Category Archives: Thailand

All Along the Andaman Coast

Time to slow down. After that good week of diving in Koh Tao we were ready to hang low and relax. We were fortunate enough to get the better night ferry back to the mainland on our way to Phuket, so we actually got a little sleep in our bunks. Unfortunately, the ferry was followed by a much too long bus ride for just a short distance, although it was amazing to cruise down the coast and see these amazing, huge limestone karsts jutting up all around. This just seemed to be a glimpse of what was to come.

Phuket is one of the places always mentioned when talking about Thailand. It is the party central of S.E. Asia. One beach in particular, Patong Beach, is just a bigger version of Khao San road in Bangkok. That isn’t our style so we headed just south of that to Karon Beach. We got super excited as we ended up with a room that had a balcony, fridge, and more importantly an electric hot water kettle. Time for a little grocery shopping! We had copious amounts of coffee and tea, and for two nights we made spaghetti. I can not tell you how exciting this was. One night we did get to have dinner with some friends from Colorado who now are teaching English in Phuket. It was nice to see some familiar faces and spend an evening chatting it up. Other than enjoying the room amenities we spent some time on the beach, but swimming was a bit difficult with the rough waters.

(Bryan getting smashed by a wave)

Quickly moving on, our next destination was to be straight to Railay Beach through Krabi, but we had to spend a few days in Krabi first. During the past month and a half leading up to Phuket, Megan’s grandma had been in the hospital not doing well. Before we left Koh Toa, it became obvious that she would not be going home. After several difficult days, she passed away peacefully.  We were in Phuket and headed for Railay, where we couldn’t expect reliable internet to communicate with the family, so we made a pit stop for a couple of days in Krabi. I can’t say how difficult it is especially when you are thousands of miles away. Megan’s family has been really great about making sure we stayed updated, especially her brother, Nick, who Skyped with us numerous hours. We want to express our appreciation for everything Megan’s family has done to help her grandparents and each other.

(Bryan, Megan, and Grandma Clara before we left on our trip)

Hitching a ride in a longtail boat, we ventured on to Railey Beach. Railay, although it is a penninsula, feels like an island because you are blocked from the rest of the mainland by karsts and you can only really get there by boat.

(Railay Beach from the karst viewpoint)

After really trying to bet against the weather we signed up for a day island hopping trip. This was quite the outing as we were on the boat with several Malaysians. They were super excited for snorkeling, but their idea of snorkeling was much different than ours. With a loaf of bread in one hand, they stayed close to the boat and lured some of the fish to them. We saw angel fish, crab, pipe fish, rainbow parrot fish, and I was fortunate to see a small reef shark. Quite exciting! We explored a few different islands where we got to do a small hike and see some left over debri from the 2004 tsunami. Our guide was most interesting as he went on and on about how U.S. movies/shows are the best, and his favorite is Mega Man. He also has a mohawk and tattooed wings on his back. Never a dull moment.

(One of the beaches we stopped at)

With the water starting to get a bit rough the following day, we decided to climb a trail up the karsts on the end of the beach. On top we expected there to be an amazing viewpoint and hidden lagoon. Heading up wasn’t too bad but it was quite steep and rope was strung around the trail to assist the climb up. We made it to the viewpoint easy enough, and it did provide for an amazing view. Sadly we couldn’t make it all the way to the lagoon as the trail down got increasingly dangerous. The trail ran throuh the water gully which currently was just thick, slippery mud. Some of the drop offs were ten plus feet down and we couldn’t chance slipping down them.

(Bryan standing by one of the drops down to the lagoon)

Megan always wanted to try deep water solo climbing, and this area is the mecca for such a thing, which was our true intention to visit anyways. We started to run into issues where a group would be going then cancel and then some other group would be set for the next day and cancel. Things weren’t looking good. It wasn’t until our last full day and a few hours before the last tour might head out that she got the green light. It was like a Saturnalias miracle! Not only did she get to climb, but she did a bit more snorkeling and got to see phosphorescent plankton lighting up at night like glitter. Pretty awesome experience she had!

