GBA Lifestyle News
By Kate Springer | March 2nd, 2016

A travel tell-all with Kate Springer.

It’s Monday morning, and I get a Google Chat from my fiance. “Where are we staying in Yangon this weekend?” Oh, right. We are going to Yangon this weekend. I check my calendar and there’s nothing in there. I check my inbox, and yes, as it turns out I bought fanfares to Yangon in December. We’ve been down this road before.

Awesome! I think, patting myself on the back for snagging such cheap tickets. And then I take a look online for a hotel and my self-satisfaction evaporates. There seems to be a massive gap in Yangon: a cursory search yields gorgeous colonial numbers for US$400-plus-plus and shabby-looking “boutique” hotels for the same price as a hostel.

I have nothing against hostels, mind you. I actually enjoy staying in them when traveling with laid-back friends or as an affordable alternative if I happen to be traveling during peak season, but there’s something suspicious about “hotels” this cheap with such glowing reviews. Too suspicious, I think, and keep looking.

I must have 15 tabs open by now, sorting TripAdvisor every which way, checking prices on Zuji and Skyscanner, opening up last-minute booking apps and emailing a friend who might have some advice. I’m berating myself, wondering why I am so good at booking trips, but so bad at remembering them!

In the end, we find a darling-looking boutique hotel with contemporary, artsy rooms. It’s hard to tell based on the photos if it’s going to live up to expectations, but it’s super affordable so we book it for a night. Saving money on the first night, we decide to splurge on the second night, figuring it will all balance out.

This is going to be great, I think, feeling self-satisfied again. Problem solved. Fast-forward to Wednesday morning, three days until takeoff.

I’m enjoying a morning coffee with a fellow travel writer, and we’re exchanging upcoming plans, tips and ideas. And then it dawns on me: I haven’t applied for a Myanmar visa.

I have a flashback to a highly stressful flight to Melbourne, where we had to apply online before we were allowed to check in. Miraculously, the approval came through within an hour, just in time to board. Why does this keep happening?

Another search takes me to an e-visa page. Sigh of relief. The page quotes three working days to process. Just in time! I quickly fill out all the info, upload the photos, and silently thank Myanmar for embracing the internet.

Now there’s nothing to do but sit tight for our visas to be approved, but maybe I’ll scan some new flight deals in the meantime.