Thailand

Published on November 6th, 2013

24

How To Piss Off a Thai Consul

Not a good idea. But oh well.

Of course Thailand is a sovereign nation that has every right to fashion whatever rules it fancies to allow/disallow folks onto its hallowed ground. However many immigration hoops it deigns to set forth – it has the security of its borders to uphold, after all – can’t let just any ol’ riffraff in. I get it. I really do.

And of course, nobody’s holding a gun to my head here in Thailand, so if I’m not happy with their (nutso, seriously, it has to be said) visa rules, then I darn well should just skip myself merrily out of Dodge, yes?

I mean after all, I CHOOSE to be an expat. To roam the globe untethered from my own native land. I CHOOSE to wander in and out of other sovereign nations, and stay ONLY AT THE BENOVOLENCE of the countries I hang out in – for a week, a month, or years. Sovereign FOREIGN nations where I am ever but a humble GUEST.

Yes, yes, I understand all that. And I’ve ever respected the laws and customs of the foreign countries where I wander. Shoot, it’s precisely the DIFFERENCES that attract me to visit foreign lands to begin with. Differences in customs, in language, in food, in history, in wildlife, architecture, and spectacular attractions, and yes – so too differences in visa requirements.

I get it Thailand. I truly do.

But here’s the thing – all I ask is that when you spell out the r.u.l.e.s for me, you honor them. You stick with the same rules for each and every stray foreigner that knocks upon your gilded door. Heck, you’re even entitled to demand different visa rules for folks from different nations. Easy-peasy, generous stay freebies for fellow ASEANs; tighter, more pricey hoops for Western patriots. Whatever.

It’s fully your call Thailand. All I’m sayin’ is – once you’ve got the rules set, it would seem only fair to apply those same rules to EVERY patriot who seeks to pop into your country for a spell, no?

I mean… as per your very own Royal Thai Embassy website, requiring proof of financials is o.p.t.i.o.n.a.l. Nonetheless, if you’re feeling persnickity today, I can live with that. Indeed, that sign – you know – the sign plastered right there on your counter window that’s THREE INCHES FROM MY NOSE that says:

“Financial proof may be required to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds – a letter from your bank OR $650 per person…”

You know, THAT SIGN?

No problem. Though you failed to mention the little detail about a bank letter in your email to me (you know, the email that I sent you IN ADVANCE politely inquiring just what particulars you needed to grant me a measly 2 month Thai tourist visa – so as to allow me time to perhaps… uh, procure a letter from my bank 8,000 miles across the Pacific – yes THAT email) Like I said, no problem.

Nope, while I sincerely regret that I can’t suddenly pull a bank letter out of my ass this morning, nonetheless…

As per your sign pasted 3 inches in front of both our noses – why Glory Be! I just happen to have… let me see here… By some miracle, I just happen to have a wad of crisp dough right here in my moneybelt – lessee… $500… $600…$700… yup – $940 crisp U.S. of A. dollar bills – right here, right now. Plenty more than the “$650 per person” stated right here on your sign, M’am.

Yippeee! Yay! O.k. let’s get on with this. Here’s your (optional) proof that I don’t plan on living in the street in Chiang Mai, nor pan-handling for phad thai at the night market.

But WAIT! What’s that you say? No?

NO???

$940 dollars won’t do? $900+ bills isn’t sufficient financial evidence, cuz… I what? “might have BORROWED the money”???

But your SIGN RIGHT HERE states clearly that $650 is all one needs should you (optionally) feel inclined to question the financial worthiness of a… 68 YEAR OLD GRAY HAIRED AMERICAN WOMAN (that everybody knows no doubt enjoys at least a modicum of a guaranteed monthly income via a U.S. government pension.)

Oh and, did I neglect to mention? I’ve now sat here for 3 hours quietly waiting and watching… a bunch of young strapping (clearly backpacker) lads (you know, the ones barely out of high school with arguably not a farthing to their collective names, much less some official bank letter). Yup, I’ve sat here demurely while they sidled up to your hallowed counter with absolutely no request for financials proffered by you/your staff.

Furthermore, you require ME to have an “onward air ticket” out of Thailand, yet… when you asked these same handsome backpacker lads for proof of onward travel – they mumbled something about “Umm, we plan to travel out of Thailand overland – into Myanmar or Cambodia or someplace…”. And your reply?

“NO PROBLEM – HERE’S YOUR VISAS, BOYS”.

In short, WTF???

