On this episode of Talk Travel Asia podcast we explore traveling by train in Asia. Train travel is one of the most in-touch and connected ways to travel. Many a novel has been written around such journeys and the romance therein. With the advent of air travel and the cost of doing so dropping, train travel has become not as economical as it once was. At the same time, many countries are upgrading their rail systems, and others still rely on decrepit ones, which can be part of the appeal and charm. On this episode we’ll chat with train travel expert, Mark Smith, also known as The Man in Seat 61, who maintains the world’s top website for train travel information.

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Many countries in SE Asia have a sordid and fabled reputation. From movies about mercenaries trying to free POWs in the jungles of Vietnam to novels of colonialism and forbidden love, the region has served as a backdrop for more than a few of the world’s great tales and legends. Some true, others not so much. On this episode we’ll chat with American journalist, radio broadcaster, and documentarian, Patrick Winn about his life covering truly wild sides of life in one of the world’s most colorful corners.

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Irrawaddy dolphins in Myanmar with Living Irrawaddy Dolphin Project on Talk Travel Asia Podcast

Dolphins on the Irrawaddy River: Photo courtesy of Paul Eshoo – Living Irrawaddy Dolphin Project

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Myanmar is a country steeped in mystery and controversy. More or less closed to the outside world for 50 years by a military government, it opened up in 2012 and looked like it would soon become SE Asia’s hottest travel destination. It did take off, but hotel prices went through the roof, many people began to question the value of the rising cost of travel there, numbers tapered off, then the Rohingya crisis kicked off, seeing tourism numbers plunge by at least 40% in 2018. Whether or not you should travel to Myanmar is something we’ll leave to you to decide, and instead focus on our travel experiences to three of the country’s hotspots: Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake.

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Yangon, formerly Rangoon, the capital of Myanmar, formerly Burma, is an exotic sounding name. In the early 1900s, it was one of the most developed and sophisticated cities in Southeast Asia. The elite sent their children there for school, commerce was booming, British, Indians, Burmese, and people from around the world mixed and mingled. And then things changed. In 1948 Burma got independence from the British. Then in 1962 the military took power for almost 50 years, finally loosening their grip in 2011.

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Culture shock is certainly something that occurs when traveling abroad. Here in Asia there are many curious customs and holidays that are so different what we experience at home. We actually did an episode on Interesting Asian Holidays (Episode 62). On this episode we talk about some wild and wacky experiences and attractions in Asia, some of which we have experienced and some of which we have not…yet. Continue reading

Today we feature a real adventurer: someone pushing the envelope of creativity in travel and transportation, going above and beyond the beaten path. Many people take at least one trip per year, then spend the rest of the year dreaming about their next one. For some, this trip is a week or so in length, but there are a growing number individuals that are finding creative ways to make travel their full-time gig. These people roam the world experiencing places and activities, then blog about them, take photos, videos, and find creative ways to generate a full-time income. Today we’ll chat with Ric Gazarian, an American who’s been doing just that for a number of years.

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Trevor introduces the episode by talking about how, while their careers have been travel related, Scott and he still haven’t seen it all.  People often assume because of their jobs they’ve been everywhere and seen everything but the reality isn’t that simple.  Scott agrees that there are never enough hours in a day, weeks in a month, and months in a year for travel.

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Introduction:  Trevor is in Kuala Lumpur visiting Scott for the recording of this episode, during which time they plan to do some cycling in Scott’s Bukit Kiara neighbourhood. The two discuss their different experiences biking in SE Asia as well as the great aspects of exploring the region by bicycle. Trevor enjoys how travel by bike allows you to mingle closely with local communities, while Scott talks about how it’s great to see the local sights. They bring in a cycling expert to share his expertise on what riders can expect from cycling in various countries across the greater region. From where the best areas are for climbing, road-riding trips, off-road adventures, and everything in between, we get to the bottom of what SE Asia has to offer riders.

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Bagan at sunrise

Bagan at sunrise

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