(Megan deep water solo climbing)

Since then we are back in Krabi about to catch a minibus to Georgetown, Malaysia. Not completely sure whats in store for us, but we hope to be visiting a national park to possibly see the rainforest in full bloom.

Whale of a tale!

“To hell with luck, I will bring luck with me” -Ernest Hemingway,  The Old Man and the Sea

Four days in the “Backpackers’ Ghetto” of Bangkok, Khoa San Road, was plenty for us! We did a little more sight seeing, including the Grand Palace, Chinatown, and enjoying a beautifully lit pagoda next to the river at night. We also focused on eating healthier to recover from our diet of grease, caffeine, and sugar while in Myanmar (but it was oh so good)!

Fast forward through a minibus and ferry ride to the beautiful island of Koh Chang, near the border of Thailand and Cambodia. Of the many beaches to choose from, we chose to plant ourselves at Lonely Beach because, well, it was mostly void of resorts. We also expected to find rooms in the $10-15 range. To our surprise, Lonely Beach was so lonely this time of year that we found a private bungalow not far from the water for, wait for it… THREE DOLLARS per night. (No unwanted surprises in the middle of the night either!)

The beach was a short walk from where we were and we went there most mornings, but just at the end of our road was a large wooden deck where we could sit over the rocky coast listening to waves crash and dreamily watch the sunset everyday. We spent a lot of time here, which was actually a restaurant that was closed for the season. One day we stocked up on beer, wine coolers, and snacks and spent most of the day there writing in our journals, reading, and watching all the local dogs who seemed to enjoy the scenery just as much as we did. We didn’t leave until the sun had set. That was a good day!

The Lonely Beach area had a really laid back vibe. There was almost nobody around during the day. As Bryan said, you know it’s slow when the shop owners are all playing BINGO! But at night barefoot hippies came out of nowhere and live music would be playing at one or more restaurants. We spent a day on motorbike exploring the island, including a refreshing waterfall and some fantastic views looking down on beaches. The entire East side of the island is quite “lonely” and undeveloped.

We were really anticipating SCUBA diving at our next stop, the island of Koh Tao which is also in the Gulf of Thailand and Southwest of Koh Chang. And dive we did! Getting there was…fun. 27 hours of jumping from one mode of transportation to the next, back to Bangkok and then South. We should have just swam!

All the dive companies seemed to be pretty comparable in price, so we chose Big Blue because they gave us the cheapest hotel rate. I can’t describe how happy we were with this company! First of all, they were very environmentally conscious, which was a relief after what we experienced and saw in Vietnam while diving. Our dive masters all took the time before each dive to go over a picture book of species they expected we might see in each area, and after each dive went through the book again to review what we did see. Because of this I learned more than ever about the marine life. Some of the interesting species we saw were box fish, shrimp, large groupers, eels, stingrays, angel fish, needle fish, and barracudas. On two of our dives we explored artificially sunk, small Naval ships.

On our first dive we were incredibly lucky to see a Whale Shark! It was casually roaming through a big crowd of divers, curiously attracted to the bubbles. I had a good view of another diver swimming alongside it and estimated it at 9-11 feet in length. Not huge but not small. It was so beautiful. Whale sharks are not man-eating, so I found it humorous when it kept following one guy’s leg with it’s mouth open just inches from him! At one point it came within 6 feet of me, I’m so lucky!

(photo credit big blue diving)

We had planned our very first night dive for our third day in Koh Tao, but I was sick so Bryan went without me. That jerk had to come back all giddy and tell me how awesome it was! He said it felt really cool to be in total pitch black with only a small beam of light from a flashlight. It was easy to feel lost and confused, and he could see how many people would freak out. It was just his dive master and him so he was able to really enjoy every moment. The highlight was that he had his very first sea turtle sighting! He estimated 4 foot long or so.

The next day I was determined not to miss a full day diving trip we had signed up for to a far off location that none of the other diving companies go to. It was an incredibly interesting day!

