One of the conditions of my Thai Non-Immigrant “O” Visa (based on marriage to a Khon Thai) is that I must leave the country every 90 days. So, rather than just cross the border and re-enter the same day – which many expats do – I use the occasion for seeing a bit of Southeast Asia outside Thailand.
In planning these trips, I always read-up on my destinations using “Lonely Planet” guidebooks and the Internet. Additionally, I’ll post on Falang forums specific questions and solicit latest information.
As an example, in the forums I found out that in Cambodia, not only Cambodian Riel is used for currency, but Thai Baht and even American Dollars. In back and forth posts with some expats who have lived in and visited “Camby,” I even found out that Dollars are preferred and that you get a better exchange rate by using them. So, before I left, I had my wife get me some U.S. Dollars out of the bank.
I’m a “map guy,” so, of course, I Google Earth my destination and routes to and fro. If I have time, I’ll go into flight mode in Google Earth and fly the routes, also. I use printed maps, as well.
Generally, I start slowly packing a week ahead. This time, I didn’t get to it until the day before departure; good thing I keep an up-to-date packing checklist, like I used to keep a hiking/camping checklist. The idea is that after every trip, you add stuff you learned you needed and subtract superfluous stuff off the list. Naturally, before you leave on the next trip, you use this checklist to make sure you pack what prior experience has taught you you need and what’s nice to have along.
My wife Thiphawan was really supportive in me going, this time, which is a little unusual. She was originally dead-set against me going to “Kampuchee” (hygiene, ethnic bias, maybe I’d find a girl, etc.). But, when our Head Monk found out I wanted to go see the Angkor temples, he was all encouragement. So, with this “endorsement,” clearing it with my wife was no problem.