It’s the early hours of the morning. With only 4 hours of sleep I approached the documents check counter in the LCCT, handing over my passport and boarding pass. The staff looks through my passport with a puzzled look in her eyes and asks: “do you have a visa for Yangon sir?” Dumbfounded, I asked if it was necessary seeing as Myanmar is part of the ASEAN. “Yes sir, all countries are required to get a visa to enter Myanmar”. Craaaaaaaap. She refers me to a different counter to see if they can do anything for me. They can’t. Not with my tight schedule. Resigned to the result of my idiotic complacency, I ask where I can get a bus to Cameron Highlands. He directs me to the bus ticket counters in the Domestic Arrivals area where I waited for the counters to open, calculating the total losses this setback has cost me. It depressed me so I stopped and just tried psyching myself for Cameron Highlands.
After an hour and a half I started getting impatient so I asked if there were other ways to get to the Puduraya bus terminal where the busses for Cameron Highlands depart. Apparently there were busses just outside the domestic terminal so I quickly left the airport to get a bus.
Once in Puduraya, I found the ticket counter for Cameron Highlands and in 30 minutes I was in transit to the mountains. The whole trip took 4.5 hours but I barely noticed since I was out cold for most of the duration. Before I feel asleep I made sure to get a room in one of the hostels through Agoda. I found the TJ Lodge for just 7 USD per night and immediately booked it. Since Penang is about as far from Cameron Highlands by bus as KL I decided to forfeit my Air Asia flight there and just get the direct bus. Not a good day for me and airplanes it seems.
When I woke up, the bus was cruising by the zig zag roads up the mountain with terraces surrounding us. There was a distinct resort feel for me as we made our way to Tanah Rata, with houses and buildings similar to those I normally see in Baguio or Tagaytay.
Tanah Rata is the central location for most busses going to and departing from Cameron Highlands. The bus station was along the main road where a lot of the restaurants and cafes were also located. Finding the lodge was easy enough, being located in the corner building near the small market on the western side of the main road. After settling in and booking a tour for the following day, I went to explore the town. Apparently, the main road was basically it for the town. Most of its attractions where on the outskirts or a few kilometers away. With numerous trek routes, it’s a haven for those wanting to commune with nature.
The best thing about this place for me was the weather. It was so refreshing to feel sub-20 C temperatures again! After taking some photos I eventually ended up buying coffee in some cafe and just read a book. Just what the doctor ordered after walking through the hot and humid streets of KL. Suddenly, missing my flight to Yangon doesn’t seem so bad.
Visa Application for Yangon takes 2-3 days and costs around 30 USD. Some blogs say that in Bangkok there is an express service where you can get it within the day but that your flight has to be within the next 24 hours to be considered for this service. There are also agencies that can handle the visa application but these can cost more than three times the usual rate.
Learn from my mistake, always check the visa requirements. Never assume.