There were just four of us in our little group, including our dive master, but several fellow groups were nearby. Right off the bat we saw a small sea turtle on our first dive. My first sea turtle sighting, check! That Bryan saw two in two days was pretty small odds. We followed it for awhile as it explored but eventually lost it. As we were totally engrossed in our immediate surroundings we turned a corner and BAM! Right in front of us was a boat wreck. Completely unexpected! As we’re exploring the debris scattered about (a fan, broken wood, computer parts, mattress, rice cookers) I couldn’t help but notice there was absolutely no algae growth and few fish swimming through it. It looked pretty recent. It was a big, wooden fishing boat and the mast was just barely under the top of the water. The hull was smashed near the front and the entire boat rocked back and forth as the waves crashed into the rock pinnacle nearby. It was scary seeing someone’s personal belongings scattered about knowing that person’s livelihood was probably ruined. I glanced through the cabin a little but hesitated when I thought of opening the windows to look in more. I was a little worried I might find a body, so I swam on. We pointed out the boat to our fellow divers. Once back on our boat everyone was shocked and laughing in total surprise that we just discovered a new wreck. It was a first for everyone, including all the professionals! We soon found out a couple of the guys had looked farther into the cabin, and they found what I had feared. Judging by the body and the wreck, it probably happened within a few days or so of us finding it. We can only speculate on what exactly happened.

We almost can’t believe it ourselves, but at the end of our second dive we saw our second Whale Shark! The chances of seeing one within the four days we dove are pretty small, the chances of seeing two are really slim! This one looked to be larger than the first, but it wasn’t interested in us and didn’t hang around to be sure. Just us four saw it that day, so the others were jealous and we got a lot of crap! Our last dive of the day wasn’t too exciting, but Bryan spotted another first for us – Bigfin Reef Squid – it looked like a UFO hovering over the sand. We followed it for awhile before it turned around and sped off like a bolt of lightning.


Unfortunately we don’t yet have a camera that we can dive with so we sadly don’t have photos of these incredible memories to add to the album, but we’re keeping an eye out for other divers’ photos from the same trips.




Myanmar Part 2: Astounding Beauty

After a few hours of a bug riddled sleep we caught our bus to Mandalay. Interestingly, the tourist buses are quite nice but the roadways can barely accommodate them. There are still dirt highways, which were in the midst of being upgraded, and single lane bridges/roads.

When reaching Mandalay we could already tell it was a bit more lively and culturally diverse than Yangon. The people appeared to be a pretty fair mix of Asian descent and Indian descent, with an obvious mix of religions as well. Like everywhere else people were super excited to see us. Thanks to Obama’s visit in ’08, Americans are especially welcome! Hillary did us a favor too, as she was sometimes mentioned by the locals. Everywhere we looked people were smiling at us, saying hello, and teaching their young children to say hello. We found a nice place with a room on the roof that gave us some good views of the surrounding area.

The first day we ventured to Mandalay Hill and the palace. The Hill is the highest viewpoint in the area and made us work for the great view. Once half way up the hill you begin a 45 minute barefoot walk up old stairways because the hill also serves as pagoda and monastery. The palace sits at the city center surrounded by a large stone wall and moat, and still serves as a military base. At the entrance we ran into a tourist who filled us in on what there was, and was not, to see inside. It didn’t sound worth the price, so we skipped out. Where most people are fair to tourists, the government price gouges tourists in every way they can find. That evening we cruised through the pretty empty night market which most interestingly displayed a huge array of old books. These covered all sorts of educational subjects including engineering, business, programming, and much more. The books had to be 15-20 years old at the newest. We dug all through them as it was a fun discovery. Quantum Mechanics anyone?

(Just a quick shot of some of the books)

The following days we just people watched. There are tons of cafes with cheap dishes and free Chinese tea. The fantastic food won over Megan’s heart from the very first day in the country. However, the few times we got dishes that weren’t fantastic, they were pretty bad. Some of the best and worst food of the trip so far. While having dinner at a street stall one day, a taxi driver was really chatting us up and told us a good joke.

