Thursday, February 04, 2010
  Beautiful but deadly: Urgent action needed
We took this photo of the beautiful area where these people have fled for safety just weeks ago
It's not biblical studies, nor digital academy, but it matters to me, and I hope to you!

According to the Burma Campaign (UK) the Thai authorities are threatening to force the return starting on 5 February 2010 of the 3,000 Karen refugees who fled to an area north of Mae La in June following a military offensive by the Burmese Army in Karen State, Eastern Burma.

The area they would return to is under the "control" of the DKBA and heavily mined they would face mass torture, harrying by military forces and many deaths if forced to return.
Although the Thai Government and local authorities have officially stated that they will not force people to return, in practice they are applying significant pressure on the refugees to return.

Until now the refugees have been kept in two temporary camps close to the Thailand-Burma border. Many of these refugees have already been forced to flee their homes four or more times.

If forced to return to Burma, the refugees face possible death, slave labour or forced recruitment as soldiers.

The area in Karen State where the refugees would be made to return to has many landmines. In addition, the area is now under the control of the DKBA, an organisation allied to the military dictatorship, which is guilty of committing horrific human rights abuses against civilians, including widespread use of forced labour, executions, torture and mutilations, forced recruitment of soldiers, including child soldiers, theft and extortion.
So PLEASE write to the Thai authorities to urge them not to force the refugees back to Burma. There is a simple form you can use here:

I have already written, editing the form letter in the hope that this will make it weigh more, but simply adding your name and address and clicking send is all that's needed. If the Thai authorities realise that many people outside care enough to post an email they may see this issue as one that impacts their tourist industry!

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009
  Update on my SBL Hotel and
Just a quick update on my fiasco of a booking for SBL, Visa have come through and refunded the money. That recourse is one of the reasons I prefer payingb with credit card. I strongly advise no one to use, and if you are using a new (to you) booking company online to check them out on Google, if I had not been in a hurry and had done that I'd not have used them in the first place.

By contrast, we have so far had a good experience with Hotels in New Orleans (cheaper, better location and fine if a little run down), and Bangkok have worked out fine. They did not find anything cheap enough for us in Chiang Rai, 2,000 Baht was the cheapest, which by Thai standards seems quite a bit, so we are in a place we found from Lonely Planet. The Akha River House, fairly basic, but fairly comfortable, with an ensuite western-style toilet and hot Thai-style shower and a pleasant garden for 300 Baht per night. We are about to head up into the hills for their Akha Hill House for a few more days R & R :)

In Chiang Rai I can recommend the coffee in Doi Chaang, and the Saturday "Walking market" was great fun, for even more touristy stuff there is also a daily "Night Market" like Chiang Mai's but much quieter with a great food court, though with less stuff than in the bigger city.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008
  Transit, and travel diaries
Singapore airport was already my favourite, and the only airport where I am happy to spend a few hours! It has confirmed this impression this time. As well as writing blog posts I've got up to date again with my email, including a note to say that Kipling's American Notes has now gone live on Librivox. I wonder of Barak Obama's progress in the US pre-elections would make Kipling rethink his best-known quote from the book? "It is not good to be a negro in the land of the free and the home of the brave." I also wonder what today's Americans make of his take on their ancestors - do let me know, whether you read a print edition, read the Guttenberg edition, or listen to my Librivox edition.

PS, the weather is as dull as it looks here, so we did not much miss the chance to see a bit more of the city this time (which was ruled out since we arrived in the middle of the night).

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Saturday, December 01, 2007
  Neat tool: countries I have visited
I saw this neat tool on "Moving at the Speed of Creativity" Edublog without thinking I imagined that, since on my sabbatical I will be visiting some strange and far away places, I'd be able to update it with lots more red - but of course I won't. Thailand is already red, Sri Lanka is small and I don't count airports so tiny UAE won't get added :(

Still you may enjoy it and it will be interesting to see where you have all been!

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