After spending the night in the train, coming from Kuala Lumpur, we were woken up super early in Padang Besar, the last town at the north of Malaysia, bordering Thailand. The final destination of the train was Hat Yai, but we had already been warned that we’d have to stop at Padang Besar because of immigration. See where it is on the map.
It was all kind of sudden, they lit the lights saying we had to get off, bring our passports and leave all the luggage in the train, we could bring only one small handbag. To our surprise, as soon as all the passengers got off, the train left! What? Where is it going with our stuff in it? Ok, it was meant to be frisked by the police and was supposed to be back soon… though we still found that very strange.
Although they don’t ask for a visa in advance for most tourists, Thailand is full of rules for entering. The country is very religious and somewhat conservative and as we waited in the queue we read this notice on the wall which we found very funny (below, click to view larger image). In a hot day and being just awaken, none of us (me, Felipe, Pasqual and Ale) was very tidy.. We began to observe the other people in the queue, there was a Chilean guy who was the perfect hippie, so we didn’t feel so bad.
The atmosphere was already a bit tense there in the queue when Pasqual, to get things worse, turns and says “hey everyone, problem, I left my yellow fever vaccine card in the train.” Nobody could believe it! If there was one place in this trip that we needed to be with the vaccination card in hands, it was Thailand. It had to be Pasqual… hehehe
We are super anxious when our turn came, each couple went to a different counter, the officer who received us was very nice, smiling and all, and did not try to charge us more than he was supposed to, as we saw him doing with some Europeans just in front of us, maybe because we were paying in Bahts and not in US Dollars. Nobody asked to see the vaccination cards, passports stamped and whew, now we can relax and breathe!
While the train wasn’t back we decided to look for something to eat at the station, we were there having a coffee when a policeman arrives at our table and says, “Brazilians? four passports? come with me.” Oh my God, they found out that Brazilians need the vaccine! We left nervous, walking after that grumpy man in uniform.
Back to the same counter, the officer that was nice before was now frowning. He picked up our four passports at the same time and started asking questions “are you all together? how long will you stay? what will you do here?“. Ah mr. officer, only 15 days, almost nothing! Meanwhile he scratched out our passports the dates that he himself had stamped before.
The train was back, ready to leave, we had to run. The officer starts to write something on the passports, he closes and handles them back to us saying “there were some Europeans in front of you, they all won 30-day visas and I got confused. Brazilians are entitled to 90-day visas, here it is, welcome to Thailand, have fun.”
We thanked him and ran to catch the train that had just begun to move, with a smile on our faces and a huge pride of our green passports, which by the way, is very well accepted in almost the whole world, with very rare exceptions.
Oh, and just to clear our doubts, the baggages were all right inside the train. 😉