Choose the right course at KSTVS

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Koh Samui Language & Vocational School is proud to congratulate our students on the end of another term and is happy to offer more opportunities for studying English starting from January. Whether you are in doubt which group you should continue in, or want to choose your first course in our school, this is the perfect moment to consider your options. Time for level up!

English_courses_KSTVS_Koh_Samui

ED visa photos for language courses at KSTVS

Let’s Say Cheese in The Classroom

Attention please all the students! We need your lovely smiles photographed every month for your next visa extension. We’ll arrange a photo session every month from now and onwards. It is a good chance for you to come and meet new people in the class if you have not been to the class at all. We provide different levels of classes from beginner to advanced level in both Thai and English, we have recently added conversation classes as well, in case you have missed the news you can catch up with us by dropping us a line.

Be reminded that, your photo in the classroom is important due to the immigration requirements and it is one of the essential steps in order to extend your visa confidently without any difficulty.

Our office is open Mon-Sat 08:30 – 18:00

Call: 077-248-228, Khun Pat 086-947-2883

ED Visa Extension new rules with Map and House Photos

Your Next ED Visa Extension: a Map and House Photos Required

At KSTVS, we always ensure every process of your ED Visa runs smoothly, whether it is your first time of applying or extending it,  it is our priority to keep it convenient for you but there’s a quick little update and we would like to ask for your kind cooperation. There are 2 more requirements needed for your next extension.

1. Two house photos with you in it

Take one photo of yourself in the house; it can be in any room of the house and another photo of yourself standing or sitting outside the house. Therefore there will be 2 in total;   1 photo that is inside the house and another 1 photo that is outside the house with you in it.

ED visa photo outside houseOutside

Ed visa photo inside houseInside

2. Latitude and longitude map

A clear map of your house providing latitude and longitude in the map needed. To make this less complicated, you can browse up your house map by searching it in Google Map and screenshot the location of the house, easy!

ED visa mapMap

Two photos and one map need to be in printed version, on A4 paper, all in color. Please bring these two documents printed in color when you come to the school to renew your ED visa next time. If you don’t have a printer, we offer a color printing service for your convenience in our school on your next extension, charging only 100 baht/ page, please email us the documents for us to print for you one week in advance.

Any concern regarding to your ED Visa, please feel free to drop by at our office Mon – Sat 8:30 – 18:00. Or give us a call 077 248 228 and 086-947-2883 Khun Pat

 

KSTVS Language School Holiday

It is that time of the year, when you start thinking about gifts and one of the most precious gifts is getting to spend time with your loved ones over the new year.

KSTVS school is happy to announce our school holidays for 2017! There will be no group classes from 25th December – 7th January 2018 and back to business on the 8th January 2018. Please note that there will be no group classes on those days but our office still operates for visa extensions, new language students and private classes.

“Be blessed to spend the new year with your loved ones, friends and family. Be delighted and may all the good things come your way in the next year coming! Happy 2018”

From us at Koh Samui Language & Vocational School

 

Student Feedback December 2017

First, let us thank those of you who have already answered the questionnaire below.  Your opinion is very important to us and helps us make our school better.

If you haven’t completed the survey yet, this is just the right moment to do it. It will not take you more than 5 minutes and will make a great difference to us.

School Social 15th December 2017

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A piece of Greece in Koh Samui!

Our next social event is coming soon.

Join us for some great food, music, drinks, and to say hello to new students and teachers!

When?

Friday 15th December at 7pm.

Where?

Fi Greek restaurant offers authentic Greek cuisine in Koh Samui! Delicious food, cozy atmosphere and friendly staff will make it an unforgettable night!

Fi Greek estaurant. 2/56 Moo 6, Chaweng, Amphoe Koh Samui, Surat Thani, Thailand 84330
(Next to TESCO LOTUS-HOME PRO- Chaweng)

 

 

Who?

Friends and family welcome. The more the merrier!

What’s on the menu?

Delicious falafels, juicy kebabs, souvlaki, vegeterian mousaka and more. Definitely not to be missed!

How much?

 

400B for a set menu with a bottle of beer.

420B for a set menu with a glass of wine.

 

What do I need to do?

