Should You Travel to Myanmar? Yes, but It’s Complicated

In its glossy “Do’s and Don’ts for Tourists” pamphlet, the Myanmar Ministry of Hotels and Tourism encourages travelers to responsibly visit Myanmar. Among the many cartoon-illustrated recommendations, the Ministry warmly nudges tourists to speak the language, ask permission before taking photos, and be respectful at cultural sites. But it also suggests that travelers “be mindful … Continue reading Should You Travel to Myanmar? Yes, but It’s Complicated


America’s Changing Relationship with Vietnam

“I admire Mike ‘Goodspaceguy’ Nelson because he keeps trying,” said Brian Neely, the American Center Coordinator for the U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. “He is certainly one of the weirdest people to run for City Council in Seattle.” After some discreet googling, sure enough, Brian was right. Michael George Nelson, commonly known as … Continue reading America’s Changing Relationship with Vietnam

Southeast Asia’s Imperiled Media Landscape

TIME recently named those journalists who have been jailed or lost their lives as its 2018 Person of the Year. The magazine praises the so-called “Guardians” as a critical bulwark against the growing War on Truth. From the killing of Saudi Journalist Jamal Kashoggi in October to the impending “tax fraud” trial of Maria Ressa in the … Continue reading Southeast Asia’s Imperiled Media Landscape

Remembrance and Propaganda in Vietnam

The Vietnam War. For most Americans, the long slog of the 1960s conjures up painful memories of frightened soldiers trekking through steamy, tropical jungles in distant Indochina while mass protest and violence consumed the country. Thanks to the draft, most baby boomers recognize the war as an exercise in hubris that consumed too much blood … Continue reading Remembrance and Propaganda in Vietnam

Thailand Part III: Navigating Perception and Reality in Chiang Mai

I began Chiang Mai on a strange note. Shortly after checking into my hostel, I was cleaning out my inbox when I found a disturbing blurb in the Council on Foreign Relations: THAILAND: Thai police shut down a meeting hosted by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand to discuss abuses (AP) against Rohingya Muslims by … Continue reading Thailand Part III: Navigating Perception and Reality in Chiang Mai

Thailand Part II: Koh Phangan’s Balancing Act

Jay’s suggestion to visit Koh Phangan was a curious one given the island’s reputation. Rough Guides describes Koh Phangan’s famed Full Moon Party as “Apocalypse Now but without the war.” The party traces its origins to a small group of hippies that descended on Haad Rin Beach in the early 60s to escape a ravenous … Continue reading Thailand Part II: Koh Phangan’s Balancing Act

Thailand Part I: Among Bangkok’s Backpackers and Bustle

On my first night in Thailand, I drank a Chang beer inside of a loud, top 40s dance club along Khao San Road surrounded by westerners. I had discarded my plastic 7-Eleven poncho on a chair as I took shelter from the rain. Despite the torrential downpour, I couldn’t help but smile as I gazed … Continue reading Thailand Part I: Among Bangkok’s Backpackers and Bustle

Istanbul and Turkey’s Uncertain Crossroads

“So what did you think about Turkey before you arrived?” asked a local Turkish Couchsurfer on my third night in Istanbul. It was an important question but one I hadn’t really considered. I wanted to tell him that I understood Turkey from a historical perspective, ever since I learned of Byzantium in my 9th grade … Continue reading Istanbul and Turkey’s Uncertain Crossroads