Power, Pain, and Destitution – Hoa Lo Prison in Hanoi
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Hoa Lo Prison entrance

On a gray, rainy day in Hanoi, we ventured out to Hoa Lo Prison, otherwise known as the Maison Centrale or the Hanoi Hilton. Despite a grand arched entryway, it is dreary but interesting. It was built by the French … Continue reading

A Trip Through Vietnam: Weighing Expectations vs. Reality
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Night on the river Hoi An

At the end of March, we made a trip to Vietnam, spending nearly a week in Hanoi then flying to Da Nang and staying in Hoi An and Huế before returning to Thailand. It was an interesting trip, but it … Continue reading

Experience the Sublime Temples of Chiang Mai
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Temple bell

I have another article published at Expat Life Magazine this month on the Sublime Temples of Chiang Mai, on page 22. Their interface is time consuming, so I’m uploading images of the article here. I took all the photos used … Continue reading

Stressed? How to leave your rat race behind
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Finding our Niche as TCKs. Hands-around-globe-Community-Bridge-Frederick-Maryland, world

At times, it feels like the stress of jobs, responsibilities, families, and financial situations threaten to overwhelm a person. Many of us dream of leaving our stressed corporate existence behind. It can be done!  Before we left our rat race, we … Continue reading

Burmese Temple Art
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Temple art: Phaya Thonzu Phaya sculpture

In most countries with temples or artwork dating back to the 11th to 12th centuries, UNESCO has stepped in to take measures to restore and preserve the art, architecture and historical heritage of these ancient places. Although UNESCO has stepped in to preserve a few temples, it has unfortunately determined that it is not feasible to restore others due to the shoddy work done in current restoration projects by the government of Myanmar.

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Dhammayangyi Pagoda: A Tale of Lust and Murder
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Arched entry to Dhammayangyi Pagoda

Every building has a secret entrance, one even the architects somehow overlooked. I use the secret entrances in the great temples of Bagan, hiding in the shadows, listening for the secrets bricked up in the walls, and searching for safety in this kingdom far-away from my home in Kala. …. As we made our way through this temple, it was eerie. Away from the crowds near the entrance, the tall, narrow corridors with walled up doorways leading to the inner sanctum of the temple created an oppressive atmosphere. We stumbled into the bat cave, overwhelmed with the odor of bat guano, the bats squealing to one another on the ceiling. If haunted, that would have been the spot where we would have seen an apparition.

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Three Days Temple-Touring in Beautiful, Bold Bagan
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Dome at Dhamma Ya Zika Pagoda

The sun warming our shoulders, hair blowing in the wind, we criss-crossed desert sands by scooter, dodging goats and cattle on dusty tracks with giant temples the size of castles rising in the background. All day we clambered up and down narrow temple stairways, tiptoed past praying faithful by Buddha statues, and marveled at ancient, monumental passageways adorned with faded paintings. We felt like tomb raiders.

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5 Ways to Enjoy the Magic of Myanmar
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Sunset at Bulethi Pagoda

Myanmar recently went through a major, landmark election placing Aung Sun Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), in power. This is opening the country up to the West for tourism for the first time in decades. While I would still advise caution in traveling to Myanmar, here are 5 ways to enjoy the magic of Myanmar.

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Wat Prathat Doi Suthep

Temple bell

Wat Prathat Doi Suthep may be Chiang Mai’s most popular temple. It sits on a mountain overlooking the city of Chiang Mai, and it is undeniably beautiful.  To get to the temple, we took a red truck or songthaew to … Continue reading

The Wonders of Phraya Nakhon Cave

Kuha Kharuehat Pavilion

After our terrifying experience at Le Khao Kob Cave, we nearly passed up the opportunity to see the Phraya Nakhon Cave in the heart of Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. That would have been a mistake. The Phraya Nakhon Cave … Continue reading

Le Khao Kob Cave
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Area of dragon's teeth - 1st cavern

Lod Cave was magical with its immense caverns, gentle raft trip, majestic landscape, and the hundreds of thousands of swift birds entering the caverns just before dusk. It convinced us that touring caves in Thailand is fun, exciting, non-threatening, yet adventurous. So when we came upon Le Khao Kab Cave in the Trang region of southern Thailand, we turned off the highway in anticipation. Join me for the boat ride of a lifetime into the belly of a dragon. Class this cave in the “lucky to be alive” category.

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Coastal Regions of Southern Thailand
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Khao Lak Sunset

Many tourists who visit Southern Thailand never venture beyond the resort town they visit. Many Thai beaches are outstanding, and well worth the visit. But by sticking to a resort and never venturing beyond the beach town, people may miss the culture and beauty of this region of Thailand. Join me on a mini tour from Khanom to Krabi, Ao Nang to Khao Lak, and Chumphon to Dolphin Bay.

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Mae Hong Son Loop
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Mountains into Burma

During the week of Loi Krathong, we continued on from Mae La Noi to complete the Mae Hong Son Loop through the mountains to the actual city of Mae Hong Son. Part of the trip involved a stop at Lod Cave, an immense set of caverns involving bats, birds, fish, and a raft trip.

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Salawin National Park
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A second bridge

Salawin National Park is beautiful, yet we were only able to see a small part of it due to a washed out road. We hiked the jungle in the heat of the day.

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Loi Krathong: A trip to the mountains
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Lanterns for Loi Krathong

Loi Krathong: A trip to the mountains for a lantern festival. Family and community are a focus of the festival, as well as harvest and the full moon.

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