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One (more) Night in Bangkok

Written on: Wednesday January 7th, 2009

So we took the bus from Siem Reap across the desolate and pot-holed road to the Thai border.  This is where the 'fun' started.  Waiting in lines to wait in other lines to get through the lines and wait for OTHER people to go through the same lines.  The total distance between these cities is rougly 335 miles, also roughly the same distance from my front door in Minneapolis to my mother's front door in Plymouth, WI.  I make that journey regularly in a shade over five hours.  This one took more than 13 hours!  Bottom line: we wasted an entire day getting from A to B.  Oh well...at least there was plenty of opportunity for me to work on my patience, which, in the past, I've been told could use some work.  Ah yes, one of the many benefits of international traveling.

We finally arrived in the city center and set off for Ko Sahn Road to look for a place to stay.  It wasn't long before a quasi-local invited us to the place he's been calling home for the better part of his 34 years in Thailand.  We accepted and were treated to enormous if not slightly delapited private rooms in a quiet part of town.  This'll do.  We plunked down our gear, grabbed a beer and headed for the most famous tourist street in Thailand.  This road..just one long block...is a collection of just about everything that put Thailand on the tourist map: bars, music, good and cheap food, girls, shopping, and travel centers that help whisk you away to the beach (which is the only thing missing).  We grabbed a bite and walked around, taking in all the craziness for several hours before calling it a night.

The next day we did some sight-seeing; after all, there is a lot to see in this town.  But Ksenia and I had both been here before, and it seemed Dennis wasn't overly thrilled to spend the day in temples.  So we kept it to a minimum before booking a bus/boat combo that would take us that evening to the southern islands for some heaven-sent R&R.  It was only as we grabbed our bags to board the bus that the travel agent pulled me aside and declared that I could not go! Why?  Because my passport only had four blank pages left in it, and none of them actually had the word 'visa' written on them.  After numerous attempts of trying to explain that these pages are the same as the others that actually have the word 'visa' written on them, the agency wouldn't budge.  They could not guarantee that my visa would be ready when I returned.  So I opted to separate from my friends and spend one MORE night in Bangkok, with an agenda to go to the American Embassy in the morning and straighten this out.

Now, the reason I came to Thailand in the first place was to obtain visas for future travels.  I had tried to obtain a visa for Myanmar, but it was refused on the pretense that my port of embarcation, Rangoon, was currently unsafe for tourists, especially those from USA.  So I was content to travel directly to India from Thailand.  This visa would take six days and cost significntly more for me as an American than for persons from any other country in the world. 

So to satisfy the travel agency's request, the next morning I grabbed a tuk tuk to the Embassy.  This process was smooooth....I filled out a form and within 30 minutes had additional pages added to my existing passport for free...and all the pages said 'visa' on them.  Returning to the travel agency, I presented my passport to a different person working there.  After looking through and not understanding what the additional pages were, she concluded that the original four blank pages would be adequate for obtaining my Indian visa.  Urgh.  So, as it turned out, the extra pages and extra night weren't necessary, as I so patiently tried to point out yesterday to the staff.  Oh well, tomorrow I'd be on a beach with my friends, and eventually I would have had to get supplemental pages anyway.