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Published: September 20th 2013
It is necessary to obtain a visa before going to Myanmar, so today I went to the Embassy in Bangkok, a very simple place with just one room with whitewashed walls and plastic chairs. There was a slight sense of urgency to my visit as my flight to Yangon was booked for the following day, so I needed a same-day visa, but the staff were very friendly (despite many of their customers being rather anxious - the man in front of me had brought the two requisite passport photographs, but they were different photos and this is not acceptable to the embassy, so he had a bit of a breakdown at the counter) and the long queue moved fast, and I collected the visa unproblematically later that day. It killed the day, though - you have to go in the morning to apply and then go back at 3:30pm to collect, so not much you can do in the middle but hang around in a cafe and wait. When I went back there was a monsoon that flooded the entrance porch.
Tourists are advised that Myanmar doesn't have any ATMs and that you need to take all your money in dollars and change them on the black market, so I also had to take out hundreds of dollars worth of cash, and get it all converted to dollars - an uncomfortable experience, to be carrying around so much. It turns out anyway that times have changed and there are ATMs in all the cities in Myanmar that tourists might visit - albeit they charge $5 per withdrawal just on the Myanmar side, so it's an expensive transaction if you do it this way.
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