Lashio train across Gokteik Viaduct in Shan State, Myanmar

Across the Famous Gokteik Viaduct Aboard the Train to Hsipaw

Darkness blankets the city as I make my way toward Mandalay station in the pre-dawn hours. I’m alone, but there’s nothing to be afraid of. Myanmar is one of the safest tourist destinations in Asia. The locals I’ve encountered have been all smiles. Besides, I know where I’m going. I walked to the train station just yesterday to buy my ticket to the Shan State town of Hsipaw. $4 for a 1st class ticket on one of the great train routes of the world. Read More

blue sky above the golden Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar (Burma)

Wandering Back in Time in the Old Capital City of Yangon

It’s a metropolis unlike any other in Southeast Asia, a city frozen in time. Yangon at once dismays and delights with its contrast of extreme poverty set among a backdrop of charming British colonial architecture. You wouldn’t recognize it as a city of 5 million. It has a decidedly small town feel. There are no skyscrapers. And shockingly, no motorbikes! That’s thanks to a citywide restriction. So as you might expect, traffic is horrendous. Yet most drivers are pretty patient. I even found some to be downright courteous. Pedestrians weren’t in much of a rush. Many took time to greet each other along the busy streets. Read More