment. Living with Paul and Bob was a lovely reminder of life at home. Home cooked meals,…