Thursday, July 17, 2014

Visa Enforcement Tightens for Thailand’s Expats


Where the boys were
The lush life days may be coming to a close
Since the days of the Vietnam War, Bangkok, with its louche hotspots like Soi Cowboy and Patpong, has been a haven for lonely ex-GI’s, drunks and others looking for love in all the wrong places, as the song goes.
But it appears that the days when a middle-aged male could wash up on Thailand’s shores to find romance and cheap housing and excellent food on a tourist visa and make “border runs” to Cambodia or Myanmar to renew the visas in a few hours, then return to Thailand, are ending. In addition to sending home as many as 200,000 Burmese workers, the junta is also lining up to send the drunks and sex tourists home.
Of course there are plenty of productive expatriate westerners in Thailand who do more than drink and chase girls. They are either freelancing illegally – IT, design, online writers -- or have enough independent cash to eke out a living. The country for decades has been a welcoming home for freelance writers and photographers who use either Bangkok or the northern city of Chiang Mai, with their low costs and good flight connections to other regions, as a base.

Among them are so-called “digital nomads,” location-independent entrepreneurs who favor Thailand. Many stay on tourist visas, traveling around the region and returning to Thailand thanks to its low cost for high quality living, its reliable high-speed Internet and other attractive perks.

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