Friday, March 21, 2014

Driver's license

Over our Christmas break, we ventured to get our Thai drivers licenses. We would have been fine obtaining an international license from AAA but they only last one year (and we would pay $30/year for both of us to get them). Additionally, if we were to be pulled over for anything and it was put "on record," it would be put on our Minnesota record, since an international license is given through the state. 

There were several things we had to get in order before actually going to the "DMV":

- I had to get a notarized affidavit indicating that I do indeed reside in Thailand; Mike did not have to do this because he has a work visa. This cost $50.00. I had to laugh at the embassy worker because he took one look at me, probably thought I was younger than I really am and asked, "Are you SURE you want to be driving in Bangkok?" I told him that I already do, to which he replied, "PLEASE be careful." Thankful for his heart and wanting for me to be safe...driving in Bangkok can indeed be chaotic.

- Health certificate indicating we are in good health and physically capable of driving. The interesting thing about this, is that we walked into a nearby pharmacy and paid $6.00 for the certificates. No exam. No questions. Nothing. Just the exchange of the certificates for money.

- We had to fill out a license application, gather our passports, passport pictures, as well as copies of every page of our passports (and sign every page).

Then we were finally ready to go the DMV. We had to do this within 30 days of the date we obtained the affidavit and health certificates, or else we would have to start all over.

Our Thai friend, Wat, took us to the DMV to assist us in the process. We got there as early as possible and what do you know...just like the MN DMV, we waited and waited. :)  We were supposed to watch an hour long video on driving cautiously in Bangkok, but we somehow missed it (darn!). It wouldn't have proved that helpful anyway since it was all in Thai! Then we were shuffled into a room with about 15 other people and had to take 4 tests.

Test #1: test for color recognition/blindness by looking at a stop light and indicating the name of the color that turns on.

Test #2: place your chin on a machine and name the color of the light that you see in your peripheral vision.

Test #3: test your reflexes by accelerating on a gas pedal when you see a green light and slamming on the breaks as soon as the light turns red.

Test #4: test your depth perception by using a remote to maneuver a vertical electronic post forward or backwards to be parallel with a stationary vertical post. The two posts are located in a box 15-20 feet away from where you stand and you have to get the posts parallel within a 3 centimeter margin on either side.

All of the tests were easy for us to do, despite feeling a little nervous after many people before us needed to repeat test #3. Correction...I was feeling nervous. Mike said the only reason he was feeling nervous was because he kept thinking about all the people around him that maybe couldn't slam on the breaks fast enough to prevent an accident.

After we passed all of our tests and got the stamp of approval, we paid our dues for the cards ($12.00) and walked out with our new licenses.

These licenses are a temporary one year license. We will have to go through this whole process again next Christmas break to obtain 5 year licenses. So for 6 years of a current license, it will be $136 if prices don't change from this year to next. For 6 years of an international drivers license it would be $180 and a possible Minnesota record if anything were to happen. So despite the hassle of going to the embassy and waiting at the Thai DMV, I think it is worth it.

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