Clearing the Myanmar visa hurdle

1“Bangkok! I need tickets to Bangkok!” he said in panic to a Jetstar customer service operator over the phone.

We were going to Yangon, Myanmar, having planned the trip a week ago.

But 10 hours before departure, a friend casually mentioned that we needed tourist visas for Myanmar, or risked being deported on arrival.

Currently only certain ASEAN countries, including Vietnam and Philippines, are allowed visa-free entry into Myanmar.

When we heard the news, we ran for Google. We searched through every forum post on Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor. It was a relief to know that we were not the only clueless individuals – that citizens of all ASEAN countries could presumably breeze their way around Southeast Asian with no immigration hassles.

But for Myanmar, most of us would still need a visa.

The only known place that could give you an instant Myanmar tourist visa was Bangkok, Thailand for 1280 Thai baht (S$49.70) a visa.

A Myanmar Tourist Visa

A Myanmar Tourist Visa

The Myanmar embassies in Malaysia (S$42.20 for a visa) and Singapore (S$124 for a visa) both offered visa application services. But the procedure required at least two working days, time we did not have. We found out about needing a visa on a Friday. Other tour agencies would take an average of five to 12 working days.

But we were determined to visit Yangon. After all it was just awarded “World Best Tourist Destination Award” by the European Council on Tourism and Trade, and saw almost 2.04 million visitors last year.

So at 7 am on Friday, we flew to Bangkok.

A European traveller told us there was usually a horde of backpackers, European tourists and locals outside the embassy. “If you want the visa on the same day, you’d better be there by 8.30 am.”

Of course we were caught in the famous Bangkok jam. But we arrived at Shan Road at 10.10 am, near the Myanmar embassy. It opens for visa applications, Monday to Friday, at 9 am and closes at 12 pm. Visa collection is from 3.30 pm to 4.30 pm.

At the embassy, I quickly realised that the Thais had also turned the ‘Bangkok Visa Run’ into a full-blown service industry. There were tens of people claiming to be agents who offered to ‘settle’ our visas for us.

“Go see see [sightseeing] in Bangkok. We do the visa for you. You come back at 4 pm, we give you the visa. 1800 baht (SGD 69.90) per person,” one travel agent said to me.

In the queue among travellers.

In the queue among travellers.

In the queue among travellers.

We did not want our passports stolen, not after what happened on MH370. We hotfooted our way to the embassy.

To our surprise, there were fewer than 30 people at the embassy. Of course, this was pure luck; we were told by a couple of seasoned travellers that sometimes you could be in the queue from 9.30 am, only to finish up at 12.30 pm.

Outside the embassy, there were at least five vans cashing in on ‘visa run’ travellers. They offered passport photo-taking and photocopying services, pens and application forms. Needless to say, their prices were heftier than anywhere else in Bangkok. But none of us had the time to bargain and they knew that well.

Minutes laters, we were equipped with all the necessary documents – application forms and two passport photos. For those who wanted their visa on the same day, proof of hotel reservation and air tickets to Myanmar were also required.

“Say you are a student, or unemployed,” I remembered someone advising us last night. Apparently, the embassy staff would get a little unsettled if you said you were a journalist, writer or photographer.

Oh, other details needed on the application form: description of your hair, complexion and eye colour- not weird at all.

We paid 1280 baht (S$ 49.70) for the same day visa, each, at the counter.

We returned to the embassy at 3.30 pm to collect our visa. Though there were hundreds of people, the counter staff were really efficient. We were in and out within 20 minutes.

Right after, we made a beeline for the airport and took a Golden Myanmar flight to Yangon at 7 pm that night.

We saw dozens of familiar faces at the airport, mainly European travellers who also came to Bangkok for a quickie visa into Myanmar.

