Kade kneels next to a stream formed by the San Francisco Glacier, about two hours outside Santiago, Chile.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Visa Runs

When I had decided to settle down in Thailand, I had to comply, of course, with the immigration/visa laws.  Before I had gotten my position at the English school where I worked - they simply processed my work visa - I had to make a couple of visa runs on my own.  Not sure of the current situation, but let's just say with my US passport I could stay in the country 45 days.  To stay beyond that, I needed to cross the border and come right back.  Then I would get another 45 days.  I remember making early visas to a section of Cambodia near the Thai island, Koh Samet.  Kade and her mother accompanied me.  Another time, I traveled south to Malaysia, specifically to the island of Penang.  The capital of Penang is Georgetown, and I remember walking around the historical city center.  My mind was so focused on simply getting my visa and leaving the following day or two, I really had not researched much about Georgetown.  Probably at that point I was little bit burned out having just finished my backpacking journey.  One of the things that stands out in my memory is this huge fruit cart with mangoes, papayas and various exotic fruits.  I purchased something delicious.  A few years later, after I had finished teaching and was waiting on Kade to get her US visa, I was back living in Thailand as a tourist.  I would usually tie-in visa runs with trips with Kade.  One of my favorite places was the Thai-Laos border near Nong Khai in Northern Thailand.  The train ride up was always interesting.  And once we reached Nong Khai, it was an easy process at the border crossing.  Very easy.  Plus, Nong Khai was a relaxing Thai city on the Mekong River that had very good local restaurants and a bustling market where we liked to shop for items to take back to Bangkok.  We could easily spend 3 days there, and it was just wonderful.  Another visa-run I did was to Poipet, Cambodia.  I got on a big luxury bus like the one above, and it was off to update my visa.  I only did it this way once.  However, an older German lady sitting next to me on the bus became a very good friend.  To this day, when I return to Bangkok, I get together with her, and we have a coffee or meal.  Last time, she treated me to a buffet at the one of Bangkok's luxury hotels.  What a feast we had!  The best part, though, is always the conversations.  She has one of the brightest, sharpest minds I know.  And she loves asking questions and discussing world affairs. That particular visa-run to Cambodia is a great highlight of my life.....the mere fact of meeting this lady.  If you want to read more about the specifics of the bus-to-Cambodia visa process, click here.  It's almost exactly what I did.

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