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Suu Kyi travels into Myanmar’s countryside

    Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, right, receives flowers as she arrives at Bagan Hotel in Bagan, Myanmar Monday, July 4, 2011. Suu Kyi made her first trip into the countryside since her release from house arrest last November. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)


BAGAN, Myanmar>> Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi visited an ancient city of temples and met with her youngest son Monday during her first trip into the countryside since her release from house arrest in Rangon in November.

The 66-year-old Nobel peace laureate planned to spend four days on a private trip to Bagan — also known as Pagan — where her son Kim Aris also was visiting from Britain. She last went there in 1989 for a political appearance that drew thousands of residents.

Suu Kyi also plans further trips to meet supporters outside of the Myanmar capital, although the state-controlled media last week warned her against political trips, saying they could cause chaos.

Her last political trip to the countryside in 2003 drew huge crowds but also earned the wrath of the then-ruling military government, whose supporters ambushed her entourage. She eventually was detained and placed under house arrest.

Suu Kyi flew out from Yangon, her first trip by plane since 2003. Most of the intervening time was spent under house arrest. She was met at the Bagan airport by her son, her pet dog and a host of plainclothes security police and reporters.

Suu Kyi’s security aides said she will relax and unwind in Bagan. "One of her pastimes in Bagan will be drawing. One of her close aides have bought canvas and painting paraphernalia," said one, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to reporters.

Suu Kyi in the past often faced problems whenever she traveled outside Yangon, with the government stopping her motorcades.

A trip to Mandalay by train in 1996 was aborted when authorities said her carriage had mechanical problems. During her second attempt to travel there by train in 2001, the government stopped her at the station and placed under house arrest for 18 months.



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