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Top 10 Highlights in Southeast Asia



Southeast Asia has been a magnet for travelers since it was discovered by hippies in the sixties. It’s easy to understand why. With its sublime beaches, ancient temples, colorful markets and dynamic cities, there is something for everyone. Additionally, it is one of the cheapest regions in the world to travel in. I first visited South East Asia back in 1992, and since then have returned many times, often for several months at a time. Here is a pick of ten of my favorite destinations.
1) Angkor Wat, Cambodia 
Although it is always crowded, nothing can detract from the beauty of this sprawling temple complex. The Khmer Kingdom ruled the whole of South East Asia from the city until 1431, when it was invaded by Thailand. It wasn’t until the 1860’s that the city was rediscovered by the French.
Reclaimed by the jungle, nature has taken its course and tree roots twist their way round the ancient temples. The site became even more popular after Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider was filmed at Ta Prohm. It is, without a doubt, one of the most awe-inspiring destinations on the planet.
2) Halong Bay, Vietnam
The iconic images of the towering limestone islands of Halong Bay that I had gazed longingly at in magazines were even more stunning in reality. The best way to see them is take a cruise, preferably for at least a night or two. That way it is possible to escape the more crowded areas of the bay that the day-trippers linger in.
There are spectacular illuminated caves, beaches and fishing villages to explore from the traditional Vietnamese junk boats. Watching the sun sink over the bay was spectacular and probably one of the best sunsets I had ever witnessed.
3) Luang Prabang, Laos
Located on the Mekong River, this lovely UNESCO town has an abundance of Buddhist temples, crumbling French architecture and excellent cafes. The fact that it is surrounded by the beauty of magnificent mountains and waterfalls only adds to its appeal.
The daily alms ceremony takes place at dawn when barefoot monks pad silently through the streets and collect alms of rice from kneeling locals and tourists. Luang Prabang has managed to retain its charm despite having become a popular tourist destination and remains the jewel in Laos’ crown.
4) Sukhothai, Thailand
Sukhothai Heritage Park in Thailand is about three hundred miles north of Bangkok. The park is full of 13th-14th-century temples, wats, and statues. The best and most enjoyable way to explore is by bicycle, which I did over two days. The grounds are well-maintained the central zone has a scenic lake, complete with lotus flowers.
Smaller than South East Asia’s major sites, it’s less crowded and has a more peaceful vibe. Adjacent to the park is a market which is a great place to sample some tasty Thai street food.
5) Komodo Island, Indonesia
It’s remote, but worth the journey to see the ferocious Komodo dragons! They can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh 150 pounds. Komodo Island was established as a national park in order to protect the dragons.
Not only can you see the pre-historic looking monsters, but snorkeling is excellent in the clear waters off the island. It’s is a great opportunity to see turtles, clown fish and manta rays and is rated as one of the most unspoilt snorkelling spots in the world.
6) Bagan, Myanmar
Bagan is another awesome temple site, a twenty-six-mile area of over 4,000 temples. Visitors get around by bicycle, e-bikes or horse and carriage. The temples date back to the 13th and 14th centuries and are fascinating to explore. Many of the temples have a Buddha within their walls and the variety of styles is incredible.
There is nothing quite as magical as cycling along the dusty tracks of Bagan with a soundtrack of monk’s chants in the background. Watching the sun go down from Shwesandaw Pagoda is one of the most spectacular sights on the face of the earth.
7) Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok is one of the most invigorating cities in the world. Zooming around in a tuk-tuk, eating delicious street food and temple-hopping are all part of the Bangkok experience. At weekends, the vast Chatuchak market is the place to be.
Thailand’s progressive attitude makes Bangkok a utopia for LGBTQ visitors. Anything goes in this city. Most of the action takes place around Silom Soi 2 and 4, the hotspots for bars and clubs, including the famous DJ Station.
8) Beaches of the Philippines
Everyone knows the beaches in Thailand are fabulous, but these days it’s tough to find one that’s not over-run with tourists. For a less crowded experience, The Philippines offers postcard-perfect white sand beaches, secluded coves, and pristine coral reefs.
With 7,107 islands, it’s not too much of a challenge to find a secluded beach. From backpacker’s cabanas to luxury hotels, you are bound to find your personal slice of paradise.
9) Sarawak, Malaysia
Sharing the island of Borneo with Sabah, Sarawak is Malaysia’s largest state and a fantastic destination for wildlife watchers. With ten national parks, it’s possible to see proboscis (big-nosed) monkeys at Bako and orangutans at Semenggoh.
A river trip to visit the longhouses of the Iban tribe is unmissable and there are also great trekking opportunities. Kuching, the state capital is situated on the Sarawak River, a cute and chilled out city.
10) Hoi An, Vietnam
This enchanting town, located on Thu Bon river is quintessentially Vietnamese. With Chinese temples, traditional merchant houses and canals, it is unbelievably picturesque. The winding streets are a joy to explore and every turn provides an iconic Vietnamese scene straight out of a National Geographic magazine.
Many of the streets are pedestrianized and there are an abundance of excellent restaurants and lovely craft shops to peruse. At night time, colored lanterns glow throughout the town, creating a magical atmosphere.

