Myanmar, tucked in the middle of Thailand, Laos, China, India and Bangladesh, has had a rather turbulent history that continues today. Travel there would not appeal to those less inclined toward adventure, but my husband and I prefer such destinations. So, we boarded Myanmar Airways International in Bangkok and flew into Yangon International Airport, where we deplaned to find members of the national military waiting to "greet" us. Their job, among other things, was to make sure that we exchanged the obligatory $200 for their local currency before we could retrieve our luggage.
"I know your relatives all think you're crazy, but we're gladyou're here," our tour guide, Zvi Lev-Ran, said as 36 tired Angelenospiled onto a bus after a 13-hour flight aboard a chartered El Al747-400 from Los Angeles. We were part of the largest mission eversponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. More thanhalf of the 430 participants were first-timers, including myself.Having been born almost exactly one year after the birth of Israel,in 1948, it seemed fitting that I participate in this mission, whichwas timed to coincide with festivities launching the Jewish state'sgolden anniversary celebration.