DebConf 11 – Preparing and Traveling

Finally, I am in Banja Luka, Republic of Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina for DebConf11.

I and Thep prepared for this months ago, registering the conference, paying for the registration (for me), waiting for sponsorship (for Thep), getting air tickets (which is expensive ones), and getting our visa.

Talking about visa to BiH (Bosnia i Hercegovina / Bosnia and Herzegovina), there is no BiH consular office in Thailand. The nearest BiH consular office that could issue a visa for Thais is in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I was lucky that I have a staff in the international affairs office, KKU to help us processing the visa, but in the end we failed to get a visa on time.

In parallel, we contacted visa staff of DebConf11 for document issued for us to get visa on arrival just to secure our travel. They responded quickly and we finally got the document just a few day before 21 July, the day we planned to get off and travel to BiH.

On 21 July night, we checked in at the airline counter, the ground staff here did not allow us to get on board because the document we had were not issued from the government (it was issued by an NGO). So, we were grounded. I immediately e-mailed to DebConf11 visa staff to get the official doc, but that was the late afternoon in BiH, so we have to wait for the official document next day. Well, nothing else can be done. So, I went to a hotel near Suvarnabhumi airport for a night of waiting.

On 22, at the hotel, we waited for the document, and it was sent to us about 5 pm, we printed the document and jumped on the limo headed to the airport to get seat reservation. Unfortunately, the airline counter opened at 20:00. We went for a dinner to kill some time and at 8pm after the counter was on, we submit our official docs, and we got seats to Sarajevo .. Yay! :D

On 23, after 9+ hr of travel, we landed to transit at Istanbul, Turkey. We waited here for 6 hours for a connecting flight to Sarajevo. On 12:35 local time, we flied to Sarajevo. After landed, we head to get a visa. The counter was off, so we just went ahead to the passport control. The border police instructed us to get a visa, and asked for document. The border police opened the counter to issue our visa. We had to pay visa fee for 100KM each (about 50 Euro). The problem was that the exchange counter was closed. The border police, again, helped to get exchange at some shops in the airport. We could pay for our visa, and the visa issued. We passed the border and headed to the main bus station in town.

Here, we had to exchange money to KM for buying tickets. This can be done at the post office close to the bus station. After paying about 30KM for a seat, we were on a bus to Banja Luka. It is 210 km away, and took 5 hours by bus.

About 9pm, we arrived at Banja Luka, got a taxi to the hotel, put our luggages in our room then head for dinner (provided by DebConf). After that, we each cleaned up, and crashed on the bed .. ended our 24+ hours of traveling.

Next .. DebConf11 Debian Day!