General, Travel

The Terror of the Visa Run – The Return of the Terrible Trip

A few weeks ago I posted about the horrible experience that was going a visa-run to Laos. 30 days after this, there was still no sign of our non-immigrant B visa paperwork, and so we prepared for the unpleasant journey all over again.

When they informed us that the paperwork would not be ready, we had already planned for our weekend to Chiang Mai. This meant that we faced another trip to do a visa run, either from Chiang Mai, or in a rush on the 9th; the day that our visas expired. Chiang Mai has a large expat population so a visa run would no be difficult practically over the Burmese borders. The problem for us was the number of times we have crossed the border over the past few months; we really didn’t want to get stuck in Burma.

However, the problems that could potentially be the Burma border cross was distinctly more preferable than facing the same friendship bridge crossing we did in January. They strongly hinted they wouldn’t let us back in then if we went that way again, and being stuck in Savannakhet is not the most ideal situation I’d like to find myself in.

So, after asking for advice from AYC, they told us to travel to Amnat Chareon, our local immigration office. Yep, this Amnat Chareon. The pros: it’s not far away, we don’t have to cross any borders, we could go on the day our visa was due up. The cons: they were processing our non-b, so surely would know if we were trying to get a tourist visa for non-tourist purposes, if we weren’t allowed the extension, we had to get out of the country before the day was out, we could have been arrested, we had to go back to the most boring place ever.

Our neighbours kindly gave us a lift to the bus station, the buses there were nice and easy and the motorbike taxis didn’t charge much to take us to the visa office door, saving us a 45 minute walk. We were nervous when we went in, not that we should have been. The process was easy, almost too easy. The officer spoke great English, asked us about our travels, and even made some football conversation, and banter, when he saw I was from Liverpool in my passport. On top of that, we got 30 days instead of the normal 15 day extension. I’m not sure if AYC called ahead, whether that is the rule, or what had happened, but it felt very ‘I know what’s going on, you know what’s going on, we all know what’s going on but we can’t say anything out loud *wink wink*’. Don’t get me wrong, I am pleased it was hassle free but….

So we’re finally sorted until we leave Thailand for Hong Kong at least. Hopefully in that time our non-b visa will be sorted; partly so the stamp is in my passport, partly so getting back in to travel down the islands is easier, and partly so that I have something to show I worked here legally when I return to the UK. It had better hurry up and get here!!

Just need to find out when I finish now, and get booking the islands, Malaysia, Singapore, Australian, and New Zealand so we can sort those visas too….I hope I don’t run out of passport pages!


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