Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lao Trip 8.2 - No More Pages!

Checking out of Thailand was routine, but when I tried to check into Lao, I was informed that I could not, as there were no pages left for the visa stamp. I had assumed there were, but actually at the back of my passport, the last two pages are reserved for “amendments” like travel restrictions. Apparently, most countries require these last two pages in your passport to be empty or contain the relevant information and not be used for visa stamps.

There was only one thing I could do. I had to leave Thailand, as a condition of my one-year visa. Every day I went over my 90 days renewal and stayed in Thailand I would be fined stiffly. I needed more pages in my passport so that I could have space for future visa stamps and be able to leave the country. There was only one place in Thailand where I could get more pages in my passport and that was the U.S. Consulate in Bangkok.

We’re talking about a 10-hour bus ride south, getting in a consulate queue and then a 10-hour ride back, not counting all the time in-between those events.

There really was nothing else I could do. So, I voided my Thai exit stamp and took a tuk-tuk to the Nong Khai bus station. There, I got a ticket on the next bus to Bangkok (Kreung Thep) and proceeded to bide my time at an outdoor eatery in the bawkawsaw complex. I probably should have gone for a VIP bus or van, but I travel cheap and I like riding with average Thai people. Anyway, working out the schedules, a van or VIP bus really wouldn’t get me there any sooner than the public bus, although the VIP bus would be loads more comfortable and the rides quicker.

While having a Beer Chang and ice, I availed myself of a local wifi and used my smart phone to reserve an appointment at the U.S. Consulate for the following morning; first thing. My main worry was not knowing exactly the time the bus would arrive at Mor Chit (the main Bangkok bus terminal). It was possible that I could miss my appointment.

While having my beer and then another one, I indirectly met Pu, an early 30’s Thai woman. She was related to the owner somehow and showed interest in me. Since that time, we have struck up a friendship using social network links on the Internet (Facebook, Line).

A few hours later, I got on the bus for Mor Chit, and rode through the night.

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