“We call a person that can speak two languages bilingual, we call a person that can speak many languages multilingual, and someone that can speak only one language, they’re French” -taxi driver

Finally getting tired of my long hair, I attempted a haircut. After the entire salon staff got over the excitement that Americans were in their shop and the stylist painstakingly made me look like a white, old Asian, Megan had to correct it back at the hotel with tiny mustache scissors. I did get 2 scalp massages with the cut though, which were worth the three dollars I paid!

Eventually we were back on a bus heading to Inle Lake. Like many of our other bus rides we arrived at 4 a.m. We stayed that day at a new, clean hotel which was good since Megan started to feel a little under the weather and barely left the room. The town next to Inle Lake is quite small with not much to do. It was interesting to see the immense boat loads of vegetables coming into the docks for export from the floating gardens.

(Some of the unloaded egg plants)

We found a boat guide and arranged a full day tour. We headed out to the lake early the next morning through a canal. As we reached the lake it was a sight to behold. The smooth, glassy water reflected the blue layers of mountains that surrounded the lake on both sides. White cranes swooped down over the water and tended to their nests in small puffs of grass while enormous, brightly colored dragon flies zoomed all around us. Traditional fishermen in wooden canoes dotted the lake and larger boats of vegetables passed on their way to town.

The fishermen have a unique way of working. They balance on one leg on the end of the canoes and leverage a paddle between the other leg and their side to row the boat. While they row their hands are free to tend to the fishing nets.


As we progressed we saw the floating gardens. They literally piled dirt on lake vegetation and then planted crops on top, using long bamboo poles as pins to hold the floating mass in place. These gardens look like fields you would see on dry land except you see locals in small canoes paddling through the rows tending to the crops. Amazing!

(floating garden)

On the lake tour we stopped at a textile shop where fabrics were woven from cotton and silk, but most notably were scarves woven out of fibers they extract from lotus flowers. Very soft and nicely scented! Next stop was one of the better markets we have seen in Myanmar since it was well stocked with souvenirs and locals running around buying food, getting haircuts, and possibly stocking up on betel nut. To date this might be the most we have seen of the addictive betel nut. People walk around with mouths stained blood red, spitting everywhere, sometimes narrowly missing our feet. This used to be common throughout SE Asia but it is very slowly fading away.

(Selling some green beans and tomatoes)

Next we visited a cigar “factory” with two ladies making cigars faster than ever, and another lady smoking a cigar telling us what they were doing. Sounds like most jobs back home, but I won’t go there! We saw the making of long boats like the one we were riding in. They had a nearly complete boat and one that was 40 years old and being repaired. Pretty amazing craftsmanship. It takes about a month to make one boat by hand. They use the abundant teak wood for nearly everything there.

(Nearly finished boat)

Next stop was a huge pagoda in the middle of the lake.  After seeing so many pagodas this didn’t excite us too much, but as we were walking around it a crowd started forming behind us. Megan felt a bit uncomfortable, but then a monk stepped forward and started talking to us. He was helping all these people learn English and they were super excited to practice with us. As we were talking to the monk, a few of them were circling us like vultures trying to take photos. I asked if everyone wanted to take a group photo, and they all erupted with pure excitement. This must be what superstars feel like. During the photos Megan had a girl cling to the side of her like a magnet. Quite the memorable moment.

We dropped in on a silversmith shop where they made jewelry with silver they themselves extracted from stones. Silver and precious gem stones are mined all over this area. Megan was excited for what was next. I think nearly everyone has seen these tribal women on the cover of National Geographics: the “long neck” women with the numerous gold rings used to stretch their necks. They had a small shop where four of the women were weaving cloth by hand, the most impressive weaving I have seen on this trip. It would have been nice to hike to their village and see them in their home environment instead of jammed into the back of a tourist shop, but the season and our time wouldn’t allow for that.

(Kayan women)

Before leaving for Yangon the next day, an old lady from our family-run guesthouse gave us bags of fresh green tea as a parting gift. The small family run places always outdo the new fancy hotels! Let alone the breakfast at 4 Sisters Guesthouse was by far the best we had in Myanmar.

