Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Off to Myanmar expect Radio Silence

Well, I am off to Myanmar in just a few hours. I doubt there will be much internet access there, especially to blog sites, so I do not expect to be able to post any entries until I return to Thailand around February 12.

I have been in Bangkok for a couple of weeks but have not posted much about my time here! That will change after I return ;-) I did meet several times with Andy of hobotraveler.com and his personality is truly larger than life, more on that later ;-)

Today, I met my travel partner, Elena, for the first time. Previously, we had only communicated over the internet starting way back in August -- Elena had been interested in finding a travel partner to Myanmar instead of traveling alone and the timing of our visit matched perfectly.

There have been a lot of protests in Myanmar recently and so internet access is severely limited there. I had heard that they are rejecting one in five visa applicants (if they even suspect your visit is press-related you are rejected) so I was relieved that I got a proper tourist visa without any problems. So if I do not break radio silence for awhile please do not be concerned.

Myanmar is a country where time has stood still. There are virtually no ATMs there or locations where credit cards are accepted. One needs to enter the country with a pile of US dollars and that is how much you will be able to spend because there is really no easy way to access outside funds there. Even the local currency cannot be used in many places and can only be exchanged for a fair rate at local markets with US dollars. But this is part of what makes Myanmar so interesting -- it is a chance to see a place in the world as it was fifty years ago. And the temples built on the plains near Bagan almost a millenium ago rival Cambodia's Angkor Wat as the greatest ruins of southeast Asia.

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