Sunday, July 22, 2012

the hotels

Here's where we'll be staying throughout our trip --

Summit Parkview in Yangon

Hotel Amazing in Nyaung Shwe, near Inle Lake

Amara Mountain Resort, in Kalaw

Tharabar Gate, in Bagan

Hotel Panorama, in Yangon

U Chiang Mai, in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Concorde Hotel Resort, Kuala Lumpur

Getting there

What a long strange trip it’s been – and we haven’t even left.

We started with a trip to Tibet, Nepal, and Myanmar, but the political situations in that part of the world forced our hand. We now plan to go to Myanmar and Thailand due to the Chinese persecution of the Tibetan people, the very difficult situation for the Rohingya Muslims in northeastern Myanmar and our corresponding fear of flying to Sittwe, and a surge in tourism in Myanmar due to Aung San Suu Kyi's release and election. (Say her name Ow Son Sue Chee, more or less.)

We'd planned (and gotten tickets) to go to Tibet, Nepal, and Myanmar, but then the Chinese government made changes to the entry requirements for Tibet and we worried that the instability would cause us problems when it was time to go. In  fact, at one point the border was  closed. With regret, we simplified our trip and planned to spend the entire two weeks seeing Myanmar, including five days near the Bangladesh border, in northwest Myanmar. After that plan was in place, there were riots and killings of Rohingya Muslims near the border; those people tried to flee Myanmar and then Bangladesh turned them away, so the situation there was (and is) flammable. The airport in Sittwe was closed, and we decided even if it did reopen it was too dangerous to travel there. To make any reservations in Myanmar, you have to work with local travel agents; we asked the people with whom we'd been speaking whether it was safe to fly to Sittwe and they said no, that we should not go there.

So we investigated other destinations in Myanmar and made some tentative plans to see hill tribes near the Laos and Thai borders, but on reflection dropped those plans in favor of flying to Chiang Mai in Thailand for several days, which seemed like a more interesting and doable alternative. So now, after numerous revisions and changes in reservations, we are left with the following plan:

our itinerary in Burma
our itinerary in Thailand

For our reference, here are our flights:

JFK to Rangoon (aka Rangon, previously Yangoon), via Frankfurt and Bangkok.
To/from Chiang Mai

coming home, a simpler trip -- via Hong Kong, our annual layover spot

Here's our plan visually:

the light blue lines are the beginning/end of the trip; yellow is internal, obviously.

So finally, all the plans are in place. This has been the most complicated trip we've ever taken, at least in part because we could not simply make the plans ourselves; we had to work through intermediaries in Tibet (at first) and then in Myanmar; they aren't yet as tourist-focused as other places we've been, so their communications are slow and unclear. Still......very exciting travels ahead!