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Retreat, Burma
Answer
5/2/19 8:39 AM

Hi Everyone

I had posted recently about Sri Lanka: I was planning on going there but instead, am going to Burma because of the political situation in Myanmar. 

I'll be visiting one of Pa Auk's Monasteries for 20 days and am super excited about it. But I had a question with which some one may be able to help me. If this is the wrong place to post, I apologize. I searched the internet in and out, contacted travel agents, contacted Burmese official website, and no answer.

Question is: Can I go on a Burmese e-visa (tourist visa) and stay at a Monastery? On the evisa website, it explicitly says, you should stay in a hotel, motel, lodge (not even with a friend!), etc. However, the travel agent said, it does not matter. The monastery said, come on a tourist visa. And on the internet, I don't seem to find any clear cut answer. 

Can some one help me? Again, I apologize if this is the wrong place to post such a question but I ran out of options. And if it is indeed the wrong place, just let me know, and I'll stop this thread.

Thank you!


RE: Retreat, Burma
Answer
5/2/19 12:26 PM as a reply to Mike Smirnoff.
I don't know about that particular monastery, bur if you check out the website for Panditarama they have all that info here and it should still apply: https://www.saddhamma.org/html/getting-to-burma.shtml

RE: Retreat, Burma
Answer
5/2/19 12:38 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Thank you for writing Andromeda.
Again, does not answer my question and the same confusion perpetuates.
Monasteries say that you can come on a tourist visa. But to get a tourist visa (at least, to get an electronic tourist visa), you need a hotel booking and you're not allowed to stay at some ones home or at a monastery anywhere else. So, how can one go meditate on a tourist visa?
But does not matter. I think, the only way to answer this question might be to actually find some one who went to Burma on a tourist visa for the purpose of going to a monastery, not tourism!
 

RE: Retreat, Burma
Answer
5/2/19 12:48 PM as a reply to Mike Smirnoff.
I got a tourism visa ahead of time in 2016 and then went to burma for a retreat at Panditarama. Didn't have any problems. Don't remember the specifics, though. 

RE: Retreat, Burma
Answer
5/2/19 12:50 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Was it an e-visa or did you go to the Embassy?
And which country was this? I'm assuming US, but I'm unsure. And maybe it does not matter if it is an e-visa.
Thank you again, Andromeda.

RE: Retreat, Burma
Answer
5/2/19 3:20 PM as a reply to Mike Smirnoff.
It was an e-visa applied for from the US. 

RE: Retreat, Burma
Answer
5/3/19 2:22 AM as a reply to Mike Smirnoff.
Hi Mike you can go with your turist visa in a monastery without worrying. Usually people ask for a meditation visa when they plan to stay more than 30 days, for exemple if you do a 3 months retreat there is a option to ask for a meditatior visa that covers all this time, but you need to ask some papers etc.

Anyways if you overstay more than 30 days nothing bad is going to happen to you. You only will need to pay x day overstayed and isn't to much. 

Enjoy your retreat!

RE: Retreat, Burma
Answer
5/6/19 5:31 AM as a reply to Mike Smirnoff.
Mike, please visit this website as it has an up to date page on the Myanmar visa situation:
placestomeditate.wordpress.com

Short answer is if you meditate for less than 30 days, you only need a tourist visa via the website. If more, then contact the monastery and they will send you a letter which you take to an embassy and apply. See the above link re doing this in Bangkok. 

Also, your opening comment re going to Burma due to the political situation in Myanmar has me a little confused. You do know they are the same country but 2 different names, right? And there is always a political situation in Myanmar, the question is whether it affects you, and it won’t. Same with Sri Lanka for that matter, which is where I am right now. No problem at all. Plenty of tourists still wandering around. Can get a 30-day visa online then after arrival can extend for up to 5 months. Also discussed on the above website. 

All the best!

RE: Retreat, Burma
Answer
5/7/19 12:00 AM as a reply to Paul.
Thanks Paul for writing.

That was a typo: I meant due to the political situation in Sri Lanka, I am going to Burma.

Regarding Visa, it looks like theoretically, it is not permitted to go meditate on a tourist visa (I wrote to the Burmese immigration authorities) but practically, it is fine, and even monasteries say it on their websites.

Regarding Sri Lanka, it is my Sri Lankan friend who told me, that it's better to wait until later -- but your experience is different -- and has been noted -- thanks for pointing it out.

Thanks again Paul.

RE: Retreat, Burma
Answer
5/7/19 12:18 AM as a reply to Jordi.
Jordi, thanks for writing! Sorry it has taken me long to acknowledge. I am more at ease now on just going on a tourist visa to meditate. 

