Shwedagon Pagoda – and how not to offend the Buddha when there

“A visit to A is not complete without B” – a claim found in many guidebooks and one I usually don’t agree to, because how is a visit ever complete really? Either way, in this case I’m going to have to make an exception, because a visit to Yangon simply isn’t complete without a trip to Shwedagon Pagoda. This place is about as impressive and magical as it gets. Visiting one of most important religious sites in Myanmar as a foreigner, or rather as a non-Buddhist, most people with common sense will put some effort into behaving appropriately. Needless to say, many tourists there still prefer to be assholes instead. But even if you try you hardest, there are some cultural tripping hazards around – trust me, I would know.

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Yangon: The Asian metropolis starter kit

Yangon was the first place we visited in Myanmar and is for most people because of its well-connected airport. Although the convenience of getting there sure is a major advantage, I found that there are better reasons to start your journey through Myanmar in Yangon – or while we’re at it: why Yangon is great as a first place to visit in Asia altogether.

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Tuscany’s most underrated city: 8 ½ reasons to get off the beaten track

Ok, I get it, anything that is located in the close vicinity of Florence, one of the world’s capitals of arts and awesome, is hard to appreciate. But even apart from the home town of Dante and many others, Tuscany is a particularly gorgeous spot on the world map – and you could say it is highly appreciated by travelers. You could also choose to say that it is SWAMPED by tourists, which would be the much more accurate description. Continue reading

4 mistakes I made in Italy – and how to fix them

Living in Italy isn’t always easy. There’s a whole bunch of unwritten rules and conventions that can be simply impossible to grasp as a foreigner. I am not even a real stranger to this country (In fact, I’m 50% Italian which is practically unnoticeable except for when I’m gesturing wildly, which tends to happen) and I still make an arse of myself ALL OF THE TIME. Many of these particular incidents are downright embarrassing, some just leave you hungry or confused or both. Here’s four of the numerous times I messed up while living here – and my very personal approach to damage limitation. Continue reading