I last visited Kyaing Tong (pronounced “Chang Tong” and sometimes spelled Keng Tung), a small market hill town in Myanmar’s Eastern Shan State, in 2000. It was one of the highlights of my travels that year, and as I related some of the tales to Laura, I figured that they were worth sharing with a wider audience. So, before I get into this year’s adventures here is Kyaing Tong 2000 style.
Kyaing Tong is the main town of the Myanmar portion of the infamous Golden Triangle, which also straddles the hill tribe areas of Laos and Thailand. The Golden Triangle supplied most of the world’s street heroin until the trade was usurped by Afghans in the late 90’s. The main man in the area was a ruthless warlord named Khun Sa, who ruled over two armies called the Shan State Army and the Muang Tai Army. At one point, Khun Sa is said to have had a personal militia that numbered more than 18000 men and women. The region was typically beyond the Burmese government’s control and/or beset by continual fighting between the opposing forces.
Unsurprisingly, tourists were not particularly welcome in this … Read more
It takes a while to hit your travel groove even if you have done this many times before and are on the road with a well-travelled missus. Traveling asks different questions of any relationship as normal routines are cast aside and replaced by much more uncertainty than at home. I reckon it took Laura and me a good four months before we hit our travel stride. Now, eight months in, we intuitively know what works for us and what doesn’t. We know the hotels that work, the food we want, the pace that suits us best, and the type of experiences that excite us most. Certainly, what excites us most has surprised us a lot. For sure, we never thought we would spend much time at the beach and in the water. But, that is the point of travel- to try something new.
Oddly, I reckon the worst people to travel with are people who are already on a long trip. We are very settled on a particular way of traveling and that may not jive with the needs and desires of others. Occasionally, we have hooked up with people heading in the same direction for companionship (Everest trek) and … Read more