Thai visa runner panic

Starting on Jan. 1, 2007 those westerners living in Thailand on 30-day tourist stamps will find themselves persona non grata in the Land of Smiles, due to the expected enforcement of a new immigration law Royal Police order 608/2509 aimed at restricting farangs from exercising the 30-day tourist visa as a permanent rubber stamp for residence here.

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No more mini-van runs to Poipet, Mae Sot, Mai Sai, Kota Baharu, Koh Kong, or Ranong. If you have accumulated three tourist stamps in your passport, you will be given a 7-day temporary visa and asked to leave Thailand thereafter for at least 90 days.

My friend, Joey, is freaking out.

Five years in Thailand on nothing other than tourist visas and his passport is as thick as the Manhattan Yellow Pages.

“What am I going to do?”

His recent runs to Prom, a dusty crossing on the Cambodian/Thai have netted a series of marked stamps in his passport. 1-2-3. Por lao or enough already.

“It sounds like you’re going to have to get something sorted, leave, or overstay.” Getting it sorted means finding a real visa ie tourist, O, or B visa. Leave means either heading to Cambodia, the last refuge for scoundrels, where their beer Chang is marked 5.7-11% Alcohol or else returning to your home country, which many farangs view as a fate worse than having to work in a 9-5 job with a bunch of fat westerners. Obesity is contagious.

The answer is easy.

Overstay.

In five years of visa runs I’ve never seen an Indian, African, or Chinese visa runner. They all subscribe to the overstay technique, figuring to Thais they all look alike, so what’s wrong with overstaying and saying it like the bandit in the movie THE TREAURE OF SIERRA MADRE.

“Badges, we don’t need no stinkin’ badges.”

Of course he pulls a gun at that point in the film. something you don’t want to do with Thai police, since they will gladly put you down like a rabid dog. Still I have an associate who has overstayed 18 months. No one has ever asked him for any ID. Not in Pattaya. Not in Bangkok. Not in Phuket.

Come to think of it, whenever I’ve been stopped for driving, I’ve only had to produce a driver’s license and a 500 baht note, earning me a ‘thank you’ and a salute. No visit to the deportation jail, which is not meant to be a nice place.

Just last year a Luxembourghian aristocrat changing his visa departure date by one day.

Not knowing you can overstay one day without any penalty and every day thereafter is a 500 baht fine. The duke was thrown in prison, where he succumbed to the ravages of a diabetic condition.

What a difference a day makes?

So overstaying has its downsides, then again as long as you don’t do anything wrong, then you have no worries.

Joey from New Hampshire does plenty wrong.

Drinks, stays out late, get k-holed, and dates girls from Jenny Bar, the most notorious after-hours dive in Pattaya. he’s trouble but avoided any so far so what him worry?

See JP BAR PATTAYA 8AM

I told Joey to get himself legal. He nodded, then asked about the Patriots chances against the Texans in this week’s NFL game. Six years here and he still cares about the Patroits. I do too, which is one of the things that makes us farangs. We can forget where we come from.

Me, I have a retirement visa. I don’t see myself returning to the States, unless to be a gigolo in Palm Beach. I love the lobster roll at the Breakers.

And having sex with 90 year old heiress on Botox.

That’s why they created Viagra. To give those old birds the best two weeks of their life so you can afford to live here.

Every freedom has a price.

I just pray sleeping with old turtle ladies isn’t one of them.

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