Day 1: Sun, June 10. First Fails/Success Record in BKK!

I’m thirsty, but now I’m too cheap to pay for anything more than $1.5 USD. Damn you thai baht!

Landed in Bangkok at 6am in the morning today. Went through customs/immigration without a hiccup, which is surprising considering the debacle United gave me before take-off in Newark, holding me for over an hour (!) and almost making me miss my flight due to “immigration” concerns.

This incident will henceforth me known as “The Thai Visa Debacle.”

Basically, the “Thai Visa Debacle” goes as follows: US citizens are allowed to visit Thailand without visa for up to 30 consecutive days. I plan to stay for 60, but not consecutively, because I’ll be taking a train out to Cambodia sometime in July, effectively “leaving the country.” But because these are frikkin’ Thai/Cambodian trains, it’s not like I’m going to be able to buy my ticket online (hell, can’t even do that with NJT or SEPTA) to show “proof of onward travel”. The United Lady at Newark threw a fit at my lack of “proper documentation” and attempted to prevent me from boarding my plane unless I bought an on-the-spot ticket out of Thailand before my first 30 days were up. I told her I’m a student, I’m not made out of money and tickets to Cambodia are way too expensive for the distance traveled, which is why I was planning to take the train. Her justification was that they’d detain/deport me or WORSE, fine United. *cue eyeroll*

The ending compromise was that they’d send me to Oslo, Norway for layover but that I’d need “proof of onward travel” in the form of a plane ticket if I was ever to make it to BKK. My mom ended up doing some clever finagling of purchasing a ticket to Phnom Penh so that I’d have proof of onward travel from BKK, but in the end, neither the Norwegians nor the Thai Airways/immigration gave two fucks about my proof of onward travel. No one even asked, even though United Lady made a note on my ticket not to let me through unless I had proof. Wellp, that’s over, and here I am.

TL;DR of Thai Visa Debacle: United is hyper-paranoid, Mother is a clever finagler, Thai immigration doesn’t actually give a shit.

Also, Steve Dean is the best boyfriend ever and I love him so much because love is driving 2 hours in ridiculous traffic to drop off shit your gf forgot before your 6 month hiatus from the country. <3

NOW for the SUCCESS STORIES: Successfully took a janky-ass Thai bus (like, you can feel that shit rattling down the highway) from the airport to my couchsurfer’s residence, which included feats such as: speaking broken Thai to the bus driver to let her know where I was going, exchanging money, and getting off at the right stop when “stops” are indicated roughly sorta kinda near where you want to be. Successfully met my couchsufing host. Successfully ate lunch. Successfully borrowed an old Nokia, bought new SIM card, now have a Thai number. Successfully found free wifi and air-conditioning. GLORIOUS SUCCESS FOR EVERYTHING!

ON FILMING: STARTS NOW! Going to be taking some beautiful B-Roll of Bangkok once the lights come on. ALL RIGHT HERE WE GO.



About Vivienne Chen

Vivienne Chen is a freelance journalist, blogger, fiction/poetry writer, English and Gender studies major at Princeton University, and activist for sexual freedom and LGBT equality. She is also a member of the University Press Club, and blogs at

Posted on June 10, 2012, in Info. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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