I’ve spend most of the past 48 hours trying to pack and prepare for my trip this week to Myanmar. Very excited about seeing my friends again, but also having to try and arrange a multitude of tasks ahead of time, both in Mandalay and here in Bangkok.
One item on the agenda was getting my hospitalized friend’s Thailand tourist visa renewed. He’s been in hospital since mid-October and at first they were giving him 30-day extensions. Due to his critical condition they’ve now seen fit to give him 60-day extensions. Each time the visa was about to expire, the hospital would phone me up, ask if I could come down and pay the visa fee, I would do it, and everything was set.
But now that he’s been transferred to a nursing home, and no longer officially under the care of Bangkok Hospital, that complicates matters. In order to help arrange the renewal I contacted the fine folks at the Sutlet Group in Bangkok, who also operate PB Legal Services. They are the ones that handle all the paperwork for my own annual business visa and work permit renewals. After getting a definite “no, we can’t arrange the visa this time” from the hospital, I contacted Patara at PB Legal and explained the situation. I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough time to collate all paperwork and documents needed, but within a few short hours Patara had contacted the doctor at the nursing home, scheduled a pick-up of some essential documents, and gone to the hospital to finish making the final arrangements. Amazing service, and very much appreciated!
Meanwhile, I’ll be attending to matters at that same friend’s apartment when I get to Mandalay. We still have most of his possessions in storage in a back room at the apartment, but now it’s time to move things out and store them at a local monastery, donate a few things, and perhaps try and sell some of the nicer items. There will be plenty of work to do. On top of that, my friend Zin Ko’s father died last week, and I anticipate more than a bit of sadness on 90th Street when I arrive this time. Poor kid; last year around this time one of the friends who was swimming with him drowned in the river, and now he loses one of his parents. Life can be cruel, but I always try and maintain some sense of optimism and I hope I can spread some of that to Zin Ko on this trip. Wish us all luck!
And this time I’ll also be travelling back to Shan State to visit friends in Nyaungshwe and Tat Ein village. I haven’t been there in almost a year, so I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again. I heard back from Ma Pu Sue this week and she confirmed that Pyinya Sawda is still at Shwe Yan Pyay monastery, so I’ll be bringing him a copy of the book that has his photo on the cover.