Riding the train to Bagan, Myanmar

Tin Win and I made a trip to Bagan, taking the old colonial rail from Yangon to the ancient temple city. The train creaked and clattered. The challenge was to stand up and walk, as the sway of the train made it difficult to keep your balance. Several times during the trip, the lurch of the…

Water World of Inle Lake, Myanmar

Nadya and I spent a night on a slow, uncomfortable antique train to Inle Lake in Myanmar. Sitting on hard, wooden seats, bouncing up and down in the rattling carriage was kind of like riding a bronco. Sleep was not possible so we were exhausted by the time the train screeched into Taunggyi, the capital of…

The Water Festival in Yangon, Myanmar

The Water Festival, a giant four-day party which symbolizes the washing away of the old year and ushers in the new, is celebrated by the entire country with great enthusiasm and vast quantities of water. Anything that can hold water is used. Buckets, pots and pans, tin cans and water guns are filled with any…

An afternoon in Yangon, Myanmar

One afternoon in Yangon, I walked along Kabaye Pagoda Road and passed a cluttered kiosk selling dusty cans of condensed milk, boxes of soap powder and tins of sardines. The video store next door was a lean-to of makeshift boards and corrugated iron where photos of Chuck Norris and Sylvester Stallone films were pasted on…

A sea-side disco in the Comoros Islands

It was a breezy Saturday night and me and a Comoron friend Abdul were sitting at a wooden table at a sea-side disco, sipping warm beer by a make-shift sand dance floor, watching colorful garbs fluctuate to strobe intensity. Illuminated in the glow of a red bulb, we slouched behind a clutter of empty glasses…

A bike ride around Kathmandu, Nepal

Eager to explore the dark alleyways that had intrigued me since arriving in Kathmandu, I rode my rented bike down the winding, cluttered streets of Dilibazar. A brown canvas-hooded tricycle-taxi beeped as it brushed by and a passing truck belched black smoke that enveloped me. I cursed at the driver, breathing back into my lungs the…

Hiking the Banaue rice terraces in the Philippines

One morning I took a jeepney to Banaue. The town center was already crowded with buses leaving for Baguio and Manila and backpackers wandering among the curio shops that sold woodcarvings and monkey-skull headgear. I was fortunate to get in with a local named Manuel since he knew the area well, could give me insight…

On the beach in Boracay, Philippines

After a short flight and a jeepney ride to the coast, I was taking an outrigger boat to the white sand beaches of Boracay. Along the coastline, the sun splashed impressionist shades of light against the leaves of coconut trees swaying in a hula breeze. I sat at the front of the banca, my feet…

Tracking a lion in Kenya

Kumi and I were driving through Kora reserve in a Landrover. He was a camp assistant to the conservationist George Adamson and was tracking Cyclopes, a lion who’d lost an eye in a fight for a lioness. Kumi often drove for days with tent and supplies, scouring the dusty country for the lion’s prints. He showed me how…

Driving around the Comoros Islands

A lone bird of prey glided over swooping hills of ylang ylang and coconut trees on the black volcanic island off the coast of Mozambique. Rows of palm leaves swayed in dance when startled by a breeze. A wave of rustled trees flowed down the hillside toward the ocean where a shoreline of volcanic rock…