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Archive for January, 2013

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These pictures were taken at the amazingly beautiful Tat Kuang Si Waterfall, just outside Luang prabang, Laos. The waterfalls are absolutely gorgeous, and, you can swim in any of the pools that are marked for it (there are signs to tell you which pools you can or cannot swim in). The you can find a place in town to set up a visit here, and often the trips are a joint package with some of the other sight seeing stuff in the area. Just outside of the waterfalls there is an area where you can see asiatic black bears (in captivity); this area is a rescue center through Free the Bears. The group rescues bears that were captured for use in traditional medicine. The area is really cool, and the waterfalls are just stunning. Absolutely worth a visit!

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This photo was taken in Bagan, Myanmar (formerly Burma) just outside one of the many incredible pagodas that you can visit. This was really just a luck shot, I don’t really know why this baby was in a basket, but I thought it was a pretty cool picture none the less. This woman, and her children, were with a group of people who seemed like they were just passing through the area where the Pagoda was located, they had stopped to look at a group of tourists. The interest was clearly mutual, the small group of Burmese people was looking at the tourists, and the tourists (a group from the U.S.) were looking right back, it was sort of an interesting exchange to witness. If you look closely you can see a sort of yellow-white paste is covering the child’s face. The paste is called Tha Na Ka, it’s made from a sort of ground root and water mixture, it’s applied to the face to help keep you cool. While we were there my sister and I tried it ( a very sweet older lady outside a temple applied it for us, she was also very insistent that we smell it, though it really didn’t have much of a strong scent) it was an interesting experience, but neither of us found it to be particularly cooling after it dried. Still, i’d recommend trying it if you have a chance (and if you don’t have any serious plant allergies) it’s an interesting experience, and a lot of local people seemed really pleased by the fact that tourists were trying it out. Behind the woman you can see a horse cart, these are really common in Bagan and you can hire them to take you to pagodas if you prefer the more open air travel to taxis.

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This picture was taken on Khao san Road in Bangkok, Thailand. Khao San is a pretty well known tourist hot-spot, and is especially popular with younger travelers. There’s lots of great shopping to be done in this area, everything from cheap little sun dresses and printed tee shirts, to necklaces made from snake vertebrae, to more traditional Thai souvenirs. Khao San is also a great place to eat. The street is lined with restaurants and food carts, offering a pretty good array of prices. Then there were these, Scorpions on a stick, not your average snack-time food. Unfortunately I didn’t try them ( I had just gotten over being pretty sick, and didn’t really want to risk it), but I intend to try them when I go back to Thailand! We talked briefly to the man that was selling them, and he said that they were good, but other than that I don’t have much information about them. It was, however, an interesting experience to see them selling these scorpions to some of the more daring tourists. If you’re up for it, why not try it, right?

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This series of pictures shows some of the many flat baskets that you can see around Luang Prabang, Laos. While the contents of the baskets varied, it looked like it was always food. Dried chili to be ground into pastes, dried sticky rice, and dried Morning Glory. I don’t know exactly why all of these things need to be dried, but I really liked the way the baskets were just set out on the sidewalks. Luang Prabang is a really pretty little town with a lot of interesting things to offer tourists, and with some really fantastic food!

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This picture was taken at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar (formerly Rangoon, Burma). The pagoda, which I mentioned in a previous post, is a very popular attraction for both native and foreign tourists. It draws lots of visitors, some are visiting to just take a look around, others come with the intention of practicing their religion. Among those visiting are large numbers of buddhist monks. If you look closely you can see, near the glass case in the center of the shrine, a monk has his head down in prayer. While lots of people come here to pray it also seems like a lot of people are just there to hang out, and relax with their families and friends.It’s a really cool site, and I really enjoyed walking around the (rather extensive) grounds. As always, if you are visiting a religious site remember to be respectful of the dress code and any other rules presented to you. There should be signs near where you purchase tickets telling you what is and is not allowed. As far as dressing appropriately, it’s always a good idea to have a sarong or some kind of wrap to cover up your legs (especially if you don’t want to wear it all day, a wrap/ sarong is easy to put on over shorts and take off when you no longer need to be conservatively covered), also make sure to cover your shoulders, and remove your shoes!

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This picture was taken in Luang Prabang, Laos, at a restaurant on the main street called Khmu. The first dish is fried Mekong seaweed with a chili paste, and the second is stir fried Morning Glory. Both were absolutely delicious, as was the Chicken Susee (not pictured). Khmu is a fantastic restaurant, and if you don’t want to eat from the street food carts, this is a really good alternative. The street food carts are really good too, but this is better for a sit down meal.

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This photograph was taken in Yangon, Myanmar (formerly Burma), at Shwedagon Pagoda. It is also known, quite appropriately, as the Golden Pagoda. It’s a fantastic site to see, and one of the more popular places to visit for both native and foreign tourists in Yangon. It’s really incredible to see ┬áthe Pagoda, towering up in the midst of the city, a shining bright gold point. The Pagoda is just as impressive from close up, the rooms are covered in mirrored mosaics with tons of Buddha statues and offerings of flowers. The temple is also, not surprisingly, an attraction for lots of visiting monks. When visiting remember (as always) to be respectful, this is a religious site, and a very important one at that. Make sure (both men and women) that shoulders are covered, legs are covered at least below the knee, and shoes and socks are removed before entering the Pagoda. (P.S. more pictures of the actual structure to come!)

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