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'The Disallowed'

Our Visa Run to Naan

The Disallowed

Our Visa Run to Naan, north Thailand

Our Visa Run to Naan
North Thailand

The visa system for Caucasians can be tricky in Thailand, because the rule change quite often and there is no centralised system for letting people know. However, basically, expats want a twelve-month extension of their non-immigrant 'O' visa.

For the over-fifty's, there are two main routes. First, is to deposit 800,000 Baht in a Thai bank in order to qualify for a so-called 'retirement visa' and the second is to deposit 400,000 Baht and apply for what people refer to as a 'marriage visa', for which the applicant also needs a wife.

I have had half-a-dozen of the second type in my ten years in Thailand. In our province, we have to obtain these visa extensions from the capital city province of Naan in northern Thailand, which is less than 300 km away. I have always liked going there and treat the visa run like a mini-holiday.

Naan is an old mountain kingdom in the north of Thailand. It is adjacent to and east of Chiang Rai province and has a long border with Laos.

We, my wife and I, have been going to Naan since the law changed five or six years ago and the office was created, so we know many of the officers there from day one. However, due to circumstances, last year we had to go to Laos four times, so we were a bit rusty and the rules had changed again.

We travelled with the bus from Uttaradit and were there in four hours, arriving at three p.m., which is a little late for the visa office, since it closes at four. We had allowed for that and it was not a problem, so we booked into the hotel commonly called the DeeVee opposite the market for two nights.

There is not really much to do in Naan after nine p.m. a little like Vientiane, but before it gets dark, there are plenty of beautiful, interesting buildings and eight-hundred-year-old temples (Wats) to look over. Furthermore, the provincial museum, which was the last king of Naan's palace, is well-worth a visit.

The following morning we took the hotel taxi the short distance to the visa office, which the hotel staff said had moved, but hadn't. An officer made us a cup of coffee, but when our turn came, which was not long, the first problem became apparent: the departure/arrival form that is stapled into a foreigner's passport upon entry into the country had disappeared.

I was expecting big problems for that, but the kind officer looked up my computer record and wrote me out a new card, which she then clipped to my passport.

The next problem was that we needed recent photos to prove that we were married and lived together. We didn't have any, since we just don't take photos often and got married six years ago.

That was a big problem, she said, and that we would have to go home, take some and come back. However, that would put me on at least one day overstay. I suggested sending the photos by email and her boss agreed.

The third problem was that we needed a hand-drawn route map to our house., so that officers could find our house when they came to check that we did indeed live there. My first attempt was rejected and so was my wife's. in the

We both tried again. Then we phoned a friend, who faxed it over, but that was not good enough either as she had drawn it on lined paper. My third attempt was accepted.

I found that the immigration officers at Naan bent over backwards to sort our problems out and we did get there in the end.

by +Owen Jones