 

By Trinity Chua

Source: theindependent.sg

CENTRAL TELEGRAPH OFFICE

10 -2 -2014 To 16- 2-2014

This functional and imposing, if not overtly beautiful, structure is a classic example of administrative colonial architecture. Its main entrance is dom­inated by an oversized portico with coupled ion­ic columns and open-bed pediments.

PAST

This building was the last to be designed by John Begg, Consulting Archi­tect to the Government of India, for Yangon. It was designed as a four-storey, steel-framed building with brick walls between stanchions placed at 20-foot intervals. During early excavation work, the con­tractor discovered that part of the plot was severely waterlogged and innova­tive methods were used to remedy the situation. Piles 9 inches in diameter were sunk across the swampy area and Filled with sand. The sand was stirred for days until it became Firm and dry. The entire site was then leveled with more sand and covered with 25 inches of fine cement.

At the time of its con­struction, the Telegraph Office offered Yangon residents the technolog­ical wonder of speedy communications with the rest of the world, and this building has always been associated with informa­tion travelling into and out of the country.

Not long after the Jap­anese captured Yangon in World War II, the new authorities issued an order for city residents to bring their radios to the Telegraph Office to have them converted so they would be unable to receive Allied news broad­casts from India. After months passed and the radios were not returned, it was surmised that the authorities had used the announcement as a ruse to confiscate private wireless sets and pre­vent any news of the war from spreading through Yangon.

In the 1950s, after Inde­pendence, this building was still the only agency handling foreign cables, with about 96,000 outgo­ing and 87,000 incoming messages sent per year The Telegraph Office contin­ued to serve its purpose as a link to the outside world during the socialist period and, throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, was still favoured by city residents for its reliable domestic telephone lines and inter­national fax services.

PRESENT

Today, other communi­cation technologies have superseded the useful­ness of the Telegraph Office. The building is owned by the Ministry of Communications, Posts & Telegraphs, and the ground floor is currently being used as a telephone mail, with stalls selling mobile phones and SIM cards.

Diagonally across the intersection, on the northeast corner, is a colourful building hous­ing various shops that include the Kyaw Horne Mart. This was formerly the Tejoomal Building, an emporium of oriental curios that sold a wide selection of silverware, silks, and carvings frog across Asia.

REF: HERITAGE BUILDINGS OF YANGON

Source : Traveller journal

The effect of decreasing tourism sector because of the political situation in Thailand on Myanmar tourism

10 -2 -2014 To 16- 2-2014

The tourist arrivals in Myanmar have the potential to rise up be­cause of the situation in Thailand and decreasing the foreigner travelers in Thailand but the hotel business, airline business, restaurants and car rental services related to tourism should negotiate their cost as reasonably to attract the travelers depending on the situation, advised by the experts from the tourism sector.

Deputy President (2) U Thet Lwin from Myanmar Tourism Association said, “It is impossible to transfer the trip from Thailand to Myanmar. The travelers will choose the other countries which is cheaper than Myanmar because the expense in Myanmar is higher than other coun­tries.”.

In the current, the tourist arrival from Thailand is decreased but the foreign travelers from Western countries are bound to grow.

“The traveler from Amer­ican is going up because of the situation in Thailand,” said by the president U Zaw Win Cho from Myan­mar Tourism Association.”

The direct airlines to Myanmar is connected not only Thailand but also Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia countries so the situation in Thailand cannot effect the Myanmar Tourism.

He applied, “tourists have the potential to travel in Myanmar. But the airline transportation charges in Myanmar as locally is USD 100 so it is nearly equal the transportation fees of Bangkok which cost USD $120. In the restaurant, the foreigners have to use USD 10 to 12″.

REF: DAILY ELEVEN

Source : Traveller journal

Sixty Three Irrawaddy dolphins were found in the research trip of 2014

10 -2 -2014 To 16- 2-2014

The research project for the Irrawaddy dolphins on the analysis of protection and threatening factor will be operated depending on the dolphin population and life behavior in 11 to 26 January, 2014, announced by WCE.

