While I was in Yangon, I caught the tail end of Thingyan, the Burmese New year, which like the Thai New Year is celebrated with a huge water festival all throughout the country. Stores are closed, everyone goes home to visit family, and business grinds to a standstill as everyone washes away the burdens of last year and begins a new year afresh. And Yangon throws the best water fight of all of Southeast Asia – smaller than Thailand, less advanced than Thailand, but still the best.
Interestingly, this is the fourth New Year celebration I attended in four months:
– The western New Year at the Taipei 101 in Taiwan (Jan 1)
– The lunar / Vietnamese New year of Tet in Saigon, Vietnam (Jan 28 – Feb 5)
– The Thai New Year of Songkran in Bangkok, Thailand (April 13-15)
– The Burmese New Year of Thingyan in Yangon, Myanmar (April 13-16)
Continue reading Travelogue: Thingyan in Yangon
After getting quite tired of getting sprayed by water guns on every Bangkok street corner, I hopped on a plane and flew to Yangon (Rangoon), the capital of Myanmar. And I discovered, Yangon is a place like no other. Whereas other cities in Southeast Asia have their unique features, they all westernized to some degree, they all have the same convenience stores, the same big western brands, the same western dress. And then there’s Yangon.
Continue reading Travelogue: Yangon
Songkran, the Thai New Year! It’s a time of respecting your elders and washing away your sins from the past year. Or for most westerners (and most younger Thai folks), it’s known as the water festival, home to the biggest water fight in the world! There are actually a couple of countries that celebrate Songkran – Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar, but Thailand’s is the biggest and most awesome.
Continue reading Travelogue: Songkran in Bangkok
From Bangkok, I took a bus (~3 hours) to Pattaya, a resort town a bit south of Bangkok known for its adult entertainment nightlife – go-go bars, beer bars, and whatnot. Why? The same reason why I visited Patpong and a ping pong show – because I’m curious to see what it’s like. I’ve heard a lot from fellow travelers about Pattaya – the lecherous old white men with young Thai girls, the go-go dancers, the decadence. And I wanted to see how much of it was true. But unfortunately, I found Pattaya to be massive disappointment.
Continue reading Travelogue: Pattaya
From Vientiane, I crossed over the First Laos-Thai friendship bridge into Nong Khai, where I spent a day wandering around enjoying the sights before taking the sleeper train back to Bangkok. Which ended up being an unfortunate choice – if I had known that this would be so interesting, I would have stayed for another couple days, relaxing and enjoying the ambiance. But instead, I had to catch a night train to Bangkok. But Nong Khai was very nice while it lasted!
Continue reading Travelogue: Nong Khai
After spending some in decadently relaxing Vang Vieng, I ventured down to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Most capitals I have visited are thriving metropolises, but not so with Vientiane. I don’t know why, but it had an abandoned feel to it. There were people around, a good amount of activity, but the streets just seemed empty. I still don’t know why. It was just missing the hustle and bustle of most capital cities.
Continue reading Travelogue: Vientiane
Vang Vieng is quite a unique place. It is famous, and infamous. It is a backpacker mecca, and a backpacker hell. There’s everything to see, and there’s nothing to see. Faced with a place like this, of course I had to go take a look!
Continue reading Travelogue: Vang Vieng
When I came to Laos, I knew that I wanted to visit the Field of Jars, a UNESCO world heritage site. I’ve got a hankering to visit these types of places, I’ve noticed – if UNESCO deems it a world heritage site, it must be interesting! And so, from Luang Prabang, I took a bus to Phonsavan, the closest city to the Field of Jars.
Continue reading Travelogue: Phonsavan and the Field of Jars
As some folks may notice, during my website migration to jonathanlee.org, I not only labeled all my photos, but also added a small, unobtrusive watermark to the lower right hand corner of all my photos (highlighted in red).
While designing the watermark, I tried to look online, but didn’t find any useful guides for creating a watermark, so I decided to make my own. So, this will be a guide on how to FREE tools to design, create, and apply a watermark that is:
– Simple to design
– Discreet and unobtrusive
– Easy to apply and use
Continue reading How to Create an Easy and Effective Watermark
Luang Prabang is the old capital of Laos, from before the communists took over and moved the capital to Vientiane. As such, it has all the museums, most of the culture, and is probably the most popular tourist destination of Laos. And in hindsight, Luang Prabang is probably the only place really worth visiting in Laos.
Continue reading Travelogue: Luang Prabang