Sailing off


Monday, June 6, 2011

Visa run - a new experience

Boats that take "visa runners" accross to Burma.
Notice these boats have no roofs and therefore less thaneconomy.
Most people will use little umbrellas to get a little shade from the sun

This is a funny story. After returning from Hua Hin’s family vacations with the family
 on an overnight bus we booked our first visa run to Burma. So with very little sleep we fronted up at the Visa Run office to be picked up for a whole day run to Burma and back just to cross the boarder of Thailand and get another visa. The little bus arrived with all weird and wonderful people who were willing to pay around $70- and spent the whole day driving and boating to get a 2 week extension on their visa. There was an unforgettable singer from the Philippines with a band of 2 who was also an export import specialist and could sing with a computer and do well let’s say a lot of things in life. Young woman who gave her time for free to an orphanage. Well that is actually not quite correct. She gave her time and had to pay for the privilege to stay at the orphanage. A man on a US passport who could have been anyone had more stamps in his thick passport that we have ever seen and apparently was an instructor? Sometimes it is wiser to remain silent and ask no questions. A young excited woman with her very young English boyfriend who told me how excited she was to be 20 weeks pregnant. She also thought us how to open mangosteen fruit. There is a little trick.
Young lost man who had no idea what he was going to do in life and tried to work it out on the way. Us who felt like run always from somewhere. And not to be forgotten the person who amused us all day driving on the other side of the road like a lunatic and gave us more than 100 hair raising experiences – our DRIVER!!!!. Stopping on the way for food and drink in strange and not so wonderful places was always an experience. It looks like a lot of people get employed doing visa runs even the little roadside bars. Everyone gets a little cut. Once we got to the boarder crossing and the doors opened most of us almost collapsed with the smell that entered the bus. Not sure what it was and can only imagine that one month old fish guts mixed with something more putrid was a mild smell in comparison. I found it almost impossible to breathe some people were vomiting ouch…and with the combination of heat and humidity we felt like fugitives in some fourth world country. It made us laugh because that moment was so bad there was little else to do. Unfortunately for some this was life…Hmm. This place was super busy with lots of movement people pushing and shoving. Passports flying around in mid air. There was the form filler who did all the writing for us with hands full of forms really full and passport handler and checker and there was the boat. Wow different and somehow always looks better in the pictures. It was not great for real. We got on the boat got driven for 15 min got of in Burma got pushed to an office where the officers had singlets on had our passports stamped…by the way names were not necessary here just nationality and than we thought that we might have an hour or so to look around but no10 minutes is all we got. In those 10 minutes we managed to “employ” 3 guides who wanted us to buy Viagra and cigarettes I think and as we were living wanted payment for their service that we didn’t want in the first place. This was all fast fast fast and before we knew it we were packed backing a bus and driven back. Let’s say that flown back in the car would have been a better description of it. The driver put a movie on for us that was absolutely blaring and he was wild on the road – almost surreal. That day was a lot of things…Would I want to do it again? Maybe not but we laughed a lot!!!!
Waiting in lines from form filler customs and passport collectors

Our wonderful team that took care of us.
At this point the feeling was definetly "we are fugitives"

Burma- the first impressions!
Honey Bear Hotel was the biggest buildinh here

Main round-about

I guess this is as much as we have seen.
Would have liked to stay a little longer....

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