LIFE SE ASIA MAGAZINE

We will be writing more about this with resources and help .

Human Trafficking and Slavery. Sex and Labor SE Asia

Listing NGO and help lines.

Will write about each SE Asia country . Next though will be a listing of NGO to inform and to help those caught in the horror of being trafficked and slavery.

Women children and men. Labor and sex.

What can we do?

Estimated 21 million people trapped and some say up to 30 million. It is world wide.

Please go to our page and give us a like.

Please share to help !!

If you have a story or know someone that needs help. Please contact us . We are now building a list of resources.

Polio in Myanmar CDC Alert – Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions 12/21/2015

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source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  a USA Agency  Dated December 21 2015

What is the current situation?

Myanmar has reported 2 cases of vaccine-derived polio, which can develop and circulate in areas with low vaccination coverage where oral polio vaccine (OPV) is used. CDC recommends that all travelers to Myanmar be fully vaccinated against polio. In addition, adults who have been fully vaccinated should receive a single lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine. (Inactivated polio vaccine [IPV] is used in the United States instead of OPV. IPV does not contain live virus, so it cannot cause vaccine-derived polio.)

What is polio?

Polio is a disease caused by a virus that affects the nervous system and is mainly spread by person-to-person contact. Polio can also be spread by drinking water or other drinks or eating raw or undercooked food that are contaminated with the feces of an infected person.

Most people with polio do not feel sick. Some people have only minor symptoms, such as fever, tiredness, nausea, headache, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, stiffness in the neck and back, and pain in the arms and legs. Most people recover completely. In rare cases, polio infection causes permanent loss of muscle function in the arms or legs (usually the legs); if there is loss of function of the muscles used for breathing or infection of the brain, death can occur.

 

What can travelers do to prevent polio?

  • Get the polio vaccine:
    • Ask your doctor or nurse to find out if you are up-to-date with your polio vaccination and whether you need a booster dose before traveling. Even if you were vaccinated as a child or have been sick with polio before, you may need a booster dose to make sure that you are protected. See individual destination pages(/travel/destinations/list) for vaccine recommendation information.
    • Make sure children are vaccinated.
    • See Vaccine Information Statements (VIS) for more information.
  • Eat safe foods and drink safe beverages: Follow the Food and Water Safety(/travel/page/food-water-safety) tips to avoid eating or drinking things that could be contaminated with polio.
  • Practice hygiene and cleanliness:
    • Wash your hands often.
    • If soap and water aren’t available, clean hands with hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol).
    • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
    • Try to avoid close contact, such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with people who are sick.

Traveler Information

 

travelux

Sanctum Inle Resort is not comparable to other hotels we usually preview in this section. The resort in Myanmar is a unique combination of a luxury hotel and a convent. Sanctum Inle Resort combines the calm and beauty of nature in Myanmar with the simplicity of life as a monk. All this is combined with the luxurious touches throughout the hotel.

Located at Inle Lake, a few dozen kilometers away from Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw, Sanctum Inle Resort invites guests to get to know something totally new in life. The experience at Sanctum Inle Resort focuses on relaxation, calm and spiritual experiences.

Sanctum Inle Resort Lobby Lobby (Image Source: Sanctum Inle Resort / sanctum-inle-resort.com)

Each and every guest at Sanctum Inle Lake will come back from the hotel with a complete new mindset. Which hotel can say something like that from the experience guests will have?

Rooms at Sanctum Inle Resort

Minimalism is the key…

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Peter Goes Deeper Into The Shan State: Kakku

Peter's Big Adventure

Inle Lake was beautiful, but a bit boring. My horrible hotel room didn’t make the prospect of spending another night there any more enticing, so after weighing my options, I decided to leave a night early. But before I did, I wanted to get off the beaten path a little bit. For 40 USD, a few new friends and I hired a truck to take us deeper into the Shan State to a temple complex called Kakku.


What is the Shan State?

Before we go on I should probably explain a little bit about what the Shan State is, and why you should be interested. Burma is unique because of its mind-boggling ethnic diversity. This creates a lot of ethnic tension within the country, as evidenced by their long running civil war, which still continues to this day. The Shan State is a large territory that was home to multiple…

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Peter Gets His Ass Grabbed On Top Of Mingun Pagoda

Peter's Big Adventure

Since Burma’s history isn’t exactly common knowledge, let’s start by filling in some of your knowledge gaps.

What even is Mingun Pagoda?

