The Dusty Road To Mandalay…

890A1365Sunrise, Bagan, Myanmar

I’m back! At least my body is…

My mind, I’m not so sure…it might arrive later this week. It’s still spinning with the imagery, sounds and scents of distant lands.

 I’ve lost some sense of time & space, but how lovely to come home to Spring and the clocks being turned back, er forward, or…whatever…

 It’s staying lighter much longer than when I left and that makes me very happy 🙂

Oh and look at that-Wordpress got new smiley face icons while I was away.

Boy, did we do a lot of traveling in 3 weeks. If it didn’t involve a plane, van, truck, boat, bike, a hike or a climb and a 5:30am wake-up call it was a slow day.

Lake Inle, Myanmar, slimpaley.comCruising along on Lake Inle, Burma

Why all the early starts? It gets hot in *Burma quickly at this time of year. Very, very HOT.  100+ degrees  on many days with nary a suggestion of a breeze. The fine, chalky dust from the red earth rises to meet the omnipresent smoke of the open cooking fires blanketing the atmosphere with a gauzy filter from sunrise to sunset.

Woman smoking, Burma, slimpaley.comA woman in a street market in Mandalay

Yet, despite the heat, many destinations and points of interest require keeping your arms & legs covered, as well as closed toed shoes (because of dust & dirt) yet easily removable (because of the shrines)

Shwedagon Pagoda , slimpaley.comMy shoeless friend and me at the famous Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Burma. The light coloured marble here was lovely underfoot, but some darker hued stone floors at other shrines, not so much…

We took sooo many photos. There was SO MUCH to photograph! Besides, I wasn’t about to lug my Canon 5D (AKA Big Daddy) 1/2 way across the world for naught. In its travel case it’s the size and weight of a small baby. I attached a big hot pink name tag to the strap (Travel Tip #1 learned after leaving my husband’s headphones in a plane seat pocket) in case I left the baby on a plane, or pagoda steps…Did I mention there are a LOT of pagodas in Burma?!

And that I now know the difference between a stupa, a shrine and a pagoda?

 What is a “Stupa”? for $500 Alex.

I also shot in ‘RAW’  format for the first time-FYI that’s a camera setting not a sartorial choice ( I only just learned about this, hangs head in shame. Thanks Mr. Sammy’s Camera Man!) So I’m busy downloading, sorting and trying to figure out how to transfer all these huge files without taking 5 minutes per pic. It’s hard being an empty-nester and not having in-house tech support anymore, but wowzer-zooming in has taken on a whole new meaning. If the photos take a little longer to load than usual, please bear with me.

Breakfast, slimpaley.comBreakfast. NOT every day.

I’m learning, always learning as I go, and we saw and learned so many wonderful things on this trip.

From the mind-blowing wealth and staggering architecture of Dubai, the chic decors and gorgeous people of Sri Lanka to the endless stupas, golden light and dusty chaotic roads of Burma it was a wild, wild ride.

The Tintagel hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka,

And always, the beautiful children all over the world

IMG_9632A couple of heart-melters at a monastery in Inle Lake, Myanmar

video (might take a few seconds to load)

 I usually cave to self-inflicted Virgo-ian pressure to blog in chronological fashion, but as my last post was March 6th and inspired by my trip, I’m going to go ‘off road’  and let all these places and photos just spill out willy nilly over the course of the next few weeks.

IMG_9536Much like an intricate mosaic, they might not appear to make complete sense viewed too closely but trust me-they’ll be cohesive when viewed from a distance.

I think.

Stand back a bit farther.

I’m starting with the travel tips I promised you but rather than spew them all out at once (that could be pretty boring) I’ll give you just a few at a time.

Starting with the Most Important; MEDS.

1) NEVER pack them in your suitcase. Always in your carry-on.

2) BRING ANTIBIOTICS. Absolutely mandatory on overseas trips!

 No need for me to run through the more obvious medications (Dramamine, Imodium, Pepto-Bismol (pink bismuth caplets) etc. but you might want to also consider;

3) If you’re going somewhere tropical, always check to make sure the area you’re visiting is Malaria-free. If not, seriously consider taking Malarone tablets. I’d rather suffer through a few bad dreams (a possible side effect, and more or less a given for me) than Malaria. I’ve read too many books about Africa & India to risk it, thank you very much. I’m also always the one covered in mosquito bites so I carry

4) “Mozy” After Bites spray. Provides great relief.


If your trip requires shots, i.e. Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Influenza, it’s always a good idea to carry your yellow International Certificate of Vaccination (approved by the World Health Organization), in case you need to show it to a foreign doctor for any reason.

5) Toothache gel.  Although I think tooth-aches are rare these days, this can be a life-saver if you aren’t near a reliable dentist. I’ve only ever suffered an adult toothache twice. Both times, away from home and excruciating. Once in San Francisco and once in Vegas, where basically you can just win a new tooth, but imagine suffering from a bad bicuspid in say, Africa??


6) a Dental Repair kit. A friend shared this with me-how about losing a filling or a crown, especially HORROR of horrors, a visible one, right in the front? Talk about excruciating. No more holiday Selfies for you!


