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> Burma...Hows it feeling?
doubledodgy
post Sep 25 2007, 04:56 PM
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Hey Hey Travellers...We were about to sort out visas having booked the flights ages ago and well clearly all is not well.....Think we are going to cancell but wanted to know how effective the Curfew is and if it's affecting travel etc.?

Cheers
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rbisset
post Sep 25 2007, 05:02 PM
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Honestly I think it's the last place I'd want to be at the moment. God knows what the Government is capable of after what happened nearly 20 years ago and it's only going to escalate in the next few days.

Haven't been there yet myself but from the sound of things it doesn't sound good. Must be someone there at the moment that can give a better local input.


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doubledodgy
post Sep 25 2007, 05:39 PM
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QUOTE(rbisset @ Sep 25 2007, 05:02 PM) *

Honestly I think it's the last place I'd want to be at the moment. God knows what the Government is capable of after what happened nearly 20 years ago and it's only going to escalate in the next few days.

Haven't been there yet myself but from the sound of things it doesn't sound good. Must be someone there at the moment that can give a better local input.


Yeah, let's hope someone is able just to write in and let us know what it is really like travelling around at the mo. We've been planning this trip since December and we are so looking forward to going. Everything is on such a knife edge though - do we go, don't we go - eeeekkkk, just have to wait and see what the next few days bring.
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Paul
post Sep 25 2007, 07:01 PM
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I have to admit that I am feeling different at the moment - it is the place I most want to be.

Maybe, just maybe we are seeing a historical moment in Burma. It'd be great to be there to witness. But yes, perhaps also a little dangerous.

Although I suspect last time the Burmese junta killed 3000 protesters (10 years ago) almost none of them were tourists. So maybe not so dangerous for you?????

I'd really like to hear more from people that are there now also.

I assume that if you are out of Yangon and in some other areas - things are quiet and probably the same as they always are.

And in Yangon, the latest report was that only 100 monks protested yesterday due to threats and warnings that the government put out.

To go?????? Good question. Very personal choice - but Burma is always like that - even in times of "normalcy".
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Paul
post Sep 25 2007, 07:02 PM
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Actually perhaps it was 20 years ago
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Paul
post Sep 25 2007, 08:16 PM
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Hmmm, seems like the monks protests are continuing and still large.

Thai military have announced they are ready to evacuate Thai citizens from Burma in the case of violence erupting.

Should you go??? I still would at the moment. Tough choice though.
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thellie
post Sep 25 2007, 10:19 PM
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paul, when did you say you were back in the country? if i decide to go, i'll be in bangkok by the weekend to sort out a visa...
fancy swinging by burma before going to fang?
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Paul
post Sep 25 2007, 10:57 PM
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Yeah - I'd like to. That has been in my mind. Maybe???

Currently the FreeSchools training date is in question. Ben wanted to change it to 10, 11, 12. Moo has said she is busy then and wants to keep it at 8, 9, 10. So currently not sure what is going on.

I arrive back in Thailand on 6 Oct (I think) and fly to Chiang Rai on 7th.

???? What is the go with Burmese visas? If we pay some company can we just get them on arrival?
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thellie
post Sep 26 2007, 12:00 AM
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just found this site, which seems to be similar to all the others (which is what leads me to thinking they are govt controlled, or at least watched over):
http://www.myanmarvoyages.com/visa_info.htm

so, $50 and at least 2 days notice (add more for receipt of approval letter). it's a little ambiguous, but i think we have to fly in. it'll save hanging around in bangkok for five days or so, and it can all be processed while you/we are in fang. hopefully.


we can get a thursday flight to mandalay, or a sunday to yangon from chiang mai.
there is also a promo on the site for friday-to-friday flights for $80 (each way i guess).
surcharges would appear to be about another $66 each way if i read it correctly. that's about 5,000 baht

http://www.airmandalay.com

but if we have to go to bangkok to organise visas, then...