Fair question. It’s not quite on the level of the Great Wall or the Pyramids, so most people have probably never heard of it. Construction started on the pagoda in 1790. The king that was building it was known to be a pretty odd guy, which might be a clue as to why this pagoda just looks so weird. The pagoda was built by slaves that were taken in battle by the Burmese. The standard for human rights back then was not what it is today (not that Burma has been much of a role model in that department recently), but even by their standards apparently, the labor conditions for this project were something of a humanitarian disaster. Indeed, the project was so brutal that a fake prophecy…

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Peter Makes New Friends In Bagan: Sign Language & Soccer Games

Peter's Big Adventure

Bagan is an amazing place, but seeing as Burma only opened to foreigners 4 years ago, it is not well known yet. If Angkor Wat is any indicator however, Bagan will become much more famous with time. Often drawing comparisons to Angkor, Bagan is famous for 1 thing: thousands of 9th century Buddhist temples and pagodas.

Yeah, it’s a pretty picturesque place, but for me, these 9th century Buddhist ruins, cool as there were, were only part of the story. The people of Bagan were also awesome to interact with, which is sort of a rarity for a traveler. If we’re being honest here, most local people who talk to you when you’re traveling are trying to sell you something. It’s pretty rare to travel in the developing world and have somebody talk to you with no ulterior motive. You have to get pretty far off the beaten…

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A less expensive but more uncomfortable and time consuming option is that which most Myanmar people take – the bus. Buses depart daily, and cost around US$14-20 from Yangon (12 hours) or US$12 (7-8 hours) from Mandalay. The journey from Bagan has improved a lot; 2 bises at 7:30 and 19:30; it takes 7 hours to Kalaw and ~8,5 to Nyang Shwe, and costs 11,000. Bus arrives directly to Nuang Shwe, walking distance to many guest houses.

The people of Inle Lake (called Intha), some 70,000 of them, live in four cities bordering the lake, in numerous small villages along the lake’s shores, and on the lake itself. The entire lake area is in Nyaung Shwe township. The population consists predominantly of Intha, with a mix of other Shan, Taungyo, Pa-O (Taungthu), Danu, Kayah, Danaw and Bamar ethnicities. Most are devout Buddhists, and live in simple houses of wood and woven bamboo on stilts; they are largely self-sufficient farmers.

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Photo By Richard DO

Most transportation on the lake is traditionally by small boats, or by somewhat larger boats fitted with single cylinder inboard diesel engines. Local fishermen are known for practicing a distinctive rowing style which involves standing at the stern on one leg and wrapping the other leg around the oar. This unique style evolved for the reason that the lake is covered by reeds and floating plants making it difficult to see above them while sitting. Standing provides the rower with a view beyond the reeds. However, the leg rowing style is only practiced by the men. Women row in the customary style, using the oar with their hands, sitting cross legged at the stern.

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Photo By Richard DO

Fish caught from the lake – the most abundant kind is called nga hpein locally (Inle carp, Cyprinus intha) – are a staple of the local diet. A popular local dish is htamin gyin – ‘fermented’ rice kneaded with fish and/or potato – served with hnapyan gyaw (literally twice fried – Shan tofu). In addition to fishing, locals grow vegetables and fruit in large gardens that float on the surface of the lake. The floating garden beds are formed by extensive manual labor. The farmers gather up lake-bottom weeds from the deeper parts of the lake, bring them back in boats and make them into floating beds in their garden areas, anchored by bamboo poles. These gardens rise and fall with changes in the water level, and so are resistant to flooding. The constant availability of nutrient-laden water results in these gardens being incredibly fertile. Rice cultivation is also significant.

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Photo By Richard DO

Hand-made goods for local use and trading are another source of commerce. Typical products include tools, carvings and other ornamental objects, textiles, and cheroots. A local market serves most common shopping needs and is held daily but the location of the event rotates through five different sites around the lake area, thus each of them hosting an itinerant market every fifth day. When held on the lake itself, trading is conducted from small boats. This ‘floating-market’ event tends to emphasize tourist trade much more than the other four.

The Inle lake area is renowned for its weaving industry. The Shan-bags, used daily by many Burmese as a tote-bag, are produced in large quantities here. Silk-weaving is another very important industry, producing high-quality hand-woven silk fabrics of distinctive design called Inle longyi. A unique fabric from the lotus plant fibers is produced only at Inle lake and is used for weaving special robes for Buddha images called kya thingahn (lotus robe).

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Photo By Richard DO

Lumber removal and unsustainable cultivation practices (slash and burn farming techniques) on the hills surrounding the lake are causing ever-increasing amounts of silt and nutrients to run off into the rivers that feed the lake, especially along its western and northern watershed areas. This silt fills up the lake; the nutrients encourage the growth of weeds and algae. More important however is the development of floating garden agriculture, largely along the western side of the lake. This practice encroaches into the diminishing area of the lake, since over time, the floating beds become solid ground. About 93% (nearly 21 km²) of the recent loss in open water area of the lake, largely along its western side, is thought to be due to this agricultural practice. Direct environmental impacts associated with these combined agricultural activities within the wetlands and surrounding hills of the lake include sedimentation, eutrophication, and pollution.

