The Dead Sea is Alive and Well (Mostly)

Dead Sea, Israel
The Dead Sea is a one-of-a-kind lake in-between Israel and Jordan

Facing Jordan to the East and Israel to the West, the Dead Sea is a destination spot for tens of thousands of travelers each year and certainly doesn’t disappoint.

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For all the high-resolution photos from the Dead Sea: Click Here

Dead Sea

The road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea is a wild and winding one, filled with intermittent security checks, gas stations with camels  you can ride, Arab, Jewish and nomadic Bedouin villages and more as the big capital city turns into the dessert. Nice and clean roads help with the smooth hour-plus ride and the scenes are absolutely breathtaking. Commonly referred to as “the Dead Sea” due to the high concentrations of naturally-occurring salt in the water prohibiting any animals from living in it, it is the lowest point on Earth and a unique and stunning place to visit.

Dead Sea
Jordan shares the other and more undeveloped coast of the Dead Sea

The high concentration of salt makes you so buoyant you can float for days on the water. You wouldn’t want to, however, as the salt stings and burns everywhere! PRO-TIP: Men don’t shave your faces, ladies don’t shave  your legs. Any open cuts or nicks will leave you stinging like nothing else. Also be sure to NOT dunk your face under the water. Your eyes will snap shut and you’ll be begging for fresh water to rinse them out.

Dead Sea

Dead Sea
Try it with your sandals! Everything floats!

Huge chunks of salt lay at the bottom so make sure you don’t cut your feet! You can pick up chunks as large as a basketball all around the Dead Sea. It’s really something to see. So after you get your float on, your skin will feel velvety smooth and it’s time for the famous Dead Sea Mud Bath. It’s supposed to be amazing for your skin, not so sure about that but it does feel great. After the mud dries, head back to the water to carefully (read: carefully) rinse it all off. There are fresh water showers all around the beach so hit that afterwards to get all the salt off your burning body.

Dead Sea

Dead Sea

Dead Sea
The sand was brutally hot!

After you rinse off the mud, you’ll feel baby-skin smooth. People come from all around the world to the Dead Sea for its healing attributes and the uniqueness of it all. I’ve been several times and each time I go it’s as good as the first time. Just make sure you rinse all over (ALL OVER) when you finish there. About 2 hours is good, as once your… private areas… start burning you’ll be aching for a cold shower. Next time I visit I plan on hitting it from the Jordanian side. The Israeli side has been developed much more however I’ve heard great things about hitting the Dead Sea from the east side of the sea.

Dead Sea

Dead Sea
Fancy a camel ride? The SUVs of the desert
Dead Sea
Mountains of the ancient Judean Desert
Dead Sea
The same in any language
Dead Sea
We opted for ‘al aish’, Hebrew for barbecue

For more posts on Israel: Click Here

For all the high-resolution photos from the Dead Sea: Click Here

Tel Aviv Ya Habibi Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv, Israel

Tel Aviv is the party capital of the Middle East and a hub for high-tech

Israel is home to 3 of the major world religions and Tel Aviv is where you go to take a break from them all.

For more posts on Israel: Click Here

For some high-resolution photos from the Dead Sea: Click Here

Tel Aviv
View of Tel Aviv South to North (right to left)

Tel Aviv has a magic and charm so great that I lived there for several years! A bustling and growing city located on the Mediterranean Sea, the sprawling mass of buildings and cars make it hard to believe that this entire area was swampland only 100 years ago. For a traveler passing through, Israel’s economic capital is quite pricey and the food and lodging is something you’ll have to plan for. The nightlife is incredible but you’ll have to spend your money wisely as a round of drinks for four can cost around 120 Israeli shekels ($30 USD) or more!

Tel Aviv
Kikar Dizengoff (Dizengoff Square – Right) from the rooftop of the City Chic Hotel

Awesome weather year-round makes Tel Aviv a perfect spot to spend a bit of time (with the partial exception of the ‘winter’ – basically half of January and February). Contrary to what you’ll hear daily in the media, Tel Aviv is incredibly safe and women routinely walk late at night through the entire city usually without any problem. As with all big cities, of course you should exercise caution and cab it if you must. Domestic crime other than petty theft or opportunistic thievery is quite rare (definitely don’t leave a bicycle unlocked!) which is a huge plus for extended stays in this city.

Tel Aviv
SUP (Stand-up Paddle Boarding), kayaking, surfing, waterboarding and kiteboarding are all for rent and hugely popular

Tel Aviv is a huge vacation spot for tourists from all over the world. A day on the beach and you’ll hear Hebrew, American & British & South African and Australian accents, Russian, French, Arabic, Spanish, Italian and more! It’s considered the most inclusive city in the Middle East for all religions and is considered the Gay Capital of the Middle East. The annual Gay Pride Parade is really something to see even if that isn’t your persuasion. Parties around the clock keep everyone entertained and coffee shops are buzzing all day long.

Tel Aviv
Street parties are a must in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Candy at the Tel Aviv Shuk (Market)
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv Architecture
Tel Aviv
Rent paddle boats and canoes on the HaYarkon River

I could write for days on the Bauhaus architecture that lines the city, on how Tel Aviv is a capital for world high-tech and startups, on the parks and incredible food… the list goes one. I’ll post more in the months coming up but for now I’ll leave you with some of my favorite cell phone shots from around the city.

