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Weekend Recaps and Other Updates

December 11, 2017
I wanted to do a weekend recap post since I haven't done one in awhile. While I'm at it, I'll include some other updates.

*Our due date to say whether or not we would resign our contracts for next year was at the end of November. It's crazy that we have to decide so early. I mean, I get it because the school needs to find replacements for us if we are not staying.  Recruiting new teachers and sorting their visas takes time. I wasn't completely torn about my decision this time, so I told them yes. I am comfortable here with the job and most of the other teachers in first grade are staying so we have a strong team. While some of my close friends will be leaving (always the hardest part about staying behind), a few of my good friends have chosen to resign their contracts when the time comes. I also think it is a smart financial decision to stay here. I plan on staying in China until I am completely debt-free. Last year and this year, I was able to pay off $14,000 worth of surgery debt to my dad.

* I found out that I have a nephew on the way! My sister Melissa is expecting a baby boy in April. It's cool because now I'll have a niece AND a nephew.

* My boss asked me if I could help her interview someone for the school. The teacher is interested in working in first grade next year, so he'd be working with me if he gets hired. We had to do a Skype interview since he's not currently in China. I know this might be weird, but I've only ever Skyped once before and that was for my interview to get my current job! The room we had to give the interview in wasn't private and another teacher walked in as I was asking questions. I don't know that teacher at all, so that made me extremely nervous to have him listen. Luckily, he left after just a few minutes! Despite that distraction, my boss said that I did a very good job preparing questions, that she had fun interviewing with me, and wants me to come back and interview more teachers with her.

* Last weekend I hung out with Tara. We met for dinner at Palmetto and then we went to see West Side Story together. I was wondering whether it would be with Chinese actors and whether we would have to read subtitles, but luckily for us the play was all in English with touring actors and actresses. I really enjoyed the play and now I'm wanting to see more plays soon. Legally Blonde is the next one that will be performed at that venue, and I'd LOVE to see that.

*I went to the Paulaner Brauhaus Christmas market in Shanghai with three friends. We enjoyed some mulled wine, shopping, and just catching up. One of my friends is fostering a dog named Arlo, and I finally got to meet him after hearing about him for weeks--he's the sweetest. Most people here have cats as pets because we aren't allowed to have dogs, and since I'm much more of a dog person than a cat person, it was a nice change. There was some slight drama when Arlo's foster mom went inside to go to the bathroom though. Another friend and I were put in charge of watching him. Not even a minute passed and he got out of his leash and escaped for a bit! Luckily, it was so crowded that a group of people started "oohing" and "ahhing" him. Since they were petting him, he didn't get too far, and we held him until his foster mom came back. We laugh about it now, but for a few minutes we were freaking out that we lost our friend's dog!

At the Christmas market, I picked up an Amber Cedarwood candle made by a company called 6pm candles that I am obsessed with. It just smells SO good. The Christmas markets in Shanghai are really a great way to discover some local businesses and support them.

*This past weekend started with a trip to a mall because I needed to go to Zara to return some online purchases. I found out that Zara has my size AND my shoe size if I order online. I can get free same day delivery, too! That is very dangerous. Luckily (and not so luckily at the same time), the dress I ordered looked terrible on me and the shoes were too tight which was disappointing but good for my wallet. I did end up keeping a pair of lacy sneakers, so it's not like I was left empty-handed. At the mall, I stopped at Starbucks and got a free drink with a coupon that my school gave me as a gift and then got a Miso-Yogurt Chicken & Feta salad from Element Fresh. Rachael got me addicted to those salads and it did not disappoint. I went home and watched some episodes of Grace and Frankie. When I visited my friend Nanci last summer, she recommended the show to me. I wasn't sure if I would like it at first, but it's actually pretty hilarious. We are both low key obsessed with Frankie's jewelry. Then, I read a few chapters of Emma in the Night. I'm about half-way through and have to say that the book sucked me in so far. It's about two sisters, Emma and Cass, who disappear for years. Cass makes it back and tells the story her disappearance piece by piece.  Emma is still missing and so it's very suspenseful right now because I want to find out Emma's fate. 
*On Saturday, I met up with a group of friends so that we could have a Christmas dinner. We couldn't really find a place that was having an official Christmas dinner, so we booked a table at a bar/restaurant called Boxing Cat and at least were able to order some comfort food. A bunch of us tried the mac and cheese, and it was delicious! I think it was the best mac and cheese I've been able to find in Shanghai. Afterwards, we found a really cute coffeeshop by day/bar by night kind of place called Antique Garden Shanghai. The inside was decorated really nicely for Christmas. The drinks were a bit pricey, but they were all special cocktails made with different kinds of alcohol. The garden area was seriously nice, and I'd love to go back during the day for some coffee. There were lots of great photo ops and the whole inside has a nice "Old Shanghai" vibe. The one picture I took in there doesn't do it justice.

