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Trapped in paradise: Tourists stranded by virus seek visa extensions


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Trapped in paradise: Tourists stranded by virus seek visa extensions

By Sultan Anshori

 

2020-03-23T145009Z_1_LYNXMPEG2M1HD_RTROPTP_3_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-BALI-IMMIGRATION.JPG

Foreign citizens stand outside local immigration office as they queue for extending their visa permit, amid the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia, March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Johannes P. Christo

 

KUTA, Indonesia (Reuters) - Travellers stranded by coronavirus in some of Southeast Asia's idyllic tourism hotspots are trying to extend visas as more countries enforce travel restrictions that in some cases make it impossible to go home.

 

The total number of stranded tourists is not known, but scenes of frustration are playing out in several countries.

 

On the Indonesian resort island of Bali - famed for its beaches, terraced rice fields and cultural sites - hundreds of tourists in face masks queued up outside the Ngurah Rai Immigration Office in the tourist area of Kuta seeking legal permission to extend their stay.

 

"We have to stay here as we have no choice," said Natalie Gisbert, a traveller from New Caledonia, the self-governing French territory in the South Pacific, who said her government was closing airports at home.

 

American visitor Felix Isuk, who works in Singapore, said he thought it was better to stay put in Southeast Asia than to return to the United States.

 

"In the U.S. there are about 30,000 cases," Isuk said. "So, I think if things or situation get worse here I'll go back to Singapore. So that's the main reason why I'm staying here in Indonesia."

 

Indonesia has 579 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus that has swept the world, with 49 dead. The island of Bali has reported six of those confirmed cases and two of those deaths.

 

"A LITTLE BIT CRAZY"

 

In Thailand, the main immigration centre in the capital Bangkok was crowded on Monday with hundreds of tourists and other foreign nationals trying to extend visas before they expired.

 

"I've been here since 8.30 a.m.!" one man cried on being told officials could not process his application that afternoon. 

 

A long queue snaked through the building, and many were told to come back another day.

 

The problems are by no means confined to Bangkok.

 

Rada Sereseanu and her husband, touring Southeast Asia in a camper van, had planned to drive into Myanmar but the German couple find themselves stuck in southern Thailand as the country shuts its land borders.

 

"We thought the situation would get better, but it seems to be getting a little bit crazy," Sereseanu said by telephone from near the seaside area of Hua Hin.

 

Thailand has seen sharp spikes in coronavirus cases, bringing its total number of cases to 721 from 147 in the last week.

 

In Vietnam, where the government has announced a ban on all foreigners entering, British ambassador Gareth Ward urged UK citizens to seek the earliest commercial flights and gave an embassy email address to contact.

 

He also advised finding a hotel near an airport in either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.

 

"You should prepare for the fact that you may not be able to leave quickly, so choose a place that you can afford for an extended period of time," he said.

 

(Additional reporting by Chayut Setboonsarg and Poppy McPherson in Bangkok, and James Pearson in Hanoi. Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Gareth Jones)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-03-24
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If they don't wake up and realize the current visa system is unworkable under current unprecedented conditions, the Thai government will make this country a tourist pariah for years to come. Word gets around.

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Why not just suspend visa expiration dates indefinitely until the crisis is under control without any need to extend at an office?

 

Forcing people into crowds is insane atm.

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4 minutes ago, teatree said:

Why not just suspend visa expiration dates indefinitely until the crisis is under control without any need to extend at an office?

You're missing the entire bureaucratic mindset, true the world over - it's the piece of paper that's important

 

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38 minutes ago, teatree said:

Why not just suspend visa expiration dates indefinitely until the crisis is under control without any need to extend at an office?

 

Forcing people into crowds is insane atm.

They could just have people pay for 30 day extensions online. Government officials are worried about "security reasons". Also lets be honest its obv some of the higher ups are just pure racist against farangs here.

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1 hour ago, Andrew65 said:

Some people flew abroad 1 or 2 months ago. This has escalated quite rapidly.

