Thursday, September 18, 2008

Visa run by bicycle

A fact of life for many foreigners staying long term in Thailand, and in other countries probably, is the visa run. My visa is valid for one year, but I'm only allow to stay continuously for a maximum of ninety days. Before exceeding that limit I must leave Thailand, even if for just five minutes before returning again.

So today it was visa run time again! Well, my ninety days wasn't up until Monday, but I decide to get it over with a few days early. I arrived yesterday in this town on the Burmese border, called Mae Sot. I came from Lampang where I was visiting some American friends. I didn't depart there until 1pm, however, so I arrived in Mae Sot at 5pm. I headed straight to the border. When I got there at 5:11pm I found out the Burmese side closes at 5pm. Oops.

I headed into town where I eventually found the decent and affordable Green Guest House. It's located on a side-street behind the police station, just past the holding facility (just a big cage really) for illegal Burmese immigrants. After checking in, I went to eat dinner at the restaurant Krua Canadian (Canadian Kitchen) which (surprise!) is owned and operated by a Canadian guy with a Thai wife. It was good tasting Mexican food, better than what I had in Chiang Mai. I assume the Canadian owner spent some time living in Mexico before coming to Thailand.

This morning I rented one of the guest house's bicycles, then rode the five kilometers or so to the border. I took a bunch of photos, with the idea in mind to write this blog entry tonight. So here the photos are below.

The day's mode of transporation, in front of the guest house

The road ahead

The road ahead becomes a four-lane highway

Border checkpoint in sight

For some, this is the way home

Crossing the bridge into Burma

Some Burmese don't need a bridge, or travel documents, to get into Thailand

The Burmese end of the bridge is in sight

I spent a couple minutes walking down the street

Then into some market... (then I headed back to Thailand)