The bus to Yangon was the cheapest of all the buses we took in Myanmar, and somehow seemed first class compared to the others. We had snacks, water, soda, and a stewardess to top it off.  Heck yeah! Still we arrived to Yangon at 5 a.m. Megan and I spent a few days just walking around checking out some more pagodas, parks, food, books, and the people. One day while looking at books a guy walked up to us and warned us of money exchangers that rip off tourists (which we were aware of). Megan and I got suspicious as to what his angle was, but he caught our skepticism and told us that he is an English teacher. He chatted up a storm through the book shop and led us back to his classroom. He was super nice and even bought us a couple of sodas while he asked about current slang and phrases. After his class arrived, which was predominately tourist police with a few monks, he asked us to keep talking so they could learn to listen. Before we knew it we were teaching the class, but not about grammar or phonetics, we taught about credit cards, mortgages, and interest rates! These services are just being introduced into the country and the teacher prodded us with questions. Our lengthy lesson even included figures on a whiteboard. I am sure we confused the hell out of them, but none the less the teacher was appreciative of our visit.

Experiences like these and everything that encompasses Myanmar at this time is what I think most people are looking for when traveling Southeast Asia.  The country is astounding, and we feel honored to have been guests there.

Back in Bangkok we have been hanging around the tourist central, Khaosan road. The world renown “backpacker ghetto”.  This was quite the shock after being in Myanmar, but we have adjusted.

If you have made it this far I applaud you as this is a long post.  Enjoy the pictures and know that we appreciate you sharing in our experiences with us!

Myanmar Part 1: Sad to Bagan

Are you ready for this? It has been nearly a month since our last post and we’ve been itching to tell you all about our experiences! We’re splitting it into two posts to give you a break and have split the photos by locations. If you only have time to look at some of the photos, definitely check out Bagan and Inle Lake.

Part 1: Bangkok, Yangon, Bagan
Part 2: Mandalay, Inle Lake, Yangon, Bangkok

Before flying to Myanmar, we spent a few days in Bangkok. What seems to be the beginning of some crazy overnight bus schedules we have submitted ourselves to, we arrived in Bangkok a little before 5 a.m.  In a state of bleariness and confusion we managed to catch one city bus, a subway train, and finally a sky train to our hotel.

Our visit to Bangkok was especially exciting because we got to meet up with a friend of mine, Gaby, from graduate school whom I hadn’t seen for a couple years. Gaby was great in giving us some places to check out before we could meet up. Aside from some religious sites, we were introduced to what had to be countless city blocks of multistory buildings filled with shopping of every kind. The amount, variety, and quality of shopping was truly impressive. There were stores for everyone. Bryan was super excited for the five story building of everything IT.

(Tons of technology!)

The skytrain in this part of the city was raised high above the streets and had a nice walkway below the train. It was refreshing to not have to dodge traffic and street vendors while walking this section, and it provided some good views. On our second day in Bangkok we were determined to get some skyscraper views of the city. We decided to ask at the front desk of one skyscraper. This was the Central World Tower, connected to one of the largest and most upscale shopping centers. To our surprise we were able to go up for free, where there happened to be an outdoor cafe that circled the top of the tower. On our way up we passed through an area where Forbes Magazine was holding a conference. If only we had the formal wear to blend in! The views from the top were fantastic and the wind was refreshing. I can’t say Bryan was very fond of the glass railings and glass stairway!

(Megan on top of Central World Tower)

The day before heading out Gaby first took us out to lunch and ordered for us. We shared from three Thai dishes that we had never tried: a spicy soup, a salad of sauteed vegetables, and some type of fish. They were all excellent! She then took us to the Vimanmek Palace, the largest teak wood building in the world, which was used by kings in the early 1900s. Some of the smaller buildings were filled with pottery and jewelry from excavation sites in the country and with photographs taken by the current King Bhumibol Adulyadej as his hobby. Later we took a ferry to Asiatique, a historic pier and boardwalk with cute shops, nice restaurants, and a huge ferris wheel. We had an upscale dinner near the water where Gaby again ordered for us: green curry, pad thai, another type of sauteed salad, and a pastry appetizer. Once the sun had set and we were about to burst from so much good food, we hopped on the ferris wheel and enjoyed some beautiful nighttime city views. Thanks so much Gaby for such a fun day and for introducing us to new foods! We hope we will get to spend some more time with Gaby after she settles into her new job.