7) Leg cramp tablets. Long flights, not enough liquids, lots of walking, strange mattresses…I get leg cramps often when I travel and I like Hyland’s Homeopathic pills-I swear they work.


and lastly, for this go round; my Slim Paley Special Tip that works brilliantly for me whenever I’m around ‘questionable’ tap water;

8) Fluorescent hair ties.

fluorescent hair ties


Don't Drink the Water!

Don’t Use the Water!

The first thing I do in a hotel where I won’t risk even brushing my teeth is to wrap a fluorescent scrunchie around the faucet to serve as a reminder. Because, let’s face it, we’re all Pavlov’s dog when it comes to daily hygiene habits. Works like a charm for husbands & children too 🙂


Next up; not sure… markets & monasteries, fishing & silk weaving, shopping & eating, stupa climbing, beautiful hotels…suns setting & rising and lots of other fun stuff plus more travel tips.

Stay tuned.

Balloon over Bagan, Burma,

Happy Spring to All!!


*To dispel any confusion, Burma is now called ‘Myanmar’ but a healthy number, if not majority of Burmese including our guide and Aung San Suu Kyi still commonly refer to it as Burma, and Yangon as Rangoon. Much of the signage and newspapers still use “Burma” as well. I won’t dare attempt to get into the politics of all this, but the names appeared to be interchangeable without causing any rancour.


  1. What great advice….I have lived in a couple of places besides the US (one third world and fascinating, the other old world Europe,,,,fascinating as well). I wish I had these hints years ago, as it would have come in handy. Thank you! I love your posts and photos……extraordinary!


  2. Fantastic travel tips and just in time. I also get leg cramps so I’ll try your suggestion. And aren’t you brilliant with the fluorescent ties as a “don’t drink” reminder?? Yes you are!! Your pictures are fabulous! Those children are so adorable. I’ll also be picking up the Dentemp…I tried false eyelash adhesive during a long cruise and it didn’t work worth a damn 🙁

  3. Amazing images, it was worth packing Big Daddy, and I am excited to know there are more to come, whatever the order.
    Leg cramps, dental woes, cautionary markers, what great ideas for more comfortable travel. Welcome home.

  4. Can’t believe you’ve managed to write all of this having only been home for a couple of days. Looks like an amazing trip dying to hear all about it. Every detail every picture!

    • No, not a tour, just the two of us and we’d been planning for a long time-it’s a trip that we had to cancel two years ago. Got around on just about every mode of transportation imaginable, save elephants (which would have been fun!)

  5. Great tips, Slim. I’m not going anywhere exotic in the near future but when I do, these will be in my memory. I didn’t know about the leg cramp tablets and dental repair, very clever. Also a vaccination card. Beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing your travels. Happy Spring to you, too.

  6. Hi Slim. Amazing photos–the market scene, the children, the mist, the lady with the cheroot–I feel as if I were with you. And thanks for the tips–never would have thought about flagging the taps. Glad that you home safe and sound.

  7. I’m very jealous… it looks as if your trip was incredible… your photos are wonderful…
    Keep them coming… 🙂

    Glad you are home safe and sound… xv

  8. I think stupas aren’t hollow at the top like pagodas. or vice versa . did you balloon ride over Bagan ?

    • Actually, we did not. It would have meant yet another really early morning start and I was a bit concerned about a rough landing with my shoulder. That photo was taken from the top of a stupa we climbed up on for the sunrise.

  9. You are baaaack!! Welcome! I have been waaaaiting to “hear” from you for a while. Putting together a trip right now, northern India, Buthan and Nepal, ( hmm, thinking maybe skip Nepal and instead visit Myanmar??) and your travel info. could not be more timely! Thank you, thank you for sharing! Anxiously awaiting next gorgeous blog!

  10. hello! My friend W just got back from Burma and I have loved her photos. In HK I never brush my teeth with the water either….Love the snaps x

  11. Amazing photos and your camera lessons have served you well! I am rather envious as you have just gone to the two places I am itching to go to. My friend just got back from Inle Lake too! I can’t wait to see pictures of those fishermen – hope you got some of those? Great tips – never thought about the caps kit but then again I don’t think I have ever seen one of those things? Another thing I do is photocopy a picture of all my ID and credit cards and email them to myself. That way I have them “on file” plus in the unfortunate case you do lose your credit card – you don’t have to wait around on the phone longer for an operator and you can just punch in your credit card number. PS Have you done Angkor Wat? If so I would love to see those pics – if you haven’t been then that has to be your next trip!! x

    • I agree wholeheartedly with you! I scan and email all my documents to myself as well, also include plane tickets, itineraries, immunization cards, medical info, etc. Came in very handy when traveling through South America!

  12. I am making a copy of all the meds you advise. I always manage to leave something at home. Welcome back and thank you .

  13. Beautiful images and post. I was a flight attendant for 17 years being based around the world. I I was based in Indonesia, Saigon (during the war) Japan and Hong Kong.. Your advise was wise and thoughtful. I always told friends to carry small flashlights too.

