So we’ve been away for a few weeks…. OK, like 7.  That’s pretty crappy of us.  However, our intentions have been good and we’ve been drafting blog text on our notes apps but haven’t gotten enough self-motiviation to post any of them to the official site….

…Until now.

Are you ready?

For the massive wave of blog posts?

You may not be ready.

We have everything from Shanghai, Bruce speaking Mandarin, and the only redeeming thing about Chongqing,  to a comprehensive evaluation of the bathroom culture in China.

Our excuse, you ask? For not giving you a more constant feed of our goings on? Well, we’ve been gone a lot.  We’ve taken boatloads (if 4 qualifies as ‘boatloads’) of trips within China lately and then been slammed at work and school – catching up and getting ahead in preparation for the next adventure.  Also, we have pretty much the cutest little cat that just hangs out at home all the time while we’re gone for weekends and you know what? We feel guilty.


See, isn’t she adorable?

However, the excitement of sharing these anecdotes and stories with you has finally grown too large.

Hold on to your seats, your brain is about to get 7 weeks worth of Bruce and Emily crammed into like a day or two.  And you all know us well enough to realize that this could indeed be too much of a good thing.

In case you got a nice email with a couple of links to some new blog posts, only to find “page not found” when you clicked the link… you can blame WordPress (our website host).

After a brilliant rapid-fire set of three blogs in as many days, they disappeared.



Page not found.  No record of them existing on our administrator site, either…. argh!

Luckily, the internet doesn’t forget ANYTHING and I was able to find a cached version of each of them in Google.  Thank you Google, for never forgetting a page, no matter how briefly it was posted as a real page.

So I rescued the text and will be reposting them as soon as I can scrounge around for the pictures I used and hit “copy+paste”.

Thanks for bearing with us.


Balloons Over Bagan is not an experience that will leave you feeling deflated (very punny, I know).

On Day 3 of our 8 day Myanmar trek, we started early at 5am for our 5:30am bus pickup for a sunrise hot air balloon flight over the “Valley of the Hidden Temples” (as our friend Carlos Gomez described Bagan).

We arrived to coffee and cookies and soon got to know the 14 other travelers who would join us with our pilot. It was a large balloon basket – it wasn’t crowded.

After a brief set of instructions from our Australian, UK licensed, balloon engineer named Andy (I have no idea what the official title for a hot air machine pilot is), the team began to inflate the balloon for what would be a one hour flight over Bagan.

There’s not much point for me to try and describe the beauty of the area and that morning – just enjoy the pictures/videos (footage included in our Escape to Myanmar: The Empire Strikes Back trip video) and make sure you book a float over Bagan’s 3,000 temples and stupas if you visit the area.

Now for a less sexy blog topic (that I wrote and should have posted 2 months ago): immigration into a country.

Myanmar was a dream vacation to us, especially after hearing such strong recommendations from friends like Carlos “Valley of the Hidden Temples” Gomez and Matt “Motor Bike Around ” Zedler. There was one potentially significant “barrier to entry” to making this dream a reality though (pardon the pun): Obtaining a Visa.

We organized the trip  ~6 weeks in advance (not recommended) and didn’t have time to obtain visas ourselves from a local consulate. Thus, we did our research and banked on the Visa On Arrival service offered by Although my research documented numerous positive reviews, this decision still worried me after we’d come up with the itinerary, and even on the day when we flew into the country having already paid for 90% of the trip.

Was this a scam? Did we just blow our money and vacation??? Thankfully, this service is totally legit and we made it in!

So why did we worry? Myanmar is open and embracing tourists, but information on the nation’s immigration services was still sketchy and hard to decipher. It was especially confusing since the government was advertising that they *will* offer Visa On Arrival services, but are not yet doing so.

Maybe the government isn’t yet offering its own Visa On Arrival service, but is one company that *is* and the government has a Visa On Arrival counter at the airport to process them when you arrive.

Detail-wise, we purchased the expedited service (probably not necessary) from for $95 each. Our paperwork was processed very quickly and included good instructions. Upon arriving at the airport in Myanmar, we provided the paperwork and were pleased to see forms with our pictures waiting for us on the desk.

The only problem we experienced was that a tour group of 20 Germans beat us into the processing line as we dawdled about slightly confused. Add 30 minutes of queue time to our experience… But we now had visa stickers in our passports for the Republic of the Union of Myanmar!

So, please do use for their Visa On Arrival service, and beat the Germans into the line!