Myanmar: The Ancient Kingdom of Bagan

Myanmar: The Ancient Kingdom of Bagan

I'll say it here right off the bat - Bagan may be my all-time favorite destination I've ever traveled to. This place was an absolute gem to visit and I'm still overwhelmed by the entire experience I had there. Bagan is one of those places that when you're there sitting atop an 900-year old temple with no one else on it at sunset, you can't help but think, "Wow. How do places like this exist on Earth?" It was a magical experience and I hope everyone will one day be able to see this unbelievable destination.

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Myanmar: Kalaw to Inle Lake

Myanmar: Kalaw to Inle Lake

An early morning arrival in Kalaw was the first of many "night" buses in Myanmar meant to get in at 6am rather than their 2am arrival. Trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake, a three-day hike through the mountains and valleys of south-central Myanmar ended up being a highlight of my visit to this country. From the small, quaint town of Kalaw, to the mountain villages lacking electricity and running water, to the touristy city of Nyaungshwe around Inle Lake, this five day venture was a whole lot of fun...and some bits of not.

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Myanmar: Border Crossing and Yangon

Myanmar: Border Crossing and Yangon

Finally I was able to leave Thailand and make my way to my first new country in nearly 60 days! I'd removed Myanmar from my list of countries I planned to visit about 2 months prior feeling like I wouldn't have enough time to visit it before heading home, but plans change and I found myself getting back in Bangkok getting a visa to this newly open to tourism country. Myanmar has only been accessible again to tourists since 2011, and thankfully I'm so thankful I changed my plans to make room for it in my trip!

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Thailand: The Gulf of Thailand Islands - Part 2

Thailand: The Gulf of Thailand Islands - Part 2

Following the Andaman Sea and western side of the Gulf of Thailand islands, I found myself back on islands on the eastern part of the Gulf near Cambodia for another two weeks. By the end of this couple weeks, though, I was very island'd out. Who knew that was possible? Koh Chang and Koh Samet provided something a little different to the rest of the islands, though, as they are much quieter and off the beaten track from the rest of Thailand's top destinations.

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Thailand: The Gulf of Thailand Islands - Part 1

Thailand: The Gulf of Thailand Islands - Part 1

Some of the most famous islands for backpackers sit on the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand. Though Thailand actually contains several islands in the Gulf spreading all the way from Malaysia to Cambodia, the most popular one for foreigners sit near the provincial town of Surat Thani, far south down the long peninsula connecting Thailand to Malaysia. Luckily, I got to visit both over the course of two separate trips. Due to the business of some of them, I found that I was ready to leave some of these islands by the end, but nonetheless, here's my compilation of three (two of which I visited out of five total I'll feature in the Gulf) of the Thai islands in the Gulf of Thailand!

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Thailand: The Andaman Sea Islands

Thailand: The Andaman Sea Islands

After spending nearly five months depriving myself of some serious R&R on a beach, it was finally time to hit the islands of Thailand for a bit. In addition to appreciating being with friends and family along the way, I also enjoyed nearly perfect weather, a lot of nightlife, and some relaxation as I dozed and took in the sun for the better part of a month.

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Thailand: Chiang Mai - Parts II and III

Thailand: Chiang Mai - Parts II and III

One trip to Chiang Mai just wasn’t enough, so following my trips to Pai and Sukhothai I returned to the education capital of Thailand for a few more days. As I’d only spent three days in Chiang Mai on my first trip there were clearly more things I wanted to do whilst there, namely cooking classes, visiting an elephant camp (watch the video below), and tour a bit more around the Old City within the ancient surrounding walls.

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Thailand: An Ancient Kingdom of Ruins

Thailand: An Ancient Kingdom of Ruins

Sukhothai, the capital city of the ancient Sukhothai Kingdom existing from the 11th to 14th century, now lies in ruins and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I was lucky enough to get to spend a couple of days touring around this old, yet quiet and very authentic, city in Northern Thailand, and it was one of the most magical places I've visited in Asia thus far. The historical park, where the capital stood during the last one hundred years of the kingdom, contains nearly 200 ruined wats, chedis, and Buddhas spread across the 70 sq km. 

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Thailand: The Laissez-Faire Paradise of Pai

Thailand: The Laissez-Faire Paradise of Pai

Pai is truly a place that has adopted the "backpacker or bust" attitude. Nestled high in the mountains of the Mae Hong Son province near the border with Myanmar (Burma) lies the small town that has become known to few outside of Thailand and most along the backpacker trail through Southeast Asia. Ahead of my trip I'd heard next-to-nothing about this mountainous haven, but it turned out to be just that, a haven of a somewhat normal climate, delicious food and coffee, street markets, a social scene, and a bit of corruption (but it's Thailand, so that's a given).

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Thailand: A Festival of Lights

Thailand: A Festival of Lights

Loi Krathong, better known internationally as The Lantern Festival, celebrates the twelfth full moon of the Thai calendar year. As one of the most talked about and celebrated festivals around the world, I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and got myself to Chiang Mai just in time for this annual celebration. Three days in Chiang Mai, the capital city of the Chiang Mai province in northern Thailand, while Loi Krathong took place proved to be one of the most magical and memorable traveling experiences I've had to date. 

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Thailand: A Visit to the White Temple

Thailand: A Visit to the White Temple

One of my bucket list destinations in Thailand was visiting the White Temple, the famous Buddhist temple in Chiang Rai, up in the northern part of the country. Though the temple itself was wildly impressive, the city and the history of the temple itself were not. My sole purpose for visiting Chiang Rai was to visit this temple, and I was satisfied with my decision to only stay one day to see it.

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Laos: Luang Prabang and Jungle Trekking

Laos: Luang Prabang and Jungle Trekking

Laos is a huge country! I’m not exactly sure how familiar any of you are with the country itself, but take a look at Google Maps just to verify how massive this place is. I’m not sure if it’s the lack of paved roads, endless mountains, or just all-around rural setting that make it seem so large, but it really takes forever to get anywhere, and anywhere in Laos could potentially be the most picturesque place there is.

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Laos: Vang Vieng

Laos: Vang Vieng

After a short two days in Vientiane (there's really nothing to do there) meant solely for acquiring a 60-day Visa to reenter Thailand in a few weeks, I took a four-hour excruciating bus ride up to Vang Vieng, a scenic town in the middle of the mountains famous for its tubing, nature, and backpacker culture.

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Thailand: The First Week

Thailand: The First Week

I got lucky and met an amazing group of backpackers to spend my first week with so I ended up staying a significantly longer time in Bangkok that initially planned and got a chance to see a bit of the surrounding area as well. With five days in total spent in Bangkok and another two spent in Kanchanaburi, a small town about three hours west of the capital, I saw a lot in my first eight days in Asia, and it's been a major change of pace from what I'm used to at this point in my travels. 

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Southeast Asia: First Impressions

Southeast Asia: First Impressions

I'm finally here! After three months of working my way through Europe and two months of anxiously sitting on a $300 plane ticket from Budapest to Bangkok, I can finally say I've reached my longterm destination goal. Ten months ago when I started planning this trip I had every intention of only seeing Asia, but after long deliberation and an itch to visit Iceland I changed my plans. Now, my longtime dream of seeing this part of the world is finally becoming a reality. And my first impression? It's absolutely insane!

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