It wasn't so bad after all....
It wasn't so bad after all...
As you know I am living in one of the greatest places on earth... Bangkok.
There is so much to see, do, smell, taste, experience and talk about. Many people I've met here have said it is hard to leave and when you do leave, you can't wait to get back again.
That sentiment is shared by my experience yesterday.
I am living here with my girlfriend who works in a very nice school here in the city and what she has in her possession is a visa which gives here access to and from the country how many times she pleases over the year.
I on the other hand have a tourist visa which comes with strict regulations.
One being that I only have 60 days in the country (you can extend this by 30 more days... read my guide to find out how to do this) and after these days are up. I have to leave the country and come back again. Even if I leave Thailand for just 30 seconds, I have to do it!
Ok, it has been on my mind for weeks thinking of these "visa runs".
I speak to people I know and their experience is much less than I was hoping for. 99% of the time I hear negative remarks about visa runs; "its too long", "I get ripped off" and the day is a "loss"... Well that doesn't sound too fun. Not even Wang Chung could make me feel an ounce of enthusiasm.
I had to do my visa run yesterday and even though this is not a guide, I would recommend what I did for the first timer, it was easy and quite enjoyable because... "it wasn't so bad after all."
My day started when I left for Ekkamai on Sukhumvit which is the meeting place for a company that does Thai visa runs (Quick Thai Visa Run).
After doing a little paper work we head on a large air conditioned bus to take us to Burma. I now have plenty of time to catch up on some light-reading and watch a film on the bus. We watched After Earth on the journey there and World War Z on the return back.
In between the light-reading I take the advice that my old music teacher once gave me and always stop to appreciate the sky, sun, scenery, people and everything else around you.
The journey from Bangkok to the boarder was eye opening. The people and the surroundings change constantly. I see everything from coconut plantations, rolling mountains and maybe the worlds largest car boot sale.
Incredible, you don't see that on the M4!
The boarder at Kanchaburi border connecting Thailand and Burma is literally in the middle of nowhere, but the surroundings are tremendous. The scenery is something that took my breath away.
Don't be fooled about it being boring. I did and this forced me not to bring a camera. Damn it!!!!
The process took about 30 minutes and then we were back on the bus heading back to Bangkok. How easy was that?!
This trip to the border has opened my eyes to what else Thailand has apart from city life. I met some great people on the trip and shared some news, advice and funny stories.
The massive bonus of my day occurred in the morning when I bumped into Mark Wiens (who I am a big fan of) and got introduced to his very affectionate wife Ying. Mark is a travel blogger and massive foodie on Migrationology. I advise anyone who has a love of food to check it out. Mark has more of a hunger effect on us who watch him than the movie Tampopo.
When the day starts this well I know it wont be a bad day!
Overall, it was a veritably long journey and I couldn't wait to get back to the city of smiles, but my advice to anyone having to go through this is to appreciate what the rest of Thailand has to offer.
There are other ways to do a "visa run". Plan ahead and make a long trip out of it. Be adventurous and stop off in the middle of nowhere for the night. Take a train journey, or if you're brave, hitch-hike your way there by any means.
But more importantly is to keep an open mind and you'll then, like me, will come to the conclusion that "It wasn't so bad after all."