I didn’t tell you this earlier… but I visited Chiang Mai on three different occasions.
Why? Because I LOVE this place.
… and I ran out of space in my passport. True story.
When I realized that my passport was getting full, I wasn’t sure what to do, so I asked for advice…
- in Hong Kong, locals told me to heat my passport with a hairdryer to remove the visa stickers… I said “Yeah right…” and waited until the next country to ask for help…
- in Cambodia, an official officer at the airport offered to take my passport & return it with pages for $50.00… I said “Ummm hell-to-the-no…”, held onto my passport, and then booked it out of there.
- Frustrated about the situation, I finally asked the right person for advice: Mama Ma! She told me to go to the US Consulate…“Oh yeah! They have those over here, don’t they?”
So I googled the closest US Embassy, and l found two in Thailand: Bangkok and Chiang Mai! Since Bangkok didn’t have any available appointments, I booked an appointment online with the US Embassy in Chiang Mai (no walk-ins allowed), printed out the appropriate paperwork, packed my current passport, and bought 12 NEW 2.5 x 2.5 passport pictures of me in front of a white background with my ears showing in the photo (US requirements differ from Asia visa requirements).
On the day of the appointment I found out that the voice behind the glass pane was an American… and I was so relieved (not sure why I thought a Thai person would be working at the US Embassy- but lets not go there).
So I explained that I ran out of space in my passport and how my passport was expiring in 7 months (US passports MUST HAVE 6 months lee-way time from expiring date when traveling outside of the USA).
Example: If the expiring date on the passport is September 5, 2012, the passport should have been renewed no later than January 5, 2012 in order to be outside the USA).
So my options were simple: either pay $80.00 to add pages (which would only take an hour or so…) or $110.00 for a brand-new passport (which could take up to two weeks); however, instead of paying the $80.00 now and $110.00 later for a new passport (since it was expiring anyway), I decided to order a new passport since they let you keep your current passport until you receive your new one.
So I handed over my paperwork (I printed both sets: 1 just for page renewal and 1 for passport renewal), paid the fee in US dollars (you can use your US credit card since it’s card in US dollars) and swore an oath.
With that sorted out, I made my way to Laos with one page left in my old passport…
UPDATE: It only took 3 days for the US Embassy to mail my passport to the USA and have it ready for pick up at the US Embassy in Chiang Mai. When it arrived, I was in Laos at the time (and pick up dates were only on certain days of the week) so I had a friend pick up my passport for me with a signed permission slip.