Originally posted 2017-07-12 17:46:41.


Tell It Like A Lesbian



My mother refuses to refer to my partner as anything other than a friend. We’ve been dating for three years and my mother still won’t acknowledge our relationship. Am I crazy for being angry about this and wanting to confront her? I feel insulted and it really upsets my partner. –Clarke

Dear Clarke, You’re not crazy for being upset at your mother. It sounds like you have every right to be angry, especially if after three years your mother can’t even acknowledge your relationship. If talking to her gently about it hasn’t worked after all this time, it may indeed be time to confront her more forcefully, as your partner’s feelings are also being hurt by this behavior. If you decide to confront her and her attitude remains unchanged, it may be time to cut ties. After all, your happiness is what matters most in this situation, regardless of whatever is causing such denial from your mother. You must put the health of you and your partner’s relationship first, and eventually, your mother may come to realize what she is losing because of her denial.


Dear Tell It, Do you have any suggestions for handling depression? I’ve been really struggling with loneliness and I have no energy for anything, even stuff I usually enjoy. I feel like I have no one to turn to. –Otto

Dear Otto, Depression often causes the loneliness and sense of isolation that you are feeling. It’s important that you recognize this as a symptom of your depression and do your best not to isolate yourself as a result. Because depression can take a lot of energy, remember that your brain and body need time to recover. And remember that focusing on self-care is not selfish. Depression is an illness just like the flu and other diseases and should be treated with the same care.

On bad days, make a warm drink that you enjoy, read your favorite book or watch a show or movie you love. Spend some time by yourself to recharge, and then contact a friend or family member to let them know what you’ve been feeling. Make a plan to spend time with them, even if it’s only for an hour or two, preferably away from your house. Getting outside and into a new environment is an excellent way of resetting your brain. While I wish I could tell you otherwise, depression doesn’t just go away. You will likely go through phases of good and bad, and it’s important to learn the symptoms that are specific to you. If you have suicidal thoughts, don’t hesitate to ask for help. The suicide hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. Hang in there, and remember that there are people who care.


Have questions for Tell It Like A Lesbian? Let me answer them! Submit your questions below (you don’t have to use your real name unless you want to), and see your question answered on our website!


Originally posted 2017-10-26 14:10:06.

Also published on Medium.

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In December, This Round-The-World Cruise Visits 35 Countries



Imagine being able to visit 66 ports in 35 countries over 141 days.  Such a trip has never been offered in the past, but now Viking Cruises, based in Los Angeles, is planning one.  

The Viking Sun will set sail on 15 December 2017. Furthermore, Cruise Critic has named Viking Cruises as one of the top 10 cruise lines for gay and lesbian travelers because it frequently partners with LGBT travel agencies and past travelers have reported good experiences.  In fact, the 2017 CRUIZIE Awards for LGBT Cruise Travel awarded Viking River Cruises the ‘Best River Cruise Line for LGBTQ Passengers.’  

So what is this journey going to look like?  Let’s have a look:  

Day 1: Depart From Miami


On 15 December 2017, the Viking Sun will leave Miami, the international city in Florida.  If you are embarking on this trip and are here in Miami, appreciate the barrier islands and Miami beach.  Here, find colorful buildings, surfside hotels and white sand.  If this sounds good, then spend a few days here, before making your way to the Viking Sun. 

Days 2 to 20: The Caribbean, Central America and Los Angeles

The Caribbean

On day 2, cruise the Caribbean Sea,  which covers an area of approximately 1,063,000 square miles. The deepest area in this sea is the Cayman Trench between Cuba and Jamaica.  Between day 3 and day 5, explore the city of Cienfuegos in Cuba, where a walking tour is offered.  This traveler explored gorgeous flamingoes, boat houses and more attractions.  

