Burmese Days

We are now approaching the end of our three weeks in Burma (also known as Myanmar – there’s some controversy over which name to use). It’s an interesting country to visit, especially at this time when it’s in the process of opening up: Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party have just won a landslide victory and it looks like there could be a smooth transition of power in 2016. That looked impossible until just a few years ago. The general mood of the people we’ve met is one of optimism – although there is great poverty here, not to mention civil war and endemic corruption issues. But most people seem to think that Burma’s fortunes are on the rise. Even two or three years ago it was apparently dangerous to speak your mind about politics and tourists were warned to avoid mentioning any sensitive subjects that might get the local Burmese into trouble. But now people openly express admiration for “The Lady” (in a weird parallel to You-Know-Who in Harry Potter it used to be dangerous to speak of her openly) and dissatisfaction with the military regime.  (more…)

The View from Above

What is it about seeing things, especially cities, from above? Whenever I go to a foreign city, one of the must-do activities is always to climb some big tower or hill to see the view. Is this just so that you can orientate yourself and get a mental picture of where everything is in the city? Or to give you a good impression of how big the city is overall, which is hard to determine when you’ve just arrived and have only seen the area around wherever you’re staying? (more…)

5 things I like to take on trips

1. A kindle

I was introduced to the wonders of the kindle by my friend Rosie when we were backpacking together in Bulgaria, having previously thought they were a waste of space. I’ve always been a keen reader, but university life is so busy that I rarely (read: never) get the chance to pick up a non-course-related book. This means that one if the things that I most look forward to on a trip is the knowledge that I’ll be able to enjoy a few decent books – and a kindle makes it that much easier to have a selection on hand without lugging round a heavy pile of tomes. (more…)