Visiting immigration last week, I realised I had forgotten just how amusing these visits can be. I thought I was taking a safe option – visiting later in the afternoon when the morning rush should have died down. How wrong I was.
Arriving at 2pm, a line of foreigners was queuing out the door, this came as somewhat of a surprise – albeit a simultaneously pleasant and unpleasant one. The pleasant side being that even though it’s “low season”, there are still plenty of tourists in Phuket. The unpleasant side: the dread of knowing how long it was going to take get my report done.
“Anyone for 90-day reporting?” asked an immigration volunteer stationed inside. Three or four of us moved forward and were given our numbered tickets. Steeling myself for a long wait, I sat in a chair facing counter two, where the man – let’s just call him “Mr Happy” – who deals with 90-day reporting resides.
There he sat – Mr Happy – blissfully pressing his “next customer” button – 96 go to counter number one, indicated the electronic board above the waiting area. The seat behind counter one sat empty. Nevertheless, some people dutifully approached the empty counter, looked around confusedly, and seeing no other course of action, sat back down.
Then he spoke, quietly considering the volume of the general hubbub in the busy room, “96,” he said… then, five seconds later, “97,” nothing… “98,” and so it continued. With nobody approaching Mr Happy, including the people who had got tickets before me, eventually my number, 107, was called.
I jumped in front of Mr Happy and was getting my 90-day report processed when four or five people approached the counter, tickets in hand, exasperated as to why they hadn’t been dealt with in the correct order.
My report completed, I left the building knowing full well why I was served first. They were looking for a logical, orderly process – I, on the other hand, have been in Thailand long enough to know there is no such thing when it comes to Thai bureaucracy. If Monty Python were still being broadcast today, a visit to Phuket Immigration would make for a rather amusing sketch.