Hey guys! Been a while since I’ve had a chance to post and I apologize for that. It’s been a wild and stressful past week but it’s mellowing out now I think/hope. I’m not sure where we left off so I’ll just give you all a little update on what we’ve been up to the past while:
- Went back to Bangkok from Chiang Mai and picked up M’s new passport, no problemos.
- The next day we headed out to Thai immigration to attempt to extend our Thai visa. By this point it was probably March 27th or so and our visa expired on the 1st of April.
- Getting to immigration was an all day affair, pretty much. We had been there before, but the directions we looked up didn’t look to familiar. It was, however, around the same area as the Canadian embassy so we’d a vague idea, but it turned out it was about a thirty minute walk from the nearest Skytrain station in about 37c heat.
- When we finally found immigration, after having to ask a few people for directions, we found out that they moved their offices, despite the information on their website. The office we had previously visited on a past trip now only services Burmese, Cambodian and Laotian applicants. We felt defeated and it was too late to go find the new office. The map we were given was all in Thai.
- The next day, probably the 28th by now we set off to look for the new Immigration office. For whatever reason, they decided to very inconveniently locate the building in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE in an industrial complex out by Don Mueng airport. Inaccessible by public transit, we had the option to take the skytrain to the end of the line and then taxi it, or take a local mini van service that Thai’s use. We opted for the mini van service.
- Rode the mini van till the end of the line, having no idea where to get off, no one to ask and no communication with the driver. Realized we were lost when everyone else got out and we were at the end of the road. Tried to get our point across the driver. He took us to his depot and walked us to the road where we got another mini van going the other direction (back the way we came). We finally got to the industrial complex and from there it was about another 1.1km walk (according to a sign we passed). We were seriously in the middle of nowhere.
- Found the building, and by the time we got there, the office was closed for lunch. Yahoo.
- We used the lunch break to fill out forms, glue photos and get everything ready.
- Office finally opened and we went through a series of desks while they checked our documents until we finally got a queue number to meet with an immigration officer.
- Number got called. We were quickly shut down and told that we had no visa to extend, that what we have is an entry stamp and not a visa and that we could either pay to have a 7 day extension, or leave the country and re-enter to get another 30 days.
- I’ll point out now, again, that it was either the 28th or 29th and we had about 2 days to figure out what the heck we were going to do next. Rookie mistake thinking we had a visa. So stupid, considering we’ve actually had a formal Thai visa before, but regardless of what we thought we had, we still thought that you could get an extension. Anyhoo. No. Defeated we took a cab back to the Skytrain station and headed back.
- During all of this drama, we also formally decided to go back to Saskatchewan for another summer of working with M’s parents. This meant that we had to cancel our return ticket which we did before we actually found out we couldn’t stay in Thailand. While we could postpone our BKK-SEOUL portion of our ticket till May 5th no problem, there were currently no available seats in May to get us from SEOUL-YVR. We had a few options. Well, I should say, we currently have few options. We are on two different waiting lists for different dates, or we can reroute our ticket to put us in LAX for a layover before going to YVR. (Nightmare of an option-have you been to LAX? They’re scary…I can’t imagine what they’d do to us after being away in SEA for 6 months). Anyway. Changing our ticket date costs nothing as we had an open ticket. But upgrading, rerouting and whatnot so that we can have a layover in SEOUL again costs quite a bit. Not as much as buying a whole separate ticket from SEOUL to YVR which is also another option we are looking at. So anyway, point being, we planned all of this out as best we could before we found out that we would have to leave Thailand in two days and fly elsewhere. Cha-ching! And we still don’t have a ticket home.
- Surprisingly, despite the level of stress we were going through at this point, we kept fairly level-headed. We just said aloud that this is the way it was, and there was nothing we could do about it, so we best just find a ticket somewhere. And that’s where KL came in.
- We thought about flying to Laos since it was one place we had planned on going on this trip and changed our mind. But we decided against it for reasons that are a whole other long-winded post.
- KL was one of the cheapest return flights (for some reason flying return with Egypt Air was cheaper than flying with Air Asia-totally bizarre). We booked the flight and now here we are back in familiar KL in our familiar guesthouse.
