Embassies day in Bangkok
During the days we spent in Bangkok, we use one to get the visas for the following countries to which we were thinking about heading: Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Our initial idea was reaching Cambodia by land, and from there to cross into Vietnam and Laos, traveling back to Thailand.
Finding the Cambodian and Lao Embassies was an odyssey. After asking in the tourist information office, next to our guesthouse, we took the recommended bus, which supposedly would leave us in front of those embassies.
Unfortunately, may be because of the terrible map we had, the futility of English to deal with the bus staff, or the erroneous recommendation of the tourist office; we ended having to walk for a good number of Kilometres to the these embassies, which were among a network of streets inexistent in our free map.
Our first stop was the Cambodian Embassy.
There we had two options, we could get a quick VISA in 15 minutes for 25 dollars per person, or we would have to leave our passports for several days and pay 20 US$ plus 100 Thai baht (equivalent to 3.20 US$ right now). The difference was one euro, so we decided to take the express option and don’t expend another day walking to this embassy.
Our second stop was the Lao Embassy.
There we don’t even discuss options, the “very servicial” staff said it was 32,5 US$ each VISA (or a much higher amount in baht) and asked if we could go tomorrow to pick up the passport. I rush him a bit and he offer me to come back in 1 hour, so I paid in dollars.
The smallest bill I had was 10 US$, so I gave him 70 dollars and he gave me the change in baths: 200 Thai Baht, which are $ 6.39. Good business.
The problem arose when, reviewing our visas, these only allowed us to enter the country over the next two months, so the option of a rute Laos-Vietnam Cambodia vanished. Fortunately we had no real plans, so we solved it easly by changing the direction in which fulfill our border crossing.
After a long walk, Vietnamese embassy.
Here is where we got fucked up. The fast track option took a couple of days and it was very expensive (about 2400 baht if I remember correctly), so we opted to leave the passport for almost a week and pay “only” 1800 baths.
Many agencies and websites offer visas for similar amounts, sometimes less, occasionally even half. But we had read about problems with those visas, and Vietnam is a really strict country in its borders; so we decided to pay the 1800 baht per person, equivalent to 57 dollars or 44 euros at the moment, and be sure we won’t have troubles on the border.
Finally we ended the day drinking one Thai beer and joining the couchsurfing weekly meeting in Bangkok, which took place relatively close to the Vietnamese embassy, at Cocowalk; a bar area in the downtown of Bangkok.
There we met a Romanian who had spent months working as an English teacher in Bangkok, a Canadian motorcycle traveling around Thailand for months, a Taiwanese reporter interested in photographing the contents of our backpacks, several Spanish exporting clothes to Spain and a couple of Thais.