21/1/2009 – Trip to Myanmar Embassy, Bangkok
I enjoyed the peaceful rest one needs after flying until I heard the pitter-patter of feet coming in and out of my room and then into the bathroom connecting two bedrooms. I must be sleeping in someone else`s room. Adam and his wife, Lin, share their home with a couple of young Thai boys who study away from home, and their Burmese maid. The bathroom is an unusual arrangement that I have only seen before on TV, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be exact. The bathroom is not accessed from the hallway but from the two bedrooms either side. Therefore when using the bathroom facilities I have to ensure that I lock the other door as well, so that I do not get disturbed.
I took my time getting up this morning and prepared myself breakfast whilst the maid was busying herself with chores. I couldn`t really bring myself to ask her to do it for me and it`s not too hard to fry an egg. She doesn`t speak any English at all so we just smiled and nodded when we saw each other.
Once ready for the world and geared up for Bangkok, I headed out only to get lost in the estate and ending up in dead-ends. Eventually I found the entrance and was able to flag down a taxi straight away to take me to Mo Chit BTS station. The traffic was mental, Bangkok, and the wider conurbation that it has become, is just swamped with traffic, and it takes forever to get about. I would seriously like to see a wider network of the Skytrain, as ugly as it might be on the city landscape, the benefits would be tremendous. There was a lot of smog today, and Bangkok is not particularly pretty at the best of times.
As soon as I got to the BTS station I felt quite at ease. Being my third time in Bangkok, I now feel quite confident in getting around, even to new places. And once we arrived at the interchange station of Siam, I had this overwhelming sense, of….`yey` (not really sure how to describe it). I decided there and then that I was coming back to Siam to get some Pad Thai and a pedicure.
I arrived at the Embassy of the Union of Myanmar early so went to a nearby bookshop for a drink. At 1pm I entered the dreary grey building at the side, where the visa applications are processed in a large, austere room. As I was filling in my forms, Neil, one of the guys I met at Spicythai in Chiang Mai called. I knew he was in Thailand and asked if he fancied joining me on the trip to Burma. We had a chat about my plans and he promised to have a think about. It would be nice to have the company on the trip and I know Neil is a cool guy and easy travel with, as we`ve already done the Deluxe Camping together. Either way, I am going to Burma as this is an important trip for me and I think it is going to awesome.
The queue was not particularly long but several of the people in front of me were travel agents applying for the visas on behalf of tourists, so the processing was taking ages. I think I must of queued for at least of 45 minutes, but luckily my Mum called and I had something to pass the time. At the counter I presented my photographs and completed forms and the visa officer handed them back to me along with an extra form and an instruction to get my passport photocopied nearby. It was so frustrating, they could have told me that sooner! The extra form wanted details on the last 3 places I have worked and the contact details for my recent place of employment. The Burmese Government is not keen on certain people coming into the country, so it is unwise to state a profession such as photographer, journalist, charity worker or activist.
Back in the queue with my completed documents, I was starting to feel a bit nervous and with just cause too. I was slightly interrogated by the intimidating Visa-man who questioned where I was going, how long for, who with etc. But I think I passed because he asked for some money and took my passport.
Feeling relived I treated myself to a delicious Prawn Pad Thai (just started getting into Seafood) at the Siam Paragon and then a pedicure (after walking in flip flops everyday, my feet get pretty battered) at the MBK.
After that it was the long trek back Adam and Lin`s place which involved two taxi rides as the first one got lost and dropped me off in the wrong place. I was thoroughly exhausted, but satisfied with my productive day.