When in Chiang Mai, the digital nomad capital of the world, do as the digital nomads do. Found a cafe with good wifi, Thai tea, and a delicious $2 veggie noodle salad 😋
With limited time and events to attend in Yangon, I didn’t get to explore the city the way I normally like to. But I did get to take the Yangon circular train with some friends to see a slice of local life!
The train goes at a snail’s pace in a giant loop around the city of Yangon. The entire loop takes 3 goes to complete. It only costs 200 kyat (about 15 cents), so many locals use it for their daily commute.
We woke up early to catch the first train at 6:10. For us it was a fun (but hot, very hot) ride with many photo ops, but for the locals, it was just a daily commute. I suppose it would be as weird as someone purposefully checking out the morning rush hour on the NYC metro. But with food vendors, people carrying produce, and even a man who brought on some furniture, it sure is a lot more exciting!
Had the great honor to attend a beautiful wedding for two special and incredible people in Yangon. 💕
After more than a year on the road with only hiking clothes, it felt great to dress up! Throwback to prom and sorority banquets. Even for a formal event, though, I couldn’t quite break myself out of backpacker mode.
Dress: $9 find at a thrift store
Accommodation: $9/night at a hostel
Okay, maybe a little extreme. But also, lucky number 9 (in Chinese, 九 “nine” sounds like 久 “long lasting”) for a long and prosperous marriage!
There are countries where cars drive on the right, there are countries where cars drive on the left, and then there’s Myanmar, where cars drive on the right… and the driver is also on the right.
Even though Myanmar drives on the right, up until recently, cars were imported from Japan, where they drive on the left. As a result, the drivers are on the opposite side of where they’re supposed to be.
This could be one reason why the roads are utter chaos, but there are many other factors. Too many cars = bad traffic at all hours of the day, and a general recklessness means there’s got to be multiple serious accidents a day. But maybe if the drivers were all on the left, things would be just a little bit better!
Learned a lot about chocolate (and unsurprisingly managed to consume a lot of it too) at ChocoMuseo, the “chocolate museum.”
- Dark chocolate: Around 60% cocoa powder, 15% cocoa butter, and 25% sugar
- Milk chocolate: Around 30% cocoa powder, 25% cocoa butter, 25% sugar, and 20% milk powder
- White chocolate: Around 30% cocoa butter, 20% milk powder, and 50% sugar
Right, so staying away from white chocolate.
Lima doesn’t have many historic sites compared to other big cities, but we did manage to find an unexpected one. Huaca Pucllana, what looks like a unadorned pile of clay bricks in the middle of a busy commercial and residential neighborhood.
The site itself only opened in 1981, but the people who lived there dated back to 700 A.D. Multiple empires swept across the area until the Spanish ultimately arrived. They built ceremonial centers with bricks, structures like this flat-topped pyramid. Which begs the question of how the site wasn’t discovered until the 1980s… but at least it’s protected and celebrated now.
At the very beginning of the Inca Trail, our guides said that for the next few days, we were family. Yaneth was our knowledgeable, humorous mom, and Jaime was our dependable, helpful papa. We were the baby chicks with no clue what we had gotten ourselves into. And the chaskis were our humble providers, pillars of strength and inspiration if we needed any during the trek.
Even though it was only 4 days, at the end I was surprised at how close we had all become. And, especially based on the glimpses I got of some other groups, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to go with. Saying farewell wasn’t easy, but even if we don’t meet again, “tupananchis kamam”: see you in the next life. A great big thank you to everyone for being part of such amazing memories – and for making them special.
The mountain in the classic Machu Picchu shot is Waynapicchu. At the top of it is the Temple of the Moon, where the high priest made offerings when the temperature dropped and products died during the full moon.
A separate ticket is needed to climb Waynapicchu, so I returned to Machu Picchu for a second day to do just that. This way, I also had a second chance to see Machu Picchu in case the weather on the first day wasn’t optimal. Thankfully the first day was gorgeous, because the second day started off overcast and rainy and then stayed that way.
The path up to Waynapicchu is reassuringly referred to as the “stairs of death.” It didn’t take me long to figure out why. Epecially at the temple at the top, the stairs were so narrow that even my size 5 feet hung off the edges, and so steep that I had to crawl up on all fours. The pouring rain made the nickname all the more convincing.
I couldn’t see a thing when I reached the top, but within 10 minutes, the clouds shifted. There it was, Machu Picchu, with its own misty kind of beauty.
If you get a chance to climb Waynapicchu, I highly recommend it. But definitely take care!
There are llamas wandering around all over Machu Picchu, but this one picked the most photogenic spot and plopped itself right in the middle of it. It even looked like it was posing for a photo shoot. Was it specially trained, or….was it an animatronic llama?