The first stage of my trip to Burma began today with a very unexciting flight from Manchester to London. Now’s the time to wonder whether I’ve actually done everything that I needed to for this trip. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before – especially on my own, so now I have lists to check and tablets to take!
Travelling to Burma (yes I know it’s called Myanmar now, but I still prefer Burma – so hope you can all live with that) is not for those who stress about travel!
In terms of preparation, there is a whole load of health stuff to take into consideration. A few jabs (including Japanese encephalitis which I had never heard of before) and I have to start taking my malaria tablets tonight. My lovely GP set me up with all kinds of extra meds too – antihistamines (never taken those in my entire life), antibiotics (only taken when very young), anti sickness, and prescription strength Imodium (and we all know what that’s for – sincerely hoping not to need at all). On top of that, I’ve prepared with dehydration powders, antiseptic wipes and all kinds of other preventative bits and pieces. The thing is, though, I had to have a letter from my doctor confirming that he has given me the prescriptions or I could be thrown in a Burmese jail accused of drug smuggling!
You also need a visa for Burma. Just before I had to send for mine, the Myanmar government decided to offer online visas. I went for that option, and I’m hoping it works, or I’ll soon be on my way home again.
So now I have two nights in London at a hotel – believe it or not I have a meeting with my publicist tomorrow (yes – Sunday!) about the launch of the next book in February. I’m hoping we can agree on the date on which I can start to let everybody know more about it!
Why Burma, you might ask? Well, it appealed to me because it has only been officially open to tourists for about three years, so I’m hoping to see the country more or less as it’s always been. Also, as I mentioned in my last post, my dad was there during the war. He went when he was very young – eighteen, I think, and was there for several years. It’s not a pilgrimage, but it will be interesting to see where he spent so many years of his young life.
When I arrive, I have one night in a hotel, and then onto a boat – the Irrawaddy Explorer – to sail up the river (the Irrawaddy, naturally) for ten days.
More from me on Monday as I set off from Heathrow en route to Bangkok. I change there for Yangon (formerly Rangoon).