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Travel Warning: Inside the contraband room at Yangon International's Customs office

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Clipper707, Jun 27, 2015.

  1. Clipper707

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    Location:
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    Yangon, Myanmar.
    June 2015

    Despite approvals from at least three Ministries and the military, a missing document kept the Customs Department from releasing my Phantom for over 24 hours when I arrived in Myanmar. This bureaucratic nightmare is sorted out now, but I did get a look at some of Mingaladon International Airport's recent customs confiscations.

    I saw piles of generic boxes and lots of suitcases, and at the front were two TradeCraft hardcases and an aluminium hardcase containing confiscated Phantoms. On top of the aluminum case was a brand new, still in-the-box Phantom 3 Advanced. All had confiscation tags attached to them and are destined for a warehouse, somewhere. I don't know how many Phantoms were buried in the pile of boxes, only what I saw up front.

    My approval was conditional on having a guide present on all flights. The guy assigned to me has been awesome, but I've been grounded by the monsoon season weather here, except for one hairy flight in high winds.

    Despite being super photogenic, Myanmar is cracking down on drones brought into the country. Every inbound international bag is x-rayed by Customs and every departure is x-rayed by Security. This goes for all international and domestic flights. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have brought my Phantom in without official approval last November.

    Myanmar knows some drones will slip through the system, but they're taking this seriously and have been dialing up awareness about drones among airport customs personnel.

    Hope this helps. Your mileage may vary.
     
    IflyinWY and ianwood like this.
  2. IflyinWY

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    Hey Clipper, thanks for sharing, but do you have any idea why they wouldn't want drones there?

    I can't imagine they have anything to hide, and with folks like you showing the world how beautiful the country is???

    It just seems odd. Myanmar seems to be an awesome travel destination and drone operators who publish videos are providing them with free advertising.

    I'm confused, nothing new there.

    As usual, I'll settle for whatever video you can upload, it's all awesome.:D:D
     
  3. Clipper707

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    A lot of it has to do with Myanmar's history. In 1962, the military government of Burma, as it was known then, closed the doors. Political freedom was suppressed and access to the outside world was tightly controlled, perhaps second only to North Korea. The people didn't have cell phones, internet, or Coca Cola. I won't get into civil rights and liberties.

    In 2011 - 2012, that started to change. Political prisoners are being released. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who had been under house arrest for more than a decade and a half, is now a Senator. Everyone has phones and Coke is bottled locally.

    I made my first trip here in 2012 and I rented a horse cart to explore the temples of Bagan. I felt like I was playing Tomb Raider without a Playstation, exploring temples without a soul in sight. (Anybody who's been to Cambodia in the past 10 years will appreciate this.)

    Tourism tripled from 2013 to 2014 and continues to boom, so allowing drones in is not a priority. Also there are decades-old insurgencies being fought between the government and ethnic minorities, and access to many areas is restricted.

    People are hopeful and there are upcoming elections that will bring about more change. Myanmar has a lot to show the world and is starting to do so. If you have a chance to visit, you will not be disappointed. Bring your camera, but I can't recommend bringing your drone.
     
    IflyinWY likes this.
  4. IflyinWY

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    Great stuff Clipper. If it keeps raining you can keep typing. I can keep reading.

    Got any pics??? ;)
     
  5. Clipper707

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    Shwedagon Pagoda. The national government gave me permission to bring my Phantom in, but I had to provide a very detailed itinerary outlining where I wanted to fly. My government guide and I went to the pagoda yesterday, hoping for permission from the trustee and a break in the wind and rain. Pretty much got neither so I did a timelapse with my GoPro instead.