Oct 092006

Yes I’m finally starting to ‘travel’ rather than bum around for bum-arounds sake.

Some people think I’m having a real adventure. Today I went to the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok, I escaped when it closed at lunchtime to call my mate to let her know the hassles I was having with my visa (no mobile now only texts incoming, the Malaysian credit has ran out, and I can’t top it up online), then I got a cab back to the embassy. I left there at 4pm. On the way home it pissed it down as soon as the Bangkok Skytrain deposited me at the station. I walked a few hundred metres and I had to squeeze the water out my clothes. And my money. And my travel notes. I think I may have left my bank card at the internet place I was using to call my mate. I went and got the Skytrain back to the internet place, but no joy. I haven’t cancelled it yet though as usually I put things in a safe place then they turn up (like my travel speakers I thought I’d left in Labuan, but I realised several days later I had wrapped them up in my clothes to protect them….a ‘safe’ place). I wanted to get hammered, but my mate had went out with here mate, and I didn’t want to get accosted in some random bars that are a couple of blocks from this neighbourhood, by some goergous woman, who turns out to be a man, and that takes all my money that I can’t access cos I’ve lost my bankcard.

Ahh….the joys of travelling.

So…the Myanmar Tourist Visa. Lonely Planet says ‘takes at least a day’. Get there early. Now my mate had interpreted that as you could get it in a day (no fault in that). Get there early, should really say…”If you want more chance of getting your Myanmar Visa within a day, than you would have of knocking up Claudia Schiffer, arrive there by 6am”.

So here’s the scoop if you want your Myanmar visa from the Bangkok embassy within a day. First of all, think you won’t. Don’t book your flights until you know you are getting your visa the next day (a few did – ouch). “At the time of writing…” if you want your visa in a day, camp out from about 6am – it opens at 8.30am, but just now, they only issue 20 visas on the same day. If you get there well before it opens, today, number 20 got served at around 2.40pm. I was number 46. I turned up 8.35. At 9.40am I passed over my papers to the guy at the desk, passport photos attached, all completed. He glanced them over, and I was thinking “Shit, this is no big deal”. He then handed me a chit of paper with 46 written on it. I sat down. Of course the numbers on the display go up super slowly but you don’t want to leave and come back just incase there is a spurt of activity. At 1pm it closes for lunch (of course). At 9.15am I got a text from Tracy “How’s it going?”. Of course when I tried to text back, my Malaysian Celcom credit had ran out, and there was nothing around the embassy. She was waiting to hear to book flights for tomorrow. Lunchtime came, I cabbed it up to the Siam Centre, grabbed an internet cafe, called here, rushed lunch and headed back.

I soon found out after asking that they only issue 20 visas within the same day. At number 46, I later found out that they only issue 50 numbers a day before sticking up a sign saying ‘come back tomorrow’.

Eventually I got served at 4pm. I had been there since 8.30am. The guy took a slightly longer cursory glance at my papers, took the 825 baht fee, plus of course another 210 bhat for the ‘express’ next day service, and my passport, then handed me a chit, 90 seconds later – ‘come back tomorrow – 11 to 11.30am and get your visa’.

I needed a cold beer. Of course while you try and do this independently, and treat the place like a normal country, there are scores of tour guides and people coming in, handing over batches of 20 passports, then coming back to get served.

But…I’m looking forward to it. Common myths say be careful, but everyone Tracy has spoken to that has actually been there has said it’s one of the friendliest places they’ve been, people running up to them to give them their dropped $500 note (erm, rather a shitload of money to folk there), and very picturesque – I can’t wait.

Tracy leaves to Yangon tomorrow and I fly in the next day, colming back Sunday 22nd. I’ll have no online or phone comms while there for (if you know about the place) obvious reasons, but I look forward to giving an update post trip.

Hopefully after that I’ll be back in The Atlanta Hotel for a night, then maybe biting the bullet and flying to Chang Rai, then over the border to Laos to hopefully meet up with my sister for a few days.

 Posted by at 5:13 pm

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