Penang 1
Kuala Lumphur

Penang - Various visits in 2017-2018

  Penang, Malaysia is a driving destination for visa runs from Thailand. Many vans travel thru the night so their passengers can cross the border and return with an updated tourist visa extending their stay in Thailand. At certain intervals Thailand requires a resident to leave the country and return to stay additional time. If you have permanent residence the period might be a year. Mostly it's 30-60 days. A lot of countries have this kind of requirement. With bribery a constant problem in the world they're trying to keep local hands from having so much control. The drive is 10-12 hours each way. You contract with a private visa company to provide transportation, accommodation and visa help. Early in the trip they'll review your paperwork for completeness and correctness. There's a long list of documents required. Different Thai embassies have different requirements. Penang seems like a pretty chill operation. You can know what to expect. The bus ride is exhausting because quarters on the van are very cramped.  

Document list for visa
  1. passport with 6 months left before expiration
  2. Tambien ban
  3. Money for fees
  4. Photos in a certain format
  5. form filled out depending on the type of visa
  6. Work permit if you're employed
  7. Letter from employer
  8. Copy of lease agreement
  9. Copy of landlord ID
  10. Marriage certificate
The requirements vary a lot between type of visa, location of the embassy, one day to another. 

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The map on the left shows our home location in the upper left: Phuket Island. The visa run destination is Penang in the lower right. From Phuket the drive goes north around the Andaman see past Krabi, Trang and continuing south along the coast. After 8 or 9 hours of driving we get to the Malaysian border where we switch to another van or bus which takes us the final two hours. Upon arrival at Penang we turn in our paperwork at the contractors office and go to our hotel. The next day our visa is available after 2pm when our return trip begins. Penang is a great tourist destination in itself.

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Above is a Hindu temple. Notice the pink elephant
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This is a wedding party leaving a Muslim wedding
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This is part of a Hindu holiday celebration
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Above is a picture of an exotic wood tree which is probably mahoghany. We stopped here when we had a visa problem. I went to Penang for a visa run with a fellow teacher named Kevin. After we received our visas he said he didn't have his glasses. He asked me to look it over to make sure it was correct. When I looked at it I noticed his birth date was the same as mine. Cool! Then I realized that he had my visa and I had his. Oops!
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Above Karen and I are on a rickshaw being pedaled along by the guy in the back.
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Above is the Chew jetty out in the water. There's a whole community that live out on this jetty. It's like a large, wide pier out in the water. Motorbikes travel out on it. There are many houses and shops on stilts.
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These are huge sticks of incense. If I remember correctly they're about the width of my wrist. I know there was a Hindu celebration going on at the time, so this may be a part of it.
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