The research team will be discovered along the Mandalay- Bamow to Manda­lay trip and 21 dolphins are researched at Irrawaddy dolphins’ maintenance zone between Min con and Kyauk Myu­ang city, 28 dolphins in the third narrow river between Shwegu and Tha Bake Kyin city and 14 dolphins in Narrow River of the surrounding Bamow city.

“We found more dolphins than past year but it doesn’t mean that the num­ber of dolphins is increasing. In the pre­vious year, we don’t discover most of the river as detail according to the condition so we can’t tell the number exactly. But the dolphins number found in this year meet the target of 2010,” said by the responsible person U Han Win from the Irrawaddy dolphins maintenance group.

The Irrawaddy dolphin’s research re­cord listed that 70 numbers of dolphins found in 2010, 50 number in 2013 and 63 number in 2014 as yearly.

REFL DAILY ELEVEN

Source : Traveller journal

Myauk Oo airport will be upgraded intended to raise the tourist arrival

10 -2 -2014 To 16- 2-2014

The Myauk Oo airfield in Rakhine State will be reno­vated in this year with the purpose of increasing the tourist arrivals, said by the Deputy minister Dr. Tin Shwe from the Ministry of hotels and tourism.

This renovation of airport was answered by the deputy minister according to the questions of whether the airport will be constructed or not asked by the MP’s (Member of Parliament) U Kyaw Kyaw from the no (2) Rakhine State in the Amyo Thar Hluttaw.

Dr. Tin Shwe applied, “As the repairing process, we will start with the mea­surement of ground level, environmental situation and land situation.”

MP’s U Kyaw Kyaw said that,” Myauk Oo city is attracted with historical pagodas and significant places to the tourists but the transportation is only avail­able with water and motor way so the tourist arrivals is still decreased.

“Locals are expected to improve the tourism indus­try,” he applied.

The airport was con­structed with the length of 2500 feet, the width of 100 feet with the land and without maintenance, the airfield is impossible to land, announced by the transportation ministry.

The tourist arrivals in Myauk Oo city in Rakhine State is 339 numbers in 2012 but on 2013, the number in­creased to 646 number then the six hotels are supported with 149 rooms, announced by the ministry of hotels and tourism.

REF:THE VOICE

Source : Traveller journal

The black purse lost on Mandalay by tourist is returned back

10 -2 -2014 To 16- 2-2014

The black purse lost by the American citizen tourist was received back from the security police force for tourism (Mandalay) on 4 pm, 27 January in Chan Aye Thar Zan Township, Manda­lay region.

The purse lost by Mr. Fa lbawskl Krukzp lived in Rich Queen hotel, Chan Aye Tar Zan City was included with Visa, Bank Money issued card, American Express bank money issued card, life insurance card from Empire Medi-Blue, driver license and two of USD five dollars and one dollar cash and the tourist phoned the police force of tourism and asked for help to investigate.

The police force (Manda­lay) was investigated across the places which were popular among the tourists and get information that the black purse was found on the grass of Mya Nan Kyaw goldern palace, Chan Aye Thar Zan Township and get by one of the staff. The police force went and inspected then takes the foreigner to show the purse and returned it back

REF:MYANMAR ALIN

Source : Traveller journal

Cable Car project will be implemented at Zwe Ka Pin Pagoda in Hpa-An City

10 -2 -2014 To 16- 2-2014

The cable car project will be constructed in Zwe Ka Pin Swe Taw Shin Pagoda, Hpa-An city, Kayin State with the organization of Pi nam abbot from Great World Thanni Thu Kha monastery, Zaw Ka Pin ab­bot, the abbot from Min­galar Pariyat Ti Monastery and cooperated between SMETSD ABHD company from Malaysia country and the expert from Myanmar Engineering association.

The Zwe Ka Pin pagoda is situated the 7 miles from the south of Hpa-An City and 2734 feet high above the sea level, 20 miles long from South to North.

