Family Money: Get real about real estate - Part 1
Managing director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd.
In the past several months, real estate property has
been the buzzword in the financial trade papers, and on the lips of almost
every client who’s come to see me.
Indeed, UK property has performed especially well in
the past 12 months, and funds invested in property - both in UK and
internationally - have also performed well.
An information sheet recently sent to me by a US
investment group trumpeted record property starts in the US - despite the
general malaise in the stock market; ads appear everywhere for
rent-producing residential and commercial properties in UK. What a
wonderful alternative bandwagon when it’s a roller-coaster ride in the
I admit I waxed enthusiastic last year about property
and Traded Endowment Policies funds (‘TEPs’): the market was bullish,
and the return enticing - especially compared with equities and cash!
But property prices in UK are starting to peak, and
remind me of the situation in 1987-88 (if you can cast your memory back
that far) when a similar property bubble had developed in the UK - and
burst spectacularly the following year.
Several clients have seen the writing on the wall and
wisely (in my opinion) sold their UK properties while the opportunity
presented itself, and moved the proceeds offshore into one or another
safe-haven investments which will not be affected by a possible property
slump, or even the continuing fragile geopolitical situation.
What is my "best advice" based on past
experience and gut feeling? Hold onto property funds for the meantime,
since these can be switched into bonds, for example, at a moment’s
notice if the property market goes sour.
But as to buying a house in UK at this time? Unless you
are returning there permanently and have found the dream home you intend
to retire into, I would not advocate buying bricks and mortar at this
time: the prices are too high.
On the other hand, if