Going to Thailand for a visit is simple, all you have to do is turn up, with a valid passport, you get it stamped and you can stay for 30 days in a tourist Visa.
Well you would have thought it was easy, but I had not taken into account the “Thai” factor. We had planned a short trip to Thailand as my other half had not been home in about 6 or so years and wanted to see her mother. Not to mention they all wanted to see me.
So we packed, well should I say, she packed, and when she had finished, asked if she could use a small bit of my large suitcase. Well what can you say, she was excited and as I had not yet started I said yes. So I decided to get my stuff together and put my suitcase on the bed and opened it. Mmm , a small bit she said, only a few items she said, it was full. There were lots of presents, clothes bags etc, all for member so the family and no space for me.
So I realised it was her trip and only got a few essentials together and put them in the suit case and the rest in a carryon bag. I asked her if she had her passport, yep, tickets, yep, money yep, so all set.
So we went to Heathrow went through immigration the normal searching and took a non-stop plane to Bangkok on Thai Airways. It was a great flight, full of excitement and anticipation.
We had a great trip, I had booked a really nice hotel for the Friday sat and Sunday and the next 7 days spending it with her mum in the village.
I had met the family and her mother was wonderful and the village, about 45 minutes’ drive into the mountains from Chiang Mai city.
So we had a good time and said our good byes, and her half-sister and husband came with us to Chiang Mai Airport to book in on our return home.
I hand over my passport over, it was checked and got my seat and boarding pass. My good lady hands over her passport and after a few words in Thai, I see panic in her face, so 10 minutes worth of Thai conversation, joined in by her half sister and me and her husband look and wonder what’s happening. It’s normal, as non-Thai speakers to be excluded until you manage to interrupt to find out what’s happening.
It turns out my good lady, only brought her Thai passport with her. I was confused and it took me some time to get to the root of the problem.
My good lady has both a Thai and UK passport, and in her Thai Passport there is a multiple UK entry visa. So she can come and go to the UK using her Thai passport. This was of course before she become a UK citizen.
So she decided to use her Thai passport to leave the UK and enter Thailand, as its quicker, No hassle there. The problem being, her multi entry UK visa was in an old expired Visa ( Three Passports ago) Even though it’s in an old passport it’s still valid, and they don’t, for reasons unknown, transfer this visa to any new Thai passport she may get. What she forgot to do was bring her old Thai passport, which container the Visa, with her, and as she left the UK passport at home, unbeknown to me. (I was unaware she still had a Thai visa.) So in short, she could not leave the country.
So after a few panicked minutes, it was decided, well we had no choice really. She would call work and say she would be on holiday for possible an extra week, I would travel home alone, and when I got home I would send all her passports by courier ASAP. The Airline were very good, apart from a rebooking fee, the flight was on hold until she was in receipt of her passports.
So I flew back all by my lonesome, arrived in London, got a train to Birmingham and when I got home I had to drive to Worcester, (Where she lived then) and drive back. Let’s say I was shattered, the army would say I was chin strapped.
I was impressed with DHL, I called them they came to my house within an hour, I filled in a few forms, as it was passports I was sending and the passports arrived at her step brothers house 3 days later.
This was one of many experiences of the Thai grasping of forward planning. Don’t get me wrong, this is in no way I am slagging them off, it’s just that every culture has its strong and weak points and the Thais organisational skills are not brilliant. I will, no doubt expand on more examples at a later date. From now on, I am in charge of the passports.