Why have you singled out this grandmother of six, with a valid U.S. passport, the required 2×3 cm passport photos, and hard cold cash right here under your nose?

Pissed off? You betcha. Though I made certain not to raise my voice (well, o.k. maybe just a little – I mean, I AM an AMERICAN after all, and everybody knows we’re “loud”.  But at least I had the good sense not to blurt out the obscenities I was thinking), you bet I gave that pretty little Thai consul a piece of my mind.

I kept asking “But why?” “Why won’t this $900+ cash do?” “Why does your sign state that $650 per person is sufficient, yet… you accuse me of what? LYING? Pretending it’s not my money – that I BORROWED it”???

“What about the lads that just left with visas in hand? They weren’t required to show you anything but their passports and hand you the usual $45 visa fee.” “WHY are you suddenly making up rules, ignoring your own signs, and singling me out to jump through hoops that those young men (Germans, btw) don’t have to jump through?”

“Because.” was effectively all I could get out of her. Plus by then it was 11:30 and the office was closing down for lunch.

So… I grumbled that I would try to get the exalted bank letter (even though I knew everyone at my bank in Alaska was presently asleep – naturally, as they’re on the other side of the globe) plus an onward air ticket, and be back when the office opened after lunch.

PantiesBunchMuch400x400Luckily there was a travel agency nearby and they were kind enough to let me use their computers to access my bank account and get a print out of my pension deposits for the past year. I also had them print a fully refundable one-way air ticket out of Thailand, and…

When the consul office reopened at 1:30, I was the first in line – with passport, photos, bank print out, air ticket evidence plus more than $900 in hard cold U.S. cash. “What more could they possibly want?” says I. No way could I Skype my bank and get some letter in the two days I had left before my flight back to Thailand. Surely the cash plus the bank statement plus the credit card to match the bank would suffice.

Wrong. By then, I’d apparently pissed off the petite Thai consul sufficiently, and she now had her pretty pink panties-in-a-wad. Indeed, she refused to even look at any of the documents I proffered.

NO SOUP FOR YOU!

XVisa400x400In short, it was “NO SOUP FOR YOU!” – though in this case, we’re talkin’ NO VISA ;(

Needless to say, I was stunned. Couldn’t understand nor believe that she could deny me a simple two month visa simply “Because.” i.e. “Because I’m the Thai Consul and I don’t like you (your nationality? your blue eyes? pigtails?”)

But of course, there was nothing I could do (short of heading to my own U.S. embassy to complain, which would likely get me nowhere anyway.) I was simply forced to accept the fact that – no way, no how was I going to get out of Vietnam with a 2 month Thai tourist visa in hand.

Indeed, the woman seemed so hell-bent on giving me grief, I was now worried she’d somehow electronically tag my passport so that I couldn’t even return to Thailand at all – would be stopped at airport immigration and denied entry altogether (even for the standard freebie 30 day VOA).

Long story short?

Thankfully that didn’t happen. I spent the remainder of my time in Ho Chi Minh City having a great time visiting with my friend Hang, and when I headed back to Thailand with my extra bag two days later, I sailed through Thai customs with a most reassuring “thump-thump-thump” stamp in my passport – allowing me another 30 days.

Fine. Whoop-de-doo. 30 more days in this precious Land of Smiles (yeah, grins uh… NOT!)

The truth is, while I was hoping to stick around here long enough to determine if I want to stay more than a month or three (and if so, jump through the even BIGGER HOOPS of getting a long-term Thai visa), clearly I’m not getting very good vibes from Thailand.

Two years of bliss in Vietnam (seriously). Thailand? After just 4 weeks, uh – not so much.

In any case – lesson learned. Big wake-up call. Absolutely NOTHING is apparently for certain when it comes to visa regs and the whims of uppity foreign authorities. No matter what the stream of Thai visa vets swear in the expat forums (“I’ve never been asked for financials, nor no onward ticket”).  Take nothing for granted. Never again will I blithely waltz into a foreign embassy thinking I’ve got all my ducks in a row. Nosiree.

Stark reminder. Prepare for any and all possible contingencies when it comes to begging for a visa. Pray the consul doesn’t take a dislike to you and/or didn’t have a bad morning. And above all – whatever you do…

Don’t piss off a Thai Consul.

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About the Author

Off-the-beaten-path travel is my passion,and I’ve always lived life “like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store” – eager to sample as many flavors as I can. Indeed, my life motto has long been: This ain’t a dress rehearsal, folks!