* I couldn't decide where to go for the Chinese New Year break for the longest time. A group of my friends are going to Melbourne and Brisbane, but it is more just to hang out and not really to travel. Tara will be going home, so we also couldn't travel together. Since I want to see the sights, but don't really want to travel "alone," I decided to book a group tour through Intrepid Travel. This will be my first group tour trip that is longer than just a few days. It actually sounds pretty good--all the tour really covers is accommodation and transportation. For the tour part, we are only given a few city overviews when we first arrive, and then we are free to decide what we want to do. That is pretty great because I won't be stuck in a big group all day, but I also don't have to be concerned about safety since someone will be checking in on me every night. I looked at all of the tours, and the one that really appealed to me a lot was a trip to Mexico. I know it seems funny that I'm going to Mexico from Shanghai and not the States, but the flight was only about $850 round trip. Our break is long enough that you really can go anywhere in the world! I didn't know whether or not I should book my own accommodation or chance it with a roommate. Obviously splitting the cost with a random roommate is cheaper, but I was willing to pay the extra money. I ended up putting down that I would have a roommate just because Tara told me that when she went on a tour through Europe, that her and her roommate were really compatible and went on a lot of optional day trips together. I felt like if I didn't have a roommate that it would be harder to meet others since I'm not that outgoing. I don't know. Maybe I'm overthinking it, but I guess I'm slightly nervous about this tour as well as excited! 

**Linking up with B Loved Boston.

What I Wonder About

December 4, 2017
I have a notebook that I use to write down blog ideas as they pop into my head. This one has been in there for a while, and since I had a rather exhausting work week, I wanted today's post to be easy to write and to keep it (mostly) lighthearted with what I wonder about.

*Why do I have a ghost double chin? In real life I examine my chin from every angle and do not see a double chin, yet in photos it appears. Where did it come from?? See proof in the picture below. It could have been the cutest photo of three of my good friends and me, but instead, the double chin came out. Since the photo was a re-do of our very first banquet photo, I still like it for the sentimental value.

*Why do I manage to spend more money on weekends in than weekends out? I'm going to go ahead and answer this in part by saying I spend SO much money on food here. I didn't use to do that. When I stay in, I usually order food from Sherpa's, a food delivery service in Shanghai. I never ordered from there once until I moved to my new apartment, but now I have to say that I'm addicted. It's so easy and for a delivery fee, you can pretty much order from tons of great restaurants all over Shanghai. 

*Does cupping really work? Cupping is commonly done here as a way of drawing out toxins. My Chinese friend recently got it. It's been popular in recent years with a bunch of celebrities. I'm curious to try it if it does help with blood flow and whatnot, but at the same time, I don't want to pay money for someone to basically bruise me. 

*Why don't more products have names that flatter you? Why yes I'll apply more Exotic Goddess Ageless Serum. 

*Why is Titus on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt so hilarious? I just can't get over, "Gum is a lie your mouth tells your stomach."

*Why did my own cousin defriend me on Facebook? I didn't grow up near my cousins so I can't say I know them very well, but one of them friend requested me a few years ago. I thought that was nice of her to try to make an effort to get to know me and it meant a lot. I happened to notice that she defriended me because she shows up in tagged photos on my aunts' feeds. To top it all off, she is still friends with my sister! I know it was a crappy move on her part, but I can't help but feel extremely insulted. I try to brush it off because she is quite a bit younger than me and I can't say I'm a fan of Facebook, but I am very sensitive about that sort of thing. 

*Will I ever stop missing my former student enough to quit drinking out of a mug with his face on it every day? The mug is plain black until you pour hot water in. Then a picture of the two of us together will appear. It really does make me smile almost every morning!

*Who is going to stay and who is going to leave at my job? I wonder this every year. I think our school retains a high percentage of teachers considering we are all expats, but who leaves and who stays really affects who is left behind and the jobs we are required to do. 

