Having been detained, and then let go, by the criminal gang that was operating its own border crossing just off the main road, I decided that my remaining time in Myanmar would not be spent doing any more exploring. I shouldered my backpack, clutched my day bag and a Shan-style woven hat I’d bought as a souvenir, and made my way toward the large group of people milling around outside the official border crossing.
To make a long sub-plot short, as well as to drop two cliches in as many paragraphs, suffice to say that border procedures were a huge pain. Involving lots of lines, and the same confused, and then exasperated, border agent over and over again, the whole deal was also uneventful-enough to be unworthy of recounting here (although that hasn’t stopped me before). What matters is that once I finally got through the Myanmar side, I was feeling nothing less than euphoric at being back in China. Finally, back in a more-normal country! I’ve never smiled so brightly at a Chinese immigration officer. Nor at one of any other country’s immigration officers. I felt like I was home. Continue reading
Continued. In case you forgot. (It’s been a while–I did!)
I don’t remember waking up. Just standing out on the street with my bag, saying goodbye to my no-need-to-name-here Burma Driver, and thinking: Hey, my back and joints actually feel pretty good this morning. Last night’s tendon-stomping, human-trafficked masseuse (and I’m not saying that to be funny) must have know what she was doing after all.
My head was another story–the result of yesterday’s dehydration and this morning’s hot sun. But nothing that a cup of Myanmar’s sugar-slushed, condensed-milk-swirled variant of “coffee” couldn’t fix. I sat down at a nearby tent serving breakfast, downed four gulps from a dirty cup in between bites of a fried oil-bread stick (油条), and before I knew it I was out in back, looking for a good place to squat amid the mess of trash, flies and filth. Just another Myanmar morning. Continue reading
This post continues the incredible saga of my trip from Myanmar back into Yunnan.
The last stage of my journey was actually supposed to be the second-to-last. But then I lost my day-pack, and plans went awry.
Not just the day-pack was lost. The contents, in ascending order of importance: cellphone, Kindle, camera, iPod touch (which is my laptop when travelling), highly marked-up copies of 《中国非传统安全研究报告（2012版）》 and Protracted Contest: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Twentieth Century, and lastly a notebook filled with crucial research notes for a thesis due in six weeks. Bad things to lose. Real bad. Continue reading
Editor’s (okay, Bayley’s) note: This post and the next are a quick look back at the final segment of our (okay, Nick’s) winter travels: from Chiang Mai to Mandalay and along the Burma Road back into Yunnan.
Nick here: Well, I’ll start this off by saying there’s certainly not much I can add to all the hype about Myanmar that already exists out there. Western backpacker blogs already wax endlessly poetic about how they beat a path to get off the beaten path to travel there “before everything changes.” All the politicians have now long since exalted the country’s Hope and Change and the fact that they got to hug and kiss, repeatedly, Aung San Suu Kyi. The geo-strategists of the interwebs have probably already written all there is to write (and more) about all the very serious and momentous geopolitical possibilities now on the horizon. And now in the past few months the human rights skeptics have already gotten to chime in with their I-told-you-so’s and not-so-fast’s. What’s left to say? Continue reading