A Whale of a Time: Going on a Visa Run in Thailand

Day #2: A Queue with Numbers!

Breakfast in Laos, unlike Thailand, is something to be looked forward to. The country is famous for its locally grown coffee and French baguette sandwiches. I purchased both, first thing in the morning of day two. I still have no idea what type of coffee I ordered, or what was in my baguette, but I can tell you that it doesn’t matter. Every time I have had either it has made the woes of international bureaucracy much easier to bear.

The process of picking up your completed visa doesn’t start until 1:30pm the second day, when you return with your queue number to sit in another unbelievably long line. The heat of day one feels like an early spring day compared to the afternoon sun of day two.

For some reason, there is only one officer that calls up applicants to hand back passports and relevant documents, and he works at a pace that makes Ben Stein look like speedy Gonzalez. This fact that becomes far harder to stomach when you realize that once called up, all that takes place is wordlessly handing over your number and receiving your altered passport in return.

Ryan Farley / Own Work

What Did We Learn?

And that’s it. You’re done. A visa run boils down to nothing more than a three day, 1,300 km trip to drop off some papers and pick some different ones up. However, if you’re lucky, you can have some great food, some great wine, and maybe pick up a near death experience or two.

Getting back home was nothing special, I bussed to the border and went back through the entire border crossing experience. This time, there were second class sleeper tickets, and as I was rocked to sleep in the 48-person car, all I could think of was what a whale of a time I’d had. Already dreaming of my next visa run—as little as 90 days away.

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