*Will Scott come back to Shanghai? He told me that he would 80% come back for five years at the beginning of the year. Ha ha.. I asked him what % for just one year, but weeks passed before he saw my message, so by the time he answered, it had gone down to 70%. What caused this change? One of our mutual friends told me, "Lisa, I can already tell you that he's 0% coming back next year." I'm trying very hard not to get my hopes up, but life is always better with one of your best friends in it! 

*Have my friends "Pavlov dogged" me into gagging every time I hear the song "Little Donkey"? My British friend started to sing it when something gross was going on during our morning ride to school. Now every time something disgusting happens, we sing it. Snot rocket sighting? "Little Donkey." Our driver coughing up phlegm and spitting it out the window? "Little Donkey." Now when they start to sing it, I instantly start to feel sick.

*Will our friend Steven travel with Rachael and me this summer? He mentioned that he would, but nothing has been confirmed yet. I really hope he does at least for part of the trip! It would be so great to see him again. 

*Why do I get all of these fake accounts following me every time I check in on Instagram anywhere in Shanghai? It's super annoying and seems to not happen when I check in at other places. 

As I wrap up this post, I'm wondering what you are all wondering about. So, what's on your mind these days? 

What's Up Wednesday: November '17

November 22, 2017

What I'm Eating This Week: Okay, so I mentioned before that I signed up for a meal plan called Better Bentos, which specializes in healthy meals. Some of the meals I have had this week include: spicy Thai curry with chicken, stir-fried prawns with peanut sauce, chili con carne, couscous with roasted vegetables, pumpkin soup with a side of quinoa, kale, sweet potatoes, and walnuts combined into a salad, and roasted chickpea salad. I actually love this meal plan! I would never have enough time to eat this well and prepare all of these meals on my own. For snacks, I have been having trail mix and healthy smoothies. The bad news is that Better Bentos is shutting down in a few weeks to redo their business, so we just have maybe three weeks left to get the meals sent to us. They will reopen, but they don't have a set date for that yet. On the weekends, I just have whatever. Last weekend that included McDonald's and lasagna with a glass of red wine.

What I'm Reminiscing About: My former first grade students are now third graders, and we are doing reading buddies this week at school. It just so happens that my new first grade students will be paired with my old students. It's crazy that now my old students will be the ones helping out and I'm so glad I'll get to see them in action helping younger students! I've been reminiscing about them being in first grade and thinking about what a wonderful class they were. 

What I'm Loving: I'm loving hopping on the train and getting out of Shanghai for a change! I went on weekend trips for the past two weekends; first to Nanjing and then to Hangzhou. I never knew how to book train tickets and thought it was a daunting process, but a friend told me how she did it and it's the easiest thing! With how well my last trips have gone, I'm inspired to do a lot more traveling over the weekends. 

What I've Been Up To: Well, I just did a recap post, and earlier this fall I did go on a trip to Myanmar

What I'm Dreading: Both of these things are a long way away, but I'm dreading having to take an online class next year to keep my teaching license. I'm a little bitter about it, honestly. Can I just please pay off my other student loans before I have to shell out thousands on another course? The other thing I'm dreading for the time being is life after China. There is no way I'm going to stay in China forever. I am worried about my finances after leaving here because teaching in the States is not as lucrative as it is here. I am also concerned about other teaching jobs. Will I be able to do them with my back injury? I think I can at this point, but I also don't want to injure my back further by overworking myself.

What I'm Working On: This is all work-related stuff. For example, I do need to decorate my classroom doors for Christmas soon! Any ideas? 

What I'm Excited About: For the first time in a long time, I don't have a travel buddy to go places with during Chinese New Year. All of my former travel buddies are back in the States now, and Tara will be going back to the States during that time. Other friends have asked me to go to Melbourne with them, but I've already traveled throughout Australia and would like to go somewhere new. Since I'm way too paranoid to travel alone after what happened to me two years ago while traveling, I think I'm going to take a look at Intrepid Tours. The thought of that is really exciting to me because I might be able to meet cool, new people and I haven't yet picked a destination. The feeling of not knowing where I'm going yet is kind of exhilarating when I think of the possibilities. 

What I'm Watching/Reading: I'm starting to watch New Girl again. I watched the first three seasons and then just kind of just got busy with life and forgot about the show, but the episodes are so entertaining and they're short as well, so I'm sure I'll be doing some binge watching to catch up. I'm also watching This is Us with two other teachers from my school. We get together every week and watch it together. I just got done watching Kevin's episode (Number 1) and had to fight back the tears. In between those, I'm watching Spartacus Season 2. A friend gave me them to watch when I was in the hospital, and I just never got around to it. 

