Pattaya Daily News

30 June 2006 :: 16:06:56 pm 21414

On The Run

Most of us don‘t have a choice, we must do it.
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It’s six o’clock in the morning, the birds are singing their morning song, and the local Thais are already hard at work preparing for the coming day. Why am I up so early you ask? I’ll give you a hint. It’s for something most foreigners have to participate in every month. Yes, you guess it, the ever-popular monthly visa run.

I grab a quick shower, my backpack containing a cd player and some tunes, and I’m out the door to meet the mini-bus to Cambodia. Personally, I prefer to take the larger bus to the smaller more cramped mini-bus, but on this sunny Saturday morning, the larger bus is not offered.

Since I live on the outskirts of town, and I happen to live near the driver of the mini-bus, I’m his first pick-up at 6:30. Well, it was supposed to be at that time, but he doesn’t actually show until 6:50. It makes you wonder if he would have waited for me? Not bloody likely. I’d be going the next day and having to pay an extra 500 baht for overstaying my visa by one day.

After my pick-up, we snake through the narrow Soi’s of Pattaya to pick up the other 7 lucky visa-runners. This takes us about an hour in total, but it would have been shorter if we didn’t have to wait 15 minutes for the last person.

With the mini-bus almost fully loaded we set off for the Cambodian border. I take the back seat hoping I can catch a few more hours of shuteye; it doesn’t go according to plan. First off, the Chinese man sitting beside me that we picked up last has not stopped sneezing since he got in. I think it’s time to get some rest and attempt to put my seat back, only to find that the seats in this particular mini-bus do not recline. And to make matters worse, the headrest is angled forward making it almost impossible to get comfortable. Even if I could get comfortable, I don’t think it would be possible to sleep. We seem to have the Thai Michael Schumacher driving for us today. Now, the trip normally takes about four hours to drive, we make it in three and a half. I won’t even mention the four near head-on collisions we have.

We arrive at the border and are quickly pushed and pulled into line-ups. The lines move surprising quickly today, and before I know it I’m walking across the bridge to Cambodia. On the other side I sit at a group of picnic tables with the other visa-runners, and wait for our passports to be returned. We swap stories and talk about our near-death experiences on our respective mini-buses.

Twenty minutes later our visas are returned to us, and its back to the Thailand side. This time a few Cambodian children calling me brother and asking for spare change accompany me. I give what loose change I can find in my pocket and say my goodbyes. Another line up to get a Thai stamp in my passport and it’s back on the bus.

We stop at a small roadside food stand an hour later for some lunch. It’s your basic Thai fare at a surprising reasonable price. After that, it’s just a three-hour drive back to Pattaya.

After finally dropping off all the other passengers, I get dropped off, remember; first picked up, last dropped off. I enter my room and crawl into bed to try and catch up on the sleep I didn’t get on the bus. As I drift off to sleep I’m comforted by that the thought that I don’t have to go through that ordeal for thirty more days.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Stories

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