Visiting Burma: How To Do It Responsibly

While reading Nicholas Kristof’s opinion piece on Burma (Myanmar) last month I was consumed by a rush of memories - conversations and images from of our month-long visit there last year. My comment on his article shares my views regarding the effectiveness of international sanctions in changing the behaviors of the military government (junta). I also address whether … [Read more...]

Burma’s Golden Kite

The Golden Kite of Burma (Myanmar): the trail connecting Rangoon (Yangon), Bagan, Mandalay, and Inle Lake. These four locations form a common itinerary for visits to the country. Their golden stupas, fields of ancient Buddhist pagodas, floating villages, and royal palaces tell a story of place caught between its modern-day struggles and an underlying narrative of a … [Read more...]

Burma: A Photo, A Thousand Words

While the Burmese junta (military government) has well earned its appalling reputation among human rights organizations and the international press, the people of Burma have an acclaim of their own among travelers as some of the kindest around.Therefore, when we departed for Burma (Myanmar), we did so with high expectations. Its people, cities, landscapes, … [Read more...]

Top 8 in 2008

As 2008 came to an end, we reflected on our experiences from the passing year. Best experience? It's impossible to choose just one, so we share a few of the memories that are likely to remain with us through 2009 and beyond.Some we’ve written about already. The complete story of others are yet to come.Where 2009 will take us, no one knows (including us). … [Read more...]

Rangoon Dusk

After reflecting on the challenges faced by Myanmar (Burma) yesterday, we wanted to leave you with a more pleasant image of the country for the weekend. … [Read more...]

Myanmar, Where Hope Dies Last?

Saying a Prayer

News stories take on increased significance when we’ve actually visited the place being covered. For example, we've recently been reading more about the effects of a harsh winter on the lives of ordinary people in both Tajikistan and China. As we read these stories, images of the people we’ve met become superimposed on a piece of news that we might otherwise regard … [Read more...]

Dialing in from the Dark: What’s Coming Up

We just finished a three-day trek that landed us at Inle Lake, Myanmar. While the people, markets, temples, villages and floating gardens here have all been wonderful, internet connectivity and availability of electricity leave much to be desired. With rolling brown-outs, random power outages, and heavily censored dial-up internet, staying in touch with the outside … [Read more...]

Lonely Myanmar

Proud Mother

Don't worry, we're not feeling lonely. The title refers to the current reality here in Myanmar where once bustling tourist sights and streets have been transformed into ghost towns. Strings of flashing lights still hang from restaurants advertising the best Burmese, Indian, Nepalese - and even Tibetan - food in town, but the sobering and obvious fact is that most of … [Read more...]

Myanmar: Go or No Go?

Altar Offerings at Golden Mount Temple - Bangkok

Myanmar (Burma) is a country noted for its oppressive government and lauded for the kindness of its people. This September, though, the political situation heated up again under protests and a corresponding government crackdown.We’re back in the neighborhood of Southeast Asia again and we have the opportunity to visit. Do we go this time or give it another pass? … [Read more...]