 

Please, confirm your attendance for this dinner:

 

  • Email: principal@kstvs.com
  • or tell us at school
  • or send a message on the school whatsapp group

School Social

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Why siesta when you can FIESTA!

Our next social event is coming soon.

This is not only a chance for us to get together, but we will also be saying farewell to our Principal, Sarah, who is returning to England.

Join us for some great food, music, drinks, and to say goodbye!

When?

Friday 1st September at 7pm.

Where?

Tasty Bar and Café is the ultimate Spanish restaurant in Koh Samui! Not only is the food exceptional, but staff are fantastic too.

Tasty Bar and Cafe, 147/1, Moo 2, Chaweng, Bohput, Ko Samui 84320

Who?

Friends and family welcome. The more the merrier!

What’s on the menu?

Delicious Paella, homemade bread with oils, olives, and Spanish tortilla, washed down with a glass of Sangria.

How much?

 

Only 350B each!

 

What do I need to do?

 

You MUST confirm your attendance for this dinner:

 

  • Email: principal@kstvs.com
  • or tell us at school
  • or send a message on the school whatsapp group

A 12 Step Guide to the Penang ED Visa Run by Train

1) Pack light and bring Malaysian ringgits (RM):

Your time may only be 2 or 3 days in Penang so pack light; a few changes of clothes, your visa documents, a tablet or e-reader, a good book, and necessary toiletries. Bringing some snacks and water is also a good idea. Tip: save yourself the hassle of finding somewhere to exchange money in Malaysia and go get at least a couple thousand baht exchanged. 30 baht is about 4 RM (Aug ’17).

2) Procure transportation to Nathon pier:

Taxis, vans, songthaews, and motor taxis are all options but they may cost a few hundred baht and up depending on your location in Koh Samui.

3) Nathon ferry to Donsak pier:

This should cost about 220 baht an should include a transfer to the center of Surat Thani. The ferry to Donsak from Nathon is about 1.5hrs. If you didn’t bring snacks, some light refreshments are available on board. Ferries typically leave early half hour to one hour but to save you hours of waiting in Surat Thani, it is advisable to take the last ferry to Donsak.

4) Donsak pier to Surat Thani train station:

Tell the bus transfer staff that you want to go to the train station and they should stop the bus for you to be switched onto a songthaew which takes you to the train station. That should cost between 100-200 baht depending on how many people are onboard. Failing that, if the bus goes to the bus station then from there you can take a cheap public bus, taxi, songthaew or motorbike taxi to the train station which is a little out of town.

5) At the train station:

At the ticket booth you should ask for a ticket to the Malaysian Pedang Besar on the sleeper train, with upper and lower berths costing 630 to 730 baht respectively. This train is scheduled to leave at 1:50am but don’t be surprised if it is late. While waiting for the train, there are a few street side restaurants selling cheap Thai food and a 711 not far either. I recommend settling in somewhere to eat and having drinks to while away the time.

6) On the train:

When the train arrives, staff should help direct you to the right carriage and assist with any luggage you have. On board the seat numbers are clearly marked. Settle in, pull up the blanket, and get some sleep.

7) At Pedang Besar station:

After arriving in Pedang Besar you will proceed to exit Thailand by following the signs to the Thai immigration booths and then following the path to the Malaysian officials to be stamped in. Please note that while most countries are given a 30 day visa on arrival, some are not so it is best to check if your nationality is cleared to receive the VOA. Depending on what time you arrive, the express commuter train to Butterworth may be waiting to depart or arriving shortly, so I suggest heading quickly upstairs to purchase a ticket lest you be left waiting a couple hours with nothing to do. The ticket to Butterworth is very cheap and comes out to a few dollars.

8) Pedang Besar to Penang:

Once the train arrives, I recommend getting a seat at the back of train in the corner otherwise you will find yourself uncomfortably surrounded by people for the duration of the 2 hours to Butterworth where the train terminates. At Butterworth you will follow signs to the ferry, which again is very cheap as it is used on a daily basis by locals. On the ferry you can take some great pictures of the Penang city skyline.

