Showing posts from October, 2016

Diving in Brunei

WOOT WOOT COUNTRY 40! Yep, you read that right, folks. I went to Brunei last week and it was my 40th country. Considering my goal was 30 countries by the age of 30, I think I'm doing pretty well for myself, a couple years ahead of schedule here. My travels are going to be slowing down in the near future though, as I'm Hong Kong based for the next 8 weeks until I go home to Florida for winter break.

On my recent dive trip to my 40th country- Brunei
I didn't see much of Brunei, to be honest. My goal was to complete two more advanced scuba diving specialities, so I wasn't too concerned with what was happening on land. After googling 'diving shipwrecks asia,' Brunei kept coming up as a place to go. Considering there are only two dive shops in the whole country, my choices were limited, and I quickly narrowed it down to Oceanic Quest Dive Shop.

Oceanic Quest Dive Shop
This company uses smaller boats for a more personal experience
The crew at Oceanic Quest goes above an…

The Decaying Grandeur of Yangon

While in Myanmar, Yangon was my home base. It's is a city of stark contrasts. The meaty sizzle of grilled chicken on the street draws you in, and then the overwhelming stench of raw sewage turns you off. A palatial colonial mansion looms over the street, but upon closer inspection, it is on the brink of collapse after years of disrepair. The city is loud, deafening even, but the gold encrusted pagodas are a vacuum of serenity and stillness.

On a train to Yangon
Sule Pagoda, downtown Yangon
Also Sule Pagoda
The traffic we faced to get anywhere in the city
The crummy sidewalks are all that lies between you  ...and flowing raw sewage 
Yangon will attack your senses and waken them up to a level you never thought possible and then bludgeon them to death. There are sights to behold everywhere, starting with the gorgeous colonial buildings in downtown. Many days could be spent wandering in and out of them. My most special moment in Yangon was ducking into an old colonial palace with original Br…

Should You Travel to Myanmar?

I was at first concerned about traveling to Myanmar at all given their history in the 20th century as a brutal regime. Oppression, human rights abuses, censorship, and torture are what came to mind when I thought of Myanmar. Then I read The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly, which didn't help the situation. Despite all of that, something about the country intrigued me. Aung San Suu Kyi at least was a beacon of hope, and the government had relaxed a lot in recent years.

Visiting temples and pagodas in Yangon
Travel boycotts can sometimes backfire, as with people refusing to visit North Carolina because of an anti-transgender bill there. This shows a lack of solidarity with those in need of visible support! Exposure to other cultures and perspectives can only open a place up (at least, this is what I told myself in visiting Myanmar). By refusing to visit, you are inflicting a blanket punishment upon people who had no say in the policy that you are protesting. 
Inle Lake in Central Myanmar