Overstay in Paradise

Thailand’s beaches and nightlife combine with a rich cultural heritage and world-class cuisine to create SE Asia’s # 1 tourist destination. Millions of foreigners flock to the tropical country and hundreds of thousands of farangs fall in love with the torpid life under the palms. I myself have upped houses in the USA to live in the Land of Smiles. The Boston consulate was gracious enough to grant me a year-visa. After it expired I was committed to a bi-monthly visa run to nearest foreign country ie Cambodia to get a new stamp in my passport.

The border towns of Poipet, Krum, and Had Lek were close to Pattaya. My fellow farangs and I spent approximately 30 minutes to complete the process of exiting Thailand, entering Cambodia, exiting Cambodia, and re-entering Thailand. The cost of this service complete with lunch and transportation was $100, however many longtime foreign residents decided to risk overstaying without a visa.

The penalty at the airport was 20,000 baht or $600.

My South African friend Richard hadn’t left the country for three years. His savings had been 40,000 baht. Exiting at the airport in 2008 for a teaching job in Saudi Arabia Richard paid the over-stay fine and proceeded on his way without any further complications.

“I figured it out after realizing that I never saw any Africans or Indians on the visa runs. They come here and stay without ever worrying about a visa. It’s not like they are going anywhere and neither was I. I loved my OS visa. It was cheap.”

This liberal policy has come to an end with the announcement from the Thai Immigration Bureau that all foreigners overstaying more than 6 weeks will be arrested on the spot and remanded to the immigration jail attached to the airport for several days while the proper paperwork is processed by officialdom.

Thai Visa readers chirped happily about how this new edict will deter the criminal element from overstaying in Thailand. I hate those do-gooders, especially since the prosecution of the penalty depends heavily on the immigration officials at the airport.

Expect a new Mercedes Benz dealership to open in Cobra Swamp.

It’s all for a good cause.

Plus what’s two days more, when the next destination is the West.

Better a jail cell in Bangkok than a house in the American suburbs or a room in London.

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