And no I don’t mean the good kind that are a direct result of the French wine I will be having in less than 2 days. Our preparation for this trip has been a complete comedy of errors from the start. I thought I would share this mess with you so that you might shake your head and smile but really it’s more for my mental health… I need to vent!
Our first hiccup in planning this trip came when we decided that we wanted to take Pai with us on this vacation. One reason to provide her this opportunity to leave home, see the world and to provide me with a babysitter at night time so we weren’t stuck in the house every night starting at 8pm. She was thrilled and so were we that she agreed to go! I then started the process of trying to obtain a visa through the French embassy here in Bangkok. What a freaking disaster that was! First the embassy requires you to have airline tickets, all hotel bookings with credit card receipts, travel insurance and a slew of other paper work. I complied with every single demand. Please keep in mind that the airline tickets must be purchased but there is a chance they will say no and you might be out some big bucks. I decided it was worth the risk and honestly with everything purchased and all paperwork filled out and in order why would they deny her a visa!? I figured there was no way that would happen so I rolled the dice but luck was not a lady to me.
Weeks went by since her initial interview, they say it only takes 10 days, and I started to worry so I turned into a dog with a bone and would not let it go. I was calling everyday in the hopes that someone could speak English well enough to tell me the status. The French embassy goes through a company called TLS to do their visa processing, which means there is no way to contact the embassy except through emails which never get replied to. I would call and check the status and they would say we don’t know, email the embassy and I would explain how I had already done that and that we were leaving in less than a week! I need an answer! Finally, on the day that we moved, I had had enough! The embassy started asking for work documentation for the work she was going to do in France. I emailed back saying I would get them whatever paper work they wanted just tell me how to do it. The next reply from the French embassy instructs me to contact the French Labor Administration and have them sign off on a form that I am to complete. I finally get someone on the phone at TLS and they say to fill out a four page form that is entirely in French explaining her job status in France. I am now livid… I start in on the poor woman who took my call saying “she is going on a tourist visa. She knows no one in France. I am paying for everything. She isn’t going to work! Why would I have to fill out this form!?” She then tells me that I can write a letter to the embassy and hand deliver it (this is a 2 hour round trip) explaining why I wouldn’t fill out the form. FINE!!! I start to write the letter and then I get a call from TLS and our conversation goes something like this “hello. I am calling about Thunjira visa. She is a nurse right?” “What?” “Her job, she is a nurse right!?” “NO! SHE IS A NANNY GOING ON VACATION!!!!!!” silence. “oooo…” “SO YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THAT THE EMBASSY THINKS SHE IS A NURSE GOING TO FRANCE TO WORK!? When there is nowhere in any of the paperwork where I have written that she is a nurse!? You people just made that up?” “Yes ma’am I think my manager will call embassy now to explain the problem.” Wonderful!
After being told that the manager would call me back I wait all day for the phone call that never came so before they closed I called them back to check the status. The manager assures me that they have fixed the issue and they have explained the situation to the embassy and we should have the results by the end of the day. We did have the results by the end of the day and they were not so good… Pai was refused her visa. The reason was she did not have sufficient plans to come back to Thailand or funding to visit France. This reason was given even though we provided proof of a confirmed non-refundable plane ticket to and from France with flight numbers and times. In regards to the statement that she didn’t have sufficient funding, we had already hand delivered on a second trip to TLS two hand written letters (that we were asked to bring to them) stating that we have every intention of paying for anything Pai would need during her stay. Chris has written the embassy in response to the visa being refused asking how we should go about the appeal process but surprise, surprise no answer.
Our second hiccup just occurred a few days ago and this one was a doozy! I have booked and confirmed every aspect of this trip, I am a planner to the max. Since Pai’s visa was refused I told Chris that he should check with the travel agent and see if there was any way to get our money back. I figured it was a long shot since we purchased a non-refundable ticket but I was hopeful the travel agent could work their magic and make it all disappear.
Thursday came and Chris finally had time to make the call to see if they could help us. Come to find out it’s no problem to get a refund! Hurray! But here’s the hiccup, it’s no problem because they never booked our flights! (Insert jaw drop) How is that possible since we have 2 (yes 2) confirmation emails giving us all the confirmation information for our flights!!??? Their response is oops. (Cultural note: I’m starting to see a real pattern with Thai people in any customer service field and that is if something doesn’t get done or is done incorrectly the response is basically one of “my bad” not one of “how can I fix it to make you happy!?”) The travel agent tells Chris not to worry because the same tickets are still available but now instead of the $950 USD they are now $1,700 USD. What?!?!?! Chris calls BS on that and starts to google and finds a direct flight for $1,200 USD. He leaves work on Thursday with nothing really resolved but reassured me that it will be figured out on Monday morning.
Monday morning?!?!? We leave Tuesday!!! Nope that isn’t going to work for me so I made Chris call the travel agent on Friday. I figured there was a chance that they wouldn’t be open since it was a major Buddhist holiday but they were!! He talks with them for a good 30 minutes trying to get it all figured out. During this phone call they have confirmed twice that Killian is in an infant cot, which my big boy literally can’t fit in. At this point, Chris is getting visibly frustrated and says “NO. I need three adult seats, yes he is two but he needs his own seat.” On the last confirmation they again say kid seat!
Today is Monday and we leave tomorrow evening. It took all day but Chris finally got the confirmation email and guess what?! They had it wrong! We were at least on the right flight but Killian didn’t have a seat!!!!! Chris took care of it and I’m so glad he did because had I been given the okay to call and straighten it out I promise I would have chewed someone’s butt out to the points where they would not be able to sit for a week!! Currently everything is fixed and all we have to do is book a rental car for our ride to Monaco and Marseille. We are taking the red eye and will be landings at 7am. The last hiccup is we can’t check into the apartment until late afternoon, which wasn’t a problem with our original flight but luckily this is one hiccup I can handle and will be followed by the good kinda hiccups in 24 short hours.