Thursday, November 11, 2010


The sun is still fairly high in the sky, misty humid sky, here at the airport in Hong Kong. I've come in on a direct flight (completely full too) from Toronto, thank-you Air Canada, (over the pole and into Asia just like that, with no US stop, so great) and am waiting the three hours until my Thai Airways flight to Bangkok starts boarding.

I still find these transitions wonderful and exciting, from Toronto, all polyglot, but with announcements at the airport in English and French mostly, to the plane where announcements were in the two official languages plus Cantonese, to Hong Kong, where Cantonese is no longer a public address language, just English and a pure clear Beijing-style Mandarin. I've shed a continent, and also my socks and cardigan and wool shawl, as I slowly move into the subtropics.

I've heard from a travel agent in Burma that I will have to go to the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok to get a visa; the prearranged visas on arrival have been cancelled for now. So I am in my usual state of having a general idea of what I'd like to do and where I want to go, but with no plans. One possibility is to try to go to Kengtung, an old Tai capital (like Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Jing Hong, etc) that is due north of the so=called Golden Triangle and the Thai border town of Mae Sai. It's been possible, the last few years, to go in there, to that part of the Shan States, by getting a permit at the border, usually for one week. You can't fly or travel by land to the rest of Burma from there... I'll see how things unfold.

Enough, for now, to do this amazing thing of travelling around the world and yet staying connected: Extraordinary to be able to write this blog at a small laptop in an international airport; I've changed the time on my computer to the Hong Kong time zone; And also, as I slowly move closer to being a cosmopolitan modern traveller: I just switched my Fido SIM card out of my phone and replaced it with my Thai one. If I were truly international, of course, I'd have a HongKong SIM card, and others too (one for each country in SE Asia for example...

I'm looking forward to seeing a Thai friend, Kook, in Bangkok, overnight tonight, and then to getting to Chiang Mai, and re-entering that world of friends and food and markets and southeast Asian news and wrapping it around me.

I have a few things to report though, meantime: A friend is blogging about her cancer diagnosis and treatment, with all is lows and hardships, and also insights, here. I think it's remarkable for its clarity and lack of sentimentality. And having just been to a Wellspring event in London Ontario, I appreciate even more the need for cancer patient support that is non-medical, personal and as clear-eyed and undemanding as possible. Do have a look at the work that Wellspring (all volunteer money and a lot of volunteer labour) does with and for cancer patients and their families, here.

My next post here will probably be from Chiang Mai, with some food rather than these travelling thoughts, I expect. Meantime, back in Toronto, the guys are managing the house and all that it entails. I did get the place vacuumed and my wool sweaters washed and stored in plastic bags in the chest freezer (my latest tactic for moth prevention) and a certain amount of order established in the office. Now I can let it all go for awhile, for when that airplane takes off, even if I'm connected with the internet and phone, I do feel free of a lot of those entangling details. Now to enjoy that freedom!

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