(Megan and Gaby)

The flight to Yangon, Myanmar from Bangkok only took an hour and getting into the country was totally painless. We weren’t sure what to expect since there has been so much recent change within the country and government. We had received our Visas while we were in Cambodia and had done quite a bit of research about the do’s and don’ts, while we also paid close attention to the current events. Myanmar seemed to be in the international news every day, both good and bad. In the North/Northwest part of the country, serious religious clashes and a cyclone had been in the news a lot. We didn’t expect to see any of the violence since it was further out in smaller villages. In the more positive news, Myanmar’s economic situation is changing so rapidly that outside investment is blowing up, infrastructure is getting new attention, and hotel prices are skyrocketing from the influx of tourism. We are so happy that we got to experience the country now, before it completely changes and before the tourism industry really catches up with it.  Even upon arrival locals were very excited to see us, as there still are not many western tourists visiting.  The friendliness of the locals was beyond comprehension. We experienced something new in these people: complete honesty. Everyone there was eager to help you and business didn’t price gouge.

Three years ago a couple of our friends went to Myanmar, made all the stops that we did, and it seems had quite different experiences in some ways. While we could get internet sometimes, albeit not reliable and not fast, our friends never had it; and as we were chatting over the internet from a Western-style cafe in Yangon, they had never seen a Western-style restaurant of any type in the city.

Our first stop in Yangon was to see the reclining Buddha. We were almost to the top of the stairs when an old man came up and introduced himself as the teacher at the monastery there. He eagerly offered to give us a little tour of the monastery buildings. Grasping an opportunity, we gladly followed. As he took us into the oldest building (little more than a wood shack now filled with old junk), he explained how it used to be used. If I remember correctly it was over 100 years old. A student of his joined us for the rest of the tour. They showed us the current sleeping quarters and classroom for the monks, we walked through a dark building where monks were currently studying by light from the windows, and we went into the meditation building where, if there were any unpracticed meditators in the crowd, we surely disturbed them as the teacher directed me to take photos. All through the tour the pair were openly talking down on the Myanmar government, something, they explained, they couldn’t have done a year ago without fear of retribution.

In the last few months we have been lucky enough to meet some incredibly strong people who have been through terrible times and were willing to talk about their experiences. This teacher, now in his 70s, sadly lost his entire family in 2008 from Cyclone Nargis, the largest in Burma history. The military government refused international aid for several days, adding to the death toll. The government’s official death toll is less than 150,000 but the people believe it was closer to half a million. At that time he had been a public school teacher, but after that he no longer wanted to work for the corrupt government and felt he could do the most good at the monastery. The student told us his teacher still has terrible nightmares sometimes, but through meditation and teaching he finds peace and happiness.

(Us and the Professor)

Two hours later our spur of the moment tour was ending and we were finally seeing the enormous reclining Buddha. We didn’t get the chance to ask them why this particular Buddha was wearing blue eyeshadow and lipstick.

The most popular site in Yangon is Shwedagon Pagoda, an incredible, enormous temple built on a hill and lit so bright at night it could probably be seen from Mars. We have seen a lot of pagodas throughout Southeast Asia, but there is nothing else like this one! Grand, covered stairways lead a very long way to the hilltop where the giant pagoda is surrounded by many smaller, similar structures. The place was huge and the Buddhas were never ending. We made it just as the sun was setting and the lights were beginning to illuminate the gold structure. It was absolutely beautiful.

