THIS IS A TRANSLATED VERSION OF THIS SWEDISH POST!
This post was written in October 2012, and posted on my previous Onsugar-blog.
Yesterday Oh, Malin (my class mate), and I went to apply for a 30-day visa extension. This is something you can apply for if you already have a tourist visa from home.
A mere formality, but it has to be done
This application is usually only a formality, I haven’t actually heard of anyone being denied the extension. However, you can only do it once per visa ”leg”, so before the end of these days (i e 26th November), I have to leave the country, so I can return to activate the next ”leg” of the visa. After that I can again apply for the extension.
90 days without visa run – SWEET!
So that means, I can remain in the country for 90 days per time, which is pretty neat. Had I gotten the ED-visa, as was my plan from the beginning, I could’ve stayed much longer, but hey, no use crying over spilled milk, right?
After our Thai lesson (at about 11) we took off to Na’thon. We made it just in time before lunch break, and managed to get hold of 2 forms. The forms were kept BEHIND the counter, which seemed rather unnecessary. Why not keep them on the outside or in front of the counter so everybody can get to them by themselves? In that way they don’t have to bother the girl helping the other people.
Hunger is the path to the dark side. Hunger leads to irritation. Irritation leads to confusion. Confusion leads to anger.
Anyway, she pointed out we had to return at 1 o’clock to hand in the forms and I nodded with a big smile. I’d better show off my best side, right. She smiled back at me. Malin needed some more papers, since she’s buying a scooter, so she apparantly needs some papers to confirm she’s allowed to own something in the country plus papers for a driver’s license application. She asked the girl kindly for those, but only received a somewhat irritated reply: ”1 o’clock!”. We looked puzzled at each other. Ok, maybe she was really, really hungry, so we decided to ask again upon return.
We entered the nearest café to make photo copies of the required application papers; 1 of the passport photo, 1 of the tourist visa, and 1 of the actual entry stamp. Afterwards we went to a restaurant, where we also filled out the application forms.
Every thing has its own place and time!
Then we headed back to a 10-minute queue, and finally got to hand in our applications. Malin asked for the other papers she needed, since she wanted to prepare those applications to; you know, to make things smoother. ”First visa extension. After finish other papers.” was the answer. ”Ok.” Then the girl realised Malin had left 2 visa photos (on the internet it stated they needed 2, but apparantly 1 was enough) and then all of a sudden she wanted to get the other papers done at once too. They are pretty weird in this country. So much bureaucracy and yet, oh, so illogical. She paid several hundred baht (not sure how much) for her application and the girl added another 30 minutes on our visa applications too, so it added up to 1 and a half hour. But still ok, I think, and not having to wait around is a big plus.
2-minute foot massage is all you need!
While waiting we went to Na’thon for some shopping. Malin wanted to get some stuff and I finally bought a pair of fisherman’s pants, which I had been meaning to ever since I arrived. When we were heading back we passed by a massage place and I yelled I needed a foot massage (but I was actually thinking about a pedicure because my feet look like frack), so Malin suggested we’d take 30 minutes then and there, since our visas weren’t finished yet, so… We entered the humble establishment. Oh interpreted, and we got mixed up in the discussion and a girl asked if we wanted 60 minutes each. ”No, 30 minutes for us 2.” or something similar Malin said and the girl was stunned: ”2 minutes?” She looked extremely confused. ”No no no, 30!!” Ok ok ok. Everyone understood. The farangs wanted 30 minutes of foot massage.
No one really understood. At all.
But 30 minutes passed by, 35, 40. Well, so actually no one understood, that did make more sense, after all. Oh started to look a bit uncomfortable and more and more bored by the minute. 1 hour of foot massage, but well, at least it was relaxing, and the only thing bothering me was Oh having to sit there with nothing to do, poor soul, but as usual he made no fuzz about it.
Everything is regularly messy – in an organised unorganisation!
When we returned at the Immigration Office my passport at least was ready. All processed passports were put in a small box on the counter. Apparantly for anyone to just pick and choose whichever. Malin’s passport was on the desk behind the counter. Obviously not ready yet. They were processing the other applications. Malin asked a girl behind the counter if it was ready and got the simple and short answer – no. However, after replying she decided to process it, but she started with the ones arriving after Malin’s, before she started with hers. In an organised messy fashion.
Waiting quietly, like a nice Swedish person, is not to be recommended in Asia.
So, Malin stood there, waiting. While 2 other Thai women (officials at the Immigration Office) ran around, chatting with every Tom, Dick, and Harry, but nothing essential what so ever. The one helping Malin printed a couple of papers, put them inside Malin’s passport, which she then put in a pile on the counter, some decimeters away. She didn’t say anything to us, but continued working through the rest of the pile of applications. After a long silence Malin asked if her passport was ready. The girl got annoyed. ”NOT YET!” Ok. You kind of didn’t want to ask anything more.
What is this curious thing I’m holding in my hand?
The older woman showed up behind the counter again, and the younger girl put another paper from the printer inside Malin’s passport, still quiet, so Malin turned to the older one and pointed at her passport, asking if it was ready. The older woman picked it up along with the papers and turned it upside down and around, like she was trying to figure out what it was. Without uttering a single word she then turned around with the passport and left the room. Alright then. She moved into another room, from which she returned after a while, carrying several other passports. She then moved into the next room. When she finally returned to the counter, the passport was ready. Like magic.
So little communication seems to be going on between officials/workers, it makes absolutely perfect sense why things get messy and confusing.
The strange thing was how there was absolutely no communication between the younger girl preparing Malin’s passport and the older woman who brought the papers to get a signature. So if Malin hadn’t said anything the older woman probably wouldn’t even have picked it up. Weird, huh?
But that’s all regular Asian low price order. 😉
I’m always equally surprised finding out something actually moves forward around here. Efficiency doesn’t seem to exist in this country, nor in Nepal for that matter. Nepal was even worse, of course, and Thailand seems to be one step ahead of Nepal regarding bureaucracy anyway, but it’s still mad, for a Swede. So many people working everywhere, but no communication and absolutely no efficiency. Weird.
Anyhooo, in the end we got our passports and now we have our days, so everything is hunky doory. Now it’s 3 more months until I have to go there next time, so I guess I’ll get used to this. This is after all my life now. And I love every second of it. Even the inefficiency! ☺