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Archive for December 12th, 2012

Doing The Visa Shuffle

Posted by TravellingStrom on December 12, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

All good plans are doomed to fail, today( Monday 10th Dec) as it turns out is a public holiday for Thailand, so their embassy is closed, bugger. But at least after having ridden there I now know where it is! No worries, I will toddle off up the road and get a Cambodian visa, but buggerit, they are closed too, a public holiday for ‘people rights’ day?

Tuesday 11th December

You know, it has been a long time since I have applied for a visa at an embassy, and even then I have never had to wait for very long, well, today when I got to the Thai embassy, just on 0830 which is opening time, I realised I should have been here sooner!!!

I sorted out some paperwork and grabbed a few photos and copies from the touts that are hanging around and stood in line. Once the gates opened the line moved very fast, but it was a short lived relief, because it was just to grab a ticket and then wait again. But at least it was under shade and there were seats and when the number screen showed customer number 3, and mine was 168, I knew I was in for a long wait 😦

I was expecting to see Luigi and Sue but for some reason they were not here? I was reading my book and watching the numbers when I got a text from Luigi, it seems they had seen the line up and decided to get their Thai one another day, in the meantime they had been to the Cambodian embassy and within 20 minutes had their visas! Hmmm, so looked at the time and calculated that I would be here another 2 hours at least, before my number was called and decided to go for the Cambodian one right now 🙂

The decision turned out to be a good one. Although the lady there said to come back at 4pm, I asked if she could do it right away as I was travelling with some other bikers, who had been here earlier 🙂 Yeah, I know, I lied, but I got the visa within 15 minutes and then headed back to the Thai embassy and sat around again for another hour until my number was called. I asked for a double entry, handed over my application and then went and sat in another line in a different building where I had to pay the 2,000baht fee. Once that was done, they said come back tomorrow after 1pm to pick up your passport.

The rest of the day was a lazy day, but I saw a great old Buick car, it was being fitted out with a sound system, but when I looked under the bonnet, I was so disappointed!

Fancy fitting a Jap engine to a nice piece of work like that, it is sacrilege!! Beers and tucker was down at the Spirit House again before an early night.


Wednesday 12th December

You would have thought I had enough brains to realise that if I was number 168 yesterday, that meant there would be at least 168 people wanting to pick up their passports today? But, no my brain did not think of that so when I arrived at embassy opening time, I was once again at the back of the queue 😦 My number this time was 176!!! But, as it turned out the wait was not as long as I feared as it was just a pick up, so within 1 hour I was on the scooter with my Thailand double entry visa 🙂

Now was the tricky part and as it turns out the most frustrating part of the day. Here is a bit of background. I had entered Laos on the 2nd November, and bought a 30 day visa for me, and the bike was stamped for that long as well. I then had to cross back into Thailand to pick up parts and had to purchase another 30 day visa which runs out tomorrow. But, I had never taken the bike out of the country and had not extended its visa, I needed to get that sorted today as it looks like I will be here a while. So, I head out to the Friendship bridge border crossing, it is about 20km to the east of Vientiane. That is when the crap starts!

The goal for me is to get myself stamped out of Laos and then back in again. But, I also need the bike to be covered so the first step is to talk to the customs people. I found their main office and when I explained the situation, all 3 of them smiled, which means to me this is going to be expensive!!! They pointed to the very bottom of the TVIP(Temporary Vehicle Import Permit), in the fine print it says a fine of $5-reasonable or $10-unreasonable per day is payable, crikey mort, this will cost some dollars as the bike had overstayed by 33 days, do the maths!!! I quickly said, lets be ‘reasonable’ about this as the only reason I overstayed was because the bike broke down and I could not move it 🙂 They were nice, they said how does 400,000kip sound($50), which was 1/3rd the real price and I said that sounds very ‘reasonable’ indeed.

But, they said I have to first get the new Laos visa, so off I toddle and get stamped out of Laos at immigration. I then jump the fence so I can go to the incoming side of immigration, I get myself $30US from a money changer to buy the visa(they wont take any other currency but US, how stupid is that) and fill out the visa form and hand it in. This is when my dislike of wankers in uniforms starts. He says I cannot enter until I have been to Thailand, I don’t want to go to Thailand I say, I just want to extend my visa here. After 5 minutes arguing(with a wanker in uniform) I saw no other option but to do what he says. So, I now have to go and buy a bus ticket that will take me across the river into Thailand, to get stamped in there then out there and back again 😦

Once at the other side I asked them to give me a 15 day entry visa but no, the wanker on this side found my double entry visa in the passport and used one of them, I could not talk him out of it, I told him I needed to use that later, to no avail. Let that be a lesson to you, in the sequence of events, I should have sorted all this Laos stuff out first THEN applied for the Thai visa. So, now I have been stamped into Thailand(with a 30 day visa), I cross the road and get stamped out of Thailand, having just wasted $15 in the process and buy another bus ticket to cross the river again and get back to the Laos immigration window again.

So now I am set, I have all the paperwork, I have all the stamps and I have the money. The same chap is there who takes my paperwork, checks my stamps and smiles then asks for $30US, which I give him. He looks at the money and says he cannot accept this note because it has a small tear in it WTF!!! I am calm I think, and go back to the money changer and wait in line and get the note changed and go back and hand him the money again. He looks and says, OK I need one more dollar, it is now after 4pm and it is overtime WTF, I think I am calm when I give him an evil glare as I walk away and BUY $1US from the money changers. This is not simple, I have to cross into Laos(without a visa) and go through 2 different checkpoints to find a money changer that is open, the one on the entry side of the border is not attended!! I do this and return and hand him the money, he can see that he is getting to me, the fucker, but he now has no more reason to hold me up, except to say, wait around the corner at window 3 for the passport. Lucky for me, the other people in the office are not arseholes and I get my new visa within a few minutes.

I then head over to the customs again, show them my passport and start the next procedure. This means going to the pay office where I hand over the 425,000kip(there is an overtime fee of 25,000) and she enters that into the computer and I am nearly free to go. Because now I have to go through the exit posts once again, but have to pay 9,000kip overtime fee, since when does 4pm become after hours!!!

But, all the hurdles have been hurdled with only a few stumbles and I now locate my scooter and head back to town, ready for some beer 🙂 That has been a very un-enjoyable 4 hours but I washed the pain away with a few rums as well 😉

Cheers from Vientiane

Posted in Around The World, Eurasia | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

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