1. It might be impossible to get a visa for Myanmar (Burma) without mailing my physical passport to a travel agency. Mailing it. As in, sticking my most important possession that I’m supposed to keep on my person at all times in an envelope and giving it to the Thai postal service. The same Thai postal service that I’ve never used because I’m scared, and I don’t trust it.
2. FedEx exists in Thailand, but using their services here is not the same process as using their services in the United States, when I had a corporate account and a printer to print bar codes and labels.
3. My next option is to go to Bangkok and visit the Myanmar (Burma) Embassy in person. I don’t want to go to Bangkok to do this, because I have to go to Bangkok to fly to Yangon anyway, and I don’t need anything from the mall until then.
4. When most people in the world write about Myanmar in English, they write “Myanmar” or “Myanmar (Burma)”.
5. The US State Department writes “Burma (Myanmar)”.
6. In 9th grade geography class, we learned that the US calls the country in question “Burma”, because it doesn’t want to recognize or support the oppressive, authoritarian military regime that took power in 1989.
7. About Myanmar (Burma), the United States says, “Burma (Myanmar) is an underdeveloped agrarian country ruled by an authoritarian military regime. The country’s government suppresses all expression of opposition to its rule.”
8. Many people consider the people within Myanmar (Burma) to be Burmese. The language, culture, and food are thus considered Burmese and not…Myanmarian?
9. မြန်မာဘာသာ is the Burmese language, written in Burmese. It’s pronounced ”myanma bhasa.” The Bamar people are also sometimes called the Mranma.
10. There are lots of ethnic groups within Myanmar (Burma), such as the namesake Bamar people, but the country also includes Shan, Karen, Rakhine, Mon, and Rohingya groups. There are also people who identify as Jewish, Chinese, and Indian.
11. The Economist called the Rohingya “the most persecuted group in Asia.” The Rohingya have south Asian appearances and practice Islam. Many have fled to Bangaldesh, but the borders have tightened.
12. The two major English-language bookstores in Chiang Mai did not have Myanmar (Burma) guidebooks. I bought Burmese Days by George Orwell instead.
13. Writing “Myanmar (Burma)” is tiring.
14. Aung San Suu Kyi, a.k.a. The Lady, recently won a seat in the lower house of Myanmar’s parliament after being under house arrest for 15 years for opposing the military regime that took power in 1989.
15. Suu Kyi recently traveled to Norway to accept her Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in 1991 for “her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.” While there, she said, “War is not the only arena where peace is done to death.”
16. Aung San Suu Kyi once called for a tourist boycott of Myanmar (Burma), given that the money brought in my foreigners would support the military regime. She reversed her opinion a few years ago, which means I’m not being an asshole by going.
17. Still, there aren’t many guidebooks available for Myanmar (Burma), despite everyone (in Thailand) talking about how much they want to go “before it’s too late.” Rough Guides doesn’t even publish a Myanmar (Burma) guide.
18. Despite the unfortunate fact that I don’t know what “before it’s too late” means in this context, I’ve bought airline tickets in and out of Yangon a week apart, because I want to be early for something once in my life.
19. According to the one copy of Lonely Planet Myanmar (Burma) in Chiang Mai that lives on the bookshelf at Pern’s Mediterranean Cuisine, one week is not enough of time to really see this country.
20. After Lonely Planet insulted my mad travel planning skills, I’m feeling kind of haughty and glad about using George Orwell for my guide instead. Burma (Myanmar) or Bust, baby!
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