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jimster

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About jimster

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  1. What do you mean (both signatures) on the original marriage certificate? Certainly signing an original document would be defacing it. Unless you mean that both parties should sign the copy? On the marriage details (tabian somrot) portion, both my wife's and my signatures are already there.
  2. The yellow fever vaccination is fortunately a non-issue for the vast majority of travelers to Thailand and Asia in general. Since there are no direct flights from affected areas in Africa and South America to Thailand anyway (as far as I'm aware) it should be easy enough for a western or Asian traveler just to transit somewhere en-route, which doesn't require such a certificate and then enter Thailand a few days later and they won't be asked for anything. African travelers from certain countries may however be rounded up by Thai immigration and asked for a certificate while standing in line at immigration (I saw this happen once a few years ago) irrespective of where they're arriving from. Being forced to be administered a medicine (yes vaccines are medicines) as a condition of entering a country I find to be a fundamental violation of human rights. What happens if the traveler has a conscientious objection to vaccination? What happens if a traveler happens to have a medical condition that makes vaccination contraindicated? Will a doctor's note (medical exemption) be accepted in lieu of having this vaccination administered? Incidentally, the CDC has this to say on the matter: https://www.cdc.gov/travel-training/local/PreTravelConsultationandBestPractices/page24195.html The Travel Doctor, an Australian website says this: http://www.thetraveldoctor.com.au/yellow-fever-exemption/ But I wonder if immigration authorities accept such medical waivers unconditionally or not. Incidentally, vaccinating against yellow fever, just like any vaccine is not without it's risks, one must always consider the risk/benefit ratio and serious adverse reactions have occurred. In such cases you are on your own - you can't sue the vaccine manufacturer, the WHO or the government that requires you to receive this shot. Fortunately no other vaccines are required to be allowed entry into Thailand (and other SE Asian countries) although Australia asks for a polio vaccination certificate for travelers who have spent more than 28 days in certain countries (such as Pakistan) prior to applying for a visa or to enter Australia. Otherwise, visa processing may be delayed. Interestingly, Australia does not require proof of yellow fever vaccination to enter the country, while Thailand only cares about yellow fever and not polio, despite there being numerous daily direct flights into Bangkok from Pakistan, Iran and other countries where polio is said to be endemic. However, there is a very good chance that in the near future (next 10-20 years?), every single traveler worldwide will be required to be up-to-date on all sorts of vaccinations and produce such proof to be allowed to board a plane (domestic and international) and to enter another country. However, by that time it will be likely that electronic medical databases will become standard (which countries like Australia are already implementing) allowing all sorts of stakeholders (such as governments, airlines, other transportation operators, immigration authorities, medical authorities etc.) to access a traveler's medical records electronically should they wish to do so. I don't wish to delve further into this topic other than to say - that is a very scary thought indeed and yes, this is being planned.
  3. Closes at 9pm (Thai time) since Jan 1, 2016.
  4. It's still easy in Australia - although multi entries need approval from Canberra since 2016. I haven't seen any reports of multi-entry non-Bs approved in regional countries, perhaps local citizens are granted such visas but foreigners are not.
  5. I was refused a 60-day extension on a non-b multi entry visa. Also at Bangkok. Was told that I would need to re-enter on a non-O (or even a visa-exempt). I will be heading to Laos to get a non-O multi entry sooner than I was originally expecting but so goes.
  6. What documents are required for the 60 day "visit wife" extension apart from the applicant's passport and the original marriage certificate?
  7. So Saudis can't enter Thailand? Strangely though, Thai Muslim hajj pilgrims are not only permitted to enter Saudi, but THAI Airways even flies them there on charter flights from Hat Yai and Bangkok directly to Mecca during the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
  8. Correct. There has been talk of opening the Three Pagodas Pass as the next international point of entry, but it hasn't happened yet. Even for Thais and Burmese, the Three Pagodas Pass port of entry only allows day entry for a maximum distance of 12km inside Myanmar (for Thai nationals), while Myanmar nationals are restricted to Three Pagodas Pass township and mainly come to the Thai side to trade their wares or work at clothing factories in town. Up until 2007, foreigners were permitted to enter Myanmar there on day trips, but for some reason this privilege has never been allowed again. In 2011 and 2012 I illegally crossed to the Burmese side there where I was invited to some local's home on 4 occasions, but that is probably not a good idea for anyone else to repeat.
