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Ariel's Adventures in Burma + Laos

Laos, Thailand and Burma! Oh my!

While a lot of my fellow college students are heading to Europe to study abroad or visit, I decided to spend a couple weeks over the summer in a place less travelled. I signed up for a trip to Burma and Laos, with a few days in Thailand, which would focus on photography skills (Along with enjoying the beautiful scenery and eating enormous amounts of fried rice and noodles). As a studio art minor with a passion for photography and pad Thai, I was pretty friggin’ excited.

After almost 24 hours of travelling, I arrived in Bangkok and met up with ten other college students and our two leaders. We spent about a day in Thailand recovering from jetlag before heading across the border into Burma. Everything about Burma is incredible: the landscape, the people and the food. While in Burma we visited mainly monasteries and remote villages, learning about different tribes, distributing medical supplies and teaching the children to brush their teeth (Dental hygiene is almost nonexistent). I have never seen so many adorable children. Burma’s recent welcoming of tourists and the fall of its military dictatorship in 2011 provided a beautiful slice of untouched and uninfluenced culture to capture. Everyone there had an amazing smile.

Laos was a completely different experience from Burma. We only saw three other white people while in Burma, but in Laos they were everywhere. After a two day slow-boat ride down the Mekong River we settled down in Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang is one of the top destinations in Laos, understandably due to the stunning waterfalls, an incredible night market for souvenirs galore and the option to ride elephants through the jungle. While we were able to enjoy all of these opportunities, we did try to get away from the tourism by going on bike rides or hikes to caves. On these adventures we usually got stuck in the middle of a downpour as we were in the country right in the beginning of monsoon season, but the rain never seemed to dampen any spirits.

Southeast Asia may not be on the top of many peoples’ travel lists, but the long journey there is worth it. It was amazing to be a part of a culture so different and yet so comfortable. I learned a lot about photography and got to eat all the pad Thai I wanted. I highly recommend a visit to anyone who has the opportunity.

And now, one million-ish photos!