Sunday, October 19, 2014

7 Reasons Why Myanmar should be your Next Destination

I received emails from readers asking why I had never posted a photo or wrote about my home country.  Here’s my number one reason: I feel guilty that I have never gone back home since I left the country.  I was born there, grew up there, and finished my high school there, and then I moved to America by myself for college.  I learned how to read and write English in grade school, but I barely spoke English when I arrived.  My family and friends are still there.  I want to travel everywhere in the country for 3 or 4 weeks (see my bucket list).  I am prioritizing to visit the places that I have never been to and going back to Asia has not happened yet. 

There are many reasons why you should visit Myanmar, which is better known as Burma.  You will have a life changing travel experience in Burma.  Here are 7 reasons why:
Shwe Dagon Pagoda.  Yangon State.
Phot Source:
To see the largest and the oldest golden Pagoda on earth
Shwe Dagon Pagoda is also known in English as the great Dagon Pagoda. It has a history dating for over 2500 years ago. Kings and queens have donated their hard-earned gold to this historical site to make it a gold rich site. Another ton of gold has been added lately when there was a renovation.
Shwe Dagon is located in the city of Yangon and I have been there numerous times.

Kyaiktiyo Pagoda.  Mon State.
Photo Source:
To look up to the 2400 year old golden rock pagoda on the edge of the cliff
Another historic site in Burma is where the golden rock lies. Its position at the edge of a cliff is what has amused many visitors coming to this region. It is considered a sacred place to be. There have been earthquakes in Myanmar destroying even some of the buildings that have been thought to be strong but this golden rock in Kyaiktiyo has still stood at its exact location at the edge of a cliff.

Mingun Bell.  Sagaing State.
Photo Source: Mystical Myanmar
To ring the largest ringing bell on the planet
If you have ever wanted to ring the largest ringing bell then you should visit Myanmar. Mingun is the largest ringing bell in the world. It weighs 90.55 metric tons and is 26 feet high. It is one thing to ring a bell and yet a completely different thing to ring the largest ringing bell in the world. It gives you so much pride that you can brag about to your friends. There is a place beneath it where visitors can take photos.

To see the largest reclining Buddha in the entire universe
Shwethalyaung Buddha.  Pegu State.
Photo Source: wiki
This is yet another tourist’s attraction site. Shwethalyaung is the largest reclining Buddha images. The image measures 55 meters long and 16 meters high. It is a true depiction of Buddha just before death and entering into Nirvana. 
It is a special site for historians and those who love ancient structures for it was built so long ago, believed to be in the year 994 during the reign of Mon king Migadepa.

Bagan.  Mandalay State.
Photo Source: National Geographic
To explore over thousands of ancient temples in one city named Bagan
Bagan is one of the most popular cities in Myanmar. The city is popular because of the many temples in it. If you want to experience the good feeling that comes with temples around you then Bagan is the place. There are over 4000 decorated temples within a region covering 26 square miles.
I visited Bagan once, and I can't wait to go back there.

Inle Lake.   Shan State.
Photo Source: WikiMedia
To find leg Rowers nowhere else but in Inle
Another of the famous of attractions in Burma is found in Inle. It is at this place that you will find leg rowers. They do it so faster that you tend to wonder why it never materialized in other places. It is an experience that is not in any other place apart from Inle.

To taste the best spicy food in the world
It is true that Asia, the continent, produces the best delicacies in the world. The best spicy food can be found not just in Asia but specifically in Burma. If you like spicy food, you should visit Burma for a tasty meal.

Myanmar was isolated from the rest of the world for decades.  It used to be hard to get a Visa for the tourist to visit.  It has changed a lot in the past few years.  Tourists and travelers are more than welcome, though you still need a Visa in advance.  Maximum stay is 30 days. 

If you are searching for a unique country to travel to, there is only one piece of advice I can give you today: Pack your stuff now.  And go to Myanmar.  And tell me your experience and make me feel guiltier.

Sunday Travel Photo #16: Madison, Wisconsin

Wisconsin Capitol.  Summer 2011

Madison Overview
My first experience in Wisconsin is something I will love to repeat over and over again if I have the time.  Madison is the capital of Wisconsin in the United States. Madison which became official in 1848 is the 83rd largest city in the United States and the 2nd largest in Wisconsin State. 2012 population statistics puts the population of Madison, at about 240,323 individuals.

Top Attractions At Madison

1. Olbrich Botanical Gardens
This is one of Madison's most popular attractions. This garden is filled with lots of plants and numerous varieties of flowers to give you a memorable experience. This garden is a blend of various categories of plants; the sucken garden, rose garden, rock garden, perennial garden, wild garden, herb garden and even a tropical conservatory.
This garden is simply a literal wonder land where everything looks beautiful and colorful. So if you want to be a part of this wonder land, then Madison, Wisconsin is the place to be.

2. Memorial Union Terrace
No matter your age, this is a happy place to be in. The food here is good, the view is lovely, the environment is cozy, and the people there are friendly. In fact this part of Madison can be termed a happy-land because the people you will meet there are always cheerful and friendly.

3. Wisconsin Veterans Museum
This is a museum in Madison, Wisconsin built to honor all Wisconsin veterans that took part in the wars both civil and other wars to date. The exhibitions at the museum are very informative and educational and this is an ideal place for lovers of history.

