I guess I portray myself as something of a travel expert on here. I’ve been to 65 countries in my life, I’ve done the hit and run traveling characteristic of weekend warrior travelers as well as slow traveling the way I do now. I know the tricks of the trade and..
You know the moment of humbleness is coming, right?
The one where I screw up royally like an amateur..
Yep. I planned to go to Myanmar from The Philippines. I had to buy plane tickets and everything. Pain to plan months in advance, but I did what had to be done and used my frequent flier miles for a good use finally.
When I got to Singapore in June I still hadn’t figured out what I wanted to do in Asia yet. But it seemed like going to Myanmar was a good idea. It was opening up, and I read online that people from 26 countries, including the USA, could obtain visas on arrival at the Yangon Airport.
Myanmar pre-trip preparation: done.
As I sat down to figure out where to actually go once I get to Myanmar three days before I’d arrive there, I’m not sure what made me do it but I somehow found myself on a Lonely Planet forum about Myanmar visas.
And I read it. The visa on arrival is only for business visas.
Actually, lots of other creative swear words went through my mind.
Ya, it seemed like it would be impossible to go all of a sudden. I was in Davao, way too far from the Myanmar Embassy in Manila. I’d wait until the next morning to call the embassy to confirm, but I had already started preparing for the inevitable.
I called the embassy. The guy was really nice and ya, I can’t go.
So, where’s the silver lining here? Both my way into and out of Myanmar were to go through Bangkok. So, I could just get off the plane in Bangkok and then catch the flight to Nepal from Bangkok instead of from Myanmar.
I just had to call United, who I booked these frequent flier tickets through, to ask them to note in the system that I’d miss the Yangon-Bangkok flight, but that I’ll catch the Bangkok-Kathmandu flight. Technically, that’d mean the ticket changed and I should pay a $50 fee. I kind of insinuated that that’s crazy and she agreed and changed it for free.
Having spent five weeks in the Philippines by now, I can recognize the Filipino accent immediately. So, I asked the rep at United if she was in Davao, like me. No, she was in Manila, but it was a funny bit of globalization as I called the US toll-free number only to be connected to their call center here in The Philippines.
I read that the embassy in Bangkok sometimes issues same-day visas. Thus, in theory I could have bought a new ticket Bangkok-Yangon for about $100 for Tuesday October 9th, spending the 8th getting the visa. But I’d still leave the 14th. It wouldn’t leave me much time, it’d cost $100 more, and I had no guarantee I’d get the visa.
In retrospect, it would have been worth the try. I really wanted to visit this rapidly changing country, one that produced someone as inspirational as Aung San Suu Kyi. And since I am not supposed to visit Cuba and can’t get into North Korea, this was my chance to see a closed country before it changes.
But, I guess it wasn’t my time to go there.
And I’m ok with that. I really like Thailand and I’m happy to spend time there instead.
Very humbling experience. I may have problems with future visas, like Pakistan which says you are supposed to apply from your home country, and India since I have Pakistani roots. I’ll cross that bridge when the time comes, but I guess I should take a day and dive deeper into all the various visa requirements for future countries I plan to visit on The Happy Nomad Tour.