For books, I mentioned in my last post that my friends and I are doing a small book club, starting with the book China Rich Girlfriend. I haven't had much time to read this week, but maybe tomorrow I'll try to catch up to my friends.

What I'm Listening To: Can I change this to what I'm about to listen to? A coworker lent me the latest Lana Del Ray CD, so I'm about to see how I like it!

What I'm Wearing: Everyone always says that when winter comes in Shanghai that it comes suddenly, and this year was no exception. It's full on winter weather here, so this week I took out my winter coat and blanket scarf. In my apartment, I'm always bundled up in a fleece and have broken out my Snoozies

What I'm Doing This Weekend: My friend is coming to Shanghai, so we have a full weekend planned. She wants to see the major sights and do all things touristy like go to the Bund at night, go up Pearl Tower, visit Yu Gardens, see the Jade Buddha Temple, and go to a tea house. Mostly, I'm looking forward to catching up with my friend, but I wonder if she will be shocked when she sees me because she hasn't seen me since before my injury. 

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month: I'm excited to spend Christmas Day in Shanghai with friends this year. For my first two years in China, I traveled both times, so it will be nice to stay put this year. My friend is hosting a Christmas breakfast and lunch at her place and she's an excellent cook. She already described some of the menu and I can't even believe she knows how to cook all of that! 

That about sums up everything! I'd like to do a post soon with more details about my trip to Myanmar, so hopefully I can find the time. 

Life Lately: Fall 2017

It seems like it's about that time where I recap my life and what I've been doing lately, so here goes nothing.

* My friend Georgina and I went to a beauty event called Glamour Lab where we had a certain number of hours to rotate stations. Each station had a different beauty treatment to try. I ended up getting a facial, an IPL treatment, my hair styled, a hand massage, and fake eyelashes. This was all for about $60 total, which was the price of the ticket to get in. The event was located in the Wanda Reign Hotel, which was beyond nice. Cocktails and some snacks were also included. As Georgina pointed out, we were much too busy going from station to station to be bothered with the cocktails. We left with a gift bag, and on top of that, I ended up winning a $90 bottle of perfume. 

Afterwards, we decided to walk along the Bund. Living in Shanghai that sounds like no big deal, but I hadn't walked along the Bund since before my surgery in May 2016! My last trip there was a field trip to the aquarium with my old class. Last year I didn't get out much and then when I did go out, I just never ventured out that far. It was a good feeling to see the Shanghai skyline in person even though it was a rather dreary day weather-wise. We left before it was all lit up, so that just means I'll need to go back again soon. Since we don't usually hang out in that area, we weren't too sure where to go, so we hopped in a Didi and went to Kartel, a wine bar with a great rooftop area. We enjoyed some sangria and talked about our life plans for next year.

* I got back in touch with my old friend Hannah. She sent me a hand-written card, which was so thoughtful. We never meant to fall out of touch, but we just don't live near each other and hadn't seen each other in person since about 2004. Hannah used to be a big part of my life because we lived in Korea together my first year and she was one of my best travel buddies. She did mention possibly flying out to visit me in Shanghai sometime, which of course she'd be more than welcome.

* Speaking of visitors, I will get my very first visitor in about two weeks! I am beyond excited to see my close friend Amy who is flying out from Los Angeles to see me for the weekend. She said she didn't realize flights were so cheap from L.A. and said whatever we didn't get to do this time could be done on her next trip to Shanghai. She is already planning a next time!! It will be so wonderful to see her again--we've been friends for almost 20 years, but we haven't been able to see each other for the past few years.

* In other news, a few weeks ago Georgina had a Halloween party in our building. For some reason, I was really nervous about going. Probably because a lot of people were going that I didn't know very well and I'm bad at small talk. It ended up being really fun and of course we went out afterwards, too. I was just happy because two of my own friends jumped when they saw me and didn't recognize me in my costume. They thought I was my friend's friend. I think that was the first time I ever really scared anyone on Halloween, so I deem it a success. For our school Halloween dress up day, Lauren and I were matching superheroes. Some of my students got a kick out of my costume. Sometimes you have to love how easily amused first graders are.

* Tara, Kelcey, and I decided to start a book club. The first book is China Rich Girlfriend which we all wanted to read since we're living in China and all. The three of us have a We Chat group to talk about the book and will meet at the end to discuss it. I have never been part of a book club, but this one is just small and no pressure.