24 Responses to How To Piss Off a Thai Consul

  1. Ryan says:

    That’s a crazy story. I wonder what the consul’s problem was.
    Now, a lot of people are having the problem that even after getting a visa the border officers won’t let them in the country.
    Ryan kindly contributed to world literature by posting…Thailand’s Crackdown on Long-term Stay with Tourist Visas – Other Options?My Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      Yes Ryan, it was nuts back in November, and it seems to be getting more nuts as we speak. Contrast that with my being able to live for 2 full years in Vietnam – on a tourist visa! Just a matter of grabbing a 90 day visa coming in by air, renewable twice in-country, so only had to leave VN every 9 months by air (clearly NOT a hardship as I generally was whizzing to one of the luscious Asian countries nearby more often than that.)

      Shoot, Chiang Mai may well become a ghost town if the Thai visa nonsense keeps up.

  2. Bro says:

    That was hilarious, thanks for sharing SwbigSis, Being 1/3 of the 2/3 of the Bill and Arleen children clan that keep their butts firmly planted and rooted on American soil. I would never have imagined some of the pitfalls of international travel. But in the end it is all well worth it and glad your having a good time on your adventure. Stay well and stay safe.
    Love, Bro

    • Dyanne says:

      Woa! Thanks for the comment Bro – good to know you’re following your SwbigS’s crazy nomadic life. 2/3 indeed. What IS it with those Kruger genes. How come only *I* apparently got the nomadic chunk of DNA? 😉

      And yes, pitfalls (of international travel). But also supreeemely amazing sights and experiences. A veritable roller-coaster of highs, with (thankfully) only but a few potholes.

      And soon I’ll be much closer to my native land (i.e. Ecuador is < 3k air miles from the U.S. vs. nearly *9k* here in Vietnam) - so perchance one of my siblings (or more likely, one of your offspring) might one day dare to come visit me south of the border. Well, a travelnlass can hope at least. 😉

  3. Nancie says:

    I got my 60 day visa in Seoul, and wasn’t asked for a bank letter (thankfully). However, the guy did not take kindly to me not having my airline ticket printed out. I had to run around and find a PC Bang to have it printed. I was tempted to get snitty with him, but decided best let it ride!
    Nancie kindly contributed to world literature by posting…Chiang Mai’s Brown Rice Organic Bistro for Foodie TuesdayMy Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      “…decided best let it ride” lol Nancie – uh, clearly I didn’t have the good sense to show such restraint. 😉

      And what’s with that “onward ticket” thing anyway? I mean, in my case those lads before me merely mumbled that they’d mosey on out of Thailand “overland”. And the consul didn’t bat an eye – just handed over their visas. Grrrrrr!

      Coincidentally (having learned my lesson), the fine print on an Ecuador visa also states that “proof of onward” may be (optionally) required. But I found a handy site where I can buy a bus ticket to Columbia for $10, so will print that out and have it at the ready.

  4. Greg says:

    Weird, indeed! Can’t believe that you had trouble with Thailand, of all places. The proof of funds letter has been a requirement for a long time, although I’ve been in and out of there at least 20x (5x this year alone) and was never asked, even when applying for the Tourist Visa. I was hit up for an onward ticket once, however.

    Supposedly the visa rules are being relaxed further and travelers can once again receive 30 days when crossing overland as they once did. Good news for long-term wanderers.
    Greg kindly contributed to world literature by posting…Homecoming 2013 Was a Little TrickyMy Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      I KNOW Greg – strange indeed. I guess I just got the HCMC Thai consul on a bad day – she clearly had her panties in a wad.

      Indeed, alternately, I more recently got a Thai tourist visa at the Thai embassy in Yangon in Myanmar – easy-peasy as you please. $40, no questions asked. Go figure.

      But bear in mind that the recent relaxation of the overland Thai visa is only for G7 countries (30 days only for UK, US, Japanese, German, French, Canadian and Italian passports). But Oz, kiwis, etc. are still stuck with the nutso 14 days.

  5. MCRT says:

    Visas are so much fun. 😉 My Brazil visa, good for 10 years and 90 days per visit, 180 days per years was simple to get. Just money and a week. Some friends from Puerto Rico also with US passports had to show 3 months of bank statements, proof of airline ticket, proof of hotel booking and it took 45 days. And they had to have a cousin fly to Miami to pick everything up when it was done.

    • Dyanne says:

      Yes Mike, every country has their druthers and apparently the size, shape, and color of the hoops vary on whim. I do think most visas are easier to get from your native land, but obviously I can’t scoot to ‘n fro the U.S. from here in Asia.

