Staying Safe in Asia: Politics and Security (April 1st-21st)

Asian security news for most of April has been relatively quiet, save for the consistent exception of Myanmar, and the loud noises coming from North Korea regarding denuclearisation. The Digital Traveller Team apologies for the slight delay in posting this brief roundup.

Myanmar: Despite a range of new controversies regarding imprisoned Reuters reporters, released soldiers tried of extrajudicial killings, ongoing fighting, and alleged humanitarian rights abuses in Shan, Kachin, Karen, and Rakhine States, the main tourist sites remain unaffected. In fact, new destinations are emerging amidst serious security concerns and international condemnation. In particular, Myanmar’s little known Myeik Archipelago promises to be the new destination in Asia, indeed, according to this article in the South China Morning Post, Asia’s last paradise (http://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/travel/article/2140239/are-tropical-islands-myanmar-asias-last-untouched). With the scaling back of tourist honeypots in Asia, perhaps it’s Myanmar’s time to shine in terms of tourism, if, of course, one can negotiate the ethical issues that presently surround Myanmar. Also of note for digital travellers is the seemingly ever-changing visa situation. A new fast-track visa is coming into play. Read more about these changes here, via Mizzima (http://www.mizzima.com/business-domestic/myanmar-fast-track-tourist-visa-introduced). To get a sense of some of these modern challenges and get some important historical perspective, check out the https://www.secretcompass.com/5-books-on-burma/: TD has read all of these (exepct no.5), and can attest to their value whether one is a digital traveller on the cusp of departure, or an armchair reader. TD

North Korea: After months of tension heightened by bellicose rhetoric and vitriol between the North, South, the US, and Japan, the security situation between the two Koreas seems to have once again become relatively normalised (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/19/north-korea-wants-complete-denuclearisation-says-seoul). While South Korea feels much safer this mid-April, full-scale tourism of the North still feels some way off beyond day trips to the DMZ. If one is a nervous digital traveller put off by South Korea’s proximity to the North, now is perhaps the best time to venture to Seoul and the rest of the South. TD

The Philippines: President Duterte’s War on Drugs continues with ever-higher tallies of casualties added to the list. Last Update, we highlighted that many islands in both Thailand and the Philippines were feeling the strain of tourism, and had been adversely effected. Reuters also ran this story at the start of April, quoting the Philippine President who described Boracay as a ‘cesspool (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-asia-environment-beaches-analysis/southeast-asias-idyllic-islands-buckle-under-tourism-strain-idUSKCN1HD0KL).' The article notes the declining tourist-appeal of the place; digital travellers are therefore advised to check the availability of popular tourist locales in the Philippines before booking flights whilst also keeping apprised of the security situation which has, on occasion, escalated. The promise of 10 new Balis in Indonesia mentioned in this same article, however, is an exciting prospect for the future. TD

Sri Lanka: The curfews and unrest of early March (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/sri-lanka-muslim-shops-mosques-targeted-buddhist-hardliners-180305165900594.html) seem to have largely subsided. TD

Thailand: As highlighted above, the continuing ecological degradation of the beaches in Asia is a popular theme in both March and April related news stories, and should serve as a barometer by which to navigate travel in Asia. The scale of pollution to the environment (particularly plastics), and the impact on economic security if tourism declines is significant. Read more here https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/Trouble-in-Paradise-Tourism-surge-lashes-Southeast-Asias-beaches/articleshow/63708462.cms, and plan accordingly. TD

The Digital Traveller Team

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