Well, I’m good to go for another 90 days in Thailand, after meeting up with my visa consultants this morning and a visit to the Hua Hin immigration office. In fact, the lawyer who caused me to have to go to Laos for an extra 30-day visa extension even picked me up this morning to take me to immigration. A little personal service for my fee, finally.
I was left in the hands of his legal assistant, who is called Chubby for obvious reasons. She had already brought my paperwork to immigration the day before and set up an appointment time. All I had to do was sign every piece of paper being submitted in duplicate and pay the fees – 2,000 baht ($55) for the 90-day visa extension, 3,000 baht ($110) for the consultant and 1,000 baht ($30) as an “incentive” to the immigration officer.
In 90 days, I have to do this all over again, except for the consultant fee, in order to get my one-year “O” non-immigrant retirement visa. However, the consultant has already prepared the paperwork for the one-year visa and will call me when it is necessary to return to immigration. I will need to get a bank “letter” for this next process, which involves depositing 1,000 baht into my local account.
Once I have the one-year visa, I will still need to report to immigration every 90 days. After a year, I do the process all over again, if I want to stay.
Which brings me to an assessment of my current situation.
Not sure if I want to stay in Hua Hin past my 6-month apartment lease, which ends in June. There are too many Westerners here. I would much prefer living more within the local community, with an occasional sighting of a white person.
So, like I did in Costa Rica, where I moved after a month from Quepos to Jaco, and was much happier, I am considering a move here in Thailand. Khiri Khan is my current target, a beautiful coastal area an hour’s drive south of Hua Hin.
Now that I’ve cleared up my visa situation somewhat I can do a little exploring to see what is available. So I hope to hop on a bus soon for a trip to Khiri Khan, maybe for a couple of days.
Khiri Khan’s coastline consists of adjoining, circular, protected bays. It has a population considerably smaller than Hua Hin, particularly fewer Westerners. That does mean, however, that a lot of the creature comforts you can find in Hua Hin will be unavailable (hope that doesn’t include bacon). It also means that the cost of living will be somewhat cheaper, as fewer Westerners means lower costs.
There is regular bus service between Hua Hin and Khiri Khan if I want to go shopping for extras. There is also regular bus service to Bangkok (4 hours) for when I need to go there for immigration reasons. The town is small enough to walk around and it has a number of smaller hotels and some nightlife, but not anything like Hua Hin. In many ways, it could be like Jaco, but we shall see.