The water hyacinth, a plant not native to the lake, also poses a major problem. It grows rapidly, filling up the smaller streams and large expanses of the lake, robbing native plants and animals of nutrients and sunlight. At one time, all boats coming into Nyaung Shwe were required to bring in a specified amount of water hyacinth. Over the past twenty years, large-scale use of dredges and pumps has been employed with some success in controlling the growth of this plant. On a smaller scale, public awareness education and small-scale control have also been successful.

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Photo By Richard DO

The best time of the year to visit is during September and October. The ceremonial Hpaung Daw U Festival, which lasts for almost three weeks, is closely followed by the Thadingyut festival of lights. Inthas and Shan turn out in their best clothes in great numbers to celebrate the Buddhist Lent. Traditional boat racing, with dozens of leg-rowers in Shan dress in a team on each boat, is a famous event during the Hpaung Daw U Festival.
Floating farm

Inle Lake is a major tourist attraction, and this has led to some development of tourist infrastructure. Many small and large privately owned hotels and tour operations have arisen during the past few years. Local shops are flooded with consumer items, both local and foreign. The nearest airport is Heho Airport which is 35 km away. There are flights from both Yangon and Mandalay. Yangon is 660 km away by road, Mandalay 330 km.

Inle Lake is in the heart of Shan State, which has been the location of much of the civil and political strife over the last two decades. Political imprisonments and disappearances are common.

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Photo By Richard DO

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The Mekong basin is one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world

 The Mekong is the most important river for most of SE Asia as it crosses or borders, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and VietNam.  We will be using several sources and will give the links to them so you can do more research if interested.

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Bagan, located on the banks of the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River, is home to the largest and densest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins in the world with many dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. The shape and construction of each building is highly significant in Buddhism with each component part taking on spiritual meaning.

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Photo By Richard DO

With regards to tour comparison between this immense archeological site and the other significant archeological gem of Southeast Asia, the Angkor sites, this analogy may be helpful:

Angkor ruins are like a Chinese Lauriat banquet where food is presented in spectacular servings with a suspenseful wait between items which are hidden beneath curtains of forests. On the other hand, Bagan is served in Spanish Tapas style, the ingredients exposed to the customer and shown in small bite-size servings, with the next attraction close and visible at hand, in shorter intervals.

Another analogy between Angkor and Bagan Sites when distinguishing temple structures is through their stupa and spire shapes.

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Photo By Richard DO

Artichokes and corncobs = Angkor while gourds and durians (or pineapple) = Bagan.

An example is gourd for Shwezigon Pagoda and durian for Ananda, Thatbyinnyu, and Mahabodi Temples. In another way of imagining, Bagan temples are like topped with inverted ice cream cones.

What makes the temples look romantic is the process of graceful aging. For some reason, there are no windbreakers around as shown by the barren, desert-dry mountain range to the west past the river, spinning occasional micro twisters that spawn loose dust particles everywhere from the eroded earth to the structures. This phenomenon had peeled off so much the stucco coating of the temples to reveal the brick structural blocks with its rusty, reddish, and sometimes golden brown-like patina when hit by the sun’s rays.

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Photo By Richard DO

Erosion is a significant threat to this area, not only the wind chipping away the buildings’ plastering but also water from the mighty Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River threatens the riverbanks. The strong river current has already washed away half of the area of Old Bagan. It used to be a rectangular-shaped piece of enclave protected by a perimeter wall. Now what remains is roughly the triangular eastern half part.

Other images of Bagan which make a lasting impression to tourists aside from the spire-fringed skyline; stupas sporting that tumbledown look yet crowned with glitter-studded golden miter-like sikaras; the ubiquitous pair of ferocious stone lions flanking a temple’s door; the spiky and lacy eave fascia woodcarvings lining a monastery’s ascending tiers of roofs; tall palmyras or toddy palms with willowy trunks, bougainvilleas, exotic cotton trees, and the likes bringing life to the arid landscape and abandoned ruins; squirrels playfully and acrobatically scampering on the walls and pediments of temples; horse drawn carriages lazily carrying drop-jawed tourists; sleepy moving grandfather’s bullock carts grinding on a dust-choked trail; not to mention the garbage left around, stray dogs loitering, longyi clad men spitting betel chews in copious amounts everywhere, overgrown weeds and the pestering dust.