(Shwedagon Pagoda)

We arrived to the town of Nyuang U just North of Bagan at 4am. As usual, a mass of “taxi” drivers were waiting for us at the bus station to take us to a hotel, but instead of seeing taxis and motorbikes, we were greeted with horses and buggies. Completely adorable! After some haggling we hopped on a buggy and were carted around to a few hotels until we found the cheapest one with an opening. I forgot that horses are Bryan’s worst allergy. Oops! He recovered a little while later and we decided no more buggies. After a short nap we were up for the second time that morning and pedaling out of town on some sad looking bicycles.

Bagan is… Phenomenal! The majority of the hype is centered around “Old Bagan” which was a walled fortress, and as you move away from Old Bagan you are greeted with temples, pagodas, and stupas of all sizes and shapes. The largest and most popular are closest to Old Bagan, with over 2,000 in total spread out over the plains. That first day we rode our bikes through dirt and sand to get to some of the temples that are least visited. For most of the day we saw nobody except the random sleeping salesman who would maybe wake up and offer us trinkets when we approached a temple. Most of these temples were in ruin, which made them all the more fun to explore. We climbed crumbling, dark stairways that felt like hidden passageways and stairways so steep and narrow we had to use our hands. The scenery took my breath away. You could see miles of perfect palm trees complementing old red ruins in every direction. After exploring the more popular temples, we decided we were much more impressed by those that were farther out. Most of the popular ones had been “restored” at some point where much more damage was done than good, and all but the bottom levels were closed off. There were a couple of the closer temples in which access to the higher levels was still allowed, and these were very popular for sunrise and sunset photos.

(Sunset over Bagan)

We attempted two nights of sunset viewing and two mornings of sunrise. The ride took about 30 minutes from our hotel to the popular viewing temples. We only got clear skies for one of each, but we enjoyed all four attempts as the dark night/early morning bike rides were very peaceful (and much cooler) and clouds or no clouds, there is nothing like that view.

On another note, we’ve got a story that will make your skin crawl. We had our first run-in with bedbugs in Bagan! We stayed three nights at that “cheap” $14 hotel (which is twice what we are used to paying for cleaner hotels, thanks to the tourist boom in Myanmar). The first night, no problems. Shortly after turning out the lights the second night, Bryan felt something on his leg so I flipped on the light and we found a bedbug. EEK! A quick search turned up no more so we hoped it was a fluke. On the third night, 15 minutes after laying down I felt something bigger on my arm so I flipped on the light – I wish I could describe this better – THE ROOM WAS FILLED WITH WINGED TERMITES! WTF? The spot I was just laying on the bed – covered. The floor – covered. The air – totally infested. It seems they were spawning from their nest in the walls to start another colony like ants do. I ran down to get an employee who immediately told us the light attracted them. No dude! The light was OFF when they arrived! He didn’t get it. They swept the room (pretty sure they didn’t own a vacuum) and left. Little translucent wings covered everything, and as Bryan started picking the dead and wings off the bed, he started finding bedbugs. A lot. He lifted the corner of the mattress and tons that were waiting for the right moment went running from the light. UUuuuggggghhhhh! We stood paralyzed for a few moments staring at the bed and trying to decide what to do next. The termites were gone as quickly as they came, but the bedbugs weren’t going away. We decided to keep the light on and see if that kept them at bay. Five minutes later Bryan felt a few under his leg. He was too close to the wall and his shadow provided enough darkness that they came out. So then we curled up together in the middle of the mattress as far from the walls as we could get. Throughout the night I awoke frantic several times, immediately searching the bed for any evidence of the bugs. It worked. Not once did I see another bedbug with the light on. But that’s not the end of the story. In the morning we left the room to get breakfast, naturally turning off the light. I went back first to finish packing my bag for the bus ride to Mandalay. As soon as the door swung open, all I could do was step back and resign. The room was again infested with flying termites, but this time it was double the previous amount. An employee got most of our stuff out and we finished packing in the hallway. I was brushing little wings and termites off my back for awhile, and they still show up in our bags sometimes.

(Whats left of some of the flying termites)

We’re a bit more diligent about checking the mattresses now!