Thursday, March 24, 2011

Visa Versa

Well well well, it's visa time again. Every year, I have to go and have my visa stamped so I can stay another year in hell...err, paradise, yeah yeah, paradise. I shouldn't really complain, because I usually don't have a lot of trouble with this. Roong is a fairly high ranking government officer, so most of the people we have to deal with don't want to incur her wrath. She's little, but she has great big pointy teeth.

The complication that seems to be unavoidable is the fact that I also have to get my new work permit and my new job contract all in the same month. Now, you would think that there should be some way to set this up so it can all be done on the same day, wouldn't you? We have tried, but if you don't shoot yourself in the foot, Thailand is always there to do it for you. Trust me, they are experts at wasting time and money. You can't get your visa unless you have a work permit, and you can't get your work permit without a visa. So, I have to go get a temporary work permit to get my visa, get my visa, and then go back and get my full work permit. At first, this sucked because we had to make two trips to Bangkok, and two trips to Lopburi to do all of it.

The Bangkok office is not a user friendly place. It's noisy, overcrowded, under staffed, and the staff that is there are pretty clueless. It took all day to get anything done, and there was a good chance that you would run into a problem and have to come back again to fix it. No two of the officers there did things the same way, or required the same documentation. Weird, eh? We had to miss a day of work every time we went there.

But, they have since opened an office in Lopburi. This has helped a lot. The staff there is very nice, and they all do things exactly the same way. The only problem we had this time was with the Ministry of Education. In an effort to prove that were hit with the same big "DUH" stick like all the other government offices I have had to deal with, they decided to date my two year extension for sometime in January. WHY?????????

I always take my teacher's test in May, and my visa, work permit, and contract all run out in March. Why these boobs picked that random date is still a mystery. But, it means that I have to go do everything twice now, because you can't do one without the other. So, once again I have to go get a temporary one of these, to get a temporary one of those, to get a permanent one of these, to get a permanent one of those, so I can keep doing this, here. ;p

One thing did help a bit. As the nice lady at the Visa office was explaining the latest crop of difficulties that we were headed for, she also mentioned that their office was selling fund raising tickets to some kind of live talk show that was coming soon. The money was being raised so that the Visa office could build a new building for themselves. It seems that they are borrowing the one they are using from some other agency. The tickets are 1000 baht each. Upon hearing this, Roong gave the slightest of knowing smiles, and assured the nice lady that we were there for no other reason than to support our fellow government employees. Buying the tickets, coupled with the fact that Roong went to university with about half of the women in the office, seemed to help.

Our fund raising friend then excused herself to go talk to her boss for a minute. When she returned, she went into a rather impressive 30 second two handed permit stamping flurry. Then, she winked, smiled, handed me my passport and two tickets, and said "Everything OK now!"

Visa day is always a roller coaster ride of emotions, but I have learned that if you keep calm, pay attention, and have married a woman with some serious rank, an opportunity to umm... make things easier will eventually appear.