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