I have looked tirelessly on the internet at past journeys to Burma. There are interesting stories of travellers that have made it through, but most of them are from a year ago. I realise that I am one of the first to enter Burma as it is redefining itself in the 21st century. many stories feature difficulties and challenges that come up from the junta government. It will be very interesting to see if this has actually changed at all. There is so much talk of change and democracy in the news but to see it on the ground and in the villages of this nation wil be entirely different for sure. I am always positive when travelling and will remain so for this particular trip.
On Monday I will fly to Bali for a few weeks and then head back to Bangkok to sort out my Burmese visa. Preliminary hotel bookings have been made. I plan to spend 2 nights in Rangoon and then 4 nights in Bagan, where the city of temples can be found. I am not sure I should take my laptop as I do not want to look like a journalist and have it confiscated.
One primary advise all travellers mention regarding their journeys to Burma is the need for crisp US dollar bills that are flawless with no creases or fold marks. Apparently the currency of choice at all hotels and restaurants is the US dollar. I was in a dilemma as I had no idea where I would find US dollar notes here in Phuket Thailand.
I mentioned this to the owner of the apartment I am renting and he told me that he had just the place to take care of it. Claudio picked me up today in his SUV and drove me to Phuket town where an unassuming currency exchange outlet was located. Claudio tod me that they had everything in that particular place and great rates. I walked in with 25000 Baht and walked out with 800 US dollars in perfect new notes. I even manged to get 100 one dollar bills that were as new as if they were just created at the US mint!
Now that is a very good sign of things to come. So Hotels are booked and I have more than enough US currency to last quite a while. The hotels average $40 US a night for a decent 4 star property. Food will be very cheap as well.
Interesting what can happen when you simply ask a question and find someone more than happy to help. Claudio and I had lunch together afterwards and made plans for an excursion on his boat this Sunday with just myself and his wife. Quite a nice farewell from Phuket.