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Photo By Richard DO

All tempels in Bagan are considered as sacred by the burmese. Therefore you should dress modestly (cover your knees and shoulders). This dresscode is also shown on many signs in front of bigger tempels, but mostly ignored by western tourists. It might not be too obvious, but the locals and other buddhists tourist are strongly offended by this behaviour. Since buddhists are none-confrontative, they will keep silent and just look at you. Be respectful and dress appropiately even though it is 40 degrees out!

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Photo By Richard DO

Bagan became a central powerbase in the mid 9th century under King Anawratha, who unified Burma under Theravada Buddhism. It is estimated that as many as 13,000 temples and stupas once stood on this 42 sq km plain in central Myanmar, and Marco Polo once described Bagan as a “gilded city alive with tinkling bells and the swishing sounds of monks’ robes”. Approximately 2,200 remain today, in various states of disrepair. Some are large and well maintained, such as the Ananda Pahto, others are small tumbledown relics in the middle of overgrown grass. All sites are considered sacred, so when visiting, be respectful including removing shoes as well as socks before entering or stepping onto them.

 

 

 

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Photo By Richard DO

Bagan’s golden age ended in 1287 when the Kingdom and its capital city was invaded and sacked by the Mongols. Its population was reduced to a village that remained amongst the ruins of the once larger city. In 1998, this village and its inhabitants were forcibly relocated a few kilometers to the south of Bagan, forming “New Bagan” where you will find accommodation in its handful of cheap, quaint, clean hotels and religious centers.

Despite the majesty and importance of Bagan, UNESCO did not include it on its World Heritage Site, because it says some temples were rebuilt in an un-historic way. Nonetheless, the site is arguably as impressive as the Pyramids of Egypt: a dry, vast open landscape dominated entirely by votive architecture.

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The Bagan cultural authority has introduced a tax against all foreigners for $20USD, 20EUR or 24,000 Kyat upon arrival. Since the USD is the best value of those options, it is best to bring the required amount in USD (in new bills) before arriving. If you are lucky to enter Bagan without buying it, it will not be asked again except at the entrance of a couple of temples, notably the most popular sunset temple. The fee collected goes straight to the government and is not invested in the maintenance or cleaning of the site.

Here are the TIPS for avoiding the payment: From the airport, upon landing, note the taxing desk straight ahead as you exit. Use your head to avoid if able, but it is not easy. If flights are coming and going, you might be able to sit as if waiting for a plane and wait for the employees at the fee table to clear. Other options are also available, use your head.

For other methods of arrival, ask around beforehand where the check points are and try to walk around them. It’s a bit of a hassle, you might need to walk for an hour or so both to Nyang U and New Bagan from the bus station, less from the boat to Nyuang U, tho. Travelers who were trapped in buying the ticket, please consider passing it to someone else you meet on the road. If you get lucky and a kind soul shares the ticket with you remember: you might be asked several questions: where you were coming from, how (bus/plane/train…) in which hotel you previously stayed in (they can call and check your passport number) and also some pictures on your camera to prove you have already been to Bagan. Do your homework accordingly.

As of at least May 2015, they seem to be stopping all taxis and motorbikes entering the city from the highway that connects the bus, rail, and airport terminals to charge foreigners the US$20/Euro20/Kyat24,000 entrance ticket there. It doesn’t seem to be avoidable.

If you are coming from Pyay or Yangon you might be able to avoid the fee by transit in Magwe and catch the local minibus to Nyuang U. The ride takes about 4h, costs 7000K and is really uncomfortable, but if you sit in the back or in the middle the chances that you avoid the fee are not low (at least if the bus is full of burmese as it was in the low season).

Staff at the ticket booths sell pirated copies of George Orwell’s Burmese Days for around US$5, though if you negotiate you can get them down to $2. Maps are also sold at 1000 kyats. You can also print the online version shown here beside. It is not necessary to buy as these are available free from big hotels, if you happen to pass by and ask even if you are not their guest.

There is only one travel agent selling tickets online in Bagan. Sara Travels & Tours(Bagan Travel Bureau). You can pay through Western Union or else.

Map of Old Bagan and can click here for larger map 

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Travel safe and we recommend having travel medical evacuation insurance 

 My Trip To Myanmar – A day in Mandalay by Richard Do

After 2 days in Yangon, we took express bus to Mandalay. It is about $12 USD for an Air-Con bus and $10 for non Air-Con, scheduled around 10 hours but will take closer to 12.

Hot, busy and not immediately beautiful, Mandalay is primarily used by travellers as a transport and day-trip hub. But even amid the central grid of lacklustre concrete block ordinariness lurk many pagodas, striking churches, Indian temples and notable mosques. West of centre towards the fascinating Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) riverside, shadier backstreets link countless little-visited monasteries. And there’s plenty of fascination to be found delving into a range of craft workshops and arts performances.

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