Between days 6 to 17, visit other countries lying in the Caribbean and South and Central America: Jamaica, Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. Then briefly visit  Mexico and Los Angeles, before cruising the Pacific Ocean.   

Days 30 to 43: French Polynesia, Cook Islands, Tonga and Fiji

Nuka Hiva, the largest of the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia

French Polynesia, an overseas French possession, consists of more than 100 stunning islands, stretching across more than 2,000 kilometers. Start cruising the South Pacific and visit Taiohae, the main town of Nuka Hiva (pictured above) in French Polynesia.  You will also visit Tahiti and Bora Bora, known for its scuba diving.  

The 15 gorgeous islands that make up the Cook Islands could provide a hint of paradise.  Warm tropical waters, crystal clear waters and aquatic life are just a few of the treasures that can be found here. Then in Tonga, discover white beaches, coral reefs and tropical rainforest.  Continue this tropical holiday in Fiji, which also has beaches and coral reefs.  

Days 44 to 113: New Zealand, Australia and Asia

New Zealand

In New Zealand, go on an extensive tour that includes the Bay of Islands, an enclave of more than 140 islands with beaches and water activities. Find an abundance of wildlife, including penguins, dolphins, marlin, whales, and gannets.  There’s even a camping ground here.

Go on to cruise the Tasman Sea, and discover several attractions in Australia. The Great Barrier Reef, located in northeastern Australia, consists of golden beaches, thousands of reefs, and hundreds of Islands with dolphins, sharks, and colorful fish.     

Then cruise the Timor Sea and start exploring the culture and beauty of Asia. See Indonesia, and then go on to visit Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, China, Hong Kong , Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore and India.  During this journey explore Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, which has beautiful islands topped with rainforests.  

Days 114 to 131: The Middle East, North Africa and the Central Mediterranean

Malta in the Central Mediterranean

Cruise across the Arabian Sea, and tour several countries in the Middle East and North Africa: Oman, Jordan, Egypt, and Tunisia. There is also a stop at Malta, located in the Central Mediterranean.  See wildflowers, plants, prehistoric sites, and walk to discover Malta’s natural beauty.  

Days 132 to 141: Europe

Murcia (Cartagena), Spain

See Portugal, England, and explore the beaches and hiking trails of Sardinia, the Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea. In Spain, Murcia is a university city with beaches, water sports, wine, and historical sites.    

Want to explore these countries, and Interested in this cruise? Call Viking at 888-850-6260 or find out more here.

Originally posted 2017-10-26 14:08:07.

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Same-Sex Marriage in the US: A Decade of Change



On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court announced the decision to make same-sex marriage a right in all 50 states. People all over the country celebrated, pride flags were flown, and for the first time, the White House was lit with rainbow lights. The decision was a landmark victory for the gay-rights movement, but behind it all was decades of litigation, activism, and advocacy.

In 1996, a law called the Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. It defined marriage as “the union of one man and one woman” in the United States constitution. Individual states were able to recognize same-sex unions, but on a federal level, the words wife, husband, and spouse, were reserved specifically for heterosexual couples. Same-sex couples were also denied social security survivor’s benefits and were unable to jointly file taxes. For almost a decade, the DOMA remained.

After 40 years of being together, Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer traveled to Toronto to get legally married in 2007. A year later, their union was officially recognized by their home state of New York . In 2009, Spyer passed away at the age of 77. She left her entire estate to her wife, Windsor. Because of DOMA, the federal government did not recognize their union as a marriage and Windsor was required to pay over $300,000 in taxes on her inheritance. Windsor decided to challenge this because she was legally married and should have therefore qualified for an unlimited tax deduction on the inherited estate. After approaching several gay-rights advocacy groups, she was repeatedly denied and was unable to find representation.

Finally, Roberta Kaplan of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP agreed to take on the case. In 2010, her case was filed and made its way through the circuits and in 2013 it had reached the United States Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled in favor of Windsor and announced that DOMA had been unconstitutional. By the same margin, the Supreme Court would legalize same-sex marriage three years later.

In September of 2017, Windsor passed away at the age of 88. She left behind a legacy of activism and change, and hope. At her funeral, Hillary Rodham read a eulogy. “Because of her, people came out, marched in their first pride parade, married the love of their life. Thank you, Edie,” reported the New York Daily News.“Thank you for being a beacon of hope, for proving that love is more powerful than hate.”

Edith Windsor has helped to change the lives of thousands of LGBTQ couples and her legacy will continue to live on. Do you have a story of how legalizing same-sex marriage changed your life? Tell us in the comments!

Originally posted 2017-10-25 13:58:13.

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