Thailand

That Time I Was an Illegal Alien

Well, LOOK AT THIS, I’m back already. I guess all I really want is a safe place where I can appropriately use the word ‘blogosphere’, is that so wrong? I suspect that’s probably what we all want, deep down. But the purpose of this post is not to explore such philosophical ground. No, instead it’s meant to broadcast my illegal activity to the entire internet community, as you’ve likely already gathered from the title. Fear not- all is sorted out now and Thailand really didn’t mind that much, I swear. Still, when given the option of moving on in silent dignity or indulging in unnecessary dramatization I will always choose the latter, so please find the story below:

As aforementioned, I’ve been obligated to make an overnight trip to the Malaysian border every 15 days as a means of renewing my visa. I’d label this a loophole in the system except it’s so standard it couldn’t possibly qualify as loopholing. Loopholing? Moving on.

Recently, I managed to arrange and pay for a trip to the border but ALSO managed to arrive at port to catch my boat only to discover that my ticket was tucked cozily in my bungalow. Said boat sailed without me, effectively rendering my presence in Thailand illegal. As my friend generously pointed out, I’d forgotten my ticket but did manage to remember to brush my teeth before leaving. (Ok, admittedly I think she called it ‘washing your teeth’ but give the girl a break, she can hardly string together a full English sentence. She speaks a mean Mandarin though.) At any rate, I believe that’s the very first time in my life that personal hygiene has come out on top, so it’s worth noting. Understandably, I spent the rest of that evening dazed and crouched on my neighbor’s porch, playing psychotically with a lighter and wondering how much time I had left before officials came to collect me and invite me to Thai prison. C’mon, don’t pretend you haven’t had one of those nights.

Within the next few days, I arranged another trip to the border to remedy the situation. My visa run trips usually look a little something like this:

Board a night boat that sails for about 6 hours.
Find a clean(?) spot on the row of mattresses next to passels (yep, I said passels) of strangers. Eat a package of something called ‘Stikko Fingers’.
Lie down to sleep, if sleeping were the same as staring at the ceiling and listening to my neighbor smack his gum.
Arrive at port and shove my way past innocent first-timers to arrange an agreeable seat for myself on the minibus I’ll be riding for the next 10-12 hours.
Wake up at the Malaysian border 5 or 6 hours later and inconspiculously wipe drool from my neighbor’s shoulder.
Now normally this next part is comprised of marching back and forth between the Thai exit window, Malaysian entrance window, Malaysian exit window, and back over to the Thai entrance window for respective passport stamps. This little dance inevitably includes a man yelling at me for reasons I’m always exceedingly uncertain of (immigration officers are grumpy but also rather difficult to understand), but this particular trip also brought with it a highly disapproving set of officials, my detainment within the immigration office, paperwork, and ultimately a fine. I wasn’t too worried through the whole ordeal, though; as a matter of honesty, I suppose I’ll offer up the fact that this isn’t my first brush with immigration mishaps. My 5 year banishment from the country of Turkey serves as evidence of that.

The rest of this story is boring because it involves nothing more than my return to Thailand with Keith Richards hair and Michele Lamy face, so I’ll skip it for your sake and mine. Oh, you wanted me to continue comparing myself to cultural icons? OK! Just kiddin’.

Anyhow, I have one of these very visa run trips to look forward to tomorrow evening so my Stikko Fingers and I will be thinking of you fondly as we traverse the Thai seas.

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