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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Immigration Hell

Immigration hell!

So I am having to renew my visa to allow me to stay in Thailand and work. You would think this would be a quick, easy straight forward process right? Wrong! Not only is there many multiple types of visa's for Thailand but each nationality has their own rules and not every immigration office (including the one closest to me) does what you need. So since my visa was running out I was forced to leave Thailand and go to Burma to get another stamp.

Theoretically this should be a really easy process. I leave my sleepy little beach town and get a bus 6 hours south to the Burmese Border, cross over and get my stamp,then come back into Thailand and voila la! I have more time to stay in Thailand.

Practically though, that is not how it works at all :( I left home and got a bus to a place mid way between here and the border. From there I was forced to pay for another bus the rest of the way down to the Burmese Border. I had taken off work on Friday because I was assured within one working day I could get this all done. But, even though I left my home 7am Friday on the first bus out, I didn't get to the border until 5:30pm! I was then told that the immigration office was closed for the day and I would have to stay overnight.

Fail! :( So basically I missed a day of work for nothing. The only bright spot in any of this is that I met a really awesome Russian couple and a really cool Italian dude and the four of us had a really good time together hanging out. So the next day I wake up and go with my new Italian friend to the border. The border between Thailand and Burma is a water crossing so you have to take a boat there and back. I had previously declined the offer at my guest house for them to take care of the whole process for me for 1000 baht (32 dollars USD) because I thought it was too expensive.

So, after paying for the motorbike taxi to the pier, getting checked in and haggling with the boat captain about how much it will cost to take us there and back. We settle on a price. I was then told we needed 10 dollars (American) each for the Burmese border authorities. Well here in Thailand they have the Baht and no Dollars. The banks are closed because it is a weekend and the King's Birthday on Monday so we are fresh out of luck!

But surprise,surprise our boat captain has American Dollars he will happily give us for a fee of course. So I ended up giving him the equivalent of 17 USD in Thai Baht just to one 10 dollar bill! :( Fail again!He takes us there and we get it done with no worries and come back. We then have to pay him his fee for taking us there and back plus his “tip” that he requested, and a “weekend holiday fee” :( I then find out that they can't give me the visa stamp I need there after all, even though I called on the phone and asked them specifically if they could do this and they promised me they could!

At this point I am about to rip my hair out!!! I have spent two days of my life traveling trying to get this stamp and they tell me all they can give me is 15 extra days and not the 90 days I need! (They tell me I have to go to the Thai Embassy in Laos) Which means I have to go from here to Bangkok and then up through Thailand into Laos sometime in the next 15 days to get this done so they don't deport me.

Want to know the most ironic part? After you factor in all the fees,taxis etc etc. This visa stamp trip itself ended up costing me 900 baht and it was a huge hassle! The guest house was going to take care of all of it for me for 1000 baht. I went thru all that Hell to save myself 3 USD :( and my total trip was two days of my life, so much stress and in the end all I got was 15 extra days and it cost me over 60 USD in total! So somtime in the next two weeks I will be spending more money to go to Laos to apply for this visa properly and get it all done and settled so I can get what I need but it will be a long expensive process I am sure. I hate how complicated this is. It is not easy and no one tells you any of this before you come here. Well I am learning by experience anything they tell you on the phone can't be trusted. But hopefully when/if I have to do this again I will have all the kinks ironed out and I won't be going back to Burma! I will be going to Laos ASAP.

I am so exhausted/frustrated etc. blah. The only good news is that Monday is a holiday.

1 comment:

  1. I hate to tell you this, but I think you can get your visa renewed in Ranong. There is a visa office there. I almost made this mistake too. No one at the border seems to know about the visa office either... I went to renew my visa and I was going to go on the boat, got my passport stamped and stuff, had loads of arguments when they said I could only get 15 days, then they had to stamp a massive 'cancelled' stamp over the stamp which said id left Thailand (and now it gets questioned everywhere I go cos it looks like I got deported and my visa cancelled!!). I finally got the bus driver to take me to the office and it was sorted.

    Please check though, because im pretty sure you dont need to go all the way to Laos to get it if its only a renewal. You shouldnt need to leave the country for that, thats only for New visas!

    From koh Tao they did special visa run trips though, which are all in and get you there and back in a day.