Thursday, July 5, 2012

The SE Asia Situation in a nutshell

1.  Thailand's political world is still in flux.
2.  Vietnam is experiencing steady growth.  It is not becoming a major favorite travel destination.
3.  Cambodia is revisiting the Khmer Rouge era with trials.  There are still problems of poverty in certain sections of the country.
4.  Burma/Myanmar is undergoing more democratic reforms.

Thailand is currently going through much political upheaval.  For the most part, there is this tug of war between the Democratic Party of Thailand, and "Whatever is the party of Thaksin Shinawatra" which is currently Pheu Thai.  There are complex discussions about amending the Constitution in Thailand, as noted in the Bangkok Post.   We must not forget the drama that can erupt with political conflict.

On my last trip, I visited the area that had major protests.  The mall was definitely burned down and being reconstructed.  But other than that, it seemed normal.  Quite a few people died during that upheaval.  The current political environment of Thailand pretty much stems from the tug of war between these parties.  For the most part, my friends at Assumption University tell me all is fine.  People avoid politics if they can.  

Vietnam.  A few people ask me now, why Vietnam?  Well, it's a different country.  The weird thing is that Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma/Myanmar and even Laos are only 1 hour by air from each other.  Each country is distinct.  The food in Vietnam is more of a hybrid of Chinese, French and SE Asian.  They know how to make a sandwich. 

When you travel in SE Asia, you can use Thailand as the hub.  In fact, Bangkok is the place in which you can travel to all other parts of SE Asia.  If you are a citizen of ASEAN countries, all you need is your passport to travel freely between these countries.

Cambodia is still struggling with the ghost of the Khmer Rouge.  Many of the current politicians in Cambodia were former KR members.  Comrade Duch is currently going to be in his own solo cell.

A few of my friends from Long Beach City College and Bakersfield College are trying to set up a school in Cambodia.  Without actual personnel present on site, that's a tall order.  I know.  I did that stuff when I was doing Tsunami relief work in Thailand.

Burma/Myanmar.  I don't have the motivation to go just yet.  I'm still observing how they treat "The Lady" now that she's out of house arrest.  Other friends have gone to Burma/Myanmar, but I'm still a little cautious.   But it does look interesting.  At least the temples do.