Archive for the Category »Myanmar «

  Your Lucky Day! Win The Travel Tome Of The Year Right Here!

I’ve always loved the title of that book “1,000 Places To See Before You Die.” The second edition just came out.

Everyone has that travel bucket list… but after reading this book, you may want to add to yours! And I’m going to give you the chance. After you read this post (really…continue to read please)  go to my Facebook page and post one of the places you’d like to see before you die AND why  – then you will win a free book.

We will send it out to the first three to respond, hassle free :)

I have already checked out this newer edition. No joke – it is almost 1200 pages long, and has 28 new countries added from the first edition.

This book is for the person who doesn’t want to go to the same place twice.. but would rather skim a number of places, getting a flavor for each. The book is useful for providing ideas of places one may have never thought to venture…which to me, is exciting.

In this second edition, the author included places that are hot destinations now, that surprisingly were not on her radar in 2000… (Nicaragua, South Korea, etc)

Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar/Burma

I was impressed she included the Mergui Archipelago… an incredible group of mostly uninhabited islands in Burma/Myanmar that I visited earlier this year…that was closed to travelers until 1997.

Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar/Burma

But overall, I found the book to be a pretty basic. general overview of the world. The author doesn’t get too into depth. The book is organized into regions…and then into cities/smaller regions. Within each region, there are “Top Attractions,” “Where to Stay,” ‘Eating and Drinking,” etc.

In those sections there are most things you would find in any guide book – For instance, you would expect a recommendation to Buckingham Palace for London….and you get one. I tested the book’s recommendations in places I have traveled many times, or knew best, like Arles and Avignon, France…

Pont du Gard, Gard, France near Avignon

and I think she pretty much nailed the important basic things to see. More importantly, I think the book leaves out the right things that are over-hyped.

The more interesting recommendations come in the section “Other Must Dos”… unfortunately, not every city has an “Other Must Do List.”

What I really like about the book is the author’s approach – she tried to read everything she can get her hands on about a place, so she arrives with some perspective in her recommendations. No to mention ,she and I  seem to have the same interests, so I would gravitate to the things she recommends anyway – like San Telmo Flea Market in Buenos Aires which is touristy but so interesting.. and Van Gogh’s sanatorium in St. Remy de Provence, France, which is a chance to walk in the artist’s shoes and see where he painted many of his works.

This is not a family travel book by any means – I didn’t see one mention of children..but then to be fair, that is a whole other genre. There are some pictures, just wish they were bigger.

Final thought: It is a fun book to keep on your shelf… and pick up when you get a dose of wanderlust. (Everyday??)

Remember – the first three people to post where you want to go before you die AND why on  my Facebook page win a free copy of this book.

  Bikinis in Burma

Burma/Myanmar,  has probably not been at the top of your travel list. Until recently, this South East Asia country was boycotted by travelers because of a hard line military government, that disallowed opposition to its rule. Economic sanctions have been in place for decades.

But now, the Burmese democratic opposition is supporting responsible travel to Burma… (avoid tourist establishments with ties to the govt.) & the boycott: lifted.

On the way to Burma

So it’s time to go!

Somewhere in the Andaman Sea..far far from home.

I just went with four girlfriends… although we saw this undeveloped country from a unique perspective: from a boat in bikinis almost 24/7.

Yes, I visited the mainland town of Kawthoung…

Mergui Archipelago, Burma

but I spent most of my 8 days cruising the some of the hundreds of islands in the Mergui Archipelago  in the Andaman Sea, just off the coast of Burma.

How you travel there is up to you. Staying on land: it is very rough. Gotta be careful about what you eat… it is very primitive and raw – not many places like this left in the world. Very little internet service – it is reported on that one tourist at a hotel tried sending a photo via email and was charged $2000. The govt reportedly views all emails as well. But – the things to see on land are incredible.

By sea: Gorgeous. Peaceful. And I admit – totally decadent. Not many people can afford to charter a yacht and do this.