  9. If I were you I would find the idea of doing a single day return by air too stressful not to mention too expensive. I hate flying as it is (maybe you don't, each to their own) not to mention all the annoying security crap, which is getting worse all the time, now they have those stupid body scanners at Suvarnabhumi, all economy passengers have to pass through them. Only business and first class passengers still get the option of passing through a normal metal detector, but eventually even these passengers may be left with only a body scanner. Also, Singapore immigration is quite strict and they have been known to question travelers. Rarely happens to westerners, but could if you pass through there often. One time I was mistakenly pulled aside and asked to see another officer. Said officer never said a word to me and I couldn't figure out why I was even pulled aside - perhaps the first officer's computer wasn't working properly but I could have sworn they wanted to interrogate me, despite my trips to Singapore rarely being more than 3-4 days (only once have I stayed there for 7 days in a row, though I did make two day trips to Johor Bahru during that time). That was back in 2009 and I've been back to Singapore a number of times since, usually for only 1 or 2 nights. Land border crossings from Thailand to neighboring countries are usually easygoing. I would recommend any border with Laos, especially one of the 4 bridge crossings as they are modern, have bus services across the bridge, there are no scams on either side of the border, no touts on either side of the border either (they aren't allowed to access the customs areas) and very clean. Also, no reports of problems at Thai immigration. The Lao visa on arrival fee varies from US$20 (for Chinese nationals) to US$42 for Canadians while most others pay US$30 or US$35; a few nationalities are exempt (Swiss, Russians, Luxembourg, Japanese, South Koreans) in addition to ASEAN nationals. Better to pay in USD than in Baht or Kip, which will be more expensive. The Cambodian borders are fine too in my experience, even Aranyaprathet/Poipet, but there are some reports of that crossing not being the best for re-entry so perhaps avoid it as Jack Thompson has suggested. The disadvantages to the Cambodian crossings is that they are dirty, full of touts and beggars (especially at Poipet) and lots of scams. Overcharging on the visa on the Cambodian side is common. If you don't like too much stress, stick with the Lao borders. Another option is taking one of the through buses between Thailand and Cambodia, either Siem Reap-Bangkok or Phnom Penh-Bangkok although they both pass through Aranyaprathet. However, it's unlikely a bus passenger would be hassled as they are looked after by the staff who need to make sure their passengers re-board the same bus after passing through immigration. And since you have a non-O multi you should be fine. Obviously if you take a direct bus, you aren't going to be doing a day return - this option is only possible if you stay a night or two in Cambodia. Myanmar, especially Mae Sot or Mae Sai are easygoing. You pay US$10 or 500 Baht for a day pass into Myanmar. If you want to spend a few days checking out the country, get an e-visa (no visa sticker is placed in your passport).
  10. Until around 2006 there were no ATMs in either Laos or Cambodia either, and it took until 2012 for ATMs to appear in Myanmar. I can remember running out of money in Vientiane once, luckily it was my last day in Laos and I had just enough to pay for a bus for me and my girlfriend to the border where there was an ATM right at the border crossing in Nong Khai. I remember remarking to Thai immigration officials how "baan nork" Laos was for not having any ATMs. I'm still surprised it took as long as it did for Laos and especially Cambodia to install ATM machines. Now they are everywhere though, but it pays to know before you go to a new destination. Benin is well off the tourist trail, you're the first person who I've ever heard going there...I can't imagine there would be many westerners heading there, must have been a surreal experience.
  11. Cham Yeam/Hat Lek IO scam

    The fake health check seems to be gone now, but it's easy enough to avoid anyway. They never seem to ask any local looking people, Thais or anyone that arrives by car. I once called out their bluff and accused them of discrimination - I pointed to Cambodians and Thais in the vicinity and asked why they weren't asked and they quickly backed off. Since arriving by car you don't even need to go anywhere near that health table - but you will be hit up for money to "lift the gate", "for beer" and for the daily fee to bring your car in. I understand they will also charge you if you bring in a motorcycle, though I'm not sure as I've never done that before. This year I've been through Koh Kong twice and last year I went through there 3 times. The first 2 times I had a visa so no problems but the third time I was asked to cough up extra money. The thing is, I asked for a business visa, and if you ask to pay the official price, they bring up a notice about requiring extra documents and such (for nationals eligible for a visa on arrival, no documents are required for a business visa; now they are cracking down on extensions, but that's another story; for the initial entry the process is still the same as usual). It's much easier to pay the official price if you are just asking for a tourist visa. They wanted US$45 for the business visa, which I managed to get down to US$40 without much effort, even though that was still US$5 over the real cost. My buddy paid the first price he was asked for a tourist visa, which was US$37 I think. He got out of there just 2 mins before me. Similarly, family members who joined me the first time I went last year all paid the inflated amount. I think they were asked for 1600 Baht. As I already had a visa from the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok, I sailed through. On my first trip this year, I tried hard but didn't manage to get the price down at all for the same business visa I received there last year. I ended up paying US$45, despite explaining that I paid $40 last year and that I could remember the guy with the reading glasses but he obviously couldn't remember me. He told me that "this isn't a market place" to which I responded "actually, yes it is!" after which the other guy tried to hand me back my passport. I said "no way, I'm staying here". I was offering US$1 more every minute, starting at US$39 and when I ended up at US$44 I decided I'm not wasting another minute on trying to save US$1 I just want to get my visa and go, i still had a long drive ahead of me to Phnom Penh and still hadn't had lunch yet, so I paid the US$45 and got out of there. I then converted this to a 1-year extension of stay and 1 month later re-entered with that visa, so no requests for money. But yes, unfortunately, the Koh Kong border is notorious for wanting extra money and unlike other border crossings, it seems to be more difficult to pay the official price. I would therefore advise to be prepared to pay a little extra, but aim to pay somewhere between the official price and their inflated one. Start at US$1 above the official price and try to end up paying no more than $3-4 above the official price. Be calm and you may get away with paying the official price as Phuketrichard has. At all other crossings I've entered, no problems with paying the official price - Poipet, O'Smach, at Daung (Ban Laem) I entered using an extension of stay. At Poipet I also had no trouble paying the official price for a business visa. Just not at Koh Kong.