4. Wisconsin State Capitol
This is a beautiful and historic building, the staffs here are also friendly. I loved this place so much.  Inside this building you will see sculptures and beautiful paintings. In short, the entire architecture of this structure is so amazing. Well if you ever find yourself in Wisconsin, make sure you find your way to Madison and then to the Capitol.

How To Get To Madison

Since Madison is the capital of Wisconsin, all you need do is to head for the capital once you are inside Wisconsin.  You can take the road trip or fly to MSN and get the rental car to get to Madison from Wisconsin.  Public transportation is also reliable.  If you are coming from outside Wisconsin, say if you land at MKE or ORD, use interstate to get to Wisconsin and then use public buses to get to Madison.

“Take only memories, leave only footprints.” – Chief Seattle 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Travel Photo #15: Yellowstone


Yellowstone Overview

Yellowstone is one of my favorite national parks, located in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana in United States. The park was established by the US congress and consequently signed into law in March 1872 by President Ulysses Grant.
Yellowstone is the very first national park in the world.  Yellowstone is famous for its wide collection of wildlife and its geothermal features. One of such geothermal features is the Old Faithful Geyser. As a matter of fact, Old Faithful Geyser is one of the most popular features in Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone is also very prone to earthquakes, it usually experience thousands of small earthquakes every year.  The major Hebgen Lake earthquake struck the park in 1959 and destroyed lots of properties in the park including roads.  It was this very earthquake that also gave rise to the discovery of new geysers, but it was also responsible for turning many of the hot springs in Yellowstone turbid.
There are some useful bacteria found in the hot springs.  The bacteria in this park survives on sulphur, therefore prepare to receive the smell of sulphur when you visit Yellowstone.  I visited this amazing national park mainly to explore the hot springs, geysers and waterfalls.

Most Popular Hot Springs and Geysers At Yellowstone

1. Mammoth Hot Springs
This is a unique and special kind of spring that exists in Yellowstone. It is located in the north west part of Yellowstone National Park. Here you will enjoy the view of traverse limestone terraces and gentle waterfalls.

2. Old Faithful Geyser
This geyser is the most popular geyser in the whole of America. Old Faithful Geyser was discovered in 1870, and it was given this name because it erupts frequently.

3. Upper Geyser Basin
This basin has the largest concentration of hot springs in the world. Upper Geyser Basin has more than 150 geysers and many groups of hot springs. You will be thrilled when you visit Yellowstone National Park.

4. Lower Geyser Basin
This is where you are sure to find hundreds of geothermal features. Mud pots and hot springs can also be found in Lower Geyser Basin, and the view is totally amazing.

5. Castle Geyser
This is yet another attraction at Yellowstone Park. One very interesting thing about this geyser is that, it stores lots of energy and lets off this energy after like 16 minutes. This action results in a train-like roar.

Yellowstone has something for everyone, not just the geyers and hot springs.  Whether you delight in the challenge of a strenuous hike or prefer to sit quietly and watch the sunset, the park offers a great diversity of activities for you to enjoy.  Yellowstone lake is breathtaking. With so many adventures to choose from, you’ll have some tough decisions to make.

How To Get To Yellowstone

I would suggest taking a roadtrip to Yellowstone if your live in the west side of the US.  Or fly to JAC or IDA.  There are bus services that can take you on road trip to Yellowstone via Highway 191 once you are in Wyoming.  You gotta stop by Grand Teton National Park on your way to Yellowstone.  That will be another Sunday Travel Photo blog post.

“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” – Paul Theroux 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Back to Running

Day 73

My scariest experience on the road

Rocky Mountain is my favorite national park. This is despite the fact that I had my scariest experience there. It encompasses about 265,000 acres, with over 60 peaks topping above 12,000 feet. 350 miles of meandering trails through the park makes it a paradise for a hiker.

Having all these in mind, I set out on the adventure on an early Saturday morning. I flew to Denver with 6am flight, then drove for one and a half hours to Este Park. I did the hiking alone, then got altitude sickness while on the hiking trails by the cliff due to the elevation. It was the highest elevation that I had ever been to.  That was the moment I could not stop thinking "what if I died today?"

one of the narrow hiking trails by the cliff

This got me a little scared, as no one was around to help in case of an emergency. I had no hat, no sunglasses, no medicines.  It was in the middle of the day in summer.  The sun was bright and some trails were partially icy.  And my phone got no signal and no GPS.  I got recovered from that strange sickness after resting in the shade for a while.

I had not told my family of the hotel in which I would be staying in and the thought of never being found if I fell off constantly haunted me. Lessons learned.  Ever since that time, I send my family all my travel itineraries and confirmation.  And no more long distance hiking alone.

The different conditions in the Rocky Mountain national park make the experience there more exciting. Some of the hiking routes that I found to be among the best were Ute Trail and Chasm Lake. Ute Trail has amazing panoramic views that one can enjoy without having to climb to the high altitudes. Chasm Lake on the other hand allowed me to have a perfect view of the Long Peak wall, famously known as the “Diamond”.  I would go back to the Rockies for hiking in a heartbeat.

"The mountains are calling, and I must go" -John Muir