For 24 years, Aung San Suu Kyi was either under house arrest or too afraid that if she left Myanmar, the government would never let her return.
Now, in a sign of how much life there has changed, the democracy activist and longtime political prisoner is resuming world travels, arriving Tuesday night in neighboring Thailand.
With the installation of an elected government last year, and her party's own entrance into parliament this year, she can feel free to explore the world.
Suu Kyi is to spend several days in Thailand, meeting with poor migrant workers and war refugees from her homeland, as well as international movers and shakers at the World Economic Forum on East Asia.
After Thailand, she will head to Europe in mid-June to formally accept the Nobel Peace Prize she won 21 years ago.
In Dublin, she will share a stage with U2 frontman Bono, a staunch Suu Kyi supporter, at a concert in her honor, according to Irish media. In England, she has been given the rare honor of addressing both houses of Parliament.
The tour marks the latest step in Suu Kyi's stunning trajectory from housewife to political prisoner to opposition leader in Parliament, as Myanmar opens to the outside world and sheds a half-century of military rule.
The last time the 66-year-old Nobel laureate flew abroad was in April 1988, when she traveled from London to Myanmar to care for her dying mother.
Until then she had led an international lifestyle, growing up partly in India, where her mother was ambassador. She later attended Oxford, worked for the United Nations in New York and Bhutan, and then married British academic Michael Aris and raised their two sons in England.
Suu Kyi returned to Myanmar just as an uprising erupted against the military regime. As daughter of Gen. Aung San, the country's independence hero, she was thrust into the forefront of demonstrations until the military brutally crushed the protests and locked her under house arrest in 1989.