Prostitution Report
from Burma

I am in Bangkok for four days from Wednesday March 3rd till March 7th a Sunday. On Thursday morning I headed down to the embassy to see about visas, when I went in it was a room with cheap pastic seats, a bare linoleum floor, bad air-conditioning and alot of people queing at a counter with a heavy grille and invisible staff behind tiny hatches. A helpful chap gave me two forms and told me to come back after 2 pm with my passport, two photos and 810 baht. Fair enough thinks I and left, noticing the sign stating the embassy was closed next day, Friday for a Thai holiday.

Well I had a couple of hours to spare so I popped into a travel agents and booked a return flight to Yangon (Rangoon yawn!). The flights were not expensive about 8000 baht and they only take an hour or so, fine and dandy so I head back to the embassy with two completed forms (name of father, colour of eyes, colour of skin you know the usual things you ask tourists!), two handsome photos of self and 810 baht in my increasingly sweaty palms.

click here to see the photos

I arrived at ten minutes to two and joined the line of hopefuls in the hot afternoon sun waiting as the Burmese official punctilliosly kept the door locked until two. We all charged in and took our seats and waited...and waited. I now realised there were in fact two separate queues, one for the riffraff like me wishing to hand over the required documents to the lord high bureuocrat behind the screen, so we might gain the blessed privilege of being allowed to visit his country. The other was for the lowlife who had already done so and were now waiting gratefully to have their passports returned to them by the mighty desk jockey behind the other screen, incidentally his hatch didn't open for a full hour after we arrived, oh by goodness we can't be helpful to these damned foreigners now can we.

Anyway both queues were pitifully slow taking about a quarter of an hour to twenty minutes for each supplicant, my queue had several guys with multiple Thai applications I think they were travel agents so that slowed things nicely. I have no idea what delayed the other queue when he deigned to open, after all how long does it take to hand out a passport to someone.

After an hour and a half as I was slowly approaching my guy I had a dawning realisation of horror. It was obvious that this was a two day affair, or perhaps a morning and afternoon thing ie you handed in your forms and then came back later. This was Thursday afternoon, tomorrow they are closed, then Saturday and Sunday closed also and my ticket was booked for Sunday, no visa no travel. I pointed this out to a passing official, well they seemed to be employed there though they looked like janitors, he looked at my ticket and told me to tell the guy I needed the visa today, ok not so bad after all. You guessed it this was not an operation with the word 'flexible' stamped all over it, when I got to the hatch the guy dismissed me 'not possible, change ticket'. Well I suppose I could have had the extra expense of another night in Bangkok, no great hardship I'll admit but by this stage I was thoroughly pissed of with them and their crappy country, I am sure it is beautiful and the natives are wonderful and warm hearted, but if this is how they treat visitors stuff them!

I accept some of this is my fault I should have worked out the delay in getting the visa, I shouldn't have booked the ticket first, but forgive me I am just a tourist trying to see the delights of their country not a bloody expert in travel documentation. Anyway turns out I was able to change my airline ticket to another destination, I picked Penang, from other threads it doesn't seem so hot but it will have to do.

click here to see the photos

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