I just came back from a trip to Myanmar. I was on a tour group so I didn’t get to do a lot of things on my own. That’s why I’ll definitely go back. Before I drown you with posts about Myanmar, here’s a guide to applying for a Myanmar visa in Singapore.
When I was told that I could go to Myanmar, I only had less than 2 weeks before departure so I had to be quick about my visa application.
In the end, my curiosity made me choose going to the embassy to apply for a visa. After my journey to the embassy, I’ve concluded that it’s really easier and cheaper to get a travel agency to do it for you.
The tourist visa fee is S$35 but there is a hidden administration fee of S$10 that they don’t tell you. Since the embassy is not in the most convenient location and the visa application hours are crazy, you should just save your taxi money and get the visa done at a travel agent.
Getting a Myanmar visa in Singapore personally
If you still want to DIY the visa application, here are the details. The Myanmar Embassy website is quite straight forward and will send you an e-mail telling you everything you need to do.
Step 1: Book an appointment online
The embassy now has an online appointment system where you need to book a date that you’re heading down to the embassy. I recommend giving yourself an extra day to fill up the form because there might be things that you need to prepare but do not have at hand.
Apart from having all the details about you, you’ll need a digital photo to upload to the system so please have that on your computer.
I chose to take a photo of the physical passport photo for the physical form and upload it to the system. I didn’t want to risk them rejecting my visa application because my hair was swept at a different direction.
Step 2: Receive forms to fill up
After your appointment, the embassy will send an e-mail with some documents that you need to print out. It’s best to print out all three of them.
The form is pretty straight forward but there are parts that made me go, “Huh?” This part about my complexion made me pause a while.
In the end, I wasn’t funny and wrote “Fair” for my complexion and “Dark brown” for my hair color even though my dye job looked more like, “Streaky.”
Step 3: Prepare everything you need to bring
This step takes a bit of time to get done because there’s a lot of things you need to bring.
Please bring an extra S$10 to the embassy on top of the S$35 visa fees because you’ll need to pay the admin fee.
Step 4: Arrive at the embassy early
There are two contradicting opening time in the documents that I’ve received. One told me to be at the embassy before 8am while the other said to reach before 9am.
Even though there is a queue number in your appointment letter, I don’t think there is an actual queue system.
I arrived at the embassy around 8:15am and queued at the “Foreigner” building–the yellow one. There were about eight people in front of me. Then around 8:30am, the counters started operating, even though the forms say the opening time is 9am. Well, anything quick suits me well.
The actual handing over of forms and other documents took about five minutes. I received a collection note. The man at the counter told me I could collect my visa in the evening. He also said that a representative can help with the pick up as long as they have the collection slip.
That was fast.
Step 5: Collect your visa
The visa should be available on the same day, unless your application looks suspicious.
My sister helped me collect my visa so I didn’t have to take time off work and take a cab to the embassy. Thanks sis!
After all the trouble, I recommend applying the visa using a travel agent. You won’t need to take time off work to apply and it might be just S$20 extra (which is less than most taxi money to and from the embassy twice).
Things to take note of when applying for a Myanmar visa
While my visa application and trip has been a success, I’ve heard stories about people not being able to get a visa to Myanmar. To summarize, here are the things to take note of:
Do not work for any newspaper
Do not say that you are a journalist or writer
Hope you have a smooth journey with your visa application.
Curious about Myanmar? Here are some posts about the country:
After my last not-very-travel-related post, I have another post: Tips and tricks for buying a Xiaomi phone during the sale.
Xiaomi is a Chinese company that makes cheap and alright smartphones. The most basic model available in Singapore, Redmi 1S, is S$169, including shipping charges. This makes it a good enough price point for a backup smartphone, an entry-level phone for people who don’t need that much functionality.
Xiaomi market their phones very cleverly. They don’t sell their products in stores but sell them online during flash sales. These flash sales end really fast because a lot of people want the phone.
I’m writing this Xiaomi phone-buying guide because I’m a self-proclaimed expert at buying them.
Since March 2014, I’ve bought 13 sets of Xiaomi phones, including one Redmi Note just last week during its first round of sale. (I’ve failed during my first two times trying to buy the phones but afterwards it was smooth sailing.)
Here is the unofficial desperate person’s guide to buying a Xiaomi phone. (The official not-so-desperate buying guide is available on Xiaomi Singapore’s Facebook page.
Things to note about buying a Xiaomi phone:
You can only buy one phone at a time.
But you may be able to buy multiple accessories (earphones, power bank).
Having the phone in your cart does not mean you have bought it, you still need to pay.
What to do a day before a Xiaomi sale
Sign up for an account on mi.com.
Link your credit card to your PayPal account.
Save your Name, Address, Phone Number if your browser allows auto-fill in, even though there is a chance that this will not work.
In case #3 doesn’t work, have your Name, Address, Phone Number typed out in Notepad so you can copy-and-paste fast.
What to do 30 minutes before a Xiaomi sale
Sign in to your Xiaomi account half an hour before the sale starts. The login gets jammed nearer the sale.
About 5 minutes before the sale start, open up TWO tabs of page of the phone you want to get. Example here is the Redmi Note page. Notice that the label says “Out of Stock” on the right.
For the next 5 minutes, refresh the two tabs. Once the page is refreshed, refresh it again and again.
When 11:59am comes, keep tabs on your tabs, the “Add to Cart” sign might appear. Then you’re off.