* I tried out three new restaurants in Shanghai recently: The Rooster, Palmetto, and The Shed. When my friends heard I had never been to The Rooster, they laughed at me because apparently they go all the time for the brunch deals. While I was there, I had my first Bloody Mary in life. The group I was with didn't understand why I hadn't tried one before and said something along the lines of, "You've lived three lives and you never had a Bloody Mary!? We can't believe it!" It was a nice break from the sickeningly sweet cocktails I usually have.

Palmetto was great because it's one of the few places in Shanghai that serves Southern food. I have to say that I didn't like the picture of the alligator staring at me while I ate because it brought back bad memories of South Carolina, but the food was worth the trip: hush puppies, boiled peanuts, and fried chicken. Yes, please. I already have plans to go back with one of my Southern friends. Another group of friends has a Wednesday wings tradition at The Shed. Since one of the locations is quite close to where I live, I decided to check it out. That group pretty much goes every week, so I know I'll be back sooner or later. It's a great treat to help break up the middle of the week.

* Tara and I also went to a chili cookoff at Cages that some teachers at our school were participating in. I guess they won the competition last year or the year before. Since Tara had to tutor, we decided to go right when it opened, which ended up working to our advantage because later on in the day many of the groups ran out of chili. We sampled probably ten different kinds of chili and never knew there could be that many different twists on the dish. My favorite one was a sweeter kind with cornbread on the top, but of course, we voted for our friends.

* A friend of mine suggested that Lauren and I should try a meal delivery service called Better Bentos. Better Bentos has extremely healthy meals and for about $90 a week, I can get 5 lunches, 5 snacks, and 5 dinners delivered. After trying it out for a full week, Lauren and I were quite pleased with the quality of the food and decided to sign up again this week. It has been so nice not having to do dishes and think about what to do for my meals all week. On the weekends, I just eat like I normally would. I'm just doing it to be healthier because I don't think I'm getting the proper nutrients with how I've been eating. The first few days I had the Better Bentos meals I instantly felt like I had more energy.

That's my life in a nutshell. I'm learning to enjoy Shanghai again and am making progress on paying off more of my surgery debts and student loans while I'm here.

Would you ever try a meal delivery service?

Tips for Traveling in Myanmar

November 20, 2017
In October, Tara and I traveled in Myanmar for seven days. We wished we had more time, but tried our best to make our trip worthwhile. Below, I'll be sharing where we stayed, some information on overnight buses, and some general tips. I hope you find this useful if you plan on visiting Myanmar some day.


**I'll list the prices we paid, but please note that the prices will vary depending on whether you travel during the low/high season.

I would stay at all three of these places again and do recommend them. 

Yangon- Chan Myae Guesthouse $34/night

Thoughts: Chan Myae is located close to Sule Pagoda and the city center. The rooms are simple and very basic but clean. I do have to say that the staff is friendly. We were given some juice as soon as we checked in and the workers helped us carry our bags to our rooms, which was much appreciated since we had to go up about 6 flights of stairs. There is no elevator, but the staff members will help you with your luggage if you right the bell at the bottom of the steps. We were also able to arrange transportation to the airport through the guesthouse. Oh, and there's free breakfast.

Bagan- Royal Bagan Hotel $55/2 nights 

Thoughts: Tara found a deal on this, so I don't think the rooms are usually this cheap. The hotel seemed fully booked and was very busy so we couldn't check in early.  However, were allowed to leave our bags in the lobby. The staff was helpful and booked a temple tour for us as well as a taxi to the bus station. The rooms were nice with a large shower. The hotel also has a swimming pool, but we didn't try it out since we didn't have bathing suits with us. Free breakfast is offered and it's buffet style. There is someone in the back cooking eggs that will be brought to you as well. We were quite pleased with our room and thought it was a great value for the money.

Inle Lake- Hotel Brilliant $54/night

Thoughts: While this hotel was about twice as much as the Bagan Royal Hotel, we were blown away by the service. The staff went out of their way to help us enjoy our stay there. We arrived very early in the morning, tired from a long journey on an overnight bus. They let us check in right away and even upgraded us to a nicer room at no extra cost. They drove us to the bus station and wouldn't accept our money when we offered to pay. They let us shower after we were out on the lake all day and after we had checked out. On top of that, we were given tea and snacks for free before we left to go to the bus station. The location is not right in the center of town, but that was a blessing in disguise as the city center is loud and chaotic. If you want a peaceful stay, Hotel Brilliant is where it's at.