RE: Retreat, Burma
Answer
5/7/19 12:19 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Thank you Andromeda! I've sorted out the visa situation and am headed to Myanmar on 20th of May.

RE: Retreat, Burma
Answer
5/7/19 3:14 AM as a reply to Mike Smirnoff.
Mike Smirnoff:

Hi Everyone

I had posted recently about Sri Lanka: I was planning on going there but instead, am going to Burma because of the political situation in Myanmar. 

I'll be visiting one of Pa Auk's Monasteries for 20 days and am super excited about it. But I had a question with which some one may be able to help me. If this is the wrong place to post, I apologize. I searched the internet in and out, contacted travel agents, contacted Burmese official website, and no answer.

Question is: Can I go on a Burmese e-visa (tourist visa) and stay at a Monastery? On the evisa website, it explicitly says, you should stay in a hotel, motel, lodge (not even with a friend!), etc. However, the travel agent said, it does not matter. The monastery said, come on a tourist visa. And on the internet, I don't seem to find any clear cut answer. 

Can some one help me? Again, I apologize if this is the wrong place to post such a question but I ran out of options. And if it is indeed the wrong place, just let me know, and I'll stop this thread.

Thank you!


Hi! I'm going to Mahasi's school in Yangoon next week, also for 20 days.

They advised me to go with the tourist Visa so you will be ok.

Cheers

Nico

RE: Retreat, Burma
Answer
6/11/19 6:29 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
I don't know about that particular monastery, bur if you check out the website for Panditarama they have all that info here and it should still apply: https://www.saddhamma.org/html/getting-to-burma.shtml
If you'd be so kind, I have a few questions about the conditions of staying at Panditarama. I'm not sure how much they differ - did you stay in Yangon or the Forest location?

I've read both https://placestomeditate.wordpress.com/2019/04/10/panditarama-shwe-taung-gone-yangon-myanmar/ and https://placestomeditate.wordpress.com/2018/10/03/panditarama-forest-meditation-centre/ which are both useful but I was hoping I might get some clarity on a few points; I should note that my main concern is the ability to sleep.

* I've read (unsure if true) that Burmese centres can be noisy and there can be somewhat of an indifference to it. I don't know if this is just due to exceptional cases during construction or not. Did you have any issues with noise?
* Relatedly, any issues sleeping due to the environment? The blog above says that there are individual rooms which seems reassuring.
* I've also read that it can be quite strict. I'm not sure how much of what's out there is hyperbole. Are things "police-like"? I have no issue with practicing all day and sticking to the schedule but my concern is that if there's an occasional difficulty that requires a break or if I say the wrong thing in interview, how much slack is there before asking you to leave?
* Did you or any other foreign yogis get sick (or have any health issues)? I've seen this mentioned as well but I wonder if it's more a relic of the past.

I'm looking to practice in Burma and I'm deciding between Panditarama and Shwe Oo Min.

If you have any information on Shwe Oo Min, please share. I share similar concerns about Shwe Oo Min but additionally someone on DO said
> The (male) dorms that I stayed in at the time were quite disgustingly dirty. I've heard they were planning to add a new section to the meditation center for international yogi's with less strict non monastic rules. Not sure that it's done yet. (https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/10686637)
The Shwe Oo Min site also says:
> Sayadaw is recuperating from treatment and will away from May through to the end of June 2019 so the centre is not open to foreign yogis during this period.
I haven't been able to find any further info yet.

Are there other locations in Burma you'd advise for consideration? Any insight here would be much appreciated.

RE: Retreat, Burma
Answer
6/12/19 12:37 PM as a reply to Mike Smirnoff.
I had posted recently about Sri Lanka: I was planning on going there but instead, am going to Burma because of the political situation in Myanmar

I assume this is a typo, but just for reference, Burma and Myanmar are the same country (name change happened in 1989).

I wanted to ask if people might consider practicing in other countries in SE Asia, apart from Burma. e.g. Malaysia and Thailand have great retreat centers, are more functionally developed, and are not currently practicing genocide against various ethnic minorities (the Rohingya most notably, but many other minority ethnic groups are being targeted by the Burmese junta).

I don't mean to turn this into a political discussion, but just wanted to call these few things out.

As an aside, Malaysia, where I spent most of my formative years, is foreigner friendly, commonly English speaking, and comparatively easy to navigate. Penang, where MBMC is located hosts some of the best food in Malaysia (and therefore, SE Asia ;)