Adventures in Errant Errands

Sometimes, I feel like I could live in Thailand forever. That feeling is usually strongest around lunch time:

The lunch that dreams are made of.

The $1.20 lunch that dreams are made of.

Other times – like when I go to immigration at 5 a.m. to make sure I get a place in line to get a ticket to get a number when the office opens at 8:30 a.m. so I can see the immigration official at 10 a.m.  – I’m reminded that Thailand isn’t really my home.

Unfortunately for me and my aversion to paperwork, my passport, driver’s license and vehicle registration all need to be renewed. Soon.  And like a Mobius strip made of red tape, I need each of those documents in order to get the others:

I need my passport (along with 2 photos, a letter from my landlady, an application form, and photocopies of my passport pages) to get a Certificate of Residency from Immigration, which I need (along with my passport, 2 photos, an application form, a heath certificate and photocopies of my passport pages) to renew my Driver’s License at the DMV on the other side of town.

Are you still with me? Take a deep breath, there’s more.

On Monday morning, my plan was to go to the Canadian Consulate, get a quick (but expensive) Certificate of Residency, renew my Driver’s License that afternoon, so I could go back to the Consulate on Tuesday morning to apply for my new passport. It was a complex, but brilliantly efficient plan.

Are you still here? If so, you’re a trooper. Carry on.

First, finding the Canadian Consulate in Chiang Mai isn’t easy. It’s not like the American Consulate, which is right down by the river, surrounded by a giant wall and guarded 24/7. That one’s hard to miss. The Canadian one is in a little out-of-the way building with a tiny little sign you can’t see until you’re right beside it…and since it’s where two lanes merge on a highway, you might be busy looking at a stampede of trucks bearing down on your little motorbike and miss it the first 3 times you drive past.

Oh, there you are!

Oh, there you are!

Eventually, I saw the tiny sign out of the corner of my eye as I was passing it, and slammed on my brakes. I coasted to a stop on the paved shoulder 2 meters past the entrance, and rolled my motorbike backwards down the highway and coasted into the parking lot.

Feeling rather accomplished, I parked my bike, grabbed my mountain of neatly organized paperwork, and traipsed through the wide open door…into an empty office.

Hello? Canada? Is anyone home?

Hello? Canada? Is anyone home?

Really – it was completely empty. For a long time.

It was deserted. Abandoned. Vacant. I could have committed mischief! Or Sabotage! Or Espionage! Or Decoupage! But I didn’t – mostly because I was busy signing the guest book.

Eventually, a shy Thai girl walked past carrying a cardboard box and trying very hard not to make eye contact with me. On her 2nd box-carrying trip, I asked if anyone could help me. She politely explained that someone had been here. They had since gone out – but they would (eventually) return.

I sat down to wait.

After about 10 minutes, Box Girl returned and gave me a phone number to call. I hate the telephone, and wasn’t in a hurry yet, and there were magazines to read, and I had been assured that the person who had left would (eventually) return.

I continued to wait.

After finishing a rather lacklustre article in an ancient magazine, I decided to call the number Box Girl had given me.I spoke with the person who had left, and she assured me she would (eventually) return … next Friday.

Have any of your best-laid plans gone awry lately?

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