Plus information for travelers on Myanmar visas in Vietnam & Thailand
01.05.2012 - 06.05.2012 35 °C
To view the photos from the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya, Thailand, click here. Otherwise continue reading!
Scroll down for visa information.
5 Days in Thailand...
Although we would've loved to spend a little time in Laos en route to Thailand, we had to get to Bangkok early to arrange our visas for Myanmar. We had tried to get the visas in Hanoi, but with no such luck (see below for information on Myanmar visas). We were flying from Bangkok to Yangon, Myanmar on a Sunday, so we decided to fly to Thailand from Vietnam on a Tuesday. That way, if there was a problem with the visa, we would have three full business days to sort it out. We got to the Myanmar embassy early on Wednesday morning and, because there didn't seem to be any issue with the visa, we decided to apply for the same-day service so that we could escape the city for a few days of rest before Myanmar. Having both been in Thailand before, and because after Hanoi we were burnt out on dirty cities, we weren't really interested in hanging about. (Not to mention, of all the countries in Asia, Thailand is probably our least favorite.)
There are not many nice beaches close to Bangkok, but we didn't want to travel very far, so we selected the least scary-sounding, Jomtien. It is adjacent to the much rowdier, Pattaya Beach, about 2 hours from the city. We didn't read much about either beach, but we knew that Jomtien was meant to be quiet and more family-oriented, while Pattaya seemed to draw the kind of people who go to Thailand to fulfill some very strange fetishes. While it's possible that there were families somewhere in Jomtien, what we mostly saw were Thai "lady boys" and Russian, European, and North American men in their 60's, 70's, and 80's hanging out in bars (sometimes with the lady boys on their arms). There didn't seem to be any other young foreigners or backpackers anywhere, and Jomtien itself, like Muine, Vietnam, seemed to be a Russian tourist destination, since most of the signs and menus are in Russian.
Because we consider ourselves adventurous and open minded, we decided to make the most of our stint in Jomtien. However, the first time we ventured out of the hotel, Colin nearly had his pocket picked by a foul-mouthed toddler. The beach looked filthy and overcrowded and cackling transvestites made it impossible for Colin to enjoy himself. Despite her Facebook promises, Leah did not actually feel comfortable photographing the scene. Food and drinks in nearby restaurants were unusually expensive. Long story, short, we mostly just stayed close to our hotel.
One day, however, we rented a motorbike and rode around for awhile. One of the major reasons we chose Jomtien was because it is nearby the Sanctuary of Truth, a beautiful, massive seaside temple made entirely of wood. There aren't even metal nails! We spent several hours exploring the temple and its grounds, admiring the intricacies of the wood carvings. The temple is not finished, so we were able to see some of the artisans at work. We learned that there are 200 people working on the temple, carving all of the massive wooden panels by hand. At the temple, we also enjoyed some traditional Thai dancing (although the show took an ugly turn when a shirtless, drunken Russian decided to have a go at the dancing).
The Sanctuary of Truth really is an impressive sight, not worthy of words, so we have taken the liberty of posting some photos that show its many details (unfortunately, the weather was terrible and the photos did not turn out as we'd hoped... But you'll get the idea). As it is easily one of the most impressive temples we've seen (and we've seen a lot!), we highly recommend it, especially as a day trip from Bangkok. Aside from it, there probably isn't any other reason to go to Pattaya or Jomtien unless of course you're looking for the kind of party only befitting an aging drunken Russian.
To view all photos from the Sanctuary of Truth, click here.
Myanmar Visas in Hanoi:
There is no point trying to get your visa in Hanoi. The people are rude and unhelpful, and the requirements are ridiculous. However, should you find yourself needing to arrange your visa there, here are the actual requirements as of late April 2012 (other blogs and websites do not offer the complete list, and we wound up not able to fulfill all the requirements, and were therefore denied service).
-Photocopy of passport
-2 passport photos
-Proof of all accommodation during travel in Myanmar (we were told only the first night, but we in fact needed every night)
-Letter from employer saying you are a good candidate for travel in Myanmar -or- a letter of invitation from a citizen/company in Myanmar
-Fee (not sure how much)
Myanmar Visas in Bangkok:
The process in Bangkok is smooth and easy. However, because this is where most people get their visas, you should arrive early in the morning to avoid lines. The embassy opens at 9. We arrived just after 8, and were about 50th in line. For same day visas, you need proof of next-day departure; however, they gave it to us because we said we needed to catch a bus out of Bangkok that evening. I think it cost just over 1000 baht for same-day. The people at the embassy are very friendly and accommodating. There is a copy shop about 500 meters from the embassy that will provide the application form and assist you with the copies and photos if necessary.
-Photocopy of passport
-2 passport photos
-Fee (varies depending on same-day, next day, or two-day service)