Planning our trip to Myanmar turned out to be a lot more effort than the other segments of our trip. First, we had to go through the various hoops to get a Visa while staying in Bangkok. But, as it turned out that was just the first of many steps that would need to be taken before our trip – as it turns out, Myanmar is not just a ‘show up and go’ type of destination.
First up: Flights
In order to apply for a same day visa (which we initially thought we would need), we needed to have our flights in and out of the country pre-booked. Sadly our flights were a little more complicated than just round trip flights there and back. We knew we wanted to head to Indonesia afterwards but weren’t sure if it was cheaper to fly back to Bangkok first.
Luckily we had Skyscanner to help us out. Skyscanner is a great tool to find affordable flight prices, but its also a wonderful help when planning travel. They let you search so many options (including my favorite: Everywhere) so you don’t have to jump around from search to search while you compare. Using their tool, it was easy to do as search from Myanmar to Indonesia – no need to specify city or airport. They do that work for you. That was great for me since I am not super familiar with the airports in either country.
It’s all about the Benjamin’s
The next hitch in our plan came when we discovered that there are no ATMs in Myanmar and travelers checks are not accepts. Furthermore, the only currency that could be exchange for Myanmar money was USD. Not such a huge problem if you are coming from the US – but Shannon and I haven’t been to the US in months and had no USD.
Luckily, when Caroline flew into to visit us in India we had her bring us $1000 in cash. All seemed okay until a few days later when some more fine print revealed to us that all cash needed to be from 2006 or later and had to be brand new, uncreased money.
So while I picked up our Myanmar Visas, Shannon ran around Bangkok trying to convince banks and other money exchangers to exchange USD for USD. Several thought she was crazy and in the end it took her two hours to find someone willing to make the exchange – for a fee. Yes, we paid someone to trade us dollar for dollar in USD.
Now that we had all “new money” from 2006 and up, we had to make the money really look new. No creases. So we did what anyone does when they want something crease free. We ironed.
Yep – it’s like literal money laundering.
Now we just have to find hotels….