Early start 6am pickup for my visa run, all is prearranged. I’m backed into a minibus and transported with a few Ruskies, a yank and a fellow Aussie. The Drive is about 4 hours, uneventful. We arrive at Sapanpla immigration office and are pointed though to a small immigration window next to the pier.  Long tail boats are lined up right behind the window and once stamped as we walk out and uniformed local with a UNICEF bag asks me for my passport. Hell no! Anyway turns out he is part of the visa run service and everyone else is handing passports to him so I feel slightly reassured & begrudgingly hand over my passport.

We are taken onto a dubious little boat a bit bigger than a long tail and once everyone is loaded we strike out across the river for Burma. Not the driest boat I have been on but I am on the downwind side and am saved from the splashes unlike the people on the other side of the boat.

We stop very briefly at a small floating immigration station, when I say floating I use the word loosely. The place is about 2 inches above the waterline at best and the entrance walkway is under about a foot of water. I’m told its high tide.

Next stop Burma another small pier and immigration office and a bunch of locals trying to sell me cheap cigarettes and Viagra. I am literally in Burma for about 10 minutes, got my passport back! I hate letting go of my passport. Then back across the river immigration again and we are on the way home after a quick lunch of fried rice in a surprisingly clean little restaurant.

The whole experience is a bit more fragrant and local than Bangkok and Phuket, if you have been to these or similar tourist destinations like me you have not really seen Thailand yet. Perhaps today I scratched the surface.

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