...bangkok air will do a return 14-21 oct for just under 8,000 each, which is way more expensive.

air asia have a nominal fee of 1 baht for a flight on sunday 14 oct (plus 1,500baht surcharges), making a roundtrip total of a tad over 5,000 each. again, 14-21 oct.
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Paul
post Sep 26 2007, 07:26 AM
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Sounds like there has been shooting, tear gas and beatings. Monks killed and jailed. In the provinces some vague reports of violence.

But the protesters are standing up to it so far and continuing.

Definitely the situation is now far less stable and more dangerous.

For most of you - maybe it is best to avoid Burma for a little bit.

But would more foreigners eyes being there help keep the Burmese junta more humane???? I don't know. Maybe.
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Paul
post Sep 26 2007, 07:45 AM
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For your interest, 2 letters:

September 25, 2007

Letter to the Reverend Sangha in Thailand
from the director of the
Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong

Dear Reverends

Appeal to the Reverend Sangha in Thailand on behalf of the Reverend Sangha in Burma (Myanmar)

As you know, in the last week the Reverend Sangha in Burma (Myanmar) has declared an Excommunicative Boycott (Patta-Nikkujjana) against the military government there.

The Boycott is established under the Vinaya Pitika (IV, Silavar Commentary 5). According to the Vinaya, the Sangha may declare the Boycott in eight circumstances. One of them is if efforts are made to endanger the lives of monks. The Sangha has used the Boycott at times throughout history.

On 5 September 2007, the lives of monks in Burma were endangered when soldiers and government gangs at Pakokku attacked a group of them, tied some to a post and hit them with rifle butts.

The Reverend Sangha was restrained. It requested that the government apologise for the action within two weeks. But the government did not apologise.

Therefore, from September 18 to 21, the Sangha around the country declared the Boycott. It also began to march peacefully and with firm discipline on the streets of cities and towns around the country.

People quickly came to join the monks on the streets. But in the first days the monks told them not to follow, and to allow the Sangha to walk alone. The reason was that the last time that it declared a Boycott in 1990, the authorities reacted with violence and many monks and other persons were killed and jailed. The reverends were worried for the safety of their people.

However, in recent days it has been impossible for the ordinary people to stay away. On September 24, around 100,000 people joined over 10,000 monks and nuns on the streets in Rangoon (Yangon). They have joined hands and walked alongside to protect the Sangha. Smaller protests are continuing everywhere. As the monks have walked, they have chanted the Metta Sutta.

Burma is now again at a crossroads.

I am thus appealing to you on behalf of its Reverend Sangha, and its people. As the Sangha in the neighbouring country where the Buddhist faith is also upheld throughout the land, please join with your brother Reverends, nuns and laity in Burma. Please do the following things:

1. Issue statements to support the Sangha in Burma. I am attaching the statement from His Holiness the Dalai Lama of September 23 as an example.

2. Organise gatherings to support and pray for the Sangha and laity in Burma. Many are already being held around the world. As the neighbouring country and proud inheritor of the Buddhist tradition, please join with them.

3. Discuss within your monasteries and communities also to declare a Boycott on the military regime in Burma and all persons associated with it. Although you may not receive alms or donations from it and its supporters, still this is an important symbolic action that you can take at this time. It will send a message to the military government in Burma that its actions were a wrong not only against the Sangha in Burma, but against the Triple Gem of Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha everywhere.

I hope you will consider this request very seriously and soon do all that you can to support the Reverend Sangha in Burma. Even if one Reverend in Thailand will join in walking along this noble path it will be a blessing not only for the people of Burma but also for the people of Thailand, and indeed of the whole world.

"May all beings be happy"




Basil Fernando
Executive Director
Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong
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Paul
post Sep 26 2007, 07:56 AM
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And from the Tibetan God King:

I can't show you as it is in PDF and I can't copy and paste.

He basically gives his support to the Burmese monks and asks members of the military who are Buddhist to refrain from violence.
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thellie
post Sep 26 2007, 08:48 AM
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yeah, i've been reading the bbc site. but even they can't relate exactly what's happening. it looks like its difficult for people to get news out. i'm really tempted to go...

if i try to get a visa, and fail, at most i'll only be a few dollars out of pocket
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thellie
post Sep 26 2007, 09:18 AM
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bollocks to it - a visa on arrival is going to take a couple of weeks at least to sort out.
if my card is still working ok tomorrow, i'm going to book a flight to bangkok asap, try to get a FIT visa and fly over there. what the f*ck... i need to see this if i can.
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wakingdream
post Sep 26 2007, 05:26 PM
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QUOTE
i'm really tempted to go..