Tel Aviv
Tehina, jachnun, egg and ‘resek’ – fresh tomato sauce
Tel Aviv
Football on Tel Aviv Beach

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is incredibly dog-friendly
Tel Aviv
Kikar Dizengoff
Tel Aviv
Azrielli Center, a hub for business, high-tech and shopping
Tel Aviv
Sailboats at Jaffa Port

For more posts on Israel: Click Here

For some high-resolution photos from the Dead Sea: Click Here

Balance Fitness Center Charity Sports Day

Balance Fitness Charity Yangon Myanmar

Local Gym Balance Fitness Center hosted its 3rd Annual Charity Sports Day

Yangon’s premier gym Balance Fitness Center holds an annual sports day for local underprivileged children and those from orphanages.

Balance Fitness Center
Dance with Balance Fitness instructor Mimi Wu

During my time here in Southeast Asia, I’ve had the opportunity to  work with some local businesses and organizations to help the underprivileged, impoverished and those who have suffered from years of conflict and natural disasters. On January 10th, Balance Fitness hosted its third annual Charity Sports Day for over 360 orphans and poverty-stricken children from all around the Yangon area.

Balance Fitness Center

Balance Fitness Center

Held at the Seinn Lann So Pyay Garden on Inya Road (just south of Inya Lake; blog, more info), the event featured many famous Burmese musicians, local businesses selling their goods for donations to the charity and plenty of sports-related activities for the children to take part in. Soccer (known here as football), hacky sack, yoga, leithwei (Burma’s version of the well-known Muay Thai kickboxing), dance and more were offered for the children to take part in.

Balance Fitness Center
Leithwei with Aung Thett
Balance Fitness Center
Hacky sack with Tony Jones

The past two years’ events saw over $30,000 USD raised for 8 orphanages and this year’s event was the biggest and most successful yet. The charity day began from around 1pm and ended after 6pm, with happy and ‘tuckered-out’ children heading to their homes with plenty of prizes, new clothes, toys and huge smiles on their faces. Of all the fundraisers and charities I’ve attended so far in Myanmar, this was by far the most fun and most well-organized event. A day gone and already we are looking forward to next year’s event.

Balance Fitness Center

Balance Fitness Center

Balance Fitness Center

Balance Fitness Center
Burmese orphans wearing the traditional ‘longyi’

Balance Fitness Center

To check out Balance Fitness Center, click here for the website or click here to ‘like’ on Facebook.

Of Tropical Diseases and Beautiful Lakes

Inya Lake

Of Tropical Diseases and Beautiful Lakes – Checking out Inya Lake in Northern Yangon

Surrounded by new developments and dilapidated old ones, Inya Lake is a part of Yangon’s long and storied history.

For Myanmar Travel Guide information on Inya Lake: Click Here

For all my high-resolution photos of Inya Lake in Yangon, Myanmar: Click Here

Inya Lake Inya Lake
Before & After – 4 days in

When people talk about their worst fears, usually it’s like “bro I hate snakes” or “dude I can’t stand clowns” or even “OMG, like, cockroaches are icks.” Welp, in my case I learned that it’s being in a third-world country and getting bit by a bug with some weird type of infectious disease and the local doctor says with absolute authority “yeah we’ve seen that before.” Then does nothing because there is nothing he can do.

Well this morning I’m grateful for doxycycline, the atomic bomb of antibiotics. The Iron Sheikh of Defeating Infections. The… you get the point. Doxycycline treats “Lyme disease, chronic prostatitis, sinusitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, acne, the yips, rosacea, rickettsial infections, urinary tract infections, intestinal infections, eye infections, gonorrhea, chlamydia, periodontitis, Baltimore-rioting syndrome and more. As an aside, I do want to mention how three nurses came running over to me in the International Emergency Medical Center and waited on my every need. I received two doctors’ undivided attention and they sorted me out with high priority. Israel could learn a thing or two from the Burmese as how to run an emergency med center efficiently and effectively.

So let’s continue shall we to the gorgeous Inya Lake, located smack-dab in the center of Yangon. Surrounded by beautiful golden pagodas, hotels, restaurants, a gorgeous walking path and gardens (as is custom here), the lake played host to many events for the Thingyan Festival (Myanmar’s New Year).

Inya Lake

Modern and primitive come together all around the lake and, as I’ve said before, the higher you go the more it seems like the city is growing right out of the jungle. This is also a hot spot for young local couples to come out, take a walk or lay and rest in one of the many gardens. The gardens are dotted with umbrellas which shield the couples from the blistering sun and weird foreigners with cameras snapping photos of them… like me.

Inya Lake

Inya Lake

Inya Lake

Inya Lake

Inya Lake

Inya Lake

Inya Lake

Inya Lake

Inya Lake

Inya Lake

Inya Lake

Inya Lake

Inya Lake

Inya Lake

Inya Lake

Inya Lake

For Myanmar Travel Guide information on Inya Lake: Click Here

For all my high-resolution photos of Inya Lake in Yangon, Myanmar: Click Here