Before we start, I have to say that this could easily be episode #3528 but I never thought of writing about my silly adventures before, so here I start.
The day had started well, after a solid night sleep in what is meant to be my jungle bungalow for the upcoming diving season at Khao Lak, Thailand. I got picked up by taxi and transferred on time to Phuket airport, after a 90 minutes ride where I slowly woke up sipping a coffee in my beloved takeaway tumbler, listening to awesome tunes from my selection, such as this one.
At the airport, I handed my passport to a ‘Document check’ assistant of the airline. She tells me “your passport damaged, wait please”, and sends me to the farthest away counter. Does not sound very good.
The lady at the counter made some embarrassed faces, before dropping the bomb: I cannot board the flight to Singapore.
The reason is simple: my passport is damaged.
Confused, I think about how long this passport has been like this. Wait a minute: I came from Singapore with this passport! So, yes it is slightly cut off and wrinkled on the one page that matters (F&%$) but no one had ever told me anything else than “be careful Sir, your passport page is tearing off, don’t lose it”. It still read fine at automatic gates everywhere I travelled to recently!
Despite me pointing this out, I get told that I will get denied entry in Singapore with this passport.
“But I came from there!!!” I complained. “Please ask again to your supervisor! This passport is functional! If you swipe it, it will find my identity!”
Now, what worried me immediately is that my 30-days tourist visa expires that same day. And the chance of getting a new French passport done in Thailand within a day probably equals the number of fucks given to Donald Trump about decency. None.
I insisted to speak to the supervisor who came to tell me that I better redo a passport in the kingdom because being flown to Singapore and denied entry would surely mean that I would be sent back to Thailand and denied entry here as well. Result of that potential: me, stuck in the no man’s land of Phuket airport. Not quite an option.
After a few more despaired attempts, I admitted my defeat and walked away to focus on solving the next problems to come.
My visa expires today and if I don’t manage to extend it, tomorrow, I’m illegal in a country that isn’t exactly known for the kindness of its “justice” system. Illegality isn’t much of an option either.
After a distress call to my lovely and wise girlfriend, I get the sound advice of calling the French embassy to see if there is any way I can obtain an emergency/temporary travel document that would let me board that flight. I am being told to send an email. I send it and thankfully, get a reply within one hour. One hour only! I was amazed. (Truth be told, the subject of my email: “Urgent. Help. Stuck in Phuket Airport”, might have helped to get me some quick attention).
Flight is already missed, but it seems little compared to the nightmare to come.
The embassy presents 2 options to me.
Option 1: gather some admin documents, pictures and shit, and make an appointment at the Embassy in Bangkok (usually 1 months lead time, according to the email and the web!), and then wait a good 15 days after papers submission for the passport delivery.
Now, here is the simple math problem of the day:
provided that Thibaut renews its current tourist visa to a maximum of 30 more days before he needs to get out of the country (with a valid passport of course), and that the lead time to get a new valid passport from his national administration seems to stand at a mindfucking 45 days, when can Thibaut leave the country?
He fucking can’t.
Which leaves me with Option 2: ask for a “laissez passer” (right to cross a border) at Bangkok embassy, valid once and only for a return flight to France, where I will have ample time to ask for a new passport and return to Thailand if I am masochist enough.
I am indeed supposed to start my job as a scuba diving instructor in Khao Lak, Thailand, on November 1st, under the reserve of my obtention of a work permit, and a… non-immigrant Visa B from the Thai authorities…
Now, my only chance not to incur a stupid and painful flight cost to France is to score an earlier appointment for a passport renewal, for which I am on permanent standby on the web for the next two days…
nb: I voluntarily omitted the part of the story where I’m stressing over the visa renewal at Phuket immigration office, because your head might hurt if you ever read this until the end. My head hurts too.
Update 1: I scored an earlier appointment on 23/10! It seems I might not have to return to France after all… Phew…
Update 2: I dropped all the papers at my appointment after some unnecessary stress over the colour of the background of the ID picture (should be light grey, or light blue but not white, and of course mine had white background. I realised on the night before the appointment and was scared to shits that the piiture would be declined… Also the day of the appointment was technically a local holiday, so not ideal to get new ID pictures done. Turns out the embassy does accept white picture background)
Now, it is just waiting time with fingers crossed that the new paper comes in within the 5-7 days actually announced.
Update 3: We are on 29/10 and my passport should arrive anytime now. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, hoping that it will be the case…
On the positive side, that whole episode gave me time to revamp this whole blog…It also gives my non-believer self a good excuse to sing “Pray for me” from my new hero rapper Kendrick.
Update 4: 30/10 Passport has arrived, I’m out of here! Now on to Singapore, then Kuala Lumpur for Thai work visa. Red tape never ends…