I heard the same thing from a friend who quit her job last year, but I truly don’t even know how I managed a full-time job, a full-time life, and my blog. It’s getting harder and harder to sit down and write. Granted, for the month of September, I was only home for a week in between trips, but I had lofty goals of writing a post a day that I could space out over the upcoming weeks, and well, that didn’t happen. Getting over a 10 1/2 hour time difference and 24 straight hours of traveling isn’t that easy for my body yet. I also had to fit in 5 weeks worth of exciting episodes of Real Housewives of New Jersey and New York (“Don’t let it be about Tom”). I’m not ashamed of it, so you shouldn’t be on my behalf either.
Posts I’ve Written This Month:
- Product Review | Lo & Sons Catalina Weekender Bag
- Myanmar | Who Let the Dogs Out?
- Myanmar | Mastering the Art of Burmese Cooking
I was also featured in:
- Visit.org‘s What You Must Know Before Quitting Your Job to Travel around the World
- Duke Stewart Writes‘ Eight Travelers that will make You want to Volunteer on the Road
The first day of September was my first full day in Bagan, Myanmar. When people first hear of Myanmar, it’s likely about Bagan, the small town on the plains with thousands of temples from a thousand years ago. You may have seen photos of hot air balloons over the plains. It wasn’t tourist season yet, so this wasn’t an option for me, but I still loved being in Bagan. Even after being a little pagoda-ed out (it happens in Southeast Asia) after Yangon and Mandalay, these temples were different. They don’t look like anything you’ve seen before and almost look like you’re on another planet. They are like pieces of artwork against a gorgeous sky and plain and they really were EVERYWHERE you looked.
The thing to do in Bagan is to take motorbikes out to the temples, climb on them, and watch the sunset from the top. I did catch three beautiful sunsets in my three days there, though some were more peaceful than others. It hurt my heart knowing that future visitors would get even less peaceful sunsets as the popularity of this town grows. But it hurt my body more falling off my motorbike. It was also in Bagan where I took an incredible cooking class with my friend May. I hope to bring at least one of her recipes to a Thanksgiving near you, but I will still be on India time at that point so let’s see how that works out.
Inle Lake, Myanmar
I spent one day too long in Inle Lake and not just because I ended up getting food poisoning my last day. It’s a very relaxing area but by the fourth day, I’d done it all already – a full-day boat ride on the lake, half-day bike rides to the hot springs, stilt villages, and the Red Mountain winery, a puppet show, souvenir shopping, more Burmese and Indian dinners, and two visits to Inle Pancake Kingdom.
Coming back to Yangon after two weeks of traveling around Myanmar felt like I was coming back to my university town after years of being away. We held a donation event with Sundara at a monastery school and I recognized the fact that I hadn’t ever felt, and would never feel, the joy that I felt during those few hours in my entire banking career. And then to top that day off with even more joy, we went to the Yangon Animal Shelter and played with 500 dogs at once.
I caught up with a girl I knew through the interwebs (Shoutout to the #whisperingalenes) and it felt great chatting with another American girl, something I hadn’t done since being home. I met up with my Aussie pal, including times where I thought it would be the last time but then we’d make something else work, up until I had to fly out. I had trouble saying goodbye to both him and my friends from Sundara who had been so wonderful to me throughout my trip. To not know if you’re ever going to see people who mean something to you is a weird feeling. I absolutely want to return to Myanmar, but I have so many places I need to see for the first time before I do. I know that the next time I’m there, it’ll be completely different. Things are changing so quickly in Myanmar and I hope that it keeps some of what makes it such a wonderful and unique place.
Golden Rock, Myanmar
The last adventure I had in Myanmar was taking a five-hour bus and then an hour truck ride up a mountain to see Golden Rock. Before going to Myanmar, Golden Rock was one of the images I kept coming across in my research and I needed to visit it. It’s a rock, covered in gold leaf, balanced precariously on another rock, looking like it could fall at any moment, with a pagoda on top. It’s said to be balancing on strands of the Buddha’s hair. It’s a beautiful scene at the top of a mountain with gorgeous views and it was the perfect way to end my journey to Myanmar. Htar Htar, one of my Sundara friends, planned and came along on the trip with me, and I’m so thankful for that trip and the entire month I spent there. Yes, I did outstay my visa and change my flight to only spend a few hours in Singapore on my way out instead of a few days, as originally planned.
New York/New Jersey, USA
I arrived back in New York late on a Thursday and stayed with George and Traci who treated me with not only a place to sleep and a real shower but also to Artichoke Pizza. I spent the next day at the India visa office in Chelsea which was an incredibly frustrating process after 24 hours of traveling and just wanting to be home to see the pup, but I was running out of time. I took the train to my sister’s and we drove home and all was well. We had an awesome brunch at my favorite diner where I actually ate 100% of what was on my plate(s) which is something that NEVER happens and had one last perfect beach day together as a family and then, summer was over.
I had a few days to catch up on sleep and life stuff. My parents and I had adventures on the Ocean City boardwalk and the Hereford Lighthouse in North Wildwood. I went running three times, including once with the dog, which is more than I’ve run in over two years, and more than she’s run ever. I went to yoga with my mom. I unpacked and repacked. On Friday morning, I took the bus back to New York and did a downtown loop during the day, meeting up with my cousin Jake, and my friends Caitlin and Jenna, before heading to Astoria to stay with Nicole and Dave. Jenna met up again for dinner at Taverna Kyclades, where we ordered so much Greek food it was as if we’d never have a chance to eat it again. And then Saturday morning, I flew out to Vegas.
I’m a travel snob (obviously) and have often said I would never go to Vegas because it’s just fake and money-driven BUT it’s also the perfect spot to fly into for a quick Southwest loop to see some US National Parks and other gorgeous Instagramable sights. While I was in Myanmar, my sister, Katie, was spending every waking minute planning out the perfect family trip to Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. It started with a goal of seeing the Grand Canyon, but became so much more.
The first few days were spent in Sedona, an adorable and stunning area of red rocks where we took a Pink Jeep tour, rode horses, attended a cowboy cookout, hiked, and ate rattlesnake. We then saw three canyons in three days, Grand, Bryce, and Zion, more than doubling the amount of National Parks I’ve seen so far. We stopped at the Hoover Dam, 7 Magic Mountains, Oak Creek Vista, Sunset Crater, and Horseshoe Bend, but you could spend WEEKS out there if you stopped at every scenic overlook or tourist attraction. This trip definitely made me want to include as many National Parks into my future travels as possible, so if you live near one and wouldn’t mind housing me for a little bit, let an unemployed blogger know.
I have about a week and a half on the east coast now, which includes a wedding weekend of two dear friends on Long Island and then I’m off to India for SIX WEEKS, where I’m so excited to be volunteering with Leave UR Mark. I’m thankful to be escaping America during the last few weeks of a ridiculous election season and even more thankful that my absentee ballot came in the mail so that I can participate. I’ll try to be better at writing posts and being in touch than I was in Myanmar, but I’m also trying out this “living in the moment” thing, so we’ll see how it all goes.
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