Just a thought

I apologize for my lack of updates in the past three months or so.  Bogged down by schoolwork (21 units in a quarter is no fun), family drama and other nonsense, I haven’t had time to write anything here. Finally, winter break has come.

One of the classes I took this fall was History 9E: Southeast Asian Crossroads, to kill two birds with one stone (fulfill a GE requirement and Southeast Asian studies minor requirement). I think this class made me rethink a lot about my perceptions of Burma and Southeast Asia in general. To really understand Southeast Asia, one needs to understand its past. However, I felt that large swathes of Southeast Asia were completely omitted, especially Malaysia and Vietnam, but I can understand the impossible task of covering all of Southeast Asia in the matter of less than 10 weeks.

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Name troubles

It seems that I need to explain something to readers of this blog, especially since I have been contacted by the BBC World Service for an interview as Aung Htin Kyaw.

I have been blogging for the past year under my Burmese name “Aung Htin Kyaw,” which is neither official and is primarily used by my family (but is not my legal name). As a precaution, I opted not to use my English name, since the Burmese government has a habit of denying visas to those who criticize it (no matter how small my readership is). I believe in ensuring that nobody in my family, those who live in the States and those who are still Burmese citizens, is negatively affected by what I write. Also, I do not want to be denied a visa to Burma in the near future.

Some of those who have e-mailed me found out, perhaps because of my forgetfulness, what my English name is. For my sake, please do not refer to me by that name. I am willing to take no risks to endanger the lives of family and friends, no matter how trivial it seems.

Sorry for not being honest from the beginning, but I had my reasons for not disclosing my legal name.

Going to Asia (in three months)

This Christmas break, I will be going to Asia. It’s my first time going back in two years and I am excited. Since I was 13 when I last had my passport made, I had to go in person to renew it, and I will be expecting the new passport (chip-embedded and all) in two months. At least this time, the passport will expire in 10 years. Hopefully my passport will be renewed, since I forgot to bring my driver’s license/ID card as verification on the passport application (I know, I’m an idiot.)

Not sure whether I will go to Burma, since the political situation there is precarious. But I hope I will get to at least make a quick stop in Rangoon.

But if school keeps me bogged down during my Christmas break, I will most certainly have to delay my plans.

Went to Las Vegas

Las Vegas

The Las Vegas strip, from a pedestrian bridge between the Venetian and The Mirage hotels.

I have been absent from blogging for the past few days, because went on a road trip with my family to Nevada and beyond, staying three nights in Las Vegas. I never bring my laptop with me on vacations, so I was essentially disconnected from news in Burma and have been completely overwhelmed by the amount of developing news in Burma. Apparently, CNN only likes to cover Burma when a celebrity like Jim Carrey decides to voice his support for Aung San Suu Kyi on Youtube (I videotaped the news story with my camera, but the file size is too big for Youtube, so I can’t upload it.)

Las Vegas, in one word, is suffocating. Inside the casinos, passersby are suffocated by the overwhelming stench of cigarette smoke. Outside, pedestrians are choked by the desert heat combined with the smell of gasoline and cigarette smoke. I felt like I was being baked inside a parking garage at 11 p.m. after seeing the Cirque du Soleil show “Mystère.” At nearly $100 a ticket, the show was a bit disappointing, but nonetheless amazing (the acrobatics were stunning). I did not really understand the abstract ideas, though. Next time I visit Las Vegas, I hope to catch all 5 shows of Cirque du Soleil. Anyone who has been to a Cirque du Soleil show will agree that they are much more than fancy visuals.

Anyway, I’m back but may be a little delayed in terms of updates in Burma.