Friday, 18 June 2010

Thai bureaucracy and helping somebody get divorced

Probably not something you’d normally encounter on a 3 week trip to Thailand! My wife and I (and family) visit Thailand every year, my wife is Thai and we visit her family in Bangkok. This year she had to go to the local district office to renew her ID card… my God! If you think the country you live in is bureaucratic….the Thais do it with style (and a tasteful brown, military style uniform).

What should be a simple process of fill a form in, pay your fee, have a photo taken and wait for it to be printed takes about 2 – 3 hours depending how busy they are! You have to visit about 8 different desks and different people, sitting down to join a new queue each time you progress past one more desk.

Just as we were at the final desk, the end was in sight…..a Thai lady and her American husband approached my wife asking her to be a translator during their official divorce proceedings! Apparently in Thailand, any couples wishing to divorce of which one partner is a foreigner, must be accompanied by an independent translator. So, back to desk number one we went while we waited for the soon to be divorced couple to jump through various hoops, my wife translating!

Meanwhile I have the arduous task of entertaining a little girl for another 2 hours, not an easy task in a Bangkok district office! In the end I got her an ID card application form to scribble on.

A tip to all visitors to Thailand, avoid the bureaucracy wherever you can, be it district offices, immigration departments etc!

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