Stuck at the Sadao border

May 2, 2014 No Comments »

If somebody had told me that I will be crossing (to read:sneaking) the Malaysian border with Thailand, without having a stamp in my passport, in the search of a tourist agency, I was probably going to laugh.

There was the time when I believed that having less than six months validity on your passport wasn’t going to keep you out of visiting any country (but this was probably the same time I believed in Santa as well). While there are various countries that don’t really care how many months you have left on your passport, there are the ones that will make a big fuss about it.

When we boarded the bus to Hat Yai, we were hoping that I would enter Thailand without having any issues. We decided to travel by bus and not to fly, because If I wasn’t allowed to enter in Thailand we were going to stay in Malaysia.

Thailand border crossing

I personally prefer to travel by bus around Asia.

The queue at the passport check, on the border between Singapore and Malaysia, was longer than the one at McDonalds when they launched the Hello Kitty figurines (and they did write about this historical queues in the newspapers). I didn’t had any problems with my documents, even though when the immigration officer first took my passport, she made a really strange expression, but it was most probably due to the OH! SO-REALLY-GOOD LOOKING passport picture of mine.

Few stops at suspicious gas stations (with even more suspicious toilets) later, we arrived at the Sadao border control – the only route to enter into Thailand from Malaysia by land. This was the second time me and Dilyan were about the enter in Thailand through this border and both of us didn’t had any fond memories from our first attempt (or in other words, when the officer asked us to pay 500 baht each, on top of the usual visa fee and our bus left without us).

Thailand visa on arrival

This is Sadao, and as you can see anyone can come right in, avoiding the passport check.

As it turned out, we weren’t going to enter the country, unless we show a return ticket (which we didn’t had). We had our passports returned and were asked to cross the border into Thailand and to find tourist agency, from where we were supposed to buy the tickets. And this was the moment we officially crossed the border without having a stamp in our passports. Well, to be honest I make it sound more adventurous that it actually was. We simply got out of the immigration office, waved down a motorbike taxi and got into Thailand.

After both of us presented a return ticket we bought in the near by village, we were sent to the officer in charge, to get our visas stamped. Dilyan went first and I was second. And while he didn’t had any problems I wasn’t able to say the same thing. The system simply rejected my passport, due to its validity and I was sent back in Malaysia. I did get a refund of the 1000 baht I payed for my visa, but this didn’t make me happier.

Thailand visa on arrival

We had to walk back to the Malaysian border.

So now we were stuck between the two borders (with Dilyan eating a corn he bought during our short and illegal stay in Thailand) under the nuclear sun. We decided to make a run for it and SUCCESSFULLY managed to walk the whole 500 meters back to the Malaysian border. After clearing the immigration we had to figure out how we were to travel through the country and where we were  going to go.

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