So after 25+ addresses in almost the same amount of years you would think that moving one more time would be a doddle. Oh no, quite the contrary, it is probably my biggest hatred in life having moved almost as often as Donald Trumps mouth spewing yet more bovine feces.
Anyway, I made a silly mistake and made an assumption (as we all are well aware by now, assumption just leads to torment) that my next move would be direct to Papua New Guinea, unfortunately not. This weekends move is literally 300m distance as the crow flies but whilst sweating in the heat of Thailand and sorting what to take, what to sell and what to skip it got me to thinking about the pain in the rump that is relocation across borders.
When I first came to Thailand it was merely an extended holiday (About me) so I did not give visas a single thought as I flew in and automatically received a 30 day entry. Low and behold as soon as you exceed this timeline you are subjected to fines for overstaying your visit currently costing 500 Baht/day overstay. So what can you do? well as an individual on holiday you have 2 options, you can extend your stay at a Thai immigration office or you can cross into another country and come back. What’s wrong with that I hear you say; well, the extensions available are a one time offer per entry and depending on your home nation you can be granted 7, 15 or 30 days more, if and only if the Thai staff are in a good mood and you haven’t repeatedly done the same routine, plus it costs the same as option 2. In addition you also have to either head to Samui or Bangkok which can be a real pain if you are located in Chang Mai or indeed somewhere like Koh Tao.
Option 2 being the crossing of borders, the thorn in the side of any non-Thai resident wanting to stay long-term (and by long term I mean anything over 3 months) for whatever reason; in my line of work we see a huge number of dive professionals and trainee pro’s doing the ‘Border Bounce’ every day. The most common route is to head up to Ranong and cross into Myanmar, collect a stamp in the passport and re-enter Thailand. Sounds simple enough, but then you add in the cost and the ever-changing rules and regulations by the fat controller on the Thai border post and all of a sudden you are not sure if you or your mate is getting back in or being refused entry. Many stories (and personal experiences) reflect “the dodgy” regulation imposed by Mr Fat Controller such as, you need to show a flight booked for exiting Thailand, proof of 20,000 Baht in your bank or hand, or a bottle of cheap whisky from Myanmar, or even a 1,000 Baht note in the passport for the ‘nice lady’ to stamp you back in. Further complications have arisen recently regarding individuals that have legal entitlement to work in Thailand (legal entitlement comes in the form of a 1 year visa usually the Non-B and a work permit) allowing the holder to work in a specified capacity. There are 2 types of holder, 1. can exit and enter Thailand however and whenever they want to, 2. pretty much the same but they must extend their multiple entry visa every 3 months or exit and re-enter at the 3 month or 4 month point (if extension at 3 months is done). Now a work permit holder does not need to show proof of finances or flights out but the dodgy desk clerks and the Fat Controller do, at times, ask to see the work permit AND have been known to ask for flight and financial proof just to extort an illegal fine.
Thankfully the next country I work in do not have these problems but by god it takes some time to process some bits of paper (6-8 weeks) hence the packing today and moving to my buddies house down the road, whilst waiting patiently (that;s a lie I don’t have patience) and silently screaming out in frustration for the thumbs to be removed from bureaucratic rectum and once quickly sanatized raised towards the green light of Matt movement to the glorious diving location and dream job.
Anyway kids, this is just an example, you can find many borders to cross such as Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia etc but if you are planning to spend some time in the land of smiles get your visas ‘bob on’ and dodge the Fat Controller at Ranong, head to Samui and do a border bounce with HD Visa to Malaysia for a no grief (and somewhat entertaining, you’ll see what I mean) service whilst stepping over that imaginary line and back otherwise they have Herbert to deal with and he knows everything you need to know for a trouble-free crossing and re-entry, actually I think they are scared of him. You can find details of all the routes Herbert has organized on his website (details below) and if you are on Koh Tao and need assistance with HD Visa bookings or any other travel requirements I strongly suggest using Johnny and his team down at Island Travel in Mae Haad.
In fact, if you plan to travel anywhere in Thailand then I suggest you start with these two guys to plan your movements.
HD Visa Website: hdvisa-thailand.com
HD Visa Facebook: www.facebook.com/hdvisa
Island Travel Website: www.islandtravelkohtao.com
Island Travel Facebook: islandtravel