Off To Laos For The Work Visa

Documents? Check! I hope… They’re all in Thai so I assume I have everything. They weigh the same as a games console of your choosing so it’s not as if I’m unprepared. And awaaaaay we go!!! (cue Wacky Races music…)

Chiang Mai to Udonthani by night bus was eventful. I struggle to sleep on buses at the best of times and was drifting in and out of consciousness until the bus kept sharply braking or turning. I was in the front seat so I could see everything that was going on…there was nothing untoward happening so I threw the blanked over my head and tried to sleep again.

The bus started braking sharply again, but this time there were gasps from the other passengers and there was a nervous energy that overtook the entire coach. I took the blanket off my head to see that we were hurtling towards a tree that had mysteriously fallen on the road. The bus swerved and for a short period we had two wheels off the road bobbling through the dirt at 40+ mph. It’s weird, you don’t panic because you don’t have time to. It all happened so fast and before we knew it we were back on the road again, relatively alive…

We got to Udon at 6, and there was a minibus right where we got dropped off that would take us to the border for 50 Baht (£1) each. It was an hour away so it was a very fair deal. What surprised me was that the tuk tuk drivers were very honest and guided me to the minibus instead of saying it was cancelled and I had to go with them. I must admit Thailand is starting to eradicate these dishonest people on the street one by one and its making the country an infinitely better place to travel and live.

I got over the Laos border with no hiccups. I paid a little over the odds as to be expected when you arrive in a country for the first time in years, and was soon at the embassy by 8:30 in the morning.

“This is going pretty well…” I thought to myself, “I could be in and out of here by tomorrow!” As I smiled respectfully at the immigration officials hoping things would go smoothly.

Of course, I spoke too soon; I had my mountain of paperwork to give the official and he began to ask where random documents were. I can speak Thai fairly well, but I can’t read it at all, so I ended up showing him every piece of paper like when Borat would ask in the supermarket what all the cheeses were…

“And what is this?” “That’s not it…”

“And what is this?” “That’s not it…”

“And this one…?” “That’s not it…”

This went on until we ran out of paper. He then told me I needed 6 documents, and I was missing four of them. One of the documents was my diploma. I got really nervous then because I don’t have a degree, I only have a TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) certificate, which I was told was enough. I frantically showed him the certificate saying I had it and he looked at it for a while, then finally crossed it off the list of documents I needed.

One huge sigh of relief, at least now I knew I could physically get the work permit as long as I had the correct paperwork. I was missing two simple documents but also a police report which I was told I needed  by the girl at the school I will be working at, then was swiftly told that I ‘probably didn’t need it’. Turns out I did, and there was no way I could get it this time around. Fortunately the immigration official told me I could apply for a tourist visa and go back to sort the documents out, which is what I did.

Vientiane has changed, somehow for the worse. Now there are very few guesthouses near the embassy, just large hotels that charge you 1000 Baht a night. I did manage to find a guesthouse for half of that though, and it had air con, a TV and a hot shower so I shouldn’t complain, but I will because I’m English…

Lets see… What was good about my trip…? Oh yeah, the bread! Laos has a French influence and eating anything baked there is like sinking your teeth into a lifetime’s supply of Galaxy Cookie Crumble. So I overdosed on chocolate cakes and any kind of rolls. I also spend a few hours doing a few football tricks with an enthusiastic Lao kid (I say kid, he was between the age of 15 and 18) I’m so below the standard of what I used to be, but I can still pull off a fair few tricks that make people gasp. I was speaking to him in Thai, as Lao and Thai are similar languages – kinda like Spanish and Portuguese – And I told him that I hadn’t practiced in 8 years and was ridiculously rusty. His response of laughing in disbelief saying that I thought I was rusty was pretty cool to hear. It was nice to kick a football around again. I’ve still got it! Kind of…

The next day involved picking up the visa. I got my tourist visa and headed straight to the Thai border, ready to take another night bus back to Chiang Mai. I got it and made it back in one piece. Which is great, but annoyingly I still can’t start working yet until I get the work visa processed, so I’m kinda stuck until the paperwork is sorted, and my only form of income is through my books, so maybe it’s time to push them a bit more. If not the last resort is to start a new catchphrase that will go viral and live off of that money. Catch me INSIDE how about that?…

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There are no words when it comes to a condom riding a tiger…

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