Day 54, Monday 27 Feb 2012, Bangkok
Grrrrr, lousy sleep again, so tired again today, I really wish I could just go to sleep any where and any time and sleep till I wake up or the morning – whatever is more important at the time. It is so frustrating.
Today was Myanmar visa day, so Mike and I set off soon after 8.30 to the Myanmar embassy, it is conveniently located close to the Surasak Skytrain station which is the station before Saphan Taksin, where we caught the boat yesterday, in fact the skytrain almost goes over the top of the embassy. (subtle hints for anyone thinking of a Myanmar visa)
In rush hour being a monk would be a good thing, as long as you were first on.
The embassy opens at 9.00 and we arrived at 9.15, there was already a big queue waiting to get in.
The word on the street was to go up to a small shop just up the road to buy the visa form for a few cents so it can be filled in on the street while waiting. The shop will also photocopy the front page of your passport and take the required two passport photos (and sell you a pen) if you need all that stuff. It was a nice little business for them, and handy for tourists, so good for us travellers to support those who show initiative – and don’t try to rip us off…
It took about thirty minutes to get to the door of the visa section, luckily we were in the shade as it was hot already. Mike getting excited about getting into the air con !
Once inside we queued for another thirty minutes or so, just to get a number so we could sit and wait some more…. after almost another hour our number was called, we handed over the passport and the money and left, two hours after we arrived. Passport pick up was between 3.30 and 4.30. it was now 11.30 so Mike and I decided to catch the boat again and head up to the infamous Khao San Rd to check it out. KSR is not infamous for its girly bars it is primarily famous as the backpacker hub of Bangkok, but for the beer guzzling, party all night type of backpacker, not the forty somethings interested in temples and stone heads type, hence we are not staying there.
This monk was obviously second on the train this morning!
KSR is a couple of streets away from the river and we stopped for lunch at one of the big backpacker cafes, I had a very nice chicken cashew and banana/coconut shake. We started to see the first signs of KSR habitués here, a few dreadlocked and tattooed teenagers drinking large bottles of cheap Anchor beer for lunch. It is definitely a more bogan area than the hostel we are staying at– and I imagine a hell of a lot noisier at night, though the day time liveliness is good. We only had an hour so it was a quick walk around.
While waiting for the boat I had a wee walk around and found Phra Sumain Fort, built in the late 1700’s. As part of the defence of Bangkok – a moat was built around the city, with fourteen forts at strategic points. Only two forts now remain – unfortunately you cannot go into them.
While reading some ones blog on applying for Myanmar visas this morning I found a reference to Bangkok’s ghost towers. Apparently there are (were) a number of unfinished and therefore deserted towers scattered around the city, they have collectively been called ghost towers and are popular with a certain type of photographer. We passed one today….
We got back to the Myanmar embassy just after 3.00 to join the (not so) happy throng waiting to collect their visas, it was stinking hot so we all gathered on the shady side of the road, away from the visa section door. At about twenty past a couple of people started to gather near the door and then there was a sudden rush to queue in the sun, luckily they opened the doors a few minutes early!
And here the story turns – well, not bad, more – frustrating.
After five minutes of queuing I got to the counter and handed over our ticket to collect our freshly visa stamped passports, and….. was advised that ours would be ready on Wednesday as we had paid for a three day turn around and not a one day…. F**K. There was not one single sign or notice of any kind inside the embassy advising on visa turnaround times or how much the visa cost, when I handed in the forms was I was told 1820 baht so that is what I handed over… Oh well, back to the hostel and hope we can get two more nights (we could). We had planned on another day in Bangkok as I want to do some shopping for travel things, insect repellent for instance and I also want to post some stuff back to New Zealand, all the clothes are clean mum – honest. Guess we get another day of sightseeing – yay more temples!
We headed back to the hostel and I managed to find a cardboard box at the local hardware store, I have tried a few places lately, so I can package up things to post – going to send the tri-pod back as it is getting heavy to lug around and I am not using it enough , along with some clothes and all the tickets and brochures and crap I have collected over the last few weeks (most of which I am sure I will toss when I finally get home !).
After a wee lie down we wandered up to the supermarket where I bought a bottle of whisky – no need to rush out of bed tomorrow and a packet of Pringles. Though I did stop and get some satay chicken and salad for dinner on the way back to the hostel.
Another night in, blogging, emailing and drinking cheap scotch!
The music bit.
Loves Ugly Children were a Christchurch band from the late eighties to mid nineties, they released two or three great EP’s (I have two and may be missing one) and a couple of great albums and remain one of my favourite NZ bands. Flying Nun records are apparently about to release a compilation CD, which I will look fwd to getting. Their sound moved around a bit, but underneath the noisy/punky/thrashy sound was some great pop song writing. Simon McLaren has to be one of NZ’s best un-heralded musos, he was in The Subliminals as well, which I will do tomorrow I think. I will also confess to a wee crush on the bass player Fluff back in the day….
2 thoughts on “A day at the embassy”
I’ve been waiting for this … hearing about your Myanmar visa. And thanks for giving me a glimpse of Khao San Road. Strangely I’ve never been there in all my trips to Bangkok!
I may do mine through an online agent since I’ve had official confirmation that such services are valid and not a con. While it may seem expensive (USD70), it’s probably worthwhile compared to extending my transit in Hong Kong (my consulate en-route) by several days or courier to/from Kuala Lumpur (when I’m staying put in Kuching).
Some of the guys in the queue were talking about the new online service, and will use it next they go to Myanmar, it only started last month I understand, but it will be a lot easier than going to a consulate to do it and probably worth the money.
Of course the Myanmar government could change their minds next month !
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