Thai immigration in Mukdahan

Our university sent us foreign teachers to Mukdahan yesterday for our annual visa renewals. Until now, we had been using th immigration office in Nong Khai, but the last time we visited for 90-day notice, they told us that the Mukdahan office was becoming the top office for the Isan region and that we should go there from now on. So the seven or eight of us rode out on a bus accompanied by 26 Chinese exchange students who are studying Thai in China at various universities and are on a program here for a year. 30+ visa applicants are enough to crowd any immigration office, and it was shocking to see how understaffed the Muk office was. Everything took a long, long time. It’s unreasonable to blame the people (the underlings at least) working there because they’re as trapped by the system as we are… It was hard watching other applicants* come and wonder where to queue up because the waiting room side of the counter looked like the escape scene from The Killing Fields.
What saved the day was my colleague finding a well-run expat cafe (expat customer, not proprietor) a couple doors down from immigration -the name of the place was Good Mook. Good coffee, pate on crispy French bread, and bottles of Beer Lao… It was a great place to relax and wait for all the students to get processed, until the tiny little immigration office closed at 4:30.
We got back to our university at around 9:00 PM. By the time I had a bowl of noodles with another colleague and went home, both wife and baby were sound asleep.
* Some of the other applicants included one of Nam’s Japanese teachers, and my next door neighbor (who also works at Nam’s school, MSU – Mahasarakham University.)

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