Last Saturday I did another visa run. Immigration raises my blood pressure very quickly forreasons such as the stir below.
When I went to Laos, I had some issues with the immigration officers. This is an excerpt from one of our conversations:
Immigration Scrooge [I.S.]: Ma’am this paperwork not right. You cannot have this visa.
Me: I’m sorry, but that is the identical paperwork that I submitted to the consulate in Chicago, USA for this same visa and what Bangkok Immigration told me I needed.
I.S. : Chicago – okay, Bangkok – Okay. But here we do things differently, we have rules.
ME: Okay, what is wrong with this paperwork? It is the same position as before, a short-term internship. Not business. Not education.
I.S.: Internship? This is education. Where your university enrollment papers?
ME: I don’t have any. I graduated.
I.S.: Then this business.
ME: No, Chicago told me it was not the right timeframe or salary for that.
I.S.: Okay, I talk to your boss.
ME: Okay, I can call him….but what do you need? What paperwork?
I.S.: I not tell you, you not understand. I tell your boss. This my number. Have him call me. NOW. Sit down and wait until he calls.
ME: Okay….but what is wrong…?
I.S.: Sir, your paperwork not right. You must do again. You not tourist. You retired. You do it again.
And on it went. My boss didn’t call back. Everyone I had met was passed through. My number was called twice, I was told never mind – sit down and wait. I swear the last time I went up the I.S. clicked her tongue and waved me away with a look of exasperation when I was 5 people back in the queue.
In the end what happened was that I met another not-exactly-work-visa-traveler who had been dealing with this for 3 yrs. He suggested a different 2 month visa, with double-entry and the option of extending it for 30 days each time. My application was processed in 5 minutes and I just Jed to come back the next day for my passport.
I left Laos thinking what a crazy stressful and ridiculous experience immigration was and that it was bound to get better. Sometimes I have no idea what I am talking about.