Monday

Exploring Myanmar with My Parents: The Sacred Land Of Buddhist Monks

The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes 'sight-seeing.'


As I am a travel freak, I love to explore new countries. During my childhood, my father used to organize family tours in holidays. Three years ago, my parents celebrated their 30 years of marriage. At that time, I felt that taking my parents to a religious country like Myanmar can be the best gift from me in their 30th anniversary. My parents like the Buddhist culture; thus my choice for taking them to Myanmar was the best decision.

An Outline of Myanmar


 Myanmar monkMyanmar, previously known as Burma, is the sacred place of the Buddhist with golden temples, monks wearing orange robes, ancient monasteries and also it has wonderful natural landscapes. This country is not only a pilgrimage land, but it also hides a lot of adventurous things for backpackers and family tourists.

 Yangon airportAs soon as we reached the Yangon airport, we smelled the real essence of Buddhist culture. We did not spend much time in unpacking our luggage in the hotel. We decided to explore Yangon from the very the first day.

Yangon: Garden of the East


Shwedagon pagodaThis city is the former capital of the country. It is the most attractive place of Myanmar. My parents were completely impressed by the beautiful lakes, shady green parks, and temples. We had our lunch in a restaurant. The food was delicious. Our first visit was to the Shwedagon pagoda. It is one of the sacred sites of Yangon. This pagoda stands on the Singuttara Hill, northern side of the city. It is the golden symbol of the country and is 2500 years old. We took many pictures of the pagoda.

My parents enjoyed visiting this pagoda. We explored the surrounding place of this shrine. During our stay in Yangon, we also visited other religious sites like Sule Pagoda, Botataung Pagoda, Shri Kali Hindu Temple and St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, the largest church in the country. Our next visit was to Bagan.

 Bagan: The Temple City


This city is the heart of ancient architecture. It is located in the upper regions of Myanmar. I was mesmerized by the beautiful ancient temples of this place. There are more than 2000 temples in Bagan, and we wanted to see each of them, but we decided to visit some of the important ones like Shwezigon Temple, Ananda Temple, and Mahabodhi Temple. We spent more than two days in Bagan and explored the entire place in the hot air balloons. Viewing the temples was thrilling. Our next destination was Mandalay.

Mandalay: The Economic Hub


We reached this town by plane from Bagan. It took only 30 minutes. Though, this city is full of chaos, dust, people and smoke everywhere but the natural scenic beauty of this place attracted us. We visited the Ubein Bridge in Amarapura village; it is the largest teak bridge of the world. We also visited the Maha Muni Buddha Temple and offered our prayers.

Putao: The Gateway to Himalayas


Though this place is famous for climbing, the travelers can experience the natural beauty also. We spend last two days of our tour in this peaceful town. We explored the forests and enjoyed the delicious food and cocktail in the restaurants. As my father love adventures, he enjoyed this place. We again went back to Yangon from where we started our journey and took flight to our homeland.

I am thankful to the Myanmar travel agency for the custom tour plan they made for us. We enjoyed Myanmar in our way, and I had made my parents happy. A big smile on their face is a great satisfaction for me. This journey will always remain in our mind forever.

Tuesday

Holiday in Laos-An Essence That Lasts Really Long

Exploring a new country, having fun, enjoying the nightlife and discovering the delicious food is the definition of traveling for most people. But for me, traveling is like meditation. I travel not to enjoy with family and friends, but to spend some time solitary in the breast of nature.


I travel only to those places that can bring me close to the nature, and this is the only reason Laos attracted me so much. I had heard a lot about Laos and its stunning natural beauty and finally last month I decided to make my next trip here in the “land of million elephants”.

Neither did I do any research about the country nor did I carry a map along with me. Hence, it was the local people on whom I had to depend on. After my arrival to this land, I first took out my language translator and started communicating with the local people who would help me know the place better.

The Mekong River:


Mekong River was the first name that I first came across after landing on this county. The owner of a tea stall near the airport region told me about this river when I asked him about some of the worth visiting destinations of the country. Along with the owner, his son was also working in the tea stall, and I found him quite interested to tell me about the country. Thus, I decided to take him along with me as a guide for my holiday in Laos.

