Sometimes Flexibility is a Necessity
Here on the blog I've been catching up on posts from Rome while we travel, but I have to interrupt to give you some "in real time news" about our trip. We were well aware of the political unrest in Bangladesh when we decided to go there, but that was before the Prime Minister called an election just days into our proposed trip. The political situation has deteriorated to the extent that the Europeans are not sending election observers because the opposition have declined to run in what they regard as a sham election.
Over the last year we were aware that there had been an increasing numbers of "hartels" or general strikes which are a key tool for direct political action in Bangladesh. However, in reaction to the election the opposition has called for even more stringent direct action including blockades preventing buses, trains and cars moving throughout the country. When someone mentioned the hotel would send armed guards to protect the minibus coming in from the airport and the travel agent said he "hoped we would be able to complete the trip as planned", we realized it might be time to rethink. Often you can avoid political unrest but when your plan is to spend two weeks traveling through a country and movement has become a political question, you are placing yourself in a risky position. Even if it wasn't risky it would certainly have made for a tedious trip holed up in hotels we didn't intend to stay in, waiting for the blockade to weaken.
So, we cut our losses and stayed in Abu Dhabi for an extra night to plan what to do. In the past I'd often thought it would be magical to just go to the airport with no plans and pick a destination from one of the departure monitors which promise so much. Let's just say I'm feeling less romantic about that one! We had to find a place we could fly to easily and where we could get a visa on arrival; that ruled out a lot of places including India and Laos. We were left with several contenders including Indonesia, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka. From there it was in the hands of the award reservation staff at American Airlines and I'm happy to say we are on our way to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
I've booked the first night in a modest guesthouse near the airport and then we will see where things take us. We don't have a guidebook, hopefully we can find one at the airport, but there seems to be beaches, cultural attraction, tea plantations, forts, elephants and hopefully lots of great food!
D. Has been calling our trip the tour of the B's, Bangladesh, Bangkok, Burma and Bali. I wasn't sure how Sri Lanka fitted in but then I realized it was Plan B! That's the drama in our lives this week, I don't even want to think about the fact that the political opposition in Bangkok has announced a shutdown beginning three days before our arrival, I hope we don't need a Plan C anytime soon.