Incarcerated!

Regular readers of this blog are probably thinking “wow, that’s a lot of blog posts coming at us in a short amount of time!” Well, it just so happens that I (Lindsey) have quite a lot of time on my hands at the moment. Let me take you back to last Saturday evening when the mayhem began…

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Treehouse Escape

Two days after Simon and Paula left we had another 3 day break from school. It seems like we are constantly having holidays, I know. The SE Asian calendar is kind of jammed with important holidays in the latter part of the year . Don’t worry, we pay for it when we have basically no break from January to late April and are just stewing in our own sweat in Yangon.

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Surprise!

Well, it’s been a busy and eventful few weeks. It’s going to take a few blog posts to catch up… When we last left off Gav and I had just been on an unsuccessful trip to Bangkok to try to get our visas for Myanmar. While we were there, I exchanged a few (hundred) texts with Gav’s brother and sister in law, Simon and Paula.

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Back to Bangkok

Our October break ended on Sunday, October 24th. We were slated to fly back to Yangon on that day on an NGO flight from Kuala Lumpur. This particular NGO has been running flights bringing in humanitarian aid I think, since the beginning of the pandemic. It is possible to come in on that flight but you need special permission. However, even before that we needed to get our visas renewed and this has been going on for some time.

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Under the sea

Our school was on holiday this past week so we had no work, yay! In non-Covid times we would try to fly somewhere fun for the time off, but obviously that’s not happening, plus we happen to be in a pretty popular vacation spot so we decided to stay put and do a few things we had been meaning to do around Phuket.

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The wild (and not so wild) life of Phuket

The lack of tourists resulting from Covid is bad for the local economy but frankly a relief for us as there are fewer people about. Our villas is surrounded by 10 or 12 other villas but as far as we can tell ours is the only one occupied. I keep thinking a Russian Stag party is going to move in next door but so far we have been spared. I’m not sure whether it’s because of the fewer number of people or whether it’s always like this but an unexpected bonus to Phuket for me is the local wildlife and particularly the birds.

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Island Life

We’ve been here in Thailand for a month now and have settled into our more permanent accommodation. Way back in August when this whole adventure kicked off, I was under the impression that in order to get our Thai visas we had to let the government know where we would be staying the whole time. I am now not sure that you actually have to do that but anyway it kicked off a mad search to see if we could find someplace that would rent to us for more than a month but less than a year. Airbnb seemed to have lots of medium-term rentals that looked good so we put together a short list from what we could see and eventually picked one house that looked great. It had zero reviews, but that was true of most places on there-I think the pandemic changed how people were renting properties here and new management companies snapped up places and started listing them on that platform.

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Time with Dad

Lindsey has done a great job with her last post getting caught up with everything that has been going on since we last posted anything. One part she has left for me to write about is the time when I was in the UK and Lindsey was in the States. I returned to London on April 10th and unlike Lindsey had to quarantine for 10 days. Although the UK made you jump through a number of hoops including 3 Covid tests I was allowed to quarantine with a family member which meant I could stay with my Dad.

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Playing in the Sandbox

Today is our 14th and final day in what is called the Phuket Sandbox-basically a program that allows fully vaccinated travelers from a wide range of countries to to serve their “quarantine” in a very liberal way. If you enter Thailand through Bangkok, it is straight to a hotel for 10 (expensive) nights of isolation. But if you are willing to jump through a few more hoops, you can qualify for this much more enjoyable form of quarantine. I say “a few hoops” but we did have a few stressful days right before we left London when our hotel was changed last minute (you have to stay at a special kind of hotel with extra certification and a lot of hotels lost that certification right before we came). When your hotel changes, your traveler ID number changes which effectively renders all the paperwork you have done and gotten cleared by the embassy void and you have to re-submit. Except there is no way to do this in the online system, so you have to call the embassy and get them to reject your already accepted application so you can fix your ID number. I do not know if you have ever had the pleasure of trying to phone up and embassy, but I do not recommend. At one point we got through, were told we were number 6 in the queue and then listened to the phone ring for an hour and 40 minutes before we hung up. Eventually we got through with email. We’re here so obviously it worked out in the end but I could have done without that last minute shenanigans.

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All Change!

Well, there has been a lot going on in our world, just not on our blog! We kept thinking “when things settle down and we know what is happening we will update.” Turns out, if we waited for that we would never post again, so I am just going to post what is happening right now and we can update as time marches on.

Way back in March, we were in Yangon dealing with the ongoing tensions due to the coup on February 1st. As foreigners, we never felt unsafe and largely our life was affected in trivial ways (cash was increasingly difficult to come by, mobile data was shut off, the internet was usually off from about midnight to 9am) but really (unlike for our Myanmar colleagues) things were only inconvenient for us. It was kind of like being back in 1995-hail a cab with your hand instead of an app and make sure you organize with your friends ahead of time where and when to meet as you couldn’t text! Obviously this was not true for our Myanmar friends and actually it is hard to convey how much grief people were feeling. It seemed (and still seems) rude and inappropriate to post on social media about anything when the people around you are watching their world be altered so completely.

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