I have decided not to go to Pakistan via the silk road. For a start I can't get into XinJiang as this is closed to foreigners due to the the troubles that have kicked off. And Pakistan is still in a state of turmoil. So I have gone for the easy option and decided to pass.
I am debating on if I should go to Burma/Myanmar
I got hold of Lonely Planet at the hostel I am staying at to do some reading. There is a debate about wether foreigners should visit Burma.
On one side stands Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winning Burmese citizen, who is still under house arrest by the military dictatorship. Her viewpoint is that Burma is not ready for tourism and foreigners coming to Burma are legitimising the military government. She argues that most of the tourist sites were built up and restored using forced labor and that tourist dollars go right into the pockets of the corrupt military dictatorship.
On the other side, the argument is that tourism opens these oppressed countries up to the world and your tourist dollars could go directly to the people. It is the same argument used for places such as Tibet (which Sarah and I are going to). Given Burma is a country with no free press, you can also allow people to understand how the rest of the world lives and have their opinions voiced:
“Don’t come in with your camera and take only pictures. We don’t need that kind of tourist. Talk to those who want to talk. Let them know the conditions of your life” Burma resident 2004 (from Lonely Planet Myanmar [Burma] 9th Ed.)
I met an american couple in India who had visited burma before India. They were glowing about the experience. They told me that since the Government now allows USD to be converted to Myanmar Kyat via the black market, very little of thier Tourist dollars ended up going into direct government channels. Instead it goes to local businesses (Hotel, Restaurants, etc). They also said that everyone they met wanted Foreigners to come and visit Burma.
I agree with both arguments.
Should I go or not ? (comments welcome)