The river was huge, and he told me that it was the greatest river of Southeast Asia. This river has passed many neighboring countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, but the major part of it lies in Laos. Since the land has very few mountain terrain and well-maintained roads, most people of this land use the river as their primary medium of transportation. I took a small boat ride on this river for exploring all the nearby places and you won’t believe that the beauty made me spellbound.

Si Phan Don:


Si Phan DonAfter exploring the adventurous boat ride on the Mekong River, I headed towards a lovely set of islands that was also close to this river. Here the river becomes a little harsh because of the Khone falls, which is a chain of rapids that expanses up to 9.7 kilometers. The best part of this place to me was the dolphins that I found just below the fall. Although, the population of them was little less but was successful to make me excited.

Si Phan DonOther attraction of this place was Don Det, Don Khon, and Done Kong, this are the three principal islands that I visited in this place.

The Plain Of Jars:

The Plain Of JarsThe name itself excited me a lot; I became very curious to know as to why the place named so unique and thus, I decided to pay a visit in this land. The land looked more like a dry grassland with plenty of huge jar-shaped stone. The first glance of this place gave me the answer of my curiosity. The land was filled with these huge jars, and there are hundreds of them. People would not see these with their own eyes wouldn’t realize how beautiful and huge they look. The largest jar has a diameter of about one to three meter. Local people of the place told me that these jars are associated with the “prehistoric burial practice”.

The Plain Of JarsWith this, I came at the end of my trip in the southern part of Laos. Though, the country is not so big, but it has lots and lots to discover. My holiday in Laos ends here, but will surely return to this country again and this time to the northern part.

Wednesday

Down The Memory Lane with Friends in Myanmar

“I've always enjoyed traveling and having experience with different cultures and different people. But it's also a wonderful thing to be able to benefit and enable research, not only in our country but around the world.” - Laurel Clark

Travel & MeBeing a travel freak, I always craved for unspoiled destinations in the world. And when it comes to taking a trip with old buddies, I have offered my best effort to get a well-planned trip to Myanmar.
????????????????It was certainly the best part of my life to take a trip with the old group of school in the heavenly place like Myanmar. This country has offered its best to make our trip truly memorable for us.

Myanmar Travel planWe were five in our group and chosen the luxury holiday package for our trip. The Myanmar travel agency lent their hand in our every need throughout our journey. The first place that we stopped at was the most dazzling city of this country, Yangon. People say traveling makes a man a better friend, and that has created a magic upon my monotonous daily life. Myanmar Travel planBeing a successful business women in my personal life, I forgot to spend time with my friends. That is why when life has offered me the chance to relish the old friendship in the land of opportunities; I thrashed all the barriers and got indulged in partying hard with my friends.

Hustle And Bustle of Yangon:



Hustle And Bustle of YangonCertainly, Yangon has offered us numerous opportunities to enjoy our life to the fullest having luxury accommodation and utterly delicious cuisine. Our lust for interesting cultures has ceased its venture reaching this place. Being the previous capital of Myanmar, Yangon has much to offer for the travelers. We enjoyed a ride on the old Chevrolet buses of this city. Traditionally dressed local people are enough friendly. We tasted the street foods and experienced the downtown life of this city.

Paradise’s Garden- Putao:


Paradise’s Garden- Putao:Our next venture was Putao. It was a mesmerizing experience to reach there by private jets. We enjoyed a lot during this ride to Putao. At times, we felt blessed to choose the luxury tour package to Myanmar. It was certainly a worthwhile investment for us. The traditional beer of this place was a thing to remember for a lifetime. The western and eastern sides of Putao were truly amazing. We were supposed to travel in the paradise, and it was a great place to visit.

