I have wanted to travel to Myanmar for years.
I’ve watched the movie about the life of Aung San Suu Kyi (“The Lady”) twice.
I’ve drooled over the sailing charts but keep hearing how tedious and expensive it is for cruising yachts to access.
Travel to Myanmar via Ranong in Thailand
So when I was living in Phuket and needed to extend my visa by leaving Thailand, it was a no brainer: Do a visa run to Kawthaung (Victoria Point), in Myanmar (Burma) via Ranong.
Yay! I finally got to travel to Myanmar. Well for a brief visit anyway.
Minibus horror stories
After reading the frequent horror stories about mini bus nightmare one day visa runs in the Phuket newspapers and blogs I opted for the local bus. Plus I wanted to spend a night in the Thai border town of Ranong.
The second hand unwinds
The 300 km trip took forever. I was practising counting in Thai and lost track at 33 stops in the six hour journey. Out the window it was all jungle, small towns, rubber trees, clumps of colourful spirit houses, election billboards and more jungle. To a sound track of Thai rock on the bus TV.
The clock next to the TV would climb its way up to a couple of minutes to nine, then be dragged back down by gravity. The second hand unwinds. Again. Whenever I dozed I would wake up to the clock telling me it was still two minutes to nine.
Looks like deja vu all over again Yogi.
A night in Ranong
I spent the night at the Thansila Hot Springs Resort in Ranong. Great value, really comfortable bed, with the river running right past the picture windows and burbling through my sleep.
The hot springs were about half a kilometre away. Seriously weird concept dipping in a 65 degree C pool after the hot and sweaty walk up the hill in the tropics, but I think it was therapeutic.
Helpful Burmese fixers
The next day I took a longtail boat ride over to Myanmar, passing through three military checkpoints to get there.
On the short walk to the immigration office I was joined by three cheerful and helpful Burmese fixers who tried to talk me in to buying:
- Duty free cigarettes. (“No thanks I don’t smoke”)
- Duty free rum. (“No thanks, I actually prefer to drink wine”)
- Duty free Myanmar wine. (“What colour is it – red or white?” After conferring among themselves they decided it was a clear colour, 300 baht for two litres. “Oh thanks anyway but I’m not sure it’s the kind of wine I drink”)
- Yaba (amphetamines). (At this point I just laughed and pictured myself starring in an episode of Locked Up Abroard.)
Next time I travel to Myanmar I’m going stay much, much longer. As long as my visa allows. In a hotel that is.
A view from my room – of Minibus Mayhem