Back in Penang

Posted by Garth on Thursday, March 12, 2009

I realize it's been about a month since my last update, and I'm sure everyone is on the edge of their seat wondering whether or not my Visa saga played out for or against me.  Well, given the subject of this post, suffice it to say that it was the latter.  The dude at the embassy was a complete jackass and just wouldn't help me one bit.  So I re-entered Thailand on a 30-day stamp.  And now, here I am on yet another Visa run to good ol' Penang.

I arrived last night around 9pm and just didn't have it in me to visit the Visa broker then, so I went this morning.  I gotta say, this dude rocks.  Drop off your paperwork and passport before 11am and pick it up at 2:30pm the next day.  He handles everything.  Highly recommended for anyone that has to do a Visa run to Penang.  The nice thing too is that he knows what he's talking about and can predict with some certainty whether or not you'll get what you apply for (he told me I'd probably only get 3 months instead of 1 year, but I can theoretically extend that every 3 months at the Immigration office in Phuket - assuming Sean's lawyer gets her head out of her ass).  My return flight is Sunday as the only other one available was tomorrow at 4pm, and I figured that wouldn't be enough time to pick up the Visa and get to the airport, but Jim assured me that if I wanted to get on that flight there'd be enough time.  But, since I've already paid for my hotel and flight I figured I'd just stick with it until Sunday.  Maybe this trip will be better than the last one.

Back to the white-guy-in-an-asian-country-getting-ripped-off scenario though... I took a taxi from the hotel to Jim's Place.  It cost me 10 ringgits.  Coming back I took a rickshaw pedalled by some really old dude (as they all are here).  It cost me 20 ringgits.  Had I walked it would have taken me 10-15 mins.  Obviously there's no meters on rickshaws, so you're paying at their discretion.  But it's still annoying that some dude pedalling me cost twice as much as an air conditioned taxi.  On the bright side, I got back to my hotel and went to have the breakfast buffet (which I did not pay for with my room) and they didn't charge me for it.  So I suppose that's worth the extra 10 ringgits.

And on a related note, someone stole my credit card # and racked up $3000 in fraudulent charges.  In about a week.  My bank called me a couple of days ago to investigate suspicion and we established that a bunch of charges were not mine.  For instance, they purchased 2 baby strollers online from different sites.  The last place I used it before this happened was an upscale restaurant in Patong called Whitebox.  Great restaurant and my buddy who was with me knew the owner through another guy, so he sat with us for awhile and we drank free wine, but still annoying that the staff then took it upon themselves to appropriate my credit card info.  Either way, not a big deal as my bank will deal with the fraudulent charges, but it means that I'm without a valid credit card until they send me the replacement.  And travelling without a valid credit card always worries me a bit.  Luckily this happened after I'd booked my flight and pre-paid my hotel, so again, not a big deal.

As for the last month, I've just been so ecstatic to be back in Phuket that I haven't really wanted to blog about anything.  Other than my excitement.  But whenever I sat down to write about it I felt I couldn't do it justice, so I aborted.  Suffice it to say that I will once again be ecstatic to return to Phuket on Sunday.  Yay Thailand!


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