The Padaung Conundrum

A group of Padaung at Inle Lake

The Padaung, sometimes annoyingly referred to as the “long-neck” tribe, are one of the most recognizable ethnic groups in the world. More properly called the Kayah Lahwi (their name for themselves), the Padaung embrace one of the most extreme beautification practices out there. As Padaung women grow, heavy brass coils are added to their necks pushing down their shoulders to create the illusion of a long neck. From Discovery Channel specials on “body modification” to literature on “body mutilation” the Padaung story has been told and sold and used and abused for a variety of purposes.

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The Red Spider Lilies of Kinchakuda

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Spider lily time is coming up in September!!!

No, we didn’t come to Japan during the cherry blossom season. 🙁 But it turns out that Japan has a whole lot of surprises up its floral kimono sleeves. We just randomly stumbled upon this little known (outside Japan) event, the blooming of the red spider lilies of Kinchakuda (巾着田).

Located a mere hour outside Tokyo in Saitama Prefecture, Kinchakuda Park lies on a forested bend along the shores of the Koma River. For about 8-10 days each year, a spectacular red carpet of lilies forms beneath the trees creating a fairy tale scene unlike anything we have ever encountered before.

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Reveling in Taroudant

Riad Maryam feast

We came for Morocco’s best preserved city wall and wished we had stayed longer for the food. Yes, Taroudant regularly makes it into lists of the world’s top walled cities (and you know I love those.) It’s stunning pisé walls studded with crenelated towers and gates stretch for eight kilometers.

We explored them in one of the local horse-drawn caleches and wound our way through the fortified kasbah district on foot thinking that the fabulous fortifications would be the highlight of our visit to the city. But that was before we found Riad Maryam.

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Iguazu Falls – Which Side is Better, Argentina or Brazil?

Iguazu Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. Almost twice as tall as Niagara Falls and only rivaled by Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls, the jaw-dropping Iguazu Falls leaves even the most seasoned travelers in awe (and yes, I’m talking about us). The 82-meter-high cascades of foaming water span an incredible width of 2.7 kilometers. At any one time, there are between 150 and 300 falls depending on the water level. Witnessing the power and noise of the falling water shrouded in perpetual mist is an unforgettable experience, an experience made even better by the incredible jungle setting. Continue…

15 Must-See Tourist Attractions in Bangkok

Wat Arun

There is no city in the world quite like Bangkok. The steamy cultural heart of Southeast Asia beats to a rhythm of cool chaos and quirky contradiction that makes it one of the most fascinating and diverse cities on the planet. Where else do veiled Gulf Arabs, Scandinavian sun worshipers, African money changers and local lady boys line up for a dish of sticky rice and mango, all backed by a mishmash of golden temples and steel skyscrapers? Nowhere.

Over the last three decades, we have visited over a dozen times and cumulatively spent more than a year in the metropolis. We have grown to love our crazy home away from home in Asia, but if you are new to the city, it can be hard to know where to begin. There are so many amazing things to do in Thailand’s capital that taking a couple of Bangkok private tours with locals might be a good idea to help you discover some hidden treasures. Here are Continue…