Since I was a child I’ve wanted to go to Mandalay – its sounded so romantic, so remote, so exotic. In 1990 I got close – Bangkok in fact, but couldn’t get a visa because of the elections (the one that Aung San Suu Kyi won and which led to her house arrest for more than a decade). At that time you could only get a visa for 7 days, you had to change some money at the official (poor) exchange rate to something called FEC (Foreign Exchange Certificates) which the tourist then used to buy services. In addition most backpackers brought a bottle of Johnny Walker scotch – which when exchanged on the blackmarket for enough kyat to pay for the rest of your trip.
Now though in 2012 – everything has changed. For a start the airfare is now about 1/3 of what it was in 1990 – and there are many more options (AirAsia.com is the cheapest flying into Rangoon and Mandalay from Bangkok).
We will be traveling Myanmar for 28 days in November 2012 – watch this page for updates when I get back (Myanmar does have Internet but it’s very slow).