This morning I was informed through the Legacy Foundation office worker who handles our compliance to Thai law (no mean feat) that I was accepted for my Thai work permit, which is done through the province, it would appear. To receive the work permit it was necessary for me to travel early this afternoon to the Chiang Mai “City Hall” which is located where the first “ring road” ends into Highway 107 (the highway I live near), close to the Sports Complex and 700 Year Stadium, part of a “core” area of government buildings and historical sites to the north of Chiang Mai’s old city.
When I was informed that today I would need to go to city hall in a province that is the “core” area of the Red Shirts of the Shinawatra clan and their political allies, I was wearing my yellow shirt. Being at least somewhat attuned to the political implications of one’s sartorial choices in Thailand (which might seem surprising to some people who know me from the United States and who might assume me entirely unaware of these matters), I decided to change my shirt from a royalist yellow shirt to a somewhat more neutral Legacy shirt that only had a little bit of yellow around the edges. I didn’t want to give the impression, after all, to the people at city hall, that I was a flaming hardline royalist supporter, since that would be a rather inaccurate impression to give (as any reader of my blog ought to know well).
Interestingly enough, directly in front of the City Hall there is a traffic circle, which I always find rather amusing to see, although driving them is less enjoyable. When our driver, Surochai (which means “sun” in Thai, and with whom conversations nearly always include liberal amounts of the word “nitnoy,” which means a little bit) got to parking, he seemed a bit unable to find the front entrance, where the other Legacy employee was waiting. Even though I had never been to the building before, I figured from the layout of the building and its grounds that as we were parked on the south side of the building and that the main road and traffic circle were on the east side of the building, that the main entrance was also on the east side, and I figured correctly.
Like many buildings, the Chiang Mai city hall looked a lot bigger from the outside than it proved to be in actual usable space. The building itself was in the shape of a square, at least a couple stories high, surrounding a sizable but fairly plain courtyard. Right inside the main entrance there is a shrine to Thailand’s king, something that looked rather idolatrous to me, and something that always makes me feel uncomfortable. In the northwest corner of the city hall was the second set of rooms for the Work Permits, and it was there where I signed a couple of forms and got the work permit (as well as a lot of other forms that have to be stored, thankfully not be me). The Thai sure do love their paperwork.
This is the first of at least two, and possibly three, steps as far as making it legal for me to stay here until next Spring as far as visits are required, and it was a pretty straightforward one thankfully. Early next week, probably Tuesday, I have to leave fairly early in the morning to go to Immigration, which takes much longer. And there may possibly be an interview with the Amphoe police department as well, but so far I have not heard anything about that, and they may have been satisfied by the report already submitted to them not to need to talk to me about anything (that would be good, as it has always been my policy in any nation to avoid having dealings with law enforcement if it can possibly be helped).
At any rate, so far my dealings concerning the Thai work permit process have been fairly pleasant, much better than expected, despite the large amount of paperwork that is required. Unfortunately, my coworker who has the job of handling all of that paperwork has had some difficulties internally because our boss was apparently not aware that he had done the paperwork rather early and had gotten upset for no good reason. As someone with a pretty fierce temper, I try to make sure I know as much as possible about something before I get angry about it, but controlling one’s temper is a challenge all of us face. Fortunately, it’s not something I have had to worry about concerning the Thai side of this process so far, which is remarkable.