Behind the Scenes at the Miss Universe Pageant

Several weeks ago, Miss Universe pageant officials, naively or not, asked me if I wanted to come down for a few days for a Miss Congeniality-esque experience while the 88 women who had qualified from their respective countries got ready for the big night.

Of course I did.

Now, I am not exactly a pageant-type girl. I am small, I am prone to muffin top, and I shun high heels. But, in the search for new experiences, why not?

So I packed a bag and flew down with the A Broad Abroad crew to Doral, Florida, and primed myself for the Miss Universe Experience.

WATCH: Fluffed, Shellacked + Constricted: The Ultimate Miss Universe Experience

Day 1 was all about the look.

I showed up at the ballroom of the Trump Doral ready to represent the Galaxy of Ohio, quadrant Cincinnati, with a red T-shirt that read, “Nobody Puts Cincy in the Corner.” The ballroom had been turned into a glam room, complete with rows of hair and makeup stands, racks of bedazzled dresses that would have made RuPaul’s eyes bleed with envy, and more Chinese Laundry shoes than a Payless in Topeka.

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There’s An Amusement Park in Mexico Where You Can Illegally Cross The Border. #NotKidding…

Have you ever wanted to get shot at by police, beaten up by narcs, and chased through a swamp of raw sewage? Well then, we have the tourist attraction for you! No, really.

Two years ago, when I first heard about the “border-crossing experience” in Hidalgo, Mexico, I did a double take.

“A what?” I asked.

“A border-crossing experience,” my friend said. “You pretend to cross into the United States illegally.”

“People do this? Willingly?”


WATCH: Dodging Bullets In Illegal Mexican Border Crossing Amusement Park Experience

Freddie Agustin explains why anyone would want to do a mock illegal border crossing. (Photo: Andrew Rothschild)

Obviously, I had to go check it out.

Related: Watch: Mexican Wrestling Is the Most Fun You Will Ever Have in Tights

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Mexican Wrestling: The Most Fun You Can Have in Tights… and a Mask

Lucha libre, Mexican wrestling, has long been a fascination of mine. Those masks! That hair! The overacting! The flamboyant dancers! It’s like the WWE on steroids. In fact, American wrestling was spawned by lucha libre, and, as a kid in Cincinnati, Ohio, I grew up obsessed with Hulk Hogan (pre-reality show), Ric Flair, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, and Jake “the Snake” Roberts. So when lucha libre superstarDragón Rojo Jr. offered to meet me in the ring, I jumped at the chance.

WATCH: Mexican Wrestling Is the Most Fun You’ll Ever Have in Tights

Paula Froelich and Dragón Rojo Jr. (Andrew Rothschild/Yahoo Travel)

I arrived at the Arena Mexico in Mexico City on a Tuesday night before the big weekly luchadores matches (think a south-of-the-border version of a weekly smackdown) and … got put in a headlock, spun around, and body-slammed. Not kidding. Watch the video. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier in my entire life.

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How To Piss Off the Locals in Mexico

The No. 1 rule of travel is pretty simple: Don’t piss off the locals. Most people know this — or at least they think they do, and they usually give it the old college try when it comes to not stepping on the toes of the people around them in another city or country.

Related: How to P*** Off a New Yorker in 12 Easy Steps

But what if you don’t know? What if you have no idea what irks the heck out of the locals? No worries; Yahoo Travel is here to help. With our How to P*ss Off series, we help you navigate those crazy cultural differences that can get you in so much trouble. So instead of getting bad karma and dirty looks, you can make friends and have a great time. This week’s episode is all about Mexico — everything you need to know to not rock the boat when visiting. We love our neighbors to the south, but do not piss them off. It ain’t pretty.

Related: 12 Ways to P*** Off a Nebraskan

Thanks to The Muddy Boot.

The Burmese Boat Festival That Puts The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to Shame

Once a year at the end of October on Inle Lake in Myanmar, there is a festival of epic proportions. The lake’s canals and surrounding waterways are jammed with long boats rowed by over 100 men, all wearing fishing pants and dress shirts. But the most amazing thing to witness is that they row with their legs. Not kidding.

Related: 12-Inch Necks: How Women Torture Themselves for Beauty in the Far East

WATCH: The Burmese Boat Festival That Puts Mardi Gras to Shame

An over-the-top festival on Inle Lake. (Photo: Andrew Rothschild)

Four out of five golden Buddha statues from the Phaung-Daw-Oo Pagoda are carried on a royal barge and taken around to 15 villages on the lake. Hundreds of boats follow the two-week-long procession. As they squeeze through narrow canals with the music pumping and the rower’s legs churning, it turns into one heck of a party.

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Bagan: The Secret City of Temples

On the banks of the Irrawaddy River, several hundred miles north of Yangon in Myanmar, lies Bagan — a once secret and all-but-abandoned city, dedicated to Buddha. Covering an area of 40 miles are endless temples and stupas in varying degrees of disarray and decay.

Bagan is an ancient city that is perhaps the embodiment of one of the biggest lessons in history — all things must come to an end.

Related: How Women Torture Themselves for Beauty in the Far East

The Ancient, Secret City of Bagan: The Most Zen Place in the World

You may not have heard about Bagan, but you’ll want to put it on your bucket list. (Andrew Rothschild)

While some locals claim that the city was officially founded in the 2nd century A.D., it didn’t come to prominence until the 7th century. From 1044 to 1287, it became a seat of power, and more than 10,000 religious buildings were erected – many by wealthier citizens hoping to get in good with the Buddha. The theory was that if you built a big stupa or temple, you wouldn’t be reincarnated again; you would go straight to nirvana.

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Saving 200 Girls From Sex Slavery is More Important Than Your Frappawhatever – Read This + Donate Now

Buddhist nuns are everywhere among the streets of Myanmar — of all different ages, some as young as 5. Dressed in pink loose-fitting shirts and pants with orange scarves, they have shaved heads and rely on alms to pay for their schooling, food, housing, and other basic needs.

This Burmese Nunnery Saved 200 Girls From Sex Slavery

The nunnery is a safe place in a country where poor girls have very little hope for a safe future. (Andrew Rothschild for Yahoo) 

Monks don’t have the same economic handicaps. The large temples pay for their needs, but that’s not surprising. In Myanmar, being a woman is hard, more so if you are poor and live in the north of the country, where tribes are still battling the government.

Related: 12-Inch Necks: How Women Torture Themselves for Beauty in the Far East

Girls in these areas are in a precarious position, constantly in danger of being trafficked across foreign borders. According to the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking:

“Myanmar is a source country for women, children, and men trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Myanmar people are trafficked to Thailand, China, Malaysia, South Korea, and Macau for sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and forced labour.”

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