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For some reason, I'd been thinking the multiple-entry Non-Immigrant (O) visa I obtained in Singapore at the end of October was similar in application to the multiple-entry Tourist visa I previously had.  With the earlier visa, every 60 days I could obtain a 30-day extension at the local Thai Immigration office (for a fee of 1,900 baht).  I thought with the Non-Imm (0) that when each 90-day entry was up I could get a 30-day extension before making my visa run.

Luckily I thought enough to ask the question yesterday on the expat forums at  I found that no such 30-day extension exists for this visa, that I would have to leave the Kingdom and return to begin another 90-day entry.  With my current entry expiring on the 30th, this didn't leave me a whole lot of time to make travel plans.

Our original plan (when I was counting on the extension) was to journey via bus up to Mukdahan in the Isaan region, and walk across the new Friendship Bridge into Savannakhet, Laos, at the end of February.  This area's close proximity to Kalasin would make it possible for us to spend time with Nadia's natural family.  But it's awfully short notice to put such a trip together in order for me to cross the border by next Tuesday night — it could have been done since Nadia finishes her job on Thursday and was planning to return home next week anyway (we all could have tagged along), but looking at the map I'd want to include a side trips up to Vientiane and Luang Prabang.  Even a quick trip into Vietnam is possible using Savannakhet as a jumping-off spot.  So, another time...

Really, living in Phuket only offers two quick options for visa runs:  Myanmar or Malaysia.  I'm really sick of the Ranong trip — that's 10 hours or so on a minibus (I'm more weary of the madman drivers than being cooped up in the vehicle for that long), plus the boat trip back and forth between Thailand and Burma.  I did look into taking a bus to Hat Yai in the south and a taxi across the border with Malaysia.  But the current unrest in the southern provinces would cause my wife to worry every second I was away.

On a whim, I checked out several of the budget airlines that serve Phuket.  Ever since the tsunami, there are very few flights direct from the island to neighboring countries.  The only cheap options are Thai Air Asia to either Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, and Tiger Airways to Singapore.  Amazingly enough, because of a current promotion through Thai Air Asia's parent company I actually found a round-trip airfare to KL that was less than what the Ranong visa run companies charge (1,263 baht including all taxes and fees compared to 1,500 baht for the mini bus).  Unfortunately, I would have to stay a night in KL because the earliest flight of the day from Phuket would arrive after the latest flight was scheduled to depart.

No worries:  I went over to my old budget accomodations standby, Sleeping In, to see what they had to say about KL International.  Sounds like if I make my way from the Low Cost Carrier Terminal to the main airport (a distance of 20km — a green bus makes the trip for RM1.20, about 120 baht) there are loads of quiet and comfortable spots where I can relax and sleep without being disturbed until my flight out the following day.  I'll take a book and my iPod with me (perhaps a jacket in case the air-con is too cold) and have a nice little holiday.  I might even take the train or bus into the city itself (about 50km from the airport) but, really, the only things I'm interested in seeing are probably the Petrona Towers and Kuala Lumpur Tower.

This is one visa run trip I'm really looking forward to.  And, if I'm careful about food and souvenirs in Kuala Lumpur, I can probably manage the entire trip for less than USD $50 (including the airfare)!