  12. Foreigners are allowed to travel only 20km east of Taunggyi to the junction town of Hopang, from where they can travel south on highway 5 to Loikaw. I don't think you are allowed further east to Loilem in order to travel north on route 44 towards Hsipaw either. Route 45 has to the best of my knowledge never been open to foreigners, although some manage to sneak across the border from Thailand; I've seen pictures of foreigners attending local ethnic Shan army events mainly in towns near the Thai border on or close to routes 45 and 49. There is also an airport in Mongton and one would think a foreigner would be allowed to fly there, but not sure if there are actually any regular flights. I highly doubt you would be restricted from venturing into an area that opens up after having gone there while it was still restricted. Once an area opens up everyone can come in as if the area had always been open. I once went up to the Gyaing river bridge in Kayin State before it was opened to foreigners, no problem. I asked if I could proceed and was turned back. Probably could have proceeded if I didn't bother getting out of the car and requesting permission from the immigration guys there (in fact, my plan had been to go into some nearby Karen villages to ask about purchasing some forest products then turn around to head back to Hpa-an the same day; I had no plans to stay overnight in the area). The military was fine with me proceeding, just immigration wasn't. Was told the bridge would open to foreigners just 3 weeks later; in actual fact it ended up taking the government another 5 months. Now the bridge is part of the Myawady-Hpa-an highway, where a dozen or two foreigners pass by every day (more during the high season) in each direction in the more than 4 years since the border crossing at Mae Sot-Myawady has been open to foreigners as a legitimate entry point into the country (and not just as a one day turn-around point, limiting travel to 12km from the border) as it used to be. The Myawady-Mae Sot border crossing is the busiest overland crossing point between Myanmar and Thailand, although Mae Sai/Tachilek might see more Thai tourists heading to the local market next to the river - it's the Myawady crossing that is of most interest to overland travelers as opposed to one day shopping tourists or casino visitors like at Tachilek. Having said that, you have to know what risks you are willing to take as I have no idea what the consequences would be for you, given you are working for a local based NGO. Most likely you'll just be turned back at the first checkpoint, but who knows. I doubt that region will open up for foreigner access anytime soon. The whole central Shan region has never really been open for foreign tourists or expats ever - not 5, 10, 20 or even 50 years ago. Some foreigners driving their own vehicles including the "Top Gear" team, as well as a small number of cashed up tourists willing to spend up to US$1000 for a car with driver and permit have managed to "cross the Shan" by traveling between Taunggyi and Kengtung along route 4, almost exclusively between 2013 and 2016. Even these tourists were restricted from venturing anywhere off this road but the latest reports are that no permits have been issued since December 2016 due to security issues in the area, meaning no foreigners (except perhaps those few that have managed to sneak through) have traveled overland east of Taunggyi to Kengtung or vice versa, since late last year.
  13. Right. Also, how will Thai immigration deal with this issue once cash becomes obsolete? There is a global push to ban cash and this includes Thailand. MBK shopping center was cited, a couple months back, as the first location where they plan to eliminate the use of cash. They plan to do this by having all vendors accept only debit/credit cards and of course the latest craze, online payment systems using your phone. Already now an increasing number of stores are accepting mobile payment systems, although I have never seen a Thai using them, but it's probably only a matter of time. In China, alipay and WeChat pay are so ubiquitous now that many people simply don't use cash anymore.
  14. In an increasing number of countries worldwide, self-serve is the norm; wages are too high to hire employees to do something a customer can do themselves. Thailand will eventually go the same way, I give it 5-10 years before self-serve starts to become the "norm" and another 5 years after that for all but the most remote service stations to offer only self-service. I never smell of diesel when I fill up my tank. That only happens if you spill fuel over your hand or clothing - something which is easily avoided. No. You have to fill up the tank yourself - otherwise it would be redundant to have self-service. Customers unable, or unwilling to fill their own tanks can simply move on to the next service station, which in Thailand is probably only 50-100m down the road. As I've already stated, self-service is 0.20-0.60 Baht per liter cheaper than full service service stations.
  15. I don't know about that - you are making lots of erroneous assumptions - most countries in the world are developing countries and many don't even have functioning court systems. Never heard of a court going after someone for idling their engine (assault of course yes), they have better things to do like prosecuting actual criminals. What about drive-thrus? Drivers idle their engines there.
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