9) Arriving in Penang:

From the ferry terminal it is a short walk to the bus terminal and taxi stand. Here you can take public buses to almost anywhere on the island or a taxi for a more direct way to your hotel. Comfortable hotels can be found for under 1000 baht and there are hostels for those looking to stay in Penang on a budget. I recommend staying in the downtown historic area of Georgetown, Penang for its variety of local foods and rich colonial history. The Thai consulate is not far from this area which makes it especially ideal.

10) Morning visit to the Thai consulate:

You should aim to get to the consulate at least a half hour earlier than the opening time of 9am to avoid long lines. At the gate a worker will ask you to sign in before entering the grounds of the consulate. At the windows you will be given a standard visa form to fill in, if you haven’t already filled it in. This form basically just asks for your basic information, what visa type you’re applying for education (ED) visa, where you will be staying in Koh Samui, etc. Once you’ve filled this in you should line up at the ‘Non-Immigrant visa’ window as the ED visa falls into this category. The ED visa costs 3000 baht but the staff seem to prefer to be paid in RM. Having said that, I had no problem when asking to pay in baht. After handing over your documents and passport you’ll be given a receipt to be used to pick up your passport and ED visa the next afternoon.

11) Picking up the visa:

The next afternoon you will return to pick up your passport and ED visa. It typically isn’t very busy and it shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes to be in and out if there are no unforeseen visa problems.

12) The journey back to Koh Samui:

If expediency is your main concern in regards to returning to Koh Samui, there should be travel agents outside the Thai consulate offering van rides from the consulate to Koh Samui and other locations in Southern Thailand. This should cost about under 1000 baht and includes a van to Hat Yai and another van to Donsak pier, where you will have to wait until the first ferry at 5am. If however you have some time, you can take the train back to Surat Thani. This train leaves Pedang Besar, which means you would need to take a van, bus, or express commuter train, at 5pm and should arrive in Surat Thani station at 11:15pm. At that time you could then get a hotel and sleep in before taking a ferry in the morning the next day feeling refreshed and ready to return to Koh Samui, education visa in hand.

Thai ED Visa Run to Penang Thai Consulate: What to Expect

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Location:

1, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Taman Barat, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang

The Thai consulate is located near the heart of historic Georgetown and can easily be reached by taxi or walking from this area. Getting a hotel in this downtown area is recommended.

From the outside:

The Thai consulate building is a re-purposed house on a large lot with an empty swimming pool out front of the building with the gate, driveway, and guard point located on the right side of the property.

At the consulate:

You should arrive at least a half hour earlier than the 9am opening time to avoid long waiting times. When entering the consulate grounds you will sign in with a guard in a small booth at the gate. You will write down your name, passport number, and the reason for your visit; visa. From there you follow the pathway up to the house. At the house you will be given a standard visa form to fill out. The can be filled out quickly as they entail just basic information, such as your passport number, what visa you are applying for, you destination in Thailand, etc. If you have any questions you can fill out as much as you can and ask the staff once you reach the window. Alternatively there are people who wait outside and for a small fee will help fill out the form for you and even take pictures.

 

Once you have filled in the form, you should look for the ‘Non-immigrant visa’ window, it shouldn’t be hard to spot. The education visa is 3000 baht and although it can be paid in baht, they may ask for Malaysian ringgits instead. At the window you will hand over your passport, standard visa application form and education visa documents to the official. They will quickly look the documents over and if nothing is awry then you will be given a receipt and a time to come the next day to pick up your passport and education visa.

Picking up the visa:

Pick up time for the visa the next day is 1 or 2pm and if you get there on time you can get your passport and visa in no time if there is no problem with the paperwork.

Thai ED Visa Run Travel Report

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Koh Samui to Penang ED visa run

For those studying Thai, English, or another language at the Koh Samui Language and Vocational School, you will inevitably have to leave Thailand to obtain the education visa. This usually entails heading to the border with Malaysia to Khota Bharu or Penang where the two closest Thai consulates are located. While this may sound an arduous process, it really isn’t! Typically you will head to Malaysia the day before you wish to hand your visa application in, hand in the application in the morning on the next day, return to the consulate the next day in the afternoon, and from there head back to Koh Samui. This post is about my experience heading to the consulate in Penang, what to expect at the Thai consulate, what to do in Penang, and my return to Koh Samui.