True but most countries did warn its citizens to return home. I was on koh Chang and as soon my government adviced everyone to come home as soon as possible I started contacting airline, travel insurance and embassy right away. 

Managed to get home on a different flight and cutting holiday short. I'm happy to be back in Europe even if everything is closed down and I'm quarantined. Hopefully Thailand will cancel their visa system as long as this Corona chaos runs, so stranded tourists don't get into trouble, because queuing up like that is a disaster in the making. 

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39 minutes ago, teatree said:

Why not just suspend visa expiration dates indefinitely until the crisis is under control without any need to extend at an office?

 

Forcing people into crowds is insane atm.

if you are wanting to hear something sensible from authorities then you are in the wrong place

 

Thailand the hub of everything

- worst air pollution in the world

- worst road deaths in the world (for many years no improvements)

- after decades of opportunity remain 3rd world developing nothing of their own

- holds the world record for military coups - I wonder why

- claims to be democratic which is highly questionable 

- probably the worst corruption levels in the world and are experts hiding it

- very quickly destroying western tourism and confidence

- destroying the confidence of retirees with bureaucratic nonsense 

- as for COVID-19 - I see another hub emerging 

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23 minutes ago, lovesthespicy said:

They could just have people pay for 30 day extensions online. Government officials are worried about "security reasons". Also lets be honest its obv some of the higher ups are just pure racist against farangs here.

because we call them out and they don't like being exposed

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25 minutes ago, Virt said:

because queuing up like that is a disaster in the making. 

100% correct - do you think they care about foreigners getting sick and having to pay huge medical bills, they would prefer we were all in hospital - nice big earner

 

I will be paying someone to do my 90 day report - no way going near an immigration office

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1 hour ago, teatree said:

Why not just suspend visa expiration dates indefinitely until the crisis is under control without any need to extend at an office?

 

Forcing people into crowds is insane atm.

and miss 1900 baht per ATM per week or 30 days

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...I arrived Thailand in early November with my return ticket just before Songkran. By New Years' and hearing of the Wuhan 2019 n_CoV, I began sussing out flights. Once Chinese flights were blocked by Trump, I realized Thailand would never halt flights from Wuhan. I flew out of Thailand in late January.

 

People had MONTHS too get their ass out of town. If Thais know they got you over a barrel, who is the fool now?

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i got to CW at 740 am. left right at noon with a rejection to extend. i was lucky since i tried to get into many areas, was told no, went the other way around and tried again and eventually told yes. it was hard. was told no many times to entering the waiting area becaue they want to keep numbers down to social distancing but the numbers that they are serving are only visibile inside! 

 

so how to know when you're being calle dup next? !

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39 minutes ago, burgdawg said:

People had MONTHS too get their ass out of town. If Thais know they got you over a barrel, who is the fool now?

Thanks for letting us know how smart you are 👍

Little bit lacking in empathy though, maybe you could work on that and let us know how it goes? 🙂 

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3 hours ago, smedly said:

100% correct - do you think they care about foreigners getting sick and having to pay huge medical bills, they would prefer we were all in hospital - nice big earner

 

I will be paying someone to do my 90 day report - no way going near an immigration office

Glad i renewed mine last weeks in Patts,local immgration useless and want a bribe for everything,agent will do the 90 days for me.

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5 hours ago, dinsdale said:

Fantastic social distancing and PPE going on. Wonder how many were wearing masks in Chaengwattana.

Actually all the immigration officers wears masks and rubber gloves in Chaeng Watthana.

Even all the clients who seeks Visa extension etc. wears masks, it was only a few western backpackers (Ai Farang 🙂 ) who did not wear masks.

 

They did not close the immigration department until everybody in the queue had been serviced, I left at 22:30 and that was Friday the 20th. These officers really go way and above their duties, so thumbs up from me.