Having your phone in the cart does not mean you have bought them. You’ll need to pay for it. Quickly pick the accessories you need.
Fill up your details. Hopefully Google Autofill will do it for you or else you’ll need to copy-and-paste it.
Next is the payment page, it’ll bring you to PayPal. Since you’ve linked a Credit Card (or anything), you’ll check out super fast.
Voila, you’ve successfully purchased a Xiaomi.
Do Step 1 to 7 again if there’s still stock and you need to buy another phone.
Extra: How to renew your Malaysian passport online
1. Sign into MyOnline Passport using Chrome.
2. Fill in correct information and upload a photo of the right format.
3. Pay using credit card.
4. Save the receipt onto your computer.
5. The passport should be ready at where you said you will pickup in 2 hours time.
How many travellers does it take to renew a passport?
The answer is one. But when the traveller is well-known for being a scatter-brain procrastinator, it might take a lot more than that.
My passport with the number H180XXXXX was expiring on Jan 30, 2013. But we need at least 6 months of validity for our passports if we want to travel overseas.
I’m working in Singapore with a Malaysian passport, I don’t think having an “expired” passport will sit well with the authorities.
While I was determined to get a new passport when I head home during the end of June, I only successfully retrieved the new passport on July 28, in Johor Bahru which is 8,000++km away from home.
Here’s the story of how I finally renewed my passport.
Pre-June 29. Location: Singapore
(Countdown to expiry 30+ days + 6 months)
More than month till my passport expires. No worries.
I keep announcing to my colleagues that I will renew my passport when I am back home at the end of the month for my classmate’s wedding.
I even make sure to place my passport in my handbag (which is really redundant because I need it to travel home anyway.)
June 30. Location: Kota Kinabalu
(Countdown to expiry 30 days + 6 months)
I am supposed to renew my passport today. I have even planned out the day’s schedule: renew passport in morning, go to mall nearby while waiting for the passport to be churned out in two hours, collect passport.
But it didn’t happen. Why? Because I’ve forgotten to bring my Identification Card (IC) back home.
It did cross my mind that I should bring my IC back. But being me, I didn’t heed that small warning.
My parents grumbled. I told them to relax.
Instead of a new passport, I had passport photos taken.
July 2. Location: Singapore
(Countdown to expiry 27 days + 6 months)
Back in Singapore, maybe I can renew my passport at the High Commission of Malaysia here.
Oh no, Sabah/Sarawak passports need two extra months of processing since they need to send it back. This is ridiculous.
July 11-15. Location: Hoi An, Vietnam
(Countdown to expiry 15 days + 6 months)
Well, since I’m overseas having fun. It’s not possible to renew my passport.
(Countdown to expiry 10 days + 6 months)
Only 10 days weeks till I’m considered an illegal alien. Gaa! Let me drink this cup of tea to calm my nerves.
Boss asks when my passport is expiring, gives hint of an upcoming trip.
I call up the Johor immigration office to ask if Sabah passports take a longer time to process. It doesn’t. (Phew.)
But the immigration office will be closed during the 21st and 22nd weekend because of the beginning of the fasting month.
Panic starts to creep in.
July 23. Location: Singapore
(Countdown to expiry 7 days + 6 months)
OK, do not panic. D suggests I sleepover in Johor and run to the immigration office as soon as the door opens.
Sounds like a plan.
July 24. Location: Singapore
(Countdown to expiry 6 days + 6 months)
I decide I should get the online passport renewal system, MyOnline Passport, a try.
I use Firefox which has always been more stable for important sites. After filling in all my details, I find out that I cannot upload my photo.
I decide to use Chrome. Oh! Photo upload works. Let me fill in my credit card details, select Johor as my pickup point, and sent everything over. A Web page gives me the receipt for the transaction and says I can pick up my passport after 2 hours.
July 25, 26, 27. Location: Singapore
(Countdown to expiry 5, 4, 3 days + 6 months)
I keep worrying that MyOnline Passport doesn’t really work, while reassuring my boss my passport will be collected on Saturday.
July 28. Location: Johor Bahru
(Countdown to expiry 2 days + 6 months)
Today’s the day of passport collecting, if I don’t get it done, I will be stranded in Johor until I get it sorted out.
I wake up at 7am, take the bus to Woodlands, switched to a bus to the checkpoint. A cab drives slowly pass the lobby after the checkpoint, I jump in.
After a RM16 cab ride, I am at the Johor Bahru immigration center at 9.40a.m. I don’t know which of the four buildings houses the passport office. I sprint from the car park to the center of the buildings–if my online passport application hasn’t been successful, I will need to get the paperwork done before 10am as the office closes at noon on weekends.
The employees at the carpark stopped me.
-Where are you going?
-To get my passport renewed.
-Oh! I thought you dropped your passport or something. Take that lift to the third floor.
I reach the office. The queue is crazy. I am going crazy. I ask the lady for a queue number. She sees that I am collecting my passport so send me to counter 11.
OK, not as many people here. I hand over my passport pickup slip, telling the person I renewed it online. He tells me to take a seat and they will call out my name.
I stand in the corner and send an SMS to mom to tell her that I am waiting to collect my passport. I see a man with a stack of passport coming from behind the office.
My name is called. I take a seat, sign my passport and give them my right thumbprint.
I’m in the office for less than 10 minutes and my brand spanking new passport is in my hands.