Page 5 of Kuan Yin Travel Blog Posts

Asia » Burma » Yangon Region » Yangon December 26th 2016

Getting to Yangon was probably more difficult than getting into Yangon. First, a little background: Up until the elections held in Myanmar in December 2015, when the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, won in a landslide, the United States had placed sanctions on Myanmar for human rights violations. The US lifted the restrictions on certain financial transactions in May of 2016, and lifted all sanctions in October. I waited until The NLD took office in April 2016 before booking this trip, because, you know, human rights violations and sanctions. Pretty much everyone needs a visa to enter Myanmar, except citizens of ASEAN countries. (Curiously, Indonesia, though an ASEAN country, does not qualify for a visa waiver.) The good news is that you can get your visa online, and the ... read more
View from my hotel

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London » Westminster July 2nd 2016

Along with most people, I though “Big Ben” referred to the clock on the tall tower attached to Westminster Palace in London. It does not. Big Ben is the name of the bell inside the tower. The current bell was cast in 1858, as a replacement for the original which cracked during testing. The Times of London in October 1859 reported that the new bell would be named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the President of the Board of Works at the time. Sir Benjamin was rather rotund, as is the bell, so his name was inscribed on the bell, and the rest is, well, you know, history. So, I’m walking around Westminster Palace, which is where the British Parliament has its chambers, not to be confused with Westminster Abbey, the church next door. I had read ... read more
Central Lobby from
Saint George for England
Saint Andrew for Scotland

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London » Knightsbridge June 18th 2016

Food, glorious food What is there more handsome? Gulped, swallowed or chewed, Still worth a King’s Ransom! What is it we dream about? What brings on a sigh? Piled peaches and cream about- Six feet high! Food, Glorious Food, from the musical Oliver, lyrics by Lionel Bart I thought I had seen the most beautiful and perfectly laid out food when I wandered through Borough Market. And then I went to Harrods. You may remember the name from the time of Princess Diana’s death. When she died in 1997, she was dating Dodi Fayed, the son of Mohamed Al-Fayed, who was then the owner of Harrods. Mr. Al-Fayed has since sold the store to the Qatar Investment Authority, but the memorial he put up to his son and Princess Diana is still on display in the ... read more
ceiling in one of the Food Halls -there are four
pastries and meat pies

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London » Greenwich June 12th 2016

I’ve always had this romantic idea of Greenwich, the home of the prime meridian, the arbiter of time throughout the world. Imagine what things would be like without Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian. Not only would you not be able to pinpoint your location on earth, think about the difficulty of doing business between, say, New York and Geneva, and the nightmare of coordinating flight schedules around the world. I made my way from central London to Greenwich by boat, definitely the fastest and most fun ways to get anywhere along the Thames. Adjacent to the pier in Greenwich is the Cutty Sark, once the fastest sailing ship to ply the long routes from England to bring tea from China, and later, wool from Australia. Now it is permanently dry-docked and turned into a ... read more
the red ball
Prime Meridian
prime meridian

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London June 8th 2016

I like markets, the bigger and more varied the better. I’ve made appoint of seeking out farmers markets and wet markets wherever I travel. So, with that in mind, I headed out to visit some of the markets in London. Borough Market Everyone I asked about things to do in London told me I should go to Borough market, so I did. Borough Market is on the south bank of the River Thames near London Bridge. There has been a market on this site for at least 1,000 years. The great Norwegian chronicler Snorri Sturluson mentions the market in his account of Olaf’s battle against King Canute in 1014. Of course the market today is much different - butchers no longer bring live cattle into their stalls. The traders here have some of the most beautifully ... read more

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London June 6th 2016

Not to belabor the obvious, but Heathrow is a ginormous airport. My flight from the US was delayed two hours, and I was concerned about getting to where I was staying before check-in closed at 7:30. (Yes, I could still check in, but I would have to go to their sister property half a mile away. It was raining. I was on foot, carrying my own luggage, and I had already been in transit for 24 hours. And did I mention it was raining?) Fortunately, I was eligible for a Fast Track pass to get through Immigration, so that was a breeze, and I was able to walk straight through Customs. In fact, I was off the plane, walked the long way to Immigration, and was on the train into the city in under forty minutes. ... read more
Shakespeare with brooms and rakes
Magna Carta

Asia » Singapore » Bugis Village February 1st 2016

I sometimes forget just how wealthy Singapore is. Yes, there are some poor people, but you don’t see anyone sleeping in doorways. And yes, some of the housing is far from luxurious, though nothing that would be called substandard, unless you are a foreign guest worker, then accommodations can be pretty grim. Bear with me while I give you a few statistics to put things in context. (You may skip ahead a few paragraphs if you want, or you can read through and wow your friends with this knowledge.) When you look at rankings of per capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product), Singapore comes in third, behind Qatar and Luxemburg. The United States comes in at number eleven, Australia at eighteen, and Canada ranks twenty-second among the world economies. Add to that, the island city-state is home ... read more
Marina Bay Sands
New Bridge St

Asia » Malaysia » Johor » Johor Bahru January 23rd 2016

My main reason for sandwiching a few days in Johor Bahru in between visiting Singapore and returning to the US was to look at potential places to live. Malaysia has a very attractive program for expats where you can get a multiple-entry visa good for ten years. This is geared towards Singaporeans looking to escape the high cost of real estate in Singapore, but I figured it can’t hurt to look. My initial attraction to Johor Bahru (JB from now on) was its proximity to Singapore. That was before I found out first-hand what a pain in the ass it was to travel overland between the two countries. Once in JB, I found that most of the lovely condos were merely pretty renderings and small scale models of the buildings that a developer is planning to ... read more
door guardian
Guan Yin
incense burner

Asia » Singapore » Jurong West January 15th 2016

Did I ever tell you how much I like Singapore? I crossed into Singapore with a sense of relief, though getting here was a pain in the ass. I admit that Saigon exhausted me; the constant whine of motorbikes, the air pollution from all the motorbikes, the broken sidewalks full of motorbikes with no place to walk. In the past I have always entered Singapore through Changi Airport which is an absolute model of comfort and efficiency. I have landed in Changi, deplaned, gone through customs and Immigration, changed money, and been in the back of a taxi, all within twenty minutes. Entering Singapore by land from Johor Bahru, Malaysia is nothing like that. I had a good reason – which turned out to be a crummy reason – to go through Malaysia when I made ... read more
Woodlands Customs and Immigration Quarantine building - CIQ
Johor Strait between Singapore and Malaysia
New Bridge St

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District 1 January 3rd 2016

Yes, it’s OK to call it Saigon. The official name is Ho Chi Minh City, but the Saigon River is still flowing, and many businesses have Saigon in their name. I asked two college students who were giving me a tour of the Chinese quarter if it was OK to call their city Saigon. “Sure,” one of them said. “It’s easier to say, and it has only two syllables instead of the five in Ho Chi Minh City.” In fact, I got the definite impression that most people would like to change the name back to Saigon. When I think about Saigon the first thing that comes to mind is motorbikes. The roaring, stinking, ubiquitous, fracking motorbikes. I was told that Saigon is a city of ten million people and seven million motorbikes. I think that ... read more
sidewalk parking
bikes and posters
modern skyscraper

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