We are flying to Kyaingtong to see the different tribes of Northern Mynamar that remain unaffected and virtually untouched by the outside world. We arrive in a very different Myanmar . The airport at Kyaingtong is little more than a couple of huts next to an airstrip. But security is the tightest we have seen. We are deep in the heart of the Golden Triangle and close to the Chinese border. This was the notorious heroin capital of the world, but the Junta claims to have completely wiped out all the poppy plantations over the last few years. Tourists have only been allowed back in over the last four years. Consequently there are none of the luxuries we have been enjoying. The hotel we are staying in is known to be the best in town, but would not qualify for one star. We were well aware of this when planning our trip and were rather anxious about what we would find. It was maybe even more basic than we expected, but we were happy to find that it was comparatively clean, and the staff very welcoming and friendly. However all the laundry was done by hand with no hot water, so the sheets and towels were grey, which was a little disturbing. We were on the third floor (no elevator of course). At the end of our corridor there was a door marked “emergency exit”. For a moment we were reassured, but then we discovered it was just a door opening on to a three storey drop into the middle of the neighbour’s pigsty. No stairs, no balcony. Nothing.
We are in the high country and the temperatures have plummeted. But there is no heating in the hotel and some of the windows have fixed open slatted glass. It is colder in the hotel than outside and Gordon, who feels the cold, is miserable. He sleeps with all his clothes on underneath a huge pile of blankets.