Life’s interesting in how right now it seems to go in various extremes. I am extremely out of place, but extremely loved. I am extremely overwhelmed, but extremely well tended. I am extremely stretched, but (becomimg) extremely comfortable. The list goes on, but if you ‘ve been reading for a bit there’s no need to continue.
Approximately 2 hours after posting my last blog, I met with my boss. What I told him, and didn’t previously tell you, was that on Friday I had gone to visit Immigration. When I set out on this little trip, I was under the impression that I had a three-month visa that could easily be extended to six months. This is what I had discussed with the Thai Consulate back in April and May, how I would be here for nearly five months and didn’t plan to leave the country during that time, etc. We’ll never know if he simply swindled me, or if I completely misunderstood what the immigration officer explained to me during those five phone calls and multiple emails. What I learned on Friday is that there is no such thing as a six month visa, and the three month visa cannot be extended beyond one week without leaving the country.
I spent Friday discussing this with five different immigration officers, explaining my previous fees and understanding back in May. Then I spent quite a while furiously texting everyone I knew who might possibly have insight into my problem, trying to get a grip on my situation, and informing my family on the situation that suddently felt like a catastrophe.
Several people have pointed out to me that traveling to another country is certainly not to be seen as a hardship. I like travel. Why not enjoy this opportunity? If you’re wondering that, here are my answers:
1. I only like change when it’s self-inflicted. This is called being controlling. While I may adjust fine to many situations, I don’t often immediately react to sudden change with any particular grace. Typically, I cry and panic. Then we’re fine.
2. Yes, travel is an adventure. But, I am living in a country where I don’t speak the language, finding peanut butter at the store is an adventure! Sometimes, there’s only so much “adventure” a girl can embrace.
3. See note regarding not speaking the language. I’m used to THIS language that I don’t speak, with my knowledge of public transport, my contacts, my understanding of the culture. Another country?! Without background knowledge, understanding or KNOWING A SINGLE BLESSED PERSON IN THE NATION!? Give me a break – at least 2 hours to adjust, thank you. Probably 3 days, actually.
4. Okay, finances. I am paid here, but I am paid an intern’s salary, that’s approximately 1/2 of a typical Thai recent graduate’s salary. It’s doable, of course, but it does not exactly prepare one for unplanned trips to other nations, and various visa fees.
5. Aside from the personal issue with, ahem, not having the money to spend, there was the question of whether I really should be putting more money into a low-paying job? Really? Eeeh.
All of these reasons piled together to create big jumble of reasons that pointed at, maybe, considering going home early. Which is awful. Still, I don’t want to completely regret my time here from a financial standpoint.
Then my friend found a friend who lives in Laos, working as a tour guide. He could help me. Also, I learned that I could take an inexpensive sleeper train to Laos. Laos is inexpensive. Maybe this is doable….but I still wondered if it was a wise financial decision.
Some friends of mine who have been here for over 21 years strongly encouraged me to broach the subject to my boss, asking him if he would consider covering the expenses.
I did that this afternoon. In five minutes time he said, “Of course, I will pay for everything. But, you should enjoy this trip. Go somewhere you want to go.”
I was so relieved, I nearly cried.
Right now, it still looks like Laos is a good option. I don’t have contacts elsewhere, it will be a train trip which intrigues me. It’s quiet, and cheap. Perhaps the antithesis of Bangkok I neeed right now.
Things are still in the midst of being sorted, but I am at peace for the first time in four days. Relieved and excited to stay in Thailand in a way I haven’t been in quite awhile.
Thank you for your support and kind words.