At the risk of burning the bridge – I’ll try to help the local expats out that are trying desperately to stay in the country on tourist visas. The problem in doing so, is finding a place that gives the 2x (Double entry) Tourist visa which, after extensions in country, is good for a total of 6 months.
Up until March 31, 2011 these visas were free – for single or double entry. There were very few places you could count on getting one easily – Vientianne, Laos was the best place. Vientianne Thai consulate officials have started to cut down dramatically on who they are allowing to get these visas. It was quite expected. I have seen more asshole expats blow up at the Thai consulate staff in Laos than I could stomach. I don’t know how they put up with it on a daily basis.
There have been very recent reports that all or most or some expats with 2 previous tourist visas were getting rejected – and couldn’t get a third visa.
These guys/gals then had to either fly into Thailand and get the gratuitous 30-day visa or walk across the border and get 15 days, and do it again right after… or, they had to find another place that WOULD give the 2x tourist visa for Thailand.
Toward the end of March I needed to get another tourist visa. I had been to Laos and got the first one in this new passport. I became a little leery of Laos – and add to that the fact that I’ve been there about 5 times over the years… I decided to look into Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
After some research into Phnom Penh, I was undecided. It seemed to be iffy to get the 2x tourist visa in Phnom Penh. There were guys in Pattaya that were taking visa run tours – and getting theirs. They stopped in Poipet while a Cambodian (or Thai maybe) ran to Phnom Penh with their passports and got them the 2x tourist visa. It was done FOR them.
I tried, but couldn’t find an agent in Phnom Penh to do this for me before I got there.
I figured – someone at the consulate would be offering it for a fee. The average monthly salary for someone working their ass off in Phnom Penh is about $60. That’s 10 hours a day and 6-7 days a week. Surely someone would be standing at the Thai consulate with a special deal – and charge me 30-$100 to get the 2x tourist visa – right?
My plane arrived in the late afternoon so I got the overnight at the “Amari Hotel” on 130th street. Great place – strongly recommend it. I’ll have a video up of the room and street at http://www.youtube.com/user/thaipulsedotcom about it in a day or so if my connection holds. I made the ‘mistake’ of checking into my hotel first and paying for 4 nights – since all I’ve heard was that I had to wait 4 days to pick up my passport after dropping it at the Thai consulate.
I ate a leisurely breakfast and headed over to the Thai consulate about 10:30am. I didn’t want to arrive with any group – if the group of expats trying to get visas is large, or there are a couple of dickheads in the group before you – your consulate staff are going to be on-edge, and maybe start dicking everyone around because of it. I’ve seen that in Laos – and it’s not fun, wondering if you’re actually going to get a tourist visa at all because some dimwit expat fucked it all up for everyone behind him.
There was literally NOBODY there. I walked over to the far right guard stand. There were a couple of Cambodians standing there – and a guard in the shack.
I said, to anyone listening – and they all were – intently focused on whether I was going to make them a lot of money or not. “I need 2x Tourist Visa to Thailand.”
Can! Can! They all smiled and said in unison…
One guy took my passport and counted up my Tourist Visa Stickers – and said – OK. $50. See you tonight right here.
Cool. Let me take your photo so you don’t run away with my passport.
They all turned around as I brought out my camera – the guard in the shack too – covered his face.
I said – “I gotta remember your face if you take my passport and run.”
They handed it back and said – no, no OK – never mind…
Eventually I was able to convince them to do it for me anyway. I am always paranoid about someone running off with my passport. This is the first time I ever handed it to someone to do something for me.
Everything turned out well though. One of the guys actually delivered my passport – with the 2x tourist visa stamp in it – to me at my hotel.
How cool is that?
So now it is post 3/31/2011 and the tourist visas are not free – so Thailand expats are wondering what happens. Does Vientianne loosen up and start dishing out 2x and even multiple entry – 5x’s because now they are for a fee and they’ll make some cash instead of doing everything gratis – like they did for months and months?
Wait and see… is all we can do.
My hotel staff said they’d refund my 3 nights of stay if I wanted. I said, nahh, let me see what Phnom Penh is all about.
I had a great time… and came up with a couple of business ideas and a two book ideas. One of which I’m into now.
Cambodia is a VERY easy place to stay… $25 at the entry point for a visa.
Then $280 for a 1 year visa.
Expats looking for an alternative to Thailand’s nuttiness – Phnom Penh and some of the other Cambodian cities (I’ve only been to PP) seem to offer an excellent alternative.
Of course you’ll have to deal with Cambodian food… but there are plenty of awesome restaurants in PP – pizza, mexican, korean, vietnamese, indian… glorious indian…
OK – good luck to all you expats trying to get tourist visas to stay in the country because you don’t want to teach, learn Thai, or father a baby to get a different visa.