Having said that, going by sea is a subject about worth learning…. There are responsible tours that don’t  have ties to the govt & help locals. These tour groups can assist you plan and even charter your own yacht.

We had a fantastic guide with us the entire time and felt completely safe. The locals we encountered were kind and happy to see us -

some invited us into their homes…

and the fishermen invited us on their boats.

It is an utterly different world, and snatched a piece of my soul.

To travel by boat, you get to visit places where there are no other tourists… we didn’t see any at all, except a Russian dive boat, and probably saw total about 40 other people/locals the entire time we were there.

We were anchoring at uninhabited islands… stand up paddling every morning to a beautiful sunrise…

walking every day on virgin sand littered with whole, unbroken shells.

Our favorite we named ‘Sand Dollar Beach” because curiously enough, only sand dollars littered the shore.

And did I mention oh so blue turquoise waters?

We sailed near dolphins…

and witnessed sunsets that would make even non-believers faithful.

Another advantage of the boat: We also felt safe eating the food because our crew stocked it form safe sources.

In my upcoming posts I will highlight specific islands or attractions from my trip. This is just a brief overview.. I know I can’t do this trip justice, but I will try. :)

If you are at all interested in exploring this region of the beautiful world, here are some sources – I can’t recommend them personally because I’ve never used them, but it is a place to start. Like I always say, “Dream Big.”

Some of the yachting companies I’ve researched charge around $1800 per person for 7 nights… that includes food and water activities – no entry visas, etc. The fuel is really expensive, so with the price of gas going up, so may your chartered yacht experience.

Also a good current resource is

I didn’t find our own government’s website to be as current.

  The Psychological Benefits of a Great Island Vacation

I have researched the archives of Psychology Today, but haven’t found any studies that  prove one can reclaim  him or herself on a deserted island. There… with nothing but the sound of the waves crashing and the exotic birds calling.

But I don’t need an academic to tell me that because I have lived it with each island I visit. The latest: a group of isolated islands off the coast of Myanmar in Southern Asia. Just me, four girl friends, & a yacht for nine glorious days.  There is nothing like being on the water for clearing the mind.

The whole Myanmar experience  – well, that’s a whole ‘nother crazy great story. But right now, I am still very Zen, so I need to share with you the importance of truly getting away – disconnecting – and making sure it is for a long enough time. I have found published proof for that. Here is why the experts say it’s valuable to travel:

1) Practice MINDFULLNESS – According to a statement by Oregon psychologist John Christensen, mindfulness is the opposite of multitasking. (An island is ideal for this – there is not much else to do!!! You just need to get over the hump of doing nothing.)

Christensen describes it as being fully present to yourself, your travel companions and your environment. It’s a way of both simplifying your vacation and recharging your mental batteries to better cope with day-to-day stress. Mindful vacations can make everything seem less important than the task at hand. We are so used to being connected – how important is it really to always check your email and news, or have a fax near you?

2) The vacation hangover can last!!! I am still practicing mindfullness at home  – each morning I spend moments focusing on the positive and being grateful. It is amazingly powerful. I can’t tell you how many times since I’ve been home that I thought the world around me just needs to chill. Call it Island Syndrome.

3)  If you’re lucky enough to travel abroad, experts say it could help you with creative thinking. Immersing yourself in a different culture can show you there’s a whole other set of customs and ways of doing things. Experts have found it makes people have a more nuanced understanding of themselves. Especially when you have a lot of quiet time, and deep talks with travel companions I might add.

4) Vacations will help you with your job performance: The psychological benefits that come with regular and frequent vacations lead to an increased quality of life and an increased quality of work.  Approaching life with a refreshed attitude gives us the tools to handle whatever comes our way.

I could add more – vacations strengthen relationships, prevent burn out, keep us healthy…. and by the way – they can be crazy fun. Get your travel on…. now. Summer is right around the corner. I know of some pristine islands with virgin sand…