Getting to Penang

The main routes to Penang are via flights from Surat Thani (stopping in Kuala Lumpur as there currently are no direct flights), taking a long bus from the bus station in Surat, taking a potentially dangerous van from the same bus station, or a late night train from Surat. I ended up deciding on taking the train because I thought it would be a more pleasant experience than being stuffed into a small space for hours on end hoping you make it there alive.

As I knew I wouldn’t be staying long in Malaysia, ideally only 3 nights, I packed a light backpack. You should only really need to bring a few changes of clothes, your passport, education visa documents, a tablet, water, some snacks, and a good book. Aside from that, I thoroughly recommend you taking the time to go the bank before leaving and converting at least a couple thousand baht into Malaysian ringgits (RM) as this will save you a hassle once in Malaysia.

Ferry from Nathon to Donsak

Leaving Nathon pier

From my home in Maenam I had arranged for a van to pick me up and take me to the Nathon ferry pier, this should have only cost 50 baht. Instead, being Thailand, the van never showed up and when I called the van company number I was barraged by a torrent of rapid Thai and being hung up on. All the more reason to learn Thai! With no van coming I hailed a cab and paid 400 baht from Maenam to Nathon pier.

At the pier I paid 220 baht which included the ferry to Donsak and a bus transfer to the center of Surat Thani. With one and a half hours on the ferry to kill, I found a quiet spot to relax and cracked open my book. On board the ferry, in case you didn’t bring snacks or a drink, there should be a small, overpriced, shop.

Transfer from Donsak to Surat Thani train station

Once off the ferry I followed the deluge of passengers to the parking lot where people filtered into various buses. After asking around I found my bus and specifically asked if they went to the train station to which they replied ‘yeah, sure, sure’. So, on I got. The bus to the center of Surat Thani from Donsak takes about an hour so I just closed my eyes in a vain attempt to get some rest. 45 minutes into the bus ride I was awoken and told to get off to take a songthaew to the train station for 200 baht. I knew that the bus was going to the bus station and that it was possible to get to the train station (which is actually located just outside of Surat Thani) via another bus, taxi, songthaew, or moto taxi, but I just wanted to get to the train station as quick as possible and was unsure as to how much more I might pay from the bus station.

At Surat Thani train station

I had done my research for the train and found that from Surat Thani the train terminated at Pedang Besar which is on the border with Malaysia.  This train runs only once a day and leaves Surat Thani at 1:50am and arrives in Pedang Besar at 8:50am. From Pedang Besar you transfer to a second train to Butterworth, just outside of Penang. Tickets cost 632 baht for an upper berth and 732 baht for the lower berth which makes the train not only more comfortable but inexpensive also, even 1st class tickets were only around 1,200 baht or so. The second train ticket you buy at Pedang Besar and is very cheap. If you choose to take the train, I recommend train36.com which was invaluable in helping me find the cost, train times, and other useful information.

Across the street from Surat Thani train station

At the train station I bought my ticket without any problems and ventured out to find someplace to eat; it was only 8pm and I had hours and hours to wait until the train. It is important to tell the ticket seller that you want to go to the Malaysian Pedang Besar it seems there are two stations under the same name. Outside the front of the train station are a few small roadside restaurants which sell Thai food catering to the tastes of tourists; expect pad Thai, curries, and other Thai dishes for reasonable prices. Having eaten and still hours to wait, I looked for a bar to have a few drinks at before the train but didn’t feel like walking too far away so I just ended up having a few beers near at the place I ate dinner.

On the train

When it was closer to the time to leave I headed back towards the train station and waited inside. 1:50am was the official departure time but naturally the train came an hour later and I was just happy to get on and go to sleep. On the ticket is the car number and seat number so I had no difficulty finding where to go. By that time, just about every berth had the curtains drawn and lights out. In no time I found my berth, climbed up, and fell fast asleep.  I found the berth to be comfortable enough and came with a blanket but was disappointed to find there were no power outlets. Although I was fine, if you’re someone who experiences motion sickness or feels uncomfortable on long journeys such as this, it is not a bad idea to visit a pharmacy on Samui before leaving to pick something up.

