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I was awoken early this morning (well, around eleven) by a knock on my door.  By the time I'd opened it, I found that FedEx had left a large envelope on my welcome mat.  It contained my passport (there's security for you) and I quickly flipped to the page marked by a large white paperclip.  There it was:  my double-entry tourist visa from the Royal Thai Consulate-General.  I had been worried that they wouldn't approve my application (many consulates and embassies no longer approve multiple-entry visas for Thailand) so it was a relief to look at the black and red rubber stamps in my passport.

With this visa, I'll be able to stay just under 120 days (until around August 6) with one visa run at around the 60-day point to activate the second entry.  If I can get both of the "allowed" 30-day extensions, then that pushes me to the beginning of October, still with the one visa run (just before the 90-day point).  I shouldn't have any problem receiving the extensions (the Patong Immigration Office is known to issue these in almost every instance), but it is up to the whim of the official looking at your request (has he had a bad day?  does he like the looks of you?).  And I have to be really careful not to pass any of the deadlines, applying for the extensions and doing the visa run a few days before would be best.  You don't want to do these too early because you would be cheating time off of your full stay but if you wait too late you risk an overstay on your visa.  In the past, this only incurred a small fine (unless you were over by a month or more).  But recently, they have really been cracking down:  about a week ago, a bus on a visa run to the Burmese border not far north from Phuket was stopped by police and 12 foreigners were taken to jail for overstaying their visas (they had all stayed over only one to six days); they were held in jail for five days before being deported.

Tim and Jum quit their jobs at L&S Friday.  It seems that Lek was back to her old tricks of making unreasonable demands.  She had previously told them that their room and food at the hotel was free; that was why she was only paying them 5000 baht ($120) per month.  Thursday morning, she presented them with a bill for the room (10,000 baht for two weeks — MORE than the guests are charged — and 2000 baht for food); she said she wouldn't pay their salary until this bill was paid.  Tim was very upset because she had thought Lek was her friend, particularly since she had introduced us.  Apparently, Lek was holding that over her head as well and recently she was trying to drive a wedge between us.  In an e-mail yesterday, Tim wrote, "She said that she can make both of us love so she can make both of us finish."  She also wrote, "Now I know well the reason there is nobody can be with Lek.  I accept that I can't follow her emotion, sometimes she is good, but sometimes she is too bad."

Last night when we talked, she was really worried about leaving.  She didn't want Lek to be angry at her but I knew how unhappy she had become (it had been wearing at her since at least last weekend but receiving the bill was really the straw that broke the camel's back).  I reminded her of the incident when Lek began trying to charge me things that were supposed to be included with the price of the hotel room.  We agreed that this is also the reason why her sister had gone back to Bangkok and Silvio was "escaping" to Italy soon (Lek is constantly screaming at Silvio — you can even hear a bit of this on some of the video I shot in December).  I let Tim know that I wouldn't be disappointed with her if she decided to quit; her happiness is more important.  She'd said that she could find an empty space to resume selling food and I told her that was a great idea.

So, this morning when she called me around 5:30 (7:30pm in Phuket) Tim's voice was happier than it had been all week.  She was positively giddy when she told me that she and Jum had left and were now back in Kathu.  I had her howling with laughter when I imitated Lek calling Silvio's name and we thought it funny that, given how Lek claims she can do everything by herself at the hotel, she will now have to run the place by herself (she's driven away the laundry girl as well).  Tim revealed that they had three rooms (out of ten) with guest this week but then Lek started an argument with one of the families and they checked-out in disgust.  I wondered aloud if this was just the way Malaysian women were because no Thai — man or woman — would ever do such things and risk losing face.  Tim giggled that Lek has no face left at all.

Tim was doubly happy because she'd finally gotten her driver's license renewed yesterday in Phuket Town.  It had expired so she couldn't drive her new motorbike very much (but she was working so much — usually 12-hour days, seven days per week — that she didn't have much opportunity to go anywhere anyway) and it had become almost a three-day process to get it renewed (Thai bureaucracy, you get used to it).  She's looking forward to driving me all over the place; I told her she could charge me 1000 baht to go from Kathu to Patong and she got a big kick out of that ("You joking".  "No," I replied, "phuuyt jing jing (I really mean it.")  I think she said she would pick me up at the airport on the motorbike so I need to clarify that I'll have too much luggage to balance on the back; we'll have to go back to our original plan of having a taxi bring her up and bring us back.  I'll suggest that she bring Jum to the airport as well — she's Tim's best friend, comrade-in-arms since the Lek "incident", and has promised me that she will take good care of Tim in my absence.

I think Tim might worry that I won't be comfortable staying — at least initially — at her apartment.  She asked me this morning "You like stay Kathu?  Very hot.  No have air, no have fridge."  (She's been neglecting her English lessons — I'll work with her on grammar when I return.)  I made certain she knew that I didn't care about such things; as long as we're together, everything will be fine with me.  There's a small store just outside her building that sells cold drinks so a refigerator in the apartment really isn't necessary.  And on my last visit I came to dread the arctic cold produced by Thai air conditioners and the fact that they really do dehydrate you.  If we get too hot, we can always buy a fan at Big-C (I think she already has at least one small fan).  I had previously mentioned to her that a couple of weeks, or a month, after I return we can look for a larger apartment to rent if she wants — a nice place (preferably with either a phone line or ADSL installed) where there would be room for us as well as La and Jum to stay.  Based on my Internet findings, it will be easy to find really nice and affordable apartments or small houses to rent for much less than in the States.