Thursday, January 10, 2013

Getting Thai Visas in KL, for Newbies

For us, getting a Thai Visa in KL, Malaysia took us three days and a week's worth of energy. We live quite far from KL, so our trip started on a Tuesday night. We went to stay at a friend's place in KL because it would be easier for us to get to the embassy the next morning. Since we found we couldn't get the on-arrival Visa only a day ago, and it was Christmas that day, we couldn't get our pictures taken or photocopied out passports and tickets earlier. So when we reached Ampang Park, area where the embassy is located, around nine forty five the next morning, we first went to get our passport sized pictures taken and get the photocopies made. 

It didn't take long but the pictures a man took with a hand held camera came out looking more like mugshots than passport photos. Oh, well, nothing much we could do about it so we proceeded to the embassy which was a 10-15 minute walk. It was scorching hot.

At the entry of the embassy sat a man, probably in his early sixties. Before entering, we had to show him our passports and he wrote our names, passport numbers and nationality in a log book, painstakingly slow. A nice man though.  He then gave us the Visa forms. 

We took a number, filled up the forms and waited.  The Thai Embassy website told us we'd need our passport, copies of passport, copies of ticket, Visa fee, and the photos. We had them all.

An hour of waiting and our number was up. Surprisingly, it wasn't long at all, considering there were around a hundred numbers ahead of us. We went up to the counter where a glum female officer sat. In the short encounter we had, she never once made eye contact with us. She also never asked for anything - she demanded. So much for customer services. Upon inspecting our documents, she asked for letters from our University. What? We didn't know we needed that! A list inside the embassy office, longer than the one on the website, apparently asks for it. Who knew? Reading further down the list, we found we were supposed to have our certificate of marriage, certificate of yellow fever vaccine and bank account statements as well.

Us being morons and not thinking ahead, we didn't bring our yellow fever vaccine certificates or marriage certificate. Because we're coming to study and we're broke, so why would be possibly need those? And our bank accounts are all the way in Maldives too, so it would be impossible to get an account statement in one day. 

Starving, and already twelve thirty noon, we rushed back to Nilai, where we actually stay, to go to the university and beg them for letters. Hours of travelling, filling out request forms, and still no food in our stomachs later, we were informed we would only get the letters the next day. In the afternoon. The embassy accepts Visa forms only from nine thirty until eleven thirty in the morning so our only chance would be applying again on Friday and getting the Visa on Monday morning. We had left all our stuff at the place we stayed in KL, so we came home minus our toothbrushes, laptops, phone charger, my make-up and contact solution, and our glasses. We managed Wednesday and Thursday without those. 

Friday morning, we woke up before sunrise and headed to KL again. We were in the embassy by nine thirty sharp. While the elderly man wrote down our information, I asked another man there what time we were supposed to collect the Visas on Monday. He informed us that the embassy will be closed on Monday because it's New Year's Eve. The newly posted notice we saw later said they will be closed on Tuesday too. So we're not getting our Visas?

We went in anyway, hoping for the best. We had to go to a different counter which meant a different officer. Previous night, we had gathered all the documents we could get here and we were as prepared as we could be. She only took the photos, passports, money and letters. We told her about traveling on Monday, and she told us to come earlier next time but said we'd get them that day. YAY!

Four twenty in the afternoon, we were holding our passports and admiring our new Visas. Phew! Up until few minutes before that, I thought the money we spent on the tickets and hotel were all money gone down the drain, but things pulled through.

We went to BANGKOK!!

A tip for anyone who wants a Thai visa in Malaysia - do not rely on the website alone for updated information. There is a long list of required documents they may or may not ask for at the embassy. There is no information desk, just a bulletin board. Check the list as well as other requirements at the embassy and be prepared before applying because there is a long queue there most days and a lot of time could be wasted otherwise.