Thailand is one of the most visited tourist destination in south east Asia. Here I want to share my experience on getting a visa for Thailand.
Generally Indian citizens need a visa to enter Thailand. You can get it in two ways:
- Get a visa before leaving India. I haven’t done this. You can visit VFS website to know about this more.
- Apply for a Visa-On-Arrival(VOA) when you enter Thailand.
I entered Thailand from Laos(via Nakhon Phanom border point) two times – on Dec 2016 and then again on Feb 2017. Both times I applied for a 15 days(this is the maximum you can get) VOA, and I got it without a problem.
Note that, as of September 2016, the Thailand VOA fee for Indians is 2000 Bhat. Make sure you check the Thai embassy website before planning your trip. Thailand is notorious for their frequent changing in immigration rules.
For getting a VOA you need the following documents:
- Photocopy of your passport(sometimes they don’t ask for this).
- One passport size photo.
- A confirmed flight ticket showing that you leave the country within 15 days of your arrival. Yes, you have to show that you leave by air. This is a must. Even if you plan on to visit another neighboring country by road, you still have to show the flight ticket.
- Hotel booking reservations showing that your accommodation in Thailand for the entire duration has been taken care off. Out of the two times I entered Thailand, one time they didn’t ask me about this at all, and another time, I had to simply tell the name of a hotel in Thailand I would be staying. In any case, I suggest you do a dummy booking using www.booking.com without paying any advance and carry a printout with you.
Now documents No 1,2 and 4 are pretty straight forward. But what can you do about the flight ticket, if you don’t want to fly out of Thailand? What I personally did was, to book a flight ticket which had the option to cancel the ticket in 24 hours with full refund.
Orbitz is such a cool website which allows confirmed flight ticket booking with a 24 hour cancellation policy. Here is a sample list of flights from Bangkok to Bangalore on 28th April 2017. Note that, not all the flights can be cancelled. So book any flight with a Free cancel within 24 hours tag, on the day you want to enter Thailand and once you cross the border and get your VOA, just cancel it the same day.
The immigration department doesn’t check (at least not in my case) if you have cancelled your tickets or not. By the end of my 15 day visa, I went back to Laos by road. The Thai immigration didn’t ask me, why I haven’t flown out of the country as I had planned. So all went well. And I would do the same thing again if I have to.
Sitting here, wanting to type something out, to let the creativity speak for itself through me.
I began to start doubting myself, is it gonna be good enough?
May be write it, but am I sure I want to publish it? May be I am wasting others time?
I have no single answers.
Then I asked myself. Does it really matter whether I publish it or not? Does it really matter?
If its not, then what DOES matter?
I feel, what matters is the state of my mind in this moment. Am I doing it totally conscious?
Am I doing it, without even a trace of the ego? Am I doing it to become famous?
Am I doing it to build up my courage, by facing my fears?
My arms shaking a bit, I still typed out everything.
For few moments I prayed, cleared my mind and with utmost mindfulness clicked the publish button.
Let this be added into the great mysteries of universe.
Let it propel whatever it has to propel.
Or let it rest in peace, dying where it was born moments ago.
Now whatever happens, is beyond my understanding.
Its still surprising for me, how depending on my state of mind, I see the same things so differently. If I am tired and uncomfortable, I can get angry at simplest things. But if I am experiencing pleasant things, the same things bring a smile to my face. One of the cycling trip I did in Kratie(in Cambodia), reminded me,this side of the truth quite intensely.
Kratie city is a small town in the north-east Cambodia, on the bank of Mekong river. One of the activities you can do here is to cycle along the roads on the east and west bank of Mekong river. To cross to the other side of Mekong river, you need to take a boat ferry. Depending on which ferry you take you can do a round trip of 44 Km and more.
Because of my bad assumption making skills and over confidence, I decided to do 80 Km round trip with this cycle.
It all went okay in the beginning. I cycled hard in the hot sun, took less breaks than I wanted, had a fast lunch. Some snaps, I still managed to take on the way.
I crossed the river from Sambour to the other shore called, Yeav. By 2:00 pm I was on the other side. Then the first surprise hit me. There was no tar road on the west bank of the river. There were a lot of small villages and everyone was so surprised to see me. Adults with open mouths and Children running around saying Hello.. Hello.. The mud road, was in very good condition and I was going really fast, for a cycle. I was very happy and told myself, this is nice. After the hard and boring ride on the east bank this is what I wanted. The kids saying Hello made me happy, and I also shouted back Hello.
But slowly things began to change. I was getting a bit tired, sweating a lot. After 15-20 Km of riding the road started to change. There was lot of water on the road, more inhabitants in the area(which made the road even worse). Sometimes it looked like a roller coaster. Sometimes I felt I was cycling slower than how I would walk. The bumpy road made my ass hurt. The fun part of the ride was dying out fast, and the demons inside me were waking up complaining.
And the clock was ticking. I need to go 25 Km or more on this road, and get another ferry to the other side of the river, where my guesthouse is. And the last ferry was around 5.30 pm(It used to get dark around 5.50 pm those days). Rather than enjoying the ride, questions started to fill my mind. How long would this shitty road last? Where would I sleep if I miss the ferry? How much extra I would have to pay to the boat man if I had to cross by myself? Would someone give me a place here to sleep for a night? How much should I pay in that case? Cant these kids give me a break and stop saying Hello? I cant concentrate enough on the road with all these people Hello-ing at me.
I had to take deep breaths so many times to let go of the ill feelings in my mind. But then they came back again. It was a cycle of letting go and coming back. I thought of taking a ferry much before the intended destination to end this suffering. But a part of me was saying, this is an opportunity. How many times would you feel so frustrated, so hopeless, so pushed to the end.
So I decided to push myself and finish the trip as planned. All I had to do was being mindful of my state of mind. This was hard though. I was so angry at some points that I was hitting the bicycle handle and screaming. But then there are houses everywhere, so I couldn’t scream too loud. Even at the moment, I found this situation a bit funny. The village kids who made me smile before, was getting into my nerves now!
In the end, I made it to the port around 5.40 pm. The last ferry hasn’t left yet. What a relief!!! The ferry came after 10 minutes, I crossed the river with my cycle and 2 dozen other people, rode to the guest house with a final burst of power left in my body.
What did I learn from all this? I am not sure. I cannot make conclusions and say, I should have done this or done that. Any choice could go wrong or right. What else can I do, than being mindful and centered when it goes wrong?