Tag Archive: Myanmar


Toshogu Fall Festival

There are all kinds of reasons to visit Asia. The food is out of this world. The beaches are awesome. The value is off the charts.

But to truly gain an understanding of the cultures in this exotic part of the world, you’ve got to visit during a festival, say those who live there.

In Myanmar, the Elephant Dance Festival trunks – er, trumps – all, says Yangon resident, Ye Thi Ha Thwin.

In the town of Kyauk Se, about 30 miles from Mandalay, locals make elephant figures out of bamboo frames and the skin out of cloth. The statue is decorated with colorful, shiny paper.

A team includes two men who climb into the elephant to perform the dance in front of large crowds.

In Thailand, the best festival could very well be the Naga Fireball Festival, says Pornsurang ‘A’ Siriwandee, a Bangkok resident.

The two-day event takes place in historic Nong Khai, around the full moon of the 11th lunar month.

“It’s going to sound crazy,” A says, “but that’s when unexplained fireballs rise out of the Mekong River with great intensity, shoot into the sky and then disappear.”

The festival also features long-tail boat races and a sound and light show.

“Expect lots of people at festivals in Japan, too,” says Hisae Komatsu, who lives in Tokyo. “The Japanese love their festivals — especially Takayama Autumn Festival, Sapporo Snow Festival and Awa Odori Summer Festival — and plan their holidays according to them. So, hotel bookings must be made way in advance!”

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When it comes to cruising, the best way to stimulate your appetite for the increasing-popular activity is aboard a small vessel, according to a recent Travel + Leisure article.

I couldn’t agree more. I’m all about exploration by boat. And not the deep-sea kind, either. River journeys actually. Trips that let you glimpse the daily life along rivers such as the Irrawaddy or Mekong from the quiet comfort of your cozy cabin. Or from the sundeck of a replica paddle-wheeler, as a tropical breeze blows soft against your face.

Got two weeks? Think about the Irrawaddy-to-Inle experience in Myanmar. The trip includes five nights aboard the RV Pandaw, whose staterooms are 170 square feet in size and beautifully finished in teak and brass. A featured pitstop is Ava, the capital of Burma between 1364 and 1841.

For a shorter — but no less extraordinary — adventure, consider a tour from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) to the Mekong Delta, a vast network of distributaries dubbed “a biological treasure trove” by World Wildlife Fund.