I would be too and I probably would if I were around there. I'd think you'd be alright if you don't participate in rallies and keep a safe distance from demonstrations. Dude, I'm totally rooting for you if you do go. This is major.

We're going to see the Dalai Lama in the next few weeks in Toronto. Last time we heard him speak he did talk about many political events I'm really interested in hearing his thoughts on this.

May The Force be with you mate. smile.gif


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Paul
post Sep 26 2007, 05:38 PM
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Good luck. Take care.

I will try to figure out how / if I can join you. Keep in touch as to where you are and what is going on if you can.
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Paul
post Sep 26 2007, 05:41 PM
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From Bangkok Post today:

"Burma army starts killing

Rangoon - Police and soldiers at barricades beat monks and laymen back from the east gate of the Shwedagon Pagoda with batons and tear gas twice Wednesday afternoon, leaving at least five people dead, including monks, a former high-level government official said.

At least 30 monks and 50 civilians were beaten and then taken away in military vehicles to an unknown destination.

Police and soldiers manned barricades erected on the road to the east gate of the Shwedagon Pagoda, preventing marching monks from using the shrine as a launch pad for their ninth day of peaceful protests.

About 10,000 monks weaved their way through Rangoon's streets Wednesday afternoon, heading for the Sule Pagoda, where they were pushed back by more troops armed with shields and batons, witnesses said.

Soldiers stationed at City Hall, across from the Sule Pagoda, reportedly fired on the crowd at one point, claiming an unknown number of casualties.

A newly arrived tourist said shots rang out for about 30 seconds as a crowd of thousands of people, mostly laymen, moved toward a barricade about 100 metres from the roundabout where the pagoda stands.

Protestors ran in panic down side streets. Some fell and were trampled by those following them. Fear showed in their faces.

"I'm going home," one monk said.

The tourist said a 26-year-old student warned her: "You shouldn't go any farther. They are animals," referring to the soldiers. .........


The marching monks appeared determined to take to the streets again Wednesday despite signs that a confrontation is looming. As on past days, they were to first meet about noon at the Shwedagon Pagoda and then march on Sule Pagoda.

"We are even ready to die," one Rangoon temple abbot told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa."
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peacefrog
post Sep 26 2007, 06:12 PM
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Been following all that... Another source of info: bangkok based The Irrawadi

If you do go, my one piece of advice is about locals safety:
You are pretty safe, unless you stand in crowd shot at...
But if you are caught, or noticed protesting, filming, or otherwise interferring with government business, the locals around you could be in much more trouble than they´d like.

Of course it is their choice, and courage, to talk to you and take you around... but keep in mind that if you can avoid talking to anybody in public, it would be better for them.

On top of that, you can expect govt agents to approach you. NEVER ever give out your sources, nor link peoples, nor giveout a name, even to someone you trust.

That may sound paranoiac, but that is actually what I have been explained when I was there a year ago, about the 1988 uprise and bloodbath, and about the continuous repression, even in more peaceful times...

Other than that... I´d like to go too, although I´m not sure that it would be such a bright idea, as I do look very much burmese.

I support going in, beeing there, watching and listening, just don´t tell your mom and watch your ass

Suerte


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peacefrog
post Sep 26 2007, 06:24 PM
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By the way, I wrote a couple of entries, trying to help explain how the Burmese behave and react. Just thought it would be additional input, as the newspaper don´t really take the time to explain the mentality of the country.

Not pretending to be objective or exact, but here it is:

Myanmar - To go or not to go

Burmese Ways

Other members entries are really worth reading, as people who´ve been there are able to explain littel things that, put together, help to understand the situation.


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Paul
post Sep 26 2007, 06:28 PM
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That's excellent and very good advice.

Has anyone heard whether the Burmese government is still allowing tourists to fly into Rangoon? Last I heard was that flight were all still running - so must still be possible??
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