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Given the nature of this "pandemic" all governments should grant a moratorium for all foreigners and grant blanket amnesty and a nationwide 30 days extensions to all foreigners in their countries instead of forcing foreigners to congregate in huge groups to be processed individually.  But they will put the foreigners at risk as well as putting their own IOs at risk and create a vector for the spread of Covid-19.  The governments and their immigration services can pick up where they left off after the 'crisis' is over.  
Instead they will facilitate the spread and then blame <da*m> foreigners for being carriers.

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I realize Thais also have worries but it would be nice not to get rude looks of disgust  or frowns. I really feel like farangs are being blamed for the coronavirus in Thailand  by Thais.  Strange vibe 

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4 hours ago, smedly said:

if you are wanting to hear something sensible from authorities then you are in the wrong place

 

Thailand the hub of everything

- worst air pollution in the world

- worst road deaths in the world (for many years no improvements)

- after decades of opportunity remain 3rd world developing nothing of their own

- holds the world record for military coups - I wonder why

- claims to be democratic which is highly questionable 

- probably the worst corruption levels in the world and are experts hiding it

- very quickly destroying western tourism and confidence

- destroying the confidence of retirees with bureaucratic nonsense 

- as for COVID-19 - I see another hub emerging 

Thailand doesn't have the worst air pollution in the world, i'm from southern california .. 

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Was at Chiangmai Immigration Office this morning (With THAI wife) doing my annual extension. of NON-IMM 'O' (THAI Spouse) VISA.

We did get there early (5:30a.m.) and even though the Office is officially open 8:30 to 4:30 they started handing out queue numbers at 7:00.

We were the 2nd in the queue for this type of Visa … and everything was finished and we left at 10:30.

I thought excellent service … they did their best to enforce social distancing … had people checking temperatures. They had plastic up to separate staff and visitors.
There was temporary additional outside covered seating in the car park to reduce crowding in the building.

Many Thanks

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5 hours ago, smedly said:

if you are wanting to hear something sensible from authorities then you are in the wrong place

 

Thailand the hub of everything

- worst air pollution in the world

- worst road deaths in the world (for many years no improvements)

- after decades of opportunity remain 3rd world developing nothing of their own

- holds the world record for military coups - I wonder why

- claims to be democratic which is highly questionable 

- probably the worst corruption levels in the world and are experts hiding it

- very quickly destroying western tourism and confidence

- destroying the confidence of retirees with bureaucratic nonsense 

- as for COVID-19 - I see another hub emerging 

@smedly


I'm guessing you are not living in Thailand because why on Earth would you be here after sharing this negative BMW model?

 

BMW .… Bitching, Moaning, Whinging

 

 

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Did my 90 day report this morning in phitsanulok, arrived at about 8.05, went in as the cleaner finished to get the 90 Day TM, one of the staff appeared and said "90 Day -no paper work" just held out her hand for my passport - walked out at 8.16 all completed. 

Great service. 

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22 minutes ago, csmith said:

@smedly


I'm guessing you are not living in Thailand because why on Earth would you be here after sharing this negative BMW model?

 

BMW .… Bitching, Moaning, Whinging

 

 

my comments are very direct at only a few people who are holding this country back

 

as for where I choose to live - my business

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6 hours ago, lovesthespicy said:

They could just have people pay for 30 day extensions online. Government officials are worried about "security reasons". Also lets be honest its obv some of the higher ups are just pure racist against farangs here.

This is affecting many more Asians than farang.

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As for Thailand the authorities should allow the tourists trapped here an undetermined visa. obvious a win win situation for both. We could stay longer without worying and they get additional income, Logic yes? O my stupid, I forgot this word "logic" doesnt appear in their dictionnary.

 

Regards Philippe

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Same photos could be made yesterday at Pattaya immigration. Same amount of people, no distancing whatsoever, just checking the temperature when letting you inside the building (obviously to protect themselves, not you who already spent 40 minutes standing face to face with other visitors). I regret for not making the photos.

 

Found one on the internet. Pay attention - there are several lines under the roof not seen at his photo. Later all these people are let in inside the mail building where at least 100 people stay in the crowded and small place.9cbbf271-6abf-4d3e-a113-3e78d17eb05c.JPG

 

 

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