Neil’s Wheeling 4 & 5

Neil’s Wheeling 4 Jan 27, 2014

Friends;

For those of you who are not keeping up with current events, here is a summary.

Myanmar

Myanmar’s government is continuing to push back against calls for an investigation of the reported massacre of more than 40 Muslims in early January, saying that militants had infiltrated the restive region close to the Bangladesh border.

The UN’s leading civil rights official said that there was “credible information” that state security forces and Buddhist residents has killed more than 40 Muslims.

The government will not allow independent observers and journalists into the border areas where the killings happened.

Thailand.

A state of emergency was declared on Tuesday last for Bangkok and surrounding areas to cope with protests about the coming election. On Saturday, the US State Department issued a warning for travelers regarding the upcoming Feb 2 elections.

“The situation is unpredictable, and ongoing demonstration activity, primarily in the greater Bangkok area and occasionally elsewhere in Thailand, is expected to continue. … Some protest sites are near tourist attractions and popular shopping malls. US citizens are advised to avoid all protests.”

Explosions at recent demonstrations have killed at least one person and injured more than three dozen. The alert is expected to expire on Feb. 14.

Steve asks: Will your Valentine expire on Feb 14?

For voyage reference:

Neil & Tim leave Myanmar for Bangkok on Feb 11 and immediately hop a plane to rural Thailand for three days. On the 14th, they slide into Laos. On Feb 27 back to Bangkok, Thailand and leave Asia on Mar 2.

I’m not worried. If Neil saw a demonstration, I’m sure that he would run away and not try to take pictures or see what was happening.

-Steve

——

Neil’s Wheeling 5 Jan 28, 2014

Tim says:

Well, here I am sitting at a real keyboard in Bagan, but it is all pretty confusing to get in. It looks good for now though. I cannot access my mailing list though, so I’m checking in with you and will try to update other family members later, will have to type each address.

Everything is good, Neil and I both hit a rough spot just before the 18 hour train ride. He with some debilitating diarrhea and me with a bad cold.

On top of that, last night in this hotel, I slept very poorly from the bruised ribs I now have from trying to sleep on that incredibly rough (and yes, dangerous) train. Neil is faring better than I in this case, as he had a lower, more hospitable “bunk.”

Today we are embarking on a horse cart “tour” through this ancient place, probably getting our fill of some of the thousands of temples in this valley.

Tomorrow Neil is going to do a sunrise balloon ride over the most intense concentration of temples. This place is very different than the huge city of Yangon we just left. Very rural. A real international tourist destination point, and an amazing cross between India and Africa and Vietnam/Cambodia (I guess, what do I know?).

This hotel is very nice compared to the backpackers’ Inn in Yangon. But nowhere near the intense personal connections we made in that urban setting. So far here though, we’ve mostly slept and rested from the train ride and our infirmaries, and it’s now been almost 24 hours since we arrived. Surrounded by tourists, not one of them is American. Mostly European and Chinese/Japanese, and they have no desire to try to interact with anybody else.

This trip continues to be quite amazing, though I have to admit the bad head cold and becoming somewhat acclimated to the cultures has encouraged me to not walk around with my jaw dropped down like the bumpkin I looked like the first 4 or 5 days.

I am enjoying the food also, doing local family spots as much as we can, though breakfast is included in the hotels so far and they are influenced by western tastes. The Burmese deep fry much of their foods, and of course that makes me happy! Especially since my stomach is holding up well so far. I was thinking I might shed a few pounds on the 6 week tour, not likely I can see now.

So Julie {Rachel’s aunt}, Neil is holding up pretty well actually. He took a bunch of Imodium AND some Rx stuff for lower GI distress, and that did a great job of stopping everything up for the train trip. He feels much better by today, though he has, frustratingly for him, not been able to find his postcard list, and has now gone through all of his luggage 3 times trying to find it. He wanted me to let you know – I suppose so folks that are expecting him to write won’t be so disappointed.

We are here for today and tomorrow, then on to Mandalay via all day boat ride (our Thursday). He keeps telling me, very sweetly, the partnership is working well, so I believe him, but it’s clearly not a way he’s used to traveling. It’s all perfect, though. Best to you guys!

Tim

Steve adds:

1. Well, I had better get a postcard or Neil is off my Christmas list!

2. I’m a little worried about a hot air balloon ride while suffering with diarrhea. It has the potential to be an international incident for the people on the ground beneath the balloon.

3. Tim: do you see a connection between eating at “local family spots” and the diarrhea?

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2 Responses to Neil’s Wheeling 4 & 5

  1. Ms. Moon says:

    What brave souls! I swear to goodness!

    • rachelvb says:

      agreed! I’m sitting here eating baked cheetos and listening to Spotify while he’s traipsing around the world. I have a lot of traveling to do to keep up with him!

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