Visa Extension Trip
Since we only had visas for 70 days, we had to leave Myanmar. The nearest and cheapest country to fly was Thailand.
The plan was to fly to Bangkok and return, applying for a visa on arrival for another 70 days. The organization told us that she will give us all the necessary documents and allowed us to stay in Bangkok for 5 days. But we have to cover the food, accommodation and entertainment expenses by ourselves.
We left at 9:00 in the morning. We got into the car and drove from the monastery to Naunghshwe, where we got our night bus at 18:00. The journey from the monastery to Naunghshwe took about 3 hours and during our ride by halfway we stopped in the second monastery, which fell under the leadership of our head monk. When we arrived to Naunghshwe there was a festival in town, so we had fun. We visited the local market, tried a hill of local food, looked at the surrounding pagodas, and we didn’t even know how and it and it was evening. We got on the bus and the 14 hour ride could begin.
After a night in the bus where we woke up every 3 hours for a mandatory break and we had to get off the bus again and again. Finally at 8:00 we arrived to Yangon. In Yangon we had almost all day ahead. Because the plane flew at 20:45. First we went to the organization office where we got all the documents and instructions how to extend the visa. Subsequently, I visited a private clinic because of an infection that I had in my leg for almost 4 weeks from the bedbugs bites. In the hospital, they gave me drugs and antibiotics, so I had to be completely alcohol-free in Bangkok. Then, I returned to the organization where we called a taxi at the time of the greatest traffic jams across the city to the airport. At the airport we celebrated my birthday with my colleague and finally enjoyed a good coffee and cake in the cafe :D. We arrived in Bangkok at 23:00.
After 2.5 months I finally slept on a normal bed and not on the ground, finally enjoyed a normal shower and the luxury of a continental breakfast. In the morning, I went to explore Bangkok. I planned to take a little footwalk around the hotel. But I met a local history teacher. He recommended me some tourists less known places to visit and also some more famous tourist places. He grabbed tuk tuk from me and arranged a very good price, then wrote for tuk tuk driver a list of places to drive me. After visiting 2 temples and tourist information, he suggested if I wanted to see traditional Thai fashion and costumes. He said everything was free. But this was a scam. He took me to tailoring where they sewed suits. They immediately dragged me into a small room and began to force me to buy a suit. But I was lucky because most of the tailors were from Myanmar so they were slightly angry although they see off me with a smile. The tuk tuk driver was waiting for me in the back of their tailoring. He took me to the next place on the list. He told me with a smile that, as always, he would be waiting for me where he dropped me off. When I came back from the temple he was not there. It was very strange because I couldn’t even pay him. The local drivers immediately rushed at me and began to offer me drive, but the prices were really high. Later, after talking to the driver more, I realize that my tuk tuk driver probably had a settled job with tailoring that he will take tourists there. Because I didn’t buy anything, he didn’t get any money from me and probably found new clients. Finally, I decided to walk around few sights from the list and walk back to the hotel by foot. On that day I wentalso to Thai massage. I was expecting some nice thai girl but I got a man 🙁 . The massage was nothing special but it was acceptable for the money. In the evening we visited Chinatown and their market. We tried many different foods and sweets.
On this day we visited the main attractions of Bangkok. Wat Pho, one of the six temples in Thailand that are of the highest grade of first class Royal temples. Wat Pho serves as home to the massive 46-meter long reclining Buddha image, the size. Wat Pho temple complex also boasts the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand and maintains the title as the country’s earliest center for public education, specializing in religion, science and literature. . And we also visited Wat Intharawihan The temple of the standing Buddha. The massive standing Buddha which dominates the area with its 32 meters tall and 10 meters wide. But it was so warm that we packed it around lunch. In the evening we went to Khaosan road.The backpacking district of Khao San Road is the traveler hub of Southeast Asia. Jam-packed with raucous bars and restaurants. For years it’s been the base camp for travellers making expeditions to outlying parts of Thailand or into neighbouring countries like Laos or Cambodia. Otherwise it’s pretty much the same bars, restaurants and hotels on the strip. The street stalls sell cheap noodles, cheap buckets of alcohol and cheap t-shirts that are designed to prolong laundry day rather than take pride of place in a wardrobe. There are travel. There are suit shops (although I don’t know how they survive on a street where most tourists would only need a suit for a court appearance). And there are cheap Thai restaurants (although I don’t know how the customers survive them. They are selling spiders, scorpions, insects). And, most importantly, there are large throngs of backpackers from every part of the world mixing together, sharing tales from the adventures they’ve just come back from, or talking excitedly about the ones they’re about to embark on.
We decided to make a one day trip and visit Ayutthaya. The Historic City of Ayutthaya, founded in 1350, was the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom. It flourished from the 14th to the 18th centuries, during which time it grew to be one of the world’s largest and most cosmopolitan urban areas and a center of global diplomacy and commerce. Ayutthaya was strategically located on an island surrounded by three rivers connecting the city to the sea. This site was chosen because it was located above the tidal bore of the Gulf of Siam as it existed at that time, thus preventing attack of the city by the sea-going warships of other nations. The location also helped to protect the city from seasonal flooding. The city was attacked and razed by the Burmese army in 1767 who burned the city to the ground and forced the inhabitants to abandon the city. The city was never rebuilt in the same location and remains known today as an extensive archaeological site. We went by public transport and by train and we spent only a few euros on transport together. In Ayothaya we rented a bike and visited monasteries located on the island and the city center.
On the last day after leaving the hotel we went to ChatuChak market. Accidentally it was Saturday. We had about 5 hours until our departure. Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok was once only popular among wholesalers and traders, but it has eventually reached landmark status as a must-visit place for visitors to the Thai capital. The market’s sheer size and diverse collections of merchandise will bring any seasoned shoppers to their knees – it’s where you can literally ‘shop till you drop’. Chatuchak is home to more than 8,000 market stalls that are spread over more than 140 000 m2. On a typical weekend, more than 200,000 visitors come here to sift through the goods on offer. Veteran shoppers would agree that just about everything is on sale here, although not all at the best bargain rates. I spent about 2.5 hours on the market and I have to say that I haven’t seen anything like this in a long time. Literally a market full of nothing. And a billion people. But the food was delicious. Then I visited a nearby park where I relaxed a bit. Then I called a motorbike like a taxi and got to the airport. One advantage of the motorbike that you do not stay in traffic jams. We flew at 17:00 but our plane has small delay. After small (bigger) problems with visas after arriving in Yangon, which took us for 2 hours, we finally solved everything. We stayed in a hostel in Downtown Yangon and enjoyed a smaller party with our friends and also a few random travelers.
I spent the morning wandering the streets of Yangon. It was a sabbath day so a lot of stores were closed. I had breakfast in the monastery’s stall, who donated food to passers-by and donate them some money (about the price of food I ate). Everybody was very nice and constantly adding some food on the plate. At lunch we met friends from the organization and went to lunch together. After lunch we visited a large Market place. Then we went to our organization office for a while. At 19 o’clock we got on the bus for a 13 hour journey.
After spending the whole night in a bus I was quite sleepy and slightly cold. The driver had an air conditioning on perhaps 16 degrees. After arriving in Naungshwe, we ate breakfast. We were picked up by car from the monastery. On our way to the monastery we stopped on a wooden bridge, which is one of the attractions on the Inle Lake. When I arrived at the monastery I fell into bed (mat) dead and finally slept properly (with bedbugs) 😀