Tuesday, September 20, 2005


There are a lot of illegal immigrants living in downtown Bangkok. These are not indigent illegals. They can afford the necessities. The big attraction here is that the necessities are extremely cheap.

A hotel room can be rented for 200 dollars a month. (I will convert all monies to the American dollar for clarity.) I should insert here that Thailand is not Mexico. All facilities I have seen have been clean. Even public toilets are clean.

Meals here cost as little as 50 cents. Ladies are extremely attractive and extremely available.
I suppose there is a drug trade but it is exceedingly dangerous. Minimum sentence for a drug conviction is 25 years. Maximum is death. I advise against messing with drugs.

I have read that police have raided certain clubs and detained foreigners who don’t have passports or up to date visas. That sounds kind of wacky to me. I don’t think it’s wise to carry your passport to some of those clubs. One politician has claimed the police do that to extract bribes. Not so much from the foreigners but from the club owners. I have no personal knowledge of this stuff.

Getting a visa is easy if you have a valid passport. When you deplane at the Bangkok airport you are given a 30 day visa. That’s all there is to it.

There is a fine for overstaying your visa. The fine is $10 a day.

At the end of 30 days the visa can be renewed. There are daily bus trips to the Cambodian border for this express purpose. Five busses a day make this run so you can see it’s a big business. It takes 8 or 9 hours for the round trip. One service advertises an on-board movie, a free drink and a buffet lunch, all included in the $50 fare. It also includes all expenses of the visa renewal. Reservations are required. Both English language newspapers have their ads in their classified sections.

There is no limit to the number of times the visa can be renewed.

My situation was different. I have a Thai wife and own a home here. My visa could be renewed at the immigration office. The office was very crowded but the waits were reasonable and the Thai officials very polite. But the catch was I could only get a 30 extension there. If I wanted a longer extension I had to go to a country with a Thai embassy and get a retirement visa and then return.

So we went to Singapore.

Singapore is one of the more boring places on earth. On the plus side, by studying the layout of the city and its transportation system, you can be successful playing the Sim City computer game. The population even reminded me of the Sims in that game.

When we returned to Bangkok I had a 90 day visa. On the downside, if I traveled, I would have to start at the beginning on my return. So I didn’t travel.

After a year of 90 day visas, I got upgraded to a one year visa. For this one there is a means check. I had to prove a minimum worth and monthly income.

That’s where I am now.

I think I can travel on this visa without having to start over. But I’ll find out for sure before trying it.


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