I have a confession to make. I have bad habits. More than I care to admit.
One of them is reading the last page of a whodunnit first before turning on the story’s first page.
That was one of the reasons why I began my Laiza journal with the conclusion. Another is that the story has already been written by others, and there is very little need to add. Except that the reporters were not allowed inside the closed door meetings, which took place at the spacious former casino building, 30 October-2 November. On the contrary, I have an edge over them, because I was there to listen and look at things they didn’t.
Day One: 27 October 2013
I as well as Harn Yawnghwe, Director of Rangoon-based Euro Burma Office, would have been happier to join the conference as independent observers. But as only representatives of armed organizations were invited and allowed to speak, both of us, who have been advisers to the Loi Taileng-based Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) since 2007, were conveniently appointed as accredited representatives by Chairman Sao Yawdserk.
We were taken across the border by Burmese authorities from Maesai to Tachilek, straight to the airport.
The delegates from the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), led by Nai Hongsa aka Nai Hantha, who were supposed to have already left were found waiting for their plane that would take them to Mandalay. With them were U Nyo Ohn Myint from the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) who was serving as their guide and trouble shooter and Katsuyuki Imoto, from the Thai-Japan Education Development Foundation (TJEDF) who would be riding shotgun, well, sort of.
They left with Air Kambawza at 15:30 and we with Yangon Air, reportedly owned by the Wa, at 17:00.
It took us 3 hours to get to Rangoon, as the plane had to stop by at Heho (a corruption of Shan word Haiwo) and Mandalay. Lots of turbulences during the flight, which threw one scare after another to me, but our pilot was good, as proved by his smooth landings.
To steady my nerves, I looked for something to read. Fortunately, I found Swesone, the in flight magazine, containing several interesting articles:
One on Samka, “a town no longer,” as a sign posted on the Baluchaung that stretches from the Inlay Lake to Lawpita in Kayah (Karenni) State says. It used to be one of the 34 Shan princedoms founded by Khun Phyu in 1875. The town is now submerged in the reservoir formed by the Lawpita dam.
Another, a stirring, angry and touching story of the Rangoon/Yangon University, founded in 1920.
We arrived in Rangoon at 20:00.
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