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YSIF strikes again

February 11, 2010

So I made it back from Laos, easily enough.  On the afternoon I left off from two posts ago, I arrived at the consulate ready for my labors to bear their sweet, succulent fruit – and not have to bugger about like this again for another 120 days.

For those of you unfamiliar with Thai visas, the tremendous majority of young dive professionals operate on a Tourist Visa.  A single entry visa permits a 60 day visit.  After which you must leave the country, apply to a Thai consulate in the neighbouring country for a new visa and hope for the best.  There are numerous reasons to be outright denied, which I won’t get into now.  The whole ordeal can take up to a week.  A double entry visa allows you to revalidate your visa for another 60 days by merely stepping over the border on your 60th day – in my case Myanmar and it can take as little as a day.  Presto, another 2 months.  I went to Laos for this specific purpose of obtaining such a practical travel document.

Remember the “You Stupid Idiot Fund”?  At 1:45pm when my number was called and I eagerly approached the counter to claim my passport, I opened it up to the fresh visa and my heart sank.  Number of entries: S.  S means single.  I thought about protesting but there must have been over 500 passports and just as many people pushing at the same counter so they could get the hell out of there.  It was futile.  What was the dude at the counter really going to do about it?  I had no more money or patience to seriously consider reapplying all over again and spend another couple nights in Laos.  I couldn’t understand it.  “Why like this??” one might say.  I walked back to my hotel defeated.  I couldn’t understand how everyone else seemed to be nailing the 2 entry visa.  Then it dawned on me.  I didn’t actually fill out the form myself.  I arrived on the morning earlier at the queue in front of the consulate and got roped into paying 100 baht to have photocopies made of my passport (requirements I didn’t have) and all the necessary forms filled out for my convenience along with a Thai guarantor.  For 3 bucks, it seemed reasonable.  I must have overlooked the most critical query on the application which states number of entries.  I expect it said 1.  I’ll never know for sure, perhaps it was a clerical error but I’m pretty sure I totally dropped the ball on that one.  dammit.  I’m sad to say, withdrawals from the YSIF are still being made.

I took the train all the way back to Ko Tao.  I’ll never take the bus again if I can help it.  The train is definitely the way to go.  They all have bar cars and I like to hang out between the cars themselves where everything is opened up.  In the Bangkok station I met a diver from North Carolina.  He was a cool guy, we talked huge about diving.  We took the night ferry from Chumphon to Ko Tao.  All the bunks were taken so we crashed on the top deck outside, over the wheelhouse.  We chatted with the other exiles and I ended up sleeping with a straw floor mat over me.  Thankfully, it didn’t rain.  Once I got back to island it was business as usual.  I’m working loads with a dive shop called Scuba Shack and I’m halfway through my second rescue course right now.  One of the instructors, a French guy named G.G. has a birthday tonight.  We’re going to the bar he and his wife own to celebrate.  Thankfully it’s a five minute walk home.

Life otherwise on Ko Tao marches on.  I’m just getting over an ear infection I picked up in Laos and a scrape I have over my knee is healing nicely.  The work is steady, the staff is great and I’m settling my bungalow apartment a little more.  I now have speakers for my ipod, bathmats and indoor sandals.  The roots deepen, but it’s just as well.  It’s too stressful living on the fringe all the time unless you can afford it.  My room is a mess.  Mom and Dad, whatever you expect it to look like, it’s exactly that.  The tattered mosquito net over my bed I feel brings down the classiness of the room, but I think maybe some random Christmas tree lights my buddy is selling may do the trick.  I’ll let you know.


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  1. jenny mook-sang permalink

    “It’s too stressful living on the fringe all the time unless you can afford it.” is my favourite quote. i’ll have to send it to my boys 🙂

    ben, i’ve joined the questionable world of bloggers and took the liberty of adding you to my blogroll. here’s the link.

    also heard you’ve had a previous life as an actor. looking forward to seeing you at the academy awards

  2. kevin permalink

    Hi Ben,
    Glad life is going on as normal as can be inthe far east. Any coverage of the olympics there?

    • Hey Uncle Kev,

      There is a little bit of coverage but not much. I browse about a little bit on The Globe and Mail website when I check email and get a little caught up. World events often go unnoticed around here. Turns out there was a coup in Niger? Crazy. Hope alls well back home.

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