Arrival in Pedang Besar and clearing Thai-Malay customs

In the morning I woke up and we were practically at the border already. I packed up my bag, visited the bathroom to freshen up, and awaited arrival at Pedang Besar train station. On the platform the Malaysian officials directed myself and other farangs to the Thai immigration section inside the station. There I was stamped out of Thailand and followed the signs over to the Malaysian immigration officials. Depending on your nationality you can simply get the 30 day visa on arrival with no difficulties, just check beforehand. My passport was stamped again, this time with the Malaysian visa, and then I put my bag through a scanner and that was it.

Pedang Besar train station

At this time the KTM express train to Butterworth arrived and I had to frantically run upstairs to find the ticket kiosk and purchase my ticket. Thankfully they accepted Thai baht because I couldn’t find somewhere to change my money at the station. I ran back downstairs hoping to catch the train but to no avail; I was stuck there for another couple hours until the next train.

If you’re unfortunate to have to wait for the KTM, then there isn’t much to do but wait. There was a small store selling snacks and maybe there was a food court upstairs but I can’t confirm did not as I did not venture that far. I don’t think there were even any air-conditioned waiting rooms, so expect to sweat it out in the intense Malaysian heat.

On the KMT

When the train finally arrived, I got on at the back of the train hoping that it would be less busy. As Pedang Besar is the first station on the line, it was completely empty and I made a beeline for a corner seat at the back of the train. While the train arrives empty, by the time it gets to Butterworth it will be quite crowded. That is why it is important to find a comfortable seat because the journey from Pedang Besar to Butterworth is 2hrs and stops quite frequently at various stations along the way.  I will also say that the KMT carriages feel more like a subway than a traditional train.

Ferry from Butterworth to Penang

At the end of the line in Butterworth, I got off and looked around for somewhere to change my money into RM. This was annoying as by that point I just wanted to get to my hotel in Penang and sleep. Eventually a seller exchanged some money for me and I followed the signs to the ferry from the train station. It is possible to take a bus to Penang from Butterworth train station but the ferry really is the way to go. The ferry takes 15mins and costs a dollar or two. What makes the ferry even more attractive are the city-scape views of Penang from Butterworth.

Transferring to hotel and street  food market at night

At the ferry terminal in Penang is also the bus station and a taxi stand. Without my phone, dead by that point and no opportunity to charge it, I took a taxi to my hotel located in the ‘downtown’ area of Penang not far from the Thai consulate. I paid 600 or 700 baht to stay at the Ink Hotel, which is a new and stylish boutique hotel I’d recommend for those not looking to spend much for the short stay. There were cheaper hotels when I booked mine online but I specifically wanted somewhere near the more historic center of Penang with more to see and do while waiting for the education visa.

New Lane Foodstall night market

Having slept from mid afternoon to early evening, I was ready to venture out and find something to eat. A quick Google search led me to a street food market outside the Sunway Hotel. There I found a pork dumpling noodle soup that became my go-to meal for dinner over the next few nights. After dinner I made my way over to a bar with an outdoor patio for a beer before turning in back to the hotel for an early night; had to get to the Thai consulate bright and early the next day!

Prior consulate visit advice and what to do in your free time

Some advice about the Thai consulate in Penang; treat the opening days and times with suspicion. Upon arrival at the consulate the next morning I was told it was closed for a public holiday and to come back the next day…a public holiday listed on the Thai consulate website for being next week….It turned out the information on the website was from last year and so months into 2017 they still hadn’t updated it. Thanks Thailand!

Penang Times Square

Road leading to Penang Times Square

If you have the time and resources, I’d recommend getting to Penang on a Thursday and dropping off your passport on the Friday morning and taking a ferry to Langkawi which is the Malaysian answer to Koh Samui. There you can have a weekend to relax before returning Sunday evening to Penang and heading to the Thai consulate the next day. As for what to do in the day time in Penang while waiting, you’re spoiled for options. You can take a walk or bus tour around the city to gaze at the colonial architecture, explore Little India, go to Batu Ferringhi beach, or if you’re looking for a spot of retail therapy, Penang has several large Western style shopping malls to satisfy your needs. Personally, I took it easy. I did some sight seeing, ate some quality Indian food, drank some local beers, and watched a couple movies at a cinema.

