Border Run to Singapore

Hot on the heels of Bruce’s departure, I did a one-day border run to Singapore.  The type of visa I have for Thailand (despite being a one-year visa) rather inexplicably requires that I exit and re-enter the country once every ninety days.  For no other purpose, it seems, than to ensure that the immigration officers have employment, seeing as how other types of visa allow holders to just check in every ninety days at the immigration office off Sathorn Road.

P1100549 Accepting things as they are – a very Thai trait, if I do say so myself – I booked a one day trip to Singapore as a change of pace from the usual all-day van trips to Cambodia.  At least with Singapore there would be something interesting to see at the other end of the trip.

Keeping costs low, I flew Air Asia, the “Southwest Airlines of Southeast Asia”.  The outbound flight was on time and the return was only thirty minutes late – some sort of a record for Air Asia.  Both flights were pretty full although on the return flight I managed an empty middle seat between me and the lady sitting at the window.

It was a fun day for flying with good views of both Suvarnabhumi (left) and Changi (right) airports.

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Arriving in Singapore at about 10:30, I spent an hour exploring the newest terminal (Terminal 3), which is really a beautiful facility with lots of light, water and plants to make it comfortable.  I also wanted to see the new Airbus A380.  There were two of them, but always with several layers of glass between me and them.  No opportunities for a clear view or a good picture.

I did, however, get a picture of this rather gaudily painted Air Asia jet:

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When I passed through the deserted immigration hall in Terminal 3, the officer was a little confused at how I had wound up so far away from my arrival gate (which was in Terminal 1).  When I explained that I had come over to see the new airplane, he promptly gave me his advice for the best view – outside the secured area and on the fourth floor.  Unfortunately, the planes were still parked outside the line of sight from the otherwise nice viewing gallery.

Taking the clean and efficient train into town, I met with Otto at Vivo City, the largest mall in Singapore.  You certainly can’t avoid malls when you visit there, and we had a very nice visit with lunch at a food court and then a stop for coffee.

Below – Indonesian style lunch with fried chicken and rice, along with a few pieces of Chinese dim sum.

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Late afternoon I headed a few stations away to the Chinatown area.  After a little exploring, I met with Suyoung, a former colleague from the SF Int’l Asian American Film Festival and the Hamptons International Film Festival.  Along with a friend of hers, we had a lovely dinner at a small Italian restaurant called Spizza.  Really good thin-crust pizza and a pine nut torte that was the perfect end to the evening.  As I told Suyoung, Tawn and I really should do more weekend trips to Singapore.  It is so nearby and there are lots of good restaurants to explore.

With an easy taxi ride I was back at Changi International in time for my return flight home, even with a little time to spare for duty free shopping. 

With my return, I’m “locked in” to Thailand and will not be able to leave again until my return trip to the United States in December, when I’ll apply for another one-year visa.

 

23 thoughts on “Border Run to Singapore

  1. wow …the AK plane  looks just like a flying billboard…..and Singapore is my 2nd favourite place to visit besides Tokyo……
    ryc: Happy ThanksGiving to you too though the American one is in Nov…hehehehe

  2. @snowjunky8 – Taro’s an old friend – well, younger than me, but he’s been a friend for many years.  I was the theatre operations director for the SFIAAFF from 2000 through 2006, volunteering each year to run operations primarily at the Kabuki.  I’m in Thailand now because my partner, Tawn, is Thai.  After getting his masters at USF, we decided that quality of life would be better here than there.  Been here right at three years now.  Which film did you make?

  3. @Dezinerdreams – It appears there is a small spot above the front door into which they could squeeze one more small ad…
    How was your trip to Quincy?  Tawn and I have talked about getting over there this Christmas, as we’ll already be in Kansas City.  Although during December the weather could be a mess for a drive.

  4. Wow… so you have to do something of the sort every 90 days? Hmm… mini vacations eh? So you have to reapply every year for a visa? Don’t they have anything longer than that? Is it difficult/lengthy to get approved for another visa? Sorry, now I’m just very interested… I learned something new today. I think. 🙂

  5. oh, my, Singapore … one of my least favourite countries in the world. How such intelligent people can continue to tolerate a backward, antiquated government regime astounds me.

  6. Singapore is such a neat( clean ) city. we were so impressed by the airport and the city…. and of course the orchid gardens.
    When  in December will you be in KC?  I hope you both can come here and spend some time with us.  Had such a good time with Vivek. I felt so bad the A/C quit just before he got here. It’s all fixed now.

  7. @RedStarr5 – Yes, every ninety days I have to leave and re-enter the country.  The type of visa I have (non-immigrant business visa) has to be renewed every year, although if I re-enter the country right at the end of the visa (as I did this week) I get another ninety days, effectively making it a 15-month visa.
    There are other types of visa, but they have much steeper requirements such as owning a large company that employs many Thai nationals.  Permanent residency is also a big challenge to get and it will be probably six to ten years before I’m even qualified.  One thing that is interesting in all this is that despite the complaints people have about becoming a permanent resident of the United States, it is actually easier there than in some countries like Thailand.

  8. @AppsScraps – They, sort of like the people of Hong Kong, accept a bargain that seems to have paid off for them: great security, great education, great healthcare, and increased economic prospects in exchange for as much “freedom” as we have in Canada or the United States.  Most of them I speak with recognize the tradeoff and are comfortable with it.  There was a time when I would have started waving the flag, but I’ve come to realize that no matter where we live, we have to make tradeoffs.

  9. @ZSA_MD – Zakiah, we’ll be in Kansas City from December 23-31.  We’d certainly like to make a visit and I guess that will largely depend on the weather and how easily we can get from KC to Quincy.  Won’t be any need for A/C then!  =)

  10. And if all these exit/return requirements every 90 days forces you to take a mini vacation, what’s really to complain about? There is so much to see and explore neighboring Thailand, I can only read this post with a twinge of envy.

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