What’s my plan?
Long story short: Find a beach in Thailand and wait it out until I can continue through Malaysia and Indonesia. Cold beer, food and trails to ride nearby the beach would be perfect.
The full story:
I’d planned to go to Vietnam on the 11th. On Friday the 6th March I checked by the embassy of Vietnam and they said no problem we can have the visa ready Monday. Unfortunately due to leaving the bike in Thailand rather than Laos I would need my passport to cross between Thailand and Laos. I planned to leave the bike in Thailand as it has been a issue when I first entered where it cost me $200 for a permit and to avoid a guide (much more expensive and just plan not fun). To avoid this I opted to head into Thailand ASAP before all borders enforced the permit/guide scenario.
By the time I got into Thailand it was 5pm so there was no chance of going back into Laos for the Vietnam visa today as the embassy would now be closed.
I stayed one night in Thailand and crossed by foot to Laos since my bike was now safely stored and I had 29 days to visit Laos and renew the time the bike has in Thailand to avoid any fines (1000B/£25 per day up to 10 days and 10,000b/£250 maximum if it was 10 days or longer). I waited for the Vietnam embassy to open but due to International Womans day Observed it was closed on Monday so I had to wait till Tuesday morning. Tuesday morning came and I arrived at the embassy and they said all European passports have a ban and we cannot issue you one! I then looked online for the E-visa but there was a statement which basically translated to be aware we may or may not grant you a visa depending on the country your from and we won’t tell you which countries those are! I reached out to a visa company and they confirmed the same and it was not possible to get visa at this time. This was the first time the virus has had an effect on me, Vietnam was off my travel plans for this trip!
I headed back into Thailand and decided that the best chance of making sure that I don’t have to fly out of the country was to extend the 1 month visa for a further month.
I headed down to Pattaya to see a friend, collect some items and extend the visa. The visa extension was fairly straight forward and cost me about 2.5 hours and 1900B (£48). This meant I now have until the 9th of May in Thailand although all being well I never plan to use all that available time.
My thoughts behind extending the visa was in case I got to the Malaysian border and they wouldn’t let me in and I’d be to stay in Thailand for 2 months minus this time I had been in Thailand. The second part to it was if Thailand (which I doubt but I’ve been wrong before) stop issuing visa extensions I would be ok for as long as I possible could be. I had given myself the best chance of not having to fly home!
On a side note: I hadn’t until Pattaya, beyond the face masks seen any signs of the virus. Cambodia or Laos whilst I was there had no signs at all. In Pattaya you can see that the street are quieter, both the tourist and locals are in lower numbers on the streets. Not so much that you would notice if you hadn’t been there before with the acceptation of the lines of taxi’s not in use.
Next on my agenda was to get the Australian work holiday visa as without the virus I had planned to be in Australia mid May. I needed to go to Bangkok and have a health check up and then await the Australian embassies decision. Also on the 17th March both Malaysia and Indonesia reported they would be locking down (whatever that entails) and that foreigners would be unable to enter until 1st of April.
As of now on the 18th I’m waiting for the Australian embassy to decide the outcome of my application and if grant I have up until 1 year from that date to enter. Bangkok will apparently have its first partial shut down of all it’s entertainment facilities.
Plans going forward:
My plans going forward is to stay in Thailand, find some nice places to wait it out. I haven’t visits the mid or the South east areas so I plan to check those out. Also if I could find some nice beaches to hang the hammock that had cold beer, food, nice scenery and some off road trail that would be perfect! At least this will be my plan until Malaysia open its doors again and then reassess the situation.
I have already used my two free entries into Thailand this year going backwards and forwards arranging to leaving the bike in Thailand so I could go to Vietnam. Therefore I’m unable to enter Thailand again if I leave unless I can get a visa in a neighboring country for Thailand. For this reason I really hope that by the time the 9th of May come around I can have a clear run to Australia.
If the 9th of May passes by and I still cant get into Malaysia, I would be in the hands of the Thai embassy for an extension whilst I’m still here which I don’t think is common practice or to go into Cambodia or Laos and get a Thai visa there.
If I get into Malaysia, under normal circumstances I would have 3 months upon arrival visa free if needed and if I got into Indonesia with a visa I could have 3 months there to.
On a final note:
I don’t like flying so my goal is to get to Australia by boat and of course not have to fly home because of the virus.
If anyone has some information regarding getting from south east Asia or ideally Indonesia to Darwin I would appreciate this very much. I know that’s its potentially possible via finding a crew or a passenger on a cargo ship but I haven’t yet fixed that piece of the puzzle in place. Alternatively if you have a sail boat and wouldn’t mind some company or extra hands I’d be up for joining your adventure from Indonesia to Australia and ill sort out the bike separately!