Tag

asia

Rangoon 2: Attacked in the Night

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As I wrote in the prior blog, I still don’t know how I found the “guesthouse” where we spent that first night in Rangoon. At first it seemed like a great value. But in the end we got more than we bargained for… It was a small place owned by Indian traders, on the second floor of a decrepit colonial building lost down a forgettable side street. We had to trudge up a dark...

Burmese Days

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  Of all the places I traveled in Southeast Asia, I liked Burma the best. It was by far the most traditional country in the region. It was free of Thailand’s 7-11’s, paved roads and fast food. Free of Vietnam’s scams. And it lacked that uncomfortable undercurrent of violence and broken psyches that seemed to blight Cambodia. Burmese people were quiet and kind. Old men in the...

Baybee Don’t Fence Me In!

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I read an excellent book about Mongolia a couple weeks ago by Jasper Becker, called “Mongolia: Travels in the Untamed Land.” Becker was a Western journalist based in Beijing, and one of the first to cross the border from China when Mongolian communism fell apart in 1991. The book covers many aspects of Mongolia, from obscure bits of history to the observations of other earlier...

Freedom’s Just Another Word For Nothing Left to Say

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This is the eighteenth and final instalment in a multi-part blog on North Korea. You can find the others here One “special request” we filed with our minders was to be permitted to walk into Pyongyang unescorted, perhaps as far as the railway station and back. Much to our surprise, they said it was possible. They had already added several of the places we asked to see–a...

Cracking Up in the DPRK

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This is the seventeenth in a multi-part blog on North Korea. You can find the others here We said goodbye to our brave military escort at the DMZ, thankful that they’d protected us from the imminent danger of American attack. We made one last stop on our way back to the capital, just outside Kaesong city. It was reputedly the tomb of an early Korean king and his Mongolian wife, but as with...

North Korea—The DMZ Too

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This is the sixteenth in a multi-part blog on North Korea. You can find the others here Our presence on the wrong side of the frontier caused a mild scramble among the South Korean forces. Frantic radio messages were dispatched. Binoculars were trained on us. Reinforcements jogged over to take up positions half-concealed by the corners of buildings, where they conducted a whispered conference and...

Coming Down Hard in the Demilitarized Zone

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This is the fifteenth in a multi-part blog on North Korea. You can find the others here The highlight of my time in North Korea—the moment that made all the badgering and propaganda worthwhile—was our visit to the Demilitarized Zone and the truce village of Panmunjom. This thin line bisecting two worldviews is the last Cold War frontier, and the world’s most heavily defended border. The...

Propaganda Gets Me Down

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This is the fourteenth in a multi-part blog on North Korea. You can find the others here The Arch of Triumph commemorates North Korea’s liberation from the Japanese occupation at the end of World War Two. It looks an awful lot like the Arch in Paris, but of course Pyongyang’s Arch was deliberately built to be 3 meters taller… North Korea doesn’t acknowledge the Pacific War...

Deep Beneath the Streets of Pyongyang

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This is the thirteenth in a multi-part blog on North Korea. You can find the others here Every first world metropolis needs a subway, and the Great Leader’s urban paradise is no different. But as with everything else, the North Koreans went a little overboard. Other world cities pride themselves on having functional transportation systems. Pyongyang’s exists as yet another monument to...

Spending National Liberation Day in North Korea

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This is the twelfth in a multi-part blog on North Korea. You can find the others here Our escorts chose National Liberation Day—the holiday celebrating Korea’s liberation from the Japanese occupation of the Second World War—to make our obligatory visit to the Grand Monument on Mansudae Hill. There were a lot more people than normal in the streets of Pyongyang, and the sun blazed down with a...

Ryan Murdock

Author of Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Columnist at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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