Mid-semester recap

Since I began my Leave of Absence, which started on June 4th, 2017, I have been to 33 different cities:

  1. Cleveland, Ohio, USA 
  2. West Palm Beach, Florida, USA
  3. Lansing, Michigan, USA
  4. Chicago, Illinois, USA
  5. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  7. Memphis, Tennessee, USA
  8. San Diego, USA
  9. Soori, Bali, Indonesia
  10. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
  11. Komodo Island, Indonesia
  12. Singapore, Singapore 
  13. Tokyo, Japan 
  14. Kyoto, Japan
  15. Hiroshima, Japan
  16. Miyajima, Japan
  17. Kanagawa, Japan
  18. Hong Kong, China
  19. Beijing, China
  20. Xi’an, China
  21. Phuket, Thailand
  22. Chaing Mai, Thailand
  23. Chaing Saen, Thailand
  24. Mekong River Cruise, Laos
  25. Luang Prabang, Laos
  26. Hanoi, Vietnam 
  27. Sapa, Vietnam
  28. Siem Reap, Cambodia
  29. Phnom Penh, Cambodia 
  30. Kep, Cambodia
  31. Yangon, Myanmar 
  32. Inle Lake, Myanmar
  33. Bagan, Myanmar



Yangon, Myanmar: Shwedagon Pagoda

Visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda was the highlight of my time in Yangon.

When I first started builds Lego architectural models over fifteen years ago I did a great deal of research on the greatest buildings of the world and comprised a list of about 120 of them.  I’ve built over 50 of the se architectural wonders leaving 70 more that I’d like to tackle. But nowhere, not on any list, did the Schwedagon Pagoda ever appear.

The structure, with all its surrounding buildings and shrines, could easily qualify as a Wonder of the World. I suspect it’ll be the first building I tackle when I get home in July.


And the view from my hotel room


Yangon, Myanmar (Rangoon, Burma)

The country only recently opened itself up to tourism so there were many delightful and different things to observe about their culture.

The woman wear Thanaka on their faces. Some paint circles shapes while others paint flowers or leave patterns.
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The men wear dresses called Longyi.

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Myanmar  is one of three countries that does not use the metric system (The US and Liberia are the other two)

The steering wheel is on the right (as in England) but they drive on the right (as in the US). Scooter and motorcycles are outlawed. Driving is intense.

The largest bill is a 10000 kyat note worth about US$7.50.  You need sacks of the stuff to make large cash purchases.

The time zone is off by thirty minutes. So when it’s 8:00PM in NYC it’s 7:30AM in Yangon.

Burmese love to chew Betel Nut and spit. Some of the side street are stained red with the spit.

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Stuffing as many people into a van is a form of transportation. I counted 29 people.


The locals love to engage in conversation. This is “Sam” and “Tom” who approached me in a park and we talked for half an hour. (The park was celebrating Condom Day) They answered all of my questions about Burmese customs and their city.

Kep, Cambodia

Kep is a small town on the southern coast of Cambodia. We headed to a small resort in the town for a short break from school.


One day we went island hopping. As beautiful as it was, it was disheartening to learn about the fifty families that lived on one of the islands we visited: No school. Children do not learn how to read, write, nor do math. With virtually no skills (except fishing where, if lucky, one can earn $5 to $10 a day) the children have little opportunity to move to the mainland and advance their lives.

We visited the famous Kep Crab Market where the fisherman literally wade right up to the docks to sell their catch of the day.

And we took a pleasant hike through a national park that backed up to the town.


We are off to Phnom Penh for the evening and then off to Myanmar the following day