The cable car can carry 40 numbers of people with the electric motor and the cable rope has 38 mm width and can utilize for 10 to 15 years.

The mountain has to climb 1650 in for 2 half or 3 hours but after the project is finished, the travelers only have to take a few minutes and this project will cost 20 million.

The cable car is the first and only project in Nlyan­mar with the collaboration of government society,locals, peace organization and donators with the purpose of convenience of going to Zwe Ka Pin Pagoda.

REF: THE STANDARD TIME DAILY

Source : Traveller journal

German President will come to Myanmar as the first time

10 -2 -2014 To 16- 2-2014

Germany president Mr. Joachin Gauck will present as the primary time at the first economic forum in Myan­mar between Germany and Myanmar on 11 February, said by Mr. Patrick Benny from DW Akademie resident in Germany to the Voice Journal.

In this trip, the president wife Ms.Daniela Schadt will follow and meet with the Myanmar journalists, applied by him.

The detail of this trip plan is not fully known but the German President will come, said by the responsible person from the president office.

REF: THE VOICE

Source: Traveller journal

Lowing down the water level in Irrawaddy River causes the delay of transportation

10 -2 -2014 To 16- 2-2014

The Irrawaddy River is starting to face with the problem of water traffic and low down the water lever accompanying with the delaying the trip and destroying the river, said by the travelers across the Irrawaddy River.

The motor driver said that this water traffic was started to happen in Feb­ruary as yearly but in this year is started to face on January.

“We only need to take a bit more than 1 hour from Mandalay to Mincon city. But now, we have to take more than 1 hour because of the water traffic and take longer way in the river, the sand is appearing in the river more than year after year so we have to take more time,” applied by the motor transporter.

The Irrawaddy river transportation between Mandaly- Bamow trip of Madayar Township, Shwe Bo district, Tha Bake Kyin Township, HtikintTown­ship, Shwe Ku Township and Kathar district are fac­ing with the water traffic.

The passengers across the Irrawaddy River said that,” the trip across the Mandalay- Bamow is difficult as it actually needs to take one day but we travelled it for three days and the worst is in the Ma Lwe and Thein Tang Wae Place.

During the lowing water level, repairing the river transportation and digging the sand above the water are performing.

REF: DAILY ELEVEN

Source : Traveller journal

Myanma Railway will offer the Blue Train service to the foreign travellers

10 -2 -2014 To 16- 2-2014

The myanma railway planned to operate the Blue Train ordered from Japan was reconstructed for the passengers to match with the Myanmar rail road including the bed sec­tion of train (Upper class), the seat sector (Upper class), restaurant sector and the meeting sector with the purpose of the ef­ficiency of passengers and the Myanma railway.

The Train was con­structed with one bed sector of train (normal class) for 12 passengers comprised with eight rooms can take one passenger per room and 2 rooms of 2 passengers, three bed sectors of train (upper class) with 8 rooms for 2 passenger, one sector for 12 seats, three sectors of restau­rants for 28 travelers and the seat sectors for 52 passengers so the train is assembled with 9 sectors.

This train will be transported along the Bagan-Kyauk Pan Daung trip, Mawlamyine-Thein Byu rest house and Mandalay-Bagan trip and the tailored made trips. The proposals are invited from the tourism busi­nesses and the business which want to operate the restaurant industry to work with the Blue Train and the train will be rented as whole or partially to the tourism business for the tailor- made trip.

This train was located at Myit Nge Industry and on 15 January, the tourism businesses from Yangon and Mandalay are invited and explained. The businesses which are interested to rent the train and to sell the trip plan of the train can inquire at train industry at Myit Nge city, Mandalay region and collect information from the General Manager (Myit Nge Industry).

The interested tourism business can report the proposals to Myanma rail­way to the Director Gen­eral on 14 February and based on the proposals the rules will be issued and managed the tender so the tourism and restaurant businesses are invited.

REF: MYANMA ALINE

Source : Traveller journal