Chasing Mirages

A Taste of Myanmar

by on Apr.08, 2011, under Posts

One positive thing (not to say that there aren’t lots of other characteristics I like about this place, such as cheap delicious food and really friendly people)  I’ve noticed about Singapore:  The buildings look nice, even decades-old government-built housing.  I’ve been told that the government requires and/or subsidizes regular repainting of buildings to maintain the city’s clean, modern aura.  And it works.

Walking up St. Martin’s Drive toward the Myanmar (aka Burma) Embassy in Singapore, I noted that the buildings here looked particularly sharp.   Based on its proximity to the flashy Orchard Road shopping area, this neighborhood must be expensive even by Singaporean standards.  Below are a couple of  St. Martin’s residential buildings.

…and then, next door to the red brick building, is this POS:

…a little taste of Myanmar, 300 meters from Orchard Road!  I guess the Singaporean government can’t force the embassy to look nice since it is officially Myanmar territory.  Here’s a look into the courtyard:

Nice BMW.  I assume it belongs to the Ambassador.  The inside of the building is no better.  No A/C; cheap, broken plastic chairs (the kind that look like they’re from the Jetsons except forced into rows by ugly metal stands); paint peeling from the walls.

Do I sound bitter?  Let’s just say I haven’t had a great experience with the visa application process.  The first time, I arrived at 12:15, 15 minutes before office hours ended.  There were perhaps 10 people in front of me.  I thought that they might close the doors at 12:30 and process the ones who were already in line, but the doors remained open.  Processing continued until 12:50 or so, when the visa guy suddenly told the lady at the window, who was 2 people in front of me, that she would have to come back.  Sheesh.  Completely wasted trip.

The second time, I got there at 11:00 and waited in line for over an hour.   Visa guy didn’t like one of the supporting documents I provided.  Let’s just say there’s a good chance that I won’t be visiting Myanmar on this trip after all.  A shame, it looks FREAKING AMAZING.

Here’s an article with some background about the country, the (un)democratic elections last fall, and China’s support of the military junta.

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