Thai consulate: what to expect

The next day I got up early again and arrived at the Thai consulate before the hordes of other visa runners showed up. Pro tip: get there about a half hour before the consulate opens, that way you will be near the front of the line and not stuck behind potentially dozens or hundreds of other people. The Thai consulate itself is a big house with surrounding grounds and an empty pool out front. You will speak to a guard at the gate, write your purpose for visiting the consulate, and line up. On top of the completed visa forms given to you by the Koh Samui Language and Vocational School, you will be asked to complete a standard visa form asking for things like your last visa, occupation, where you will stay in Thailand, etc. Just be sure to state that you will not be working in Thailand. If you’re unsure how to fill this form in, there are usually locals waiting out front who will fill in the form for a small price. When paying for your visa, bring baht and RM just in case. I paid in baht but others paid in RM. At the visa window I handed over my paperwork, he stamped a few things, made a few notes, and told me to come back in the afternoon the next day.

The following afternoon I was back at the consulate and outside the gate I was given an ad targeting people on their return to Thailand from visa runs. The destinations included Koh Samui and so I was set! I had planned on taking a bus to Hat Yai and sorting the rest out from there but this option took care of everything and was priced under 1000 baht, I believe. The agent even took Thai baht! Picking up my visa was painless, I gave them the receipt, the official went and came back within 5mins, and handed pack my passport with the all important education visa! For more information about what to expect at the Penang Thai consulate, check out our post.

The journey back to Koh Samui

Out front of the embassy I purchased the ticket back to Koh Samui from the agent and waited until he was ready to leave. During this time I got talking to a Russian girl going with the same company on her way to Hat Yai. When the agent was ready myself and the Russian girl got into his car and stopped at a food and coffee gift shop. The Russian girl was interested in buying some white Penang coffee, famous to the island city. We tried a sample and bought a bag of individual servings of the coffee each. From there we went back to the car and the agent transferred us to a van. We then proceeded to drive around the city until the van was full and finally set off for Hat Yai on the first leg of my trip back to Koh Samui.

We reached the Pedang Besar border with Thailand after crossing the bridge from Penang to Butterville in just over 2 hours, including a stop for gas. At the checkpoint we got out of the van and walked a short distance to the Malaysian immigration officials. There we hand over our passports, were stamped out, and walked on up ahead to the waiting van. After everyone was back in the van we proceeded to drive another couple hundred meters before getting out again, this time to clear Thai immigration. Again, this was very easy and involved nothing more than handing your passport over to the official at the window for inspection, being stamped in, and walking over to the other side to await the other people on the van.

Thai immigration checkpoint

New Thai immigration checkpoint due to be opened sometime soon?

From the crossing in Pedang Besar, we drove about an hour to the agency office in Hat Yai where everybody climbed out. For the passengers going to Koh Taio, Phangan, and Samui, we had to wait a couple hours for the next van. Feeling hungry I went and found a small local restaurant for dinner, chatting with other passengers on the trip. Unfortunately the delay in rounding everyone up in Penang for the van and the hours of waiting in Hat Yai meant the chance to catch the last ferry back was long gone. It was going to be a long night.

The van ride to Donsak pier was uneventful and I managed to get some sleep on the bumpy ride over. I was given the impression by the agent that we would be sleeping in the van until the first ferry came at 5am but that turned out to be false. We were practically dumped out of the van and told to wait until the morning. We arrived at 2am or so, that meant 3hours outside in the dark with none of the buildings open. Sleep was futile and I ended up chatting to a fellow Canadian who lives on Koh Phangan. When it was finally time to get on the boat I found a quiet spot and just slept.

Make sure you get on the right boat and not accidentally end up in Koh Phangan or Koh Tao!

Arriving in Lipa Noi at about 6:30am and still aching from a day of van rides and lack of sleep, I got a moto taxi back to Maenam. Safely home after traveling hundreds of miles involving a journey entailing cars, vans, ferries, and motorbikes, I was happy to crawl into bed and collapse, safe in the knowledge that I had obtained the education visa. Read more