Leaving Myanmar

During my travels in Asia this year, everyone I met that had gone to Myanmar only had rave reviews, and it quickly became a “must-visit” country for me on this trip, ahead of other countries in Southeast Asia. Although I had hyped up coming here so much, I actually made no concrete plans and I had no guidebook (take that Lonely Planet!), instead relying on the recommendations and advice from other travellers I’d meet and whatever I could find online through very spotty internet connections.

In my 25 days in Myanmar, I’ve scraped my knee falling off a motorbike, fell into a moat, explored mystifying, historic ruins, went on some beautiful treks and slept on thin mattresses on floors of modest homes in hill tribe villages whose names I’d never heard of and already don’t remember, and as always, interacted with so many beautiful people.

kids in hilltribe village on trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake

kids in hilltribe village on trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake

It’s been a great time to experience Myanmar during low season and at its current course in history. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to visit this country of amazingly friendly people, and can only hope that if I get the opportunity to return here one distant day, the generosity and sincerity of Myanmar won’t be forsaken in the name of tourism and development.

Monks at U Bein Bridge, Amarapura

Monks at U Bein Bridge, Amarapura

And now I’m back in Bangkok for a few days, enjoying a few days of rest and relaxation before exploring another country in Southeast Asia…

Belgrade rising

There’s an energy and authenticity to this city, one of the largest in the Balkans, that I can easily appreciate. Often during travelling, I feel like I’m just one of hundreds, perhaps thousands, walking around and doing the same thing. It’s a feeling that I dread and most times do my best to avoid; it’s usually not an issue here in Belgrade…

Zemun

Zemun – once the limit of the Austro-Hungarian Empire when the Turks controlled Belgrade

The beauty of Belgrade is that by and large, mass tourism is non-existent, or at the least much less obvious than most European cities. As such, it doesn’t put on a show for tourists and I can walk around the city and feel like I’m getting a sense of what the capital of Serbia is about. I think this is what makes Belgrade unique. True, a city like Belgrade has many similarities with other large cities – that faster pace of almost everything compared with being in the countryside or a small town; the pollution and noise of crazy speeding cars; higher prices (though still one of the most ridiculously cheap places I’ve visited in Europe). But to be sure, Belgrade as a city has its share of unique gems that easily attract the traveller’s eyes.

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