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Thursday 12 Jan 2006
Bangkok, Thailand

The waffle lady

Doing the visa application thing yourself at the local embassy always seems to be a good indicator of what the country's gonna be like. Myanmar's no exception. Me and Nat crossed town the other day to get our Myanmar visa sorted. After completing the forms, sticking our photos on with glue from a primary school glue spot like they told us to and lining up in the surprisingly small queue a finger was pointed at a number lit up on a sign on the wall. We needed a number, numbers were issued in the morning, we'd have to come back the next day to get a number, then wait around all day till the number was called. Ahhh dodgy Asian beurocracy. I had half expected something like this. We talked to a girl would done this that day who advised us to get there before 8. It was 2pm, she had no. 33 so it seemed like thed do about 40 a day.

So the next morning rolls by. We get to the visa office at 8 (our attempt to get there earlier was killed by a hangover and Bangkok traffic) and we greated with a queue disturbingly close to 40. Damn. So what else to do but wait around till the office opened at nine and fingers crossed we'd scrape through. I chowed down on a bunch of custard and blueberry waffles that a lady was selling from a stall right in the middle of the queue. So 9 rolls by, we move slowly to the front, register, get to the window and, sure enough, number 40 has already been issued and we'll have to come back tomorrow. Shit. We convince the lady to write our names on a list so we can leapfrog the queue the next morning. We're all unconvinced this would make any difference in the morning. Since the list is on a scrap piece of paper and there's about 40 people behind us. If everyone got on the list, then all the people who would queue up the next day wouldn't even have the chance of getting the number that day and would be bumped to the next day. Same thing would happen the next day and if went on that way eventually you'd have a list 3 weeks long.

We left thinking we wouldn't even set foot in Myanmar, then remember what a couple we met on Khao Sahn had said the other day. A lady selling icecream somwhere near the embassy could leapfrog the system. There was no icecream lady so we approach the waffle lady. Sure enough 1500 Baht each and we'd have a visa the next day. She even had a business card. Breaking every rule about looking after your passport, 3000 Baht and our two passports our now in the capable hands of the waffle lady.

This countries gonna be fun.

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