While reading Nicholas Kristof’s opinion piece on Burma (Myanmar) last month I was consumed by a rush of memories – conversations and images from of our month-long visit there last year. My comment on his article shares my views regarding the effectiveness of international sanctions in changing the behaviors of the military government (junta). I also address whether or not travel to Burma helps or hurts ordinary people.
I felt there was more to say about the junta and life for ordinary Burmese. But I looked back at a perspective piece we wrote last year – Myanmar, Where Hope Dies Last? – and realized that we already covered the reality and challenges that Burmese people face on a daily basis. We also explained at length why we are glad to have traveled there.
However, we continue to field questions from readers who are interested in traveling to Burma but remain unsure. We’ve already discussed what to do, see and eat there.
So here are a few thoughts regarding your decision to visit, what you might encounter while applying for a visa, safety concerns, and how to travel responsibly when you are in-country. Continue Reading »
No one seems to know what is needed to get a visa to Tajikistan. Even the Foreign Ministry in Tajikistan had problems advising Audrey’s former Tajik colleagues at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty regarding what was required. It appears to be embassy specific and heavily dependent on the relationship between Tajikistan and the country from which you happen to be applying. In other words: Continue Reading »
Known as the most visa-friendly country in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan’s visa was a piece of cake – no Letters of Invitation (LOIs), no questioning. Just fill out an application, pay the fee in the morning and return in the afternoon for the visa. We did this in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
If you are flying into Bishkek, don’t bother to get your visa in advance. Visas on arrival are cheaper at the airport. Continue Reading »
Although it is technically possible for EU and US citizens to obtain a tourist visa to Uzbekistan without a Letter of Invitation (LOI), we recommend spending the extra $30 for the letter. It enables the process to move faster and removes some of the pain. We used Stantours for our LOIs to Uzbekistan. No tour booking was needed and we received the scanned letter by email within a couple of weeks. Continue Reading »
Several people have asked us, “How did you get into Turkmenistan? Isn’t it closed to foreigners?” Turkmenistan is a special bureaucratic animal. But, with a little bit of advanced planning and an expanded daily budget, it really isn’t all that difficult, particularly if you don’t work for a media company or human rights organization. We believe our visit there was well worth the effort and adjustments required. Continue Reading »
I just want to go home. I’m tired of all this visa stuff.
– A distressed traveler at the Kazakh embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
So what does sex have to do with Central Asian visas? Simple, really. Thinking about, planning around, and procuring visas for Central Asian countries begins to dominate one’s time and mindspace — almost to the point of obsession. We’ll leave it to you to do the rest of the comparison. Continue Reading »
Myanmar (Burma) is a country noted for its oppressive government and lauded for the kindness of its people. This September, though, the political situation heated up again under protests and a corresponding government crackdown.
We’re back in the neighborhood of Southeast Asia again and we have the opportunity to visit. Do we go this time or give it another pass? Continue Reading »