Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

This is what $1,700 in small bills looks like.

In two days I leave for Myanmar (wiki) where there are no ATMs, no credit cards and traveler's checks are worth the paper they're printed on. Their currency, the kyat, has an inflation rate so high that it's better used to wipe your butthole -- and I will, because toilet paper is rare.

All the money we need for the trip is in US greenbacks which is accepted -- sometimes demanded -- throughout the country. Myanmar's per capita income per year (CIA factbook) is $1,800 -- only $100 more than I'm bringing for my two weeek trip! I suppose that's comparable to walking around southeast DC carrying $42,000 cash.

Sadly, the military dictatorship that runs Myanmar with an iron bludgeon regularly rapes, tortures and murders certain ethnic minorities (News link) -- keeping the population in a state of fear since 1962 -- so deciding whether to go was a moral dilemma.

The internet was only introduced in 2001 but the junta has blocked websites worth visiting, including, gmail, hotmail, yahoo and a host of others. Jim graciously set up a proxy server for me so I'll keep up the blog posts and will have access to email while there.

Fewer than half of Myanmar's airports are paved and the airlines haven't updated their safety protocols since the 1950s. I read a quote by a Yangon travel agent saying that, "Air routes change in the air"; dates and departure times aren't written on tickets so the airline doesn't have to honor the days and hours for which reservations were made. But there's no way I'm taking the 16 hour bus rides over the worst dirt roads east of India, so we're flying, my friends.

But all this is worth not being stuck in this winter hell hole. Here's what I'll be looking at in 98 degree sunshine:

(Bagan, Myanmar) More photos here.

I'll be back in DC on March 24th.
You'll be back just in time to catch spring here in DC

Have fun and have a safe trip
Fare thee well. I find it pretty cool that you are traveling around the planet to sell them part of the other side.

see you on the flip side.
Safe travels my friend.

If you see any well-proportioned fat men, take a pic.
Good luck. Let's hope you don't end up on the wrong end of the iron bludgeon.
Why there?!?
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