Recommended Bus Companies

Famous Traveler Express

JJ Express-Below are some pictures of what to expect on a JJ Express overnight bus. I searched the internet and couldn't find much about the seats. Because of my back problems, I wanted to know whether or not the seats reclined all the way, but they do not. I was able to get some sleep on the bus anyway.  

We booked all of our bus tickets before we traveled to Myanmar using the site Myanmar Bus Ticket, operated by Green Travel. 

With both JJ Express and Famous Traveler Express, the buses left on time and we felt safe for the entire journey. The buses from both companies had air conditioning and we were provided with blankets, a pillow, a bottle of water, and some snacks. I will say that the seats on the Famous Traveler Express bus reclined more, so that was a major plus for me because I was able to sleep better. The JJ Express overnight buses all had TVs on the back of the seats though, so it was nice to watch a movie before I tried to sleep. 

Tip: Go to the bathroom at every stop. On one JJ Express overnight trip, there was only one stop early on and then no stops for over five hours (until I asked).  

Tip: Bring headphones in order to enjoy the entertainment offered. JJ Express did provide me with some headphones once I asked, but I could hardly hear anything out of them. Tara brought her own earbuds and didn't have this issue.

Our Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Yangon. Overnight bus from Yangon-Bagan.
Day 2: Bagan
Day 3: Bagan
Day 4: Morning bus from Bagan-Mandalay. Day tour of Mandalay. Overnight bus from Mandalay-Inle Lake.
Day 4: Inle Lake
Day 5: Inle Lake. Overnight bus to Yangon.
Day 6: Yangon
Day 7: Depart Yangon in AM. 


*Check and make sure your vaccinations are up to date. This seems like a no-brainer, but when Tara mentioned this to me, I realized that I wasn't protected against typhoid! At one point in my adult life, I got the booster for this but the oral vaccine is only good for 5 years. I can't believe I dropped the ball on this when I'm usually pretty responsible about this sort of thing. 

* Bring a rain poncho. We both brought one instead of umbrellas. I found it much more convenient for staying dry.

* Put some cash aside for the visitors passes you are required to buy in Inle Lake, Bagan, and Mandalay.

* Make sure your USD is in good condition. They are very picky about which bills they accept. I saw the man working in the currency exchange eye one of my $20 bills suspiciously because the corner was slightly bent. 

* Book your overnight bus tickets ahead of time. Every overnight bus we took was full and we didn't even travel during the peak tourist season. Booking an overnight bus ticket can also save you money on accommodation!

* Reapply bug spray often. We didn't want to take malaria pills, so we just tried as best as we could to prevent getting bitten. 

* Bring an extra layer of clothes, especially for the overnight buses because they blast the A/C.

* Do you have any makeup that you don't use? Or some you've tried but it just doesn't look right on you? Consider bringing some on your trip. Yes, I realize that seems weird, but hear me out. I got stopped by Burmese women around five times, and they commented on my lipstick asking me if they could have it. "You make me gift of that lipstick," is what they would say. They knew it was used because I was wearing it, but they still seemed to really want it. I wish I would have known this since I have so much lightly used makeup just sitting here in Shanghai. This was the first place I'd been to where the women asked me for my makeup so often. If you want to make friends with the locals or just make someone's day, bring some makeup with you. 

* Book well in advance for Balloons Over Bagan. When we looked into taking a hot air balloon over Bagan, every time slot was booked for the entire week we were in Myanmar. We were okay with that because it was pricier than we thought. The cost currently ranges from $340-$450 (that's USD) for a 45 minute flight. I would have considered paying it, but the decision was made for us since there were no openings. 

* Apply for an e-Visa and make sure you print off confirmation of this so you can move swiftly through immigration.

* Dress modestly and bring pants that go past your knees, especially on days when you plan on doing some temple hopping. I also suggest wearing shoes or sandals that just slide on. In Bagan, you will likely visit temple after temple all day long, so it's just easier to not have to bother with tying your shoes.

* If you're short on time, try to squeeze Mandalay in on a day trip like we did. Seriously, one of the best experiences on the whole trip was watching the sunset from U Bein Bridge!

Although we had a hectic schedule some days, I feel that we maximized our time in Myanmar and saw as much as we could in the time that we had. How do you feel about overnight travel? Do you have any of your own tips to add?