I never thought we’d go back to KL on this trip. We spent WAAAAAY too much time and money here earlier on in our trip, including Xmas and New Years. But we’ve decided to quit our whingeing. There are far worse things than having to spend a few days in KL. It’s a nice break of modernity after travelling in rougher places. Our guesthouse is nice and clean and has air conditioning and its cooler here than Bangkok right now and it’s been raining every day since we’ve been here. I can’t believe I’ve missed the humidity and rain! Thailand feels quite dry and hot now and it’s at least 4 or 5c cooler here now. Malaysian food is great. I’ve had laksa twice so far, Indian food for dinner yesterday and super cheap. Our room is definitely more expensive than Thailand or Vietnam but the food is cheap so maybe it balances out somewhere…at any rate, here is where we are now.
As for going back “home” I have mixed feelings. I am not a die-hard living in Canada fan as you probably all know by now if you read my blog at all. I am very fortunate to have been born in the first world and I am very lucky to come from Canada in many ways. But I do have my problems with it. Right now our relationship is classified “complicated”. Me and Canada.
A part of us really wanted to go to Japan. I feel sad that I’m missing my favourite time of year in Japan right now and that the cherry blossoms are starting to bloom. (I’ve also been told that cherry blossoms are blooming in Vancouver right now and they are soo beautiful there as well, but there is something to be sad for public drinking parties under the arches of the blossoms while you sit in your T-shirt, while Vancouver is raining all the time and VERY strict against public…well public anything, pretty much). But we have come to the conclusion that in order to accomplish our 1 year goals we have going on, going back to Canada is pretty much the best idea for us right now. M has writing deadlines he wants to have time for and I have an online business to launch. And Japan will still be there next year.
My long-term goal has always been to have a cafe and a shop/art space. Since we have no plans to “settle down” anywhere long enough to set up something like that I have been working on ideas that allow me to travel and do what I love, which is to make “things”. I plan to set up a proper website in the coming year with e-shop (and continue my blog of course!), branching into local retail when and where I can. This gives me the space to build up my long-term goal slowly, while also being able to purchase and source things on my travels. Huuuuge learning curve for me. I know nothing about web design. At all. I have to hire someone for this. I have a lot of ideas for what I want it to look like, but conveying those to someone who can bring my ideas to fruition while not financially ruining me is going to be tricky! But definitely doable. It’s exciting! So I’ll probably continue with my Etsy shop and add things as I go along, while working on this side project of the website, while also working with M’s parents, helping them out with their Kettle Korn business. Then we have some loose plans to travel again in the fall (to Europe), return for Xmas and then maybe go to Japan or?? We’ve decided it’s too hard to plan too far ahead. So right now we set smaller, manageable goals.
Sorry for the long-winded, no photo post! Not sure how many of you kept up till the end there, but I appreciate all of my readers who have been following my journey. I have gained so many Twitter followers lately too and I love all of you! (except the spammers!! Grr!!)
Oh! One last thing regarding the Sharon Salzberg/Tranquility du Jour book club and my 28 day meditation challenge. I suppose being that it’s April, I’m “done”. But the journey for this is just beginning. I admittedly fell off the meditation wagon a little bit during that last week. The time that I needed to calm down the most (see above chaos) and I barely had the time to sit still at all! But I’m back on the horse this week, sitting on my pillow, on the floor of my guesthouse room. It feels good. My brain is no more calm really. But I know it’s doing me good, I can feel it during the day. Unfortunately it didn’t really seem like the book club group took off for this book for some reason and I haven’t been able to post anything else on the comments for the club either, and no one else has either. So I never knew if that was just because of the shitty Thai internet cafes or if there was some kind of problem with the site. Really? No readers or commenters? It’s kind of weird! As well, there is no book club selection up for April, so I don’t know if the book club kinda petered out or what. I hope not!
Anyway, no idea what we are going to do in KL for the next few days but I plan on catching up on some writing and relaxing a bit after the last week. Then, if they let us back into Thailand, we’re hoping to head to a beach ASAP. If we’re going back home, we really ought to get as much beach time in as possible. We actually spent most of this trip in big cities and hardly any of it on a beach so we’re really looking forward to it. As well, Songkran is coming, which is Thailand’s New Year’s festival and it’s sure to be mental. It involves water fights, everywhere, which means I probably won’t get too many photos of it as the camera will be secure in a plastic bag wherever we end up!
Thanks for reading and thanks again for following me here and on Twitter! It really means a lot to me that I have this community of regular readers all over the world that I haven’t even met! I hope we get to meet someday!