September 6, 2014

visa for Myanmar

yesterday i spent most of the day arranging for my visa for Myanmar where I plan to go at the end of September.  It was the usual cluster when getting a visa for a developing country.  i stood in 4 different lines but the crowd was a cheerful bunch and helped anyone who had questions about the application.  there were some runners who had stacks of passports and seemed to know each other so i'm guessing it's a daily thing for them.  lots of people interested in going to Myanmar.  the reason it took most of the day was because you could only submit your application between 9 - 12 and had to pick up between 3:30 - 4:30.  i wanted same day service so i could leave for the island in the morning and the Embassy wasn't convenient to anything else i wanted to do so i burned my time up in a coffee shop and getting a foot massage.  Ahhh, the Thai foot massage is so refreshing ... 

especially because on my way to the embassy i got a bit lost and ended up walking much further then i planned.  i put on my headphones and rocked the extra two miles because i needed the exercise anyway.

what, lost?  here's a sample of the road signage.  Bangkok is spread out, doesn't have an efficient public transport system and the roads are so congested the taxis move along at a snails pace.  reminds me of NYC at rush hour but it's like that all the time.

finally i found a sign that signaled the end of the trail.... and it was in english

around 3 i headed back to the embassy to queue up for the pick up.  the line started outside and i was standing next to the sign that said visas applications accepted between 9-12.  a girl in her 20s walked up read the sign and then said to everyone and no one in particular she had just walk for an hour to get there and needed to talk with someone from the embassy.  the guy in front of me politely explained she'd need to come back in the morning and I asked if she needed an application because i had been handed two in the first line i stood in (this was confusing to me because it wasn't clear if I needed to fill out the exact same document 2 times - I've been asked to do stranger things so I've learned to expect anything). she said again quite urgently that she had QUESTIONS and needed to speak to someone from the embassy.  she had the backpacker who hadn't showered for a week look about her and I thought she might have some extreme situation - like perhaps she was going to seek asylum  in Myanmar - but no, as she rambled on it turns out she had basic questions about what docs were needed.  i thought to myself, WTF? you spent an hour walking to the embassy but didn't take 2 minutes to Google 'visa requirements for Myanmar' first?  i hope i was never that annoying but I'm sure I've had my moments.

in the third queue when i paid the money and turned in the application/passport this is the receipt i was given. there isn't anything on here that contains my passport number or name!  i got the right passport back and i had a stamp in it so i left happy. the detailed information on visa-in-bangkok/ about getting a visa from the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok was spot on!

there is a new option that was added September 1 2014 and had i known about it i would have used it.  for a tourist visa [not business which is available upon arrival] they now accept applications online and process in about 10 days.  the cost is $50 US which is only a few dollars more than same day service in Bangkok which is now 1260 Baht [$39] two day service is 800 Baht and next day is still 1000 Baht.

after two days in Bangkok I'm ready to head down to one of the islands and sit on the beach for a few days.  i picked Koh Samet which is just a few hours southeast of Bangkok.  i've never been so that will be a new adventure.  

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