  14. Beautiful shots! Absolutely cannot wait to see and hear more. And thanks for the tips – didn’t know about the dental repair kit, but that has happened to my husband while traveling. Will toss it in for next time! Welcome home!

  15. Burma is on my list. Such a treat to read your post.
    Glad you took Big Daddy with you.
    Vive le printemps!

  16. Thanks for sharing this trip… Just fabulous! Love all the travel tips…meds, hot pink tag, pic’s were fab in the “raw”. Welcome home to Spring!

  17. Ohhhhh, that photograph of you & your friend made me smile. You guys must have had so much fun! And, the tips you gave are wonderful. Absolutely, keep all meds/necessities with you at all times. I lived in Iran for a time, and have travelled extensively to 3rd world countries, so I really appreciate what you say. Welcome back, Slim…

  18. This is a very handy post indeed, regardless of where one travels. Thanks for that. Pictures – fabulous!

  19. Slim,
    What a great trip. It will be fun to see it unfold in your posts with your amazing photographs. Thanks for the travel tips, some of those apply to my short trips to Austin from Southern California!
    Happy spring and welcome home!

  20. I have only traveled to parts of Europe and to Canada. So, luckily for me, I could drink the water and not worry so much about antibiotics. The florescent ties on the sink are a great tip for me or if I am with somebody I know if we ever travel to a country like the one you just traveled to. I envy you, Slim! 🙂

  21. Gorgeous photos!! Love those kiddos. Precious. I also love your tips. I’m pinning this to my Travel Style Board on Pinterest. Great ideas. Geez, I need that mosquito stuff big time. Never thought about the teeth thing, but you are so right, you never know what you may need when you are so far out.

    I love your travels. Always romantic and make me dream of faraway places… Can’t wait for the next one! xx

  22. Oh, I’ve missed your posts! The photos are extraordinary – evocative and transporting. they take me “there.

    Welcome back, Mary

  23. Even though I was looking forward to more bright colorful photos, I was taken by the very murky coloration of the photo of the stairway with the striped carpet. So understated and beautiful! Can you tell us where it was taken?

  24. Hooorayyyy!! You always know how to make an entrance, Slim. Or a re-entrance. You know what I mean. I can not WAIT to see more. I had an assignment to go to Burma ten years ago that was cancelled at the last minute and I still haven’t been there. *grumbling*

    Just a thought about shooting in RAW. I had the same worry as you do and with my old creaky mac, I was afraid that working the RAWs would do it in! And that I would only be able to post say, once a month, since it took so long to convert the RAWs to TIFs to JPEGs then to low res! So instead, I just work the JPEGs for my blog but I keep all of the RAWs as backup if I ever need a better file for say, a book or something. My honey, Mr. Photographer (who has a story in the April National Geographic – whoohooo!!!), slightly poopoos this but then again he has a mac pro that could power an airplane.

    And your list is amazing! I will definitely refer to it!! One thing that was also in our kit…a plastic syringe to remove poison from snakebites… :O

    • Firstly, congrats to Mr. Photographer with his story in Nat Geo! Secondly, I will have to figure something out with this ‘RAW’ format as my Airmac is already full up at the Inn as it were. And there seems to be 2 of almost every photo, yet not EVERY one, so go figure… a plastic syringe for snake bites! We were told there were lots of snakes in Burma-but thankfully we didn’t see any. Not that much wildlife there actually.

      • Slim, feel free to email me at if I can be of further help. If I don’t know the answer I can always ask Remi! Verrrrry, convenient to have an in-house professional photographer… 😉
        PS. When you see only one photo, you might try going up top to edit – then sort – then “by file name”…

  25. Always enjoy your blog. This one had a ton of really useful traveling tips.

    Sent from my iPhone


  26. Welcome back Slim!
    So…hee hee…what did you buy??????
    Hope that is a post too. I love how you make an effort to meet the locals and
    show their beauty!

  27. Lived in Tuscany for a few years and took a cooking class taught by a BURMESE PRINCESS that had to escape in the dead of night!The recipes were delicious…….I still have them and gosh why can’t I remember her name!I must look for her name in my book then google her story!

  28. Welcome back! Oh my goodness. What an adventure! Those photos actually took my breath away ~ especially the last one of the hot air balloon. Thanks for sharing the trip and the tips. Happily looking forward to many more.


  30. Fascinating! I admire your wanderlust and exploration of different lands. It must take fortitude to travel like you do! I am back from house hunting – 10 days and I am totally whipped! Look where you have been and you are totally back and writing great posts for your readers! Very nice!

  31. Lovely pictures! I have some that are almost identical–of Pagan and of a woman smoking a fat cigar–from 1989. Isn’t it nice when some things don’t change? I will never forget a ferris wheel in Rangoon, operated not by electricity but by the weight of a few young men who scrambled about its spokes like nimble spiders on a web.
    On your travel tips:
    You are absolutely right about malaria. Never risk it.
    For leg cramps, quinine and magnesium often are recommended. Good news: quinine is in tonic water, so have plenty of gin and tonics! And magnesium is in chocolate!

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