Waiting to escape

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

  • I’m in Kuala Lumpur to apply for a visa to enter Thailand. I can just go to Thailand on a standard tourist visa, but that will only give me 15 days, and I’d quite like to find somewhere there to just stop, unpack my luggage, and settle for a little while.

    The Thai embassy had a long line of people all applying for visas that trailed outside and around the corner. It was clearly going to be a long wait so I took up the service of a ‘visa runner’ called Mas who was sitting by the gates of the embassy. For 30 Ringett (that’s less than US $10) he said he would help me get a visa quickly. I needed a passport photo, a ticket to Thailand, and proof of lodgings in the country, none of which I had. “No problem,” He told me as he ushered me to his car.

    I was very cautious about the situation because I didn’t want to get mugged carrying my laptop and other stuff in my backpack. He produced a visa application then began coaching me what to write, names of hotels, etc. As I was filling this out a man crossing the busy road was hit by a taxi!

    The taxi stopped and the driver got out and picked up the striken pedestrian, brushed him down, said a few words, then gave him a ‘thumbs up’ gesture before jumping back into his taxi and speeding off leaving the pedestrian hobbling to the other side of the road!

    Nobody around seemed to be the least bit concerned at this scene. A nearby policeman sitting by the Thai embassy briefly looked up from his telephone then just looked back down again!

    I was concerned for the pedestrian but Mas, the visa runner told me not to worry. “He’s fine, don’t worry about him.” I said I suspected the man was in shock. “Yes, shock he can still walk! It’s a good shock. Come on man don’t worry. We need to hurry.” He said, ushering me into his car to drive to a mall to get passport photos done.

    When we returned to the embassy Mas shook hands with various officials as we blatantly jumped the line. He then gave me a plane ticket and dodgy looking hotel reservation (both obviously fake). He told me to give them to the person at the visa desk who would return them, take my passport, then give me a receipt for my return tomorrow.

    We left the embassy together and Mas gave me a lift back to my hotel in Bukit Bintang. The visa cost 110 Ringget (US $36) and, according to the visa desk clerk, will allow me to stay in Thailand for up to 60 days.

    As it was close to lunchtime I decided to go in search of food. I left the hotel and began walking only to find myself being followed by a prostitute of questionable sexual identity. She/he was scampering behind me describing, in lurid and entirely unnecessary detail, the vast plethora of her/his skills. I said no a number of times, but when the relentless hooker grabbed my ass I swung around and shouted “Get lost will you! It’s not even lunchtime!”

    At this the hooker stopped in the street and shouted after me. “You hungry I see. It’s okay. You go eat then come back to me.”

    Of course, all of this has nothing to do with the picture. But maybe you can see why I’d like to escape the madness of cities soon.