Visa on arrival in Bangkok, Thailand
I first stood in the wrong line with foreigners and reached the top in minutes. There the stern immigration officer said -- Indian?? Go and get a visa on arrival, not here.
That’s when my nightmare began. I went to the visa on arrival side which is hidden from the read “ white’s only side” which was a horrendous experience. This time I asked rather than just stand in the que and the man said, go fill up a form put your photo and bring 2000 baht and come back. So off I went and took a form from another passenger and filled it up. After that I afixed a photo of mine which I had brought, quickly changed 100 US $ and then stood in the que. I chose the shorter que not realising that this que was more expensive. In typical Asian style I was told this is ‘fast track’ which simply meant 400 baht more.
When I asked why, the visa fee according to their site was 2000 baht, I was just quietly lead to another que by one of the immigration officers. A chaotic and wild que, filled with my brethren from India, who have no ethics whatsoever. I had no choice, so I stood in the que which snaked 4 times over.
As I stood in the que,suddenly three men burst into it and pushed their way ahead of me. I had already stood quietly for an hour, so I did not need to be pushed back further. I firmly told them to go behind me, but no, because I was a woman, in typical Indian style he stood alongside me, pushing and straining to get ahead.
There was no way I was going to allow that so I went through another stressful hour trying to keep my spot with him pushing me throughout. Finally I reached the top of the que after a two hour wait and got to the counter. Ofcourse our man rushed to the other counter and was promptly yelled at , ‘you Indian man go back’.
Anyway there I was exhausted and waiting, when the immigration officer on the other side says something to all his colleagues and then I am told -- go take another picture with your eyes open. Oh my God, that was the last straw. I told him excuse me, but I am not going back to stand in the que, I will get the picture and come right up here. He agreed.
So off I went to the picture stand and got my picture taken in my exhausted state. I stared at the camera with my eyes wide open hoping all would be well. It was done in minutes, 200 baht exchanged hands and off I went to the counter again. I dreaded having the que yell at me, but I think people realised I was honest and no one said a word.
The officer was surprised that I was back so fast and immediately said let me check the picture. When he saw it was the new one he let me go after putting my docs into a plastic bag. Then I was allowed to walk up and sit in another area waiting for the stamped passport.
In a few minutes the passport was given and I was allowed to go and collect my luggage. I wondered where my luggage would be considering the time lapse from my deplaning and collection of luggage. Lucky for me the information desk told me to go to carousel 15 and collect my suitcase. It would be there -- it was! Standing in solitary splendour.
As I rolled it out of the exit adjusting my back pack, I ruminated on the difficulty one faced with an Asian passport in Asia as against a western passport in our countries. Why was that? Why was a British or American passport more acceptable without a visa and we Asians were charged and bullied? Is it a colonial legacy? Or are they considered more honest than us? But I decided to clear my head and just get on with going to the hotel.
Anyway, after that I walked up to a machine where I had to get a number for my cab, and then walked up to the cab driver number 8. It was a small cab as I had a really small suitcase and back pack. He pretended he did not know the Raddison Blu in typical Asian style and then began bargaining about the fare. All the while having put my bag into the dickey. I had to talk to myself to remain quiet.
Bargain I was told and since he insisted that the meter would be too expensive he quoted 450 baht. I immediately said 400 and refused to go up from there. He agreed cause anyway he was already on his way. But after that he was quiet and I could sit back and enjoy the ride.
Bangkok was green and fresh and clean. Maybe cause I was travelling on the better roads to a better part of the city, but whatever I could see out of my window was welcoming and I was glad to be there.
Moral of the story: Do NOT wait for a visa on arrival, go to VFS in India and get it done there.
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