Visa Run

The circumventing the law can create a tidy business opportunity. The US tax laws are the prime example, so confusing and convoluted that it takes accountants and lawyers to weed through. The immigration laws in many countries do the same. In Thailand you can get visas for different amounts of time but when they are up you must leave the country, albeit for just a few minutes. You will see signs all over offering methods to do so, VISA RUN. My 60 day plus 30 day visa was up, they actually count the days so entering on November 12 it expired on the 9th of February not the 12th—something I discovered a bit late.

The options are: travel by air and get 30 days or travel by land and get 15. When I went to book the air ticket I found out all flights were booked for the Chinese New Year. My only option was a long van ride and a fifteen day visa. I booked at the local agency for a mere 1800 tbh (about 50 bucks) for the all day ride and meals, not bad. The van picked me up early and I was pleased to find a new, air conditioned van with adjustable leather seats, not bad. The driver was Thai agreesive and made a fast trip of it over windy roads. We stopped for a breakfast and off again arriving at the Thai/Burma border before noon.

The border is a wild, exotic and busy place. We joined three other vans of visa runners and were whisked to the front of the line. Stamp stamp and we were checked out of Thailand. I was told we would take a ferry, so I had an image of a large passenger vessel, the image was soon shattered. We were crowded into a small narrow boat with an unruffled motor and away we went across the river.

A short tide later we docked at the Burma side and I could see a far different culture. Everything looked much more Asian, exotic and older. The golden Buddha’s greeted us as we looked up at the massive building reminiscent of old Asian movies, we were in a place lost in time.

Raced through the entry and exit of Burma, stamp, stamp and a picture taken and I just added the fifteenth country on the Furthur Adventure. We were given ten minutes to shop, booze is very cheap here, not needing any I offered my new Kiwi friend my mule service to take an extra bottle of whiskey for her, God knows the quality but it was 200tbh, (six bucks) and she was happy.

Back in the boat, back to Thailand, stamp stamp and another picture and I get 15 days more in Thailand. This sign greets those visiting Thailand, no confusion here. Yet every year I read about some fool caught with drugs and crying when they are sentenced. Recently an Aussie Grandmother was caught with over two million dollars of cocaine in Bali and sentenced to death, why would anyone be so stupid? This seems harsh to us and each time the smuggler cries for help from home, often getting it. We can judge this as we may but the Asian prisons are not full of drug users and the drug problem is much smaller here than in the US so who knows which system is best. I do know that the rules are simple and clear and breaking them can be disastrous so I follow them to the letter.

I had just enough taste of Burma that I want more. Travel is very restrictive there; tours are available but independent travel hard. I did find out if I do the run again I can spend one night in the town if I do not wander too far, something I might just do.

Taking a private yacht into the country is so hard and expensive no one but the super yachts do it, the permit is $4000 usd, and you must hire a local guide. So Burma will go unexplored for Furthur. Although it looks enticing.

Back on the van, a couple of naps and some reading later and I was dropped off right at the marina some 12 hours after I got on it. Glad to get off the van but glad to have this done. I quickly booked a massage for my sore butt, joined my friends for the Friday Night BBQ and got a sound night’s sleep.