      • MCRT says:

        Some visas are far easier when you are abroad and can just walk into the embassy/consul of the country you want to visit. What I thought was really crazy was the difference between my hoops and the hoops of my fellow Americans from Puerto Rico.

        • Dyanne says:

          lol Mike – yes, “…just walk into the embassy/consul of the country you want to visit.” uh, like I did in HCMC – and walked out empty handed.

          Point it, there’s really no rhyme nor reason to any of it. Pretty much a crap shoot. Sounds like your friends simply got a dose of runaround similar to mine.

  6. Mary Moss says:

    The visa situation in Vietnam appears to be changing also due to a change in immigration administration. In Vung Tau, there’s talk that there will be more crackdowns on working without work permits and those 6 month and 12 month visas that used to be obtained in
    Cambodia are a “thing of the past.” At work last week the statement was made that one “might want to consider full time employment” as visas were becoming more difficult. But, there’s always a way:-)

    • Dyanne says:

      Indeed Mary, it seems no matter the country, we expats are perpetually at the mercy of fickle visa regs. I didn’t realize just how sweet I had it for two years on a tourist visa in Vietnam – til I bumped into the visa nonsense here in Thailand.

  7. Graefyl says:

    Another 30 days. Let’s hope the next encounter is a lot more easier.
    Graefyl kindly contributed to world literature by posting…Help out for the PhilippinesMy Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      Yes Graefyl, my next visa sortie will be at the Thai Embassy in Myanmar. We can only pray I don’t piss that consul off too, and… end up in a Burmese prison! 😉

  8. Four Letter Nerde says:

    Ouch. Congratulations on not grabbing her with both hands around her neck. Sometimes I think Thai immigration workers (or low level government workers in any country I’ve lived in) pick customers at random, then throw obstacles in their way just for the entertainment value of watching them either lose their cool or struggle not to. Maybe I’m being cynical.

    On thaivisa.com two independent reports on the 6th claim to have received 30 day VOA when entering the kingdom by land at two different border crossings. Given the source it could be BS, but it bears watching because if it’s true there will be a flood of confirmations.

    • Dyanne says:

      Yes indeed FLN, trust that it took every ounce of self-control not to hang the lass up by her bunched-up panties.

      And yes, yes – the news just this morning appears confirmed. Effective on 1 November apparently those ridiculous 14 day overland Thai visas are history. Now (like air arrivals for most nationalities) leastwise G-7 folks (Japan, Germany, U.S. U.K. Italy, France) can get a 30 day visa by slipping over the the border.

  9. I was more astonished by every paragraph in reading this! It really doesn’t make any sense not to be consistent. It must have been infuriating to see the backpackers granted their visas while you could only watch. 🙁

    You can’t let one cranky officer influence mar your impression of Thailand though. You still have the rest of these 30 days there right? Doing visa runs to Myanmar/Burma seems to be a thing and it might be more straightforward somewhere where they process a lot of visas. From everything I’ve read, it does seem like a tricky country to stay in longer term.
    Ruth Elisabeth kindly contributed to world literature by posting…How do I choose materials suitable for my level?My Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      Yes, more than a little (infuriating), Ruth. But actually more stunned than anything else. Which was probably a good thing, as it kept me from reaching over the counter and STRANGLING her. 😉

      And yes, though many expats here in Chiang Mai seem to take full day visa runs to the Burmese border every 15 days in stride, I have to say – personally I think it’s nuts.

      There ARE a couple of somewhat doable long-term options though, and there IS much to like here. So we shall see.

      And meanwhile, yes still 22 days left here on my visa, and I’m looking very much forward to the legendary Loy Krathong/Yi Peng lantern festival on the 16th. I also fly to Myanmar on the 28th (the day before my Thai visa expires) so I may just try to get a 2 month (allegedly extendable to 3) from the Thai consul in Yangon (presuming of course, I don’t likewise piss him/her off) 😉

  10. Paul says:

    Ugh.

    Can I have my $940 back now?
    Paul kindly contributed to world literature by posting…My Day (Probably Better Than His)My Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      Indeed, Paul – “Ugh” pretty much covers it.

      It’s the first I’ve run into any visa problems in sailing into… near 40-odd countries, as I generally go overboard in CoveringMyA (dotting every i and crossing every t) when it comes to such matters.

      Whatever. No serious harm done. And no way did I let her fondle my 9 c-notes. I just hope the poor lass got a good night’s rest (and her panties straightened out).

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