Mandalay in a Laid Back Style:


amasiatravel.comAfter having that much of fun, we opted to spend the rest of our holidays relaxing in the lap of nature at Mandalay. I just laid back on the riversides, kayaking and sipping the traditional wines of this destination. The historical Ayeyarwaddy Riverside was a something that has offered us few unforgettable panoramic views. This place is considered as the cultural center of this country. So we enjoyed spending time with the local Myanmar folks watching their traditional activities. We all have taken part with them in their folk dance.

amazing trip in MandalayIn a nutshell, it was an amazing trip for us five. We enjoyed our best and Myanmar was astoundingly beautiful destination to take a trip with friends. The interesting activities in this country have made us feel enthralled throughout our journey. This entire trip has made us cherish our old memories.

Monday

Journey of a Mystery Hunter to the Plain Of Jars

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.                        George A. Moore


Mysteries have always attracted me, and I run to the places where I find something strange. As a solo traveler, I like to visit various destinations that are often not preferred by most of the travelers. Once I heard about the Plain Of Jars, a different and weird place in Laos. I started to read books and tour journals regarding this place and gathered all the information. I finally made my mind to visit this location and to solve the mystery behind its origin.

Laos international airportMy only interest was to explore Plain of Jars. So, I did not want to waste much of the time in visiting other places of Laos. From the Laos international airport, my journey was towards Phonsavan. I stayed there for one day and the next morning a voyaged towards the destination. Before going to that location, I collected information from the local people and guides. The history of this place attracted me. I was so excited that I could not sleep the previous night in my hotel room. I spend my time reading various journals of historians and archeologists who have previously visited the place.

PhonsavanI traveled to that place by bus as I thought I could get the glimpse of the villages and nearby towns of Phonsavan from the window of the bus.
Phonsavan travelThere were many travelers with me in bus. I was so over-whelmed that I spend the entire time in a bus taking pictures of the surroundings and discussing and sharing my views regarding the formation of the Jars.

tourists of jarAfter getting down from the bus, I walked with other tourists and finally reached the most awaited location, Plain of Jars. tourists of jar2This destination combines both ancient and contemporary culture that reveals the history of Phuan, Hmong and Tai dam dynasties.

History behind the Plain Of Jars


I had heard many stories about the formation of these jars when I visited this place from the local guides. I want to share some of the local beliefs and legends with all the readers. Laos’s legendary stories tell that a race of giants once inhabited this area. The king, Khun Cheung fought a victorious battle against his enemies. He created these jars to ferment and store huge amounts of rice. According to this legend, these jars were made to store the rice wine, and the local people used to celebrate the king’s victory by drinking the wine.

©2005/Jerry RedfernAnother local legend is that these huge stone jars were constructed to store the monsoon water for the nomads who can drink water. Some of the archeologists have found artifacts and beads inside these jars. The local people believe that the nomads offered those beads to pray to God for rain. Later researches in the early 1930’s have explained that these stone jars made for burial practices. Many excavations of Japanese and Lao archeologists in the recent years have supported this explanation. According to them, this place is one of the dangerous and mysterious sites in the world. The history of this place is dates back to the Iron Age.

These jars have the potential to throw light on the relationship between the complex modern societies and megalithic stone structures and provide the glimpse of the social organization of the Iron Age.

My Exploration of This Place


Phonsavan33There are about 90 archeological sites in the entire area. Most of the jars are suitable for taking pictures. I came across some of the sites that were excavated very recently and animal dead bodies, skeletons, and jewelries are found inside the jars. I walked the entire place with other travelers and examined every Jar. Each jar varies in shape and size. Some are massive whereas some are very small.  I climbed up to the top of one big jar with lid. I took some of the pictures of the surrounding sites and with other travelers. I hiked from one site to another and felt the real mystery. Seriously, if anyone visits this place at night, it will surely be a dangerous experience. I felt goose bumps in my body while hoping from one jar to another. Evening came down, and my heart sank a little. I have to return to Phonsavan.

My next few days spend by visiting some of the other popular landmarks of Phonsavan. After ten-day trip, I came back to my homeland. Still my heart longs for tours to Laos and mainly the Plain of Jars. It was a strange place indeed.