General, Travel

The Terror of the Visa Run: Victory! We Have Victory!

The battle to gain non-immigrant status has been so long and chaotic, that amongst other things, it spawned it’s own blog title series – not bad going! As you have probably guessed from the title of this post, we finally, FINALLY have our visa to work here. Just in time to leave, so obviously, perfect timing.

Despite the fact it costs a little bit to get to Bangkok, I decided that I was going to join Jade there, even though it was only for one day, so we could check out the market, and get everything we wanted from Bangkok before we started travelling again. This meant more night buses, woop, and the first day that Jade and I have spent apart on this adventure.

Jade had to visit immigration on Friday in order to the stamps finalised in our passports, but as mine had been processed, I was still in school. Jade ventured on a night bus to Bangkok on her own, and set about motorbike taxi-ing and walking to AYC and then immigration to sort everything out. After a degree certificate scare, we were stamped and sorted, and relieved. She booked to stay in a hostel overnight, which is the first real experience of them we have had over here. I ony glimpsed it on arrival the next morning, but I have to say, it looked pretty decent! Maybe hostels are a way forward going on (I would like to say I’m not opposed to them, but for 2 people it’s often cheaper to get a hotel room!).

As Jade was in Bangkok, or on her way there, on Thursday night, I was left in the house all on my lonesome. Of course I did what everyone would do in this situation. Nothing. I watched a film, did some reading, looked at a few things for our onward travels, and then went to bed. How boring?!

The following night I set out to meet Jade in Bangkok. On my way to the tuk tuk pick-up, our ‘friend’ drove past me and offered to take me to the bus station. I am still not used to him rocking up at our house unannounced BUT it did mean that I didn’t have to pay for the tuk tuk there, so I won’t complain too much. He really is an absolute gentleman. As far as night buses go, this one wasn’t too bad. The seats weren’t the usual buckets that they are, but reclined pretty much horizontal, and a half Thai-half American guy asked someone to switch seats with him so he could sit next to me. He was lovely, from Cincinnati; it was nice to have someone to talk to.

When I arrived at the bus station, Drew departed with a big apology that he couldn’t give me a ride on his bike to the hostel because of his bags. People in Thailand are so polite and eager to help, even if they are sort of American-Thai. I knew the BTS didn’t kick start until 6am, so when I checked my watch and saw it was a little after 5am, I decided to bum it in a café with a coffee and my tablet reading until I could get to the hostel without using a taxi. No more than 5 minutes later, a British couple asked for hel with directions (which I was actually some use for with even my limited knowledge of Bangkok) and we sat chatting for an hour. They even let me ride in their taxi and dropped me off without me paying for it for helping them. I can’t wait to get moving and meeting new people now!

It’s begun raining more often here, and the heat has begun to increase rapidly over the past week, so it was no surprise that there was a flash storm as I arrived at the hostel. We dodged the worst of the rain, and made our way to the BTS to go to Chatuchak Market. This weekend market is absolutely huge, and is one of the most renowned markets in Thailand, if not Asia, so we decided that we couldn’t miss it. That said, we didn’t want to navigate it with our big bags next weekend, hence my impromptu trip to join Jade in Bangkok for a day.

It was definitely worth it. I wanted to get souvenirs for myself and for friends and family from Asia as it’s where none of us had been, and this place provided the perfect choice (well a little too much but I shouldn’t complain about that) of items to buy for people. As the market is a mix of souvenirs and things for locals, it was all authentic as well. I think I now have something for everyone I wanted to buy for, go me. I am going to send them all home in a box before I leave Roi-Et so I don’t have to carry them around and so they are at home when I get there. I feel better now as I know I have something for everyone as well, it means I can just worry about getting something from every country for myself, and I know that I haven’t awkwardly missed someone out when I get home.

We had some hours to kill in the afternoon before getting the night bus home, so we checked out Terminal 21, a favourit haunt of ours, as it was decked out in Chinese New Years things. We’ve come to realise that Thai people will embrace pretty much any holiday that allows them to party. Especially any New Years celebrations. The dragon they had hanging from the ceiling was mightily impressive!

We also took advantage of the predominantly English cinema there, and went to see 50 Shades of Grey. I had read at home it was rated a 15, but in Thailand, it was a 20+, so we had to show ID. I haven’t been asked to proved my age to go into the cinema since I went to see Forgetting Sarah Marshall after school in my uniform. The film wasn’t great, it wasn’t woeful, but it wasn’t great. I think I could have done a better American accent than Jamie Dornan (sorry Jamie) and Dakota was fairly rubbish; considering it is a film that centres around the relationship with two characters and they are on screen alone for a large chunk of the film, this is a bit of a problem. At least I’ve seen it now, and we burnt a few hours of time not in the bus station. I wish the Grand Palace was open longer, as that would have been a much better use of our time, but as it wasn’t, this wasn’t the worst alternative.

The buses home always seem so much longer than on the way there. To be fair, that is often because they stop at more places for some strange reason. They are always less comfy, they don’t have the VIP/premium option, so are never the recliner or bucket chairs, and I always go a little but crazy on them. Well in this case, a lot crazy.It was still worth it to get everything sorted going into this week but I will not miss those buses at all!

Talking of missing things, I am writing this on the morning of my final Monday in school, my final week in Roi-Et. This weekend has really reminded me of how excited I am to see new places again, but I am really going to miss this place. It finally has started to feel a bit like a home, and it will be strange to leave everyone behind.

That said, we start travelling again on Sunday! I can’t wait. We’ve made the decision to cut Hong Kong as the flights have gone up in price, and are now going to visit the Death Railway on the Burmese/Thai border, and make it to Ayuttaya, Thailand’s old capital. We figured we may as well see everything we want to in Thailand, and now as we have a visa, we don’t have to leave the country to travel down the islands. Win win (except for the not seeing Bangkok bit.) We are sorting the days we go down the islands, and are booking our complimentary bike tour around Bangkok for next week, as well as planning to finally see the Grand Palace.

After that, it will be scuba diving and relaxing down the islands, before hitting the craziness of Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. By cutting Hong Kong, we have ensured we would be in Kuala Lumpur on March 26th, which perfectly coincides with the Malaysian Grand Prix. At £19 for a 3 days pass to see the race, qualifying, and practice sessions, we thought it would be rude to neglect the opportunity. We can’t wait. The best things on this trip so far have been the impromptu trips and decisions, so we’re hoping this will be another one. We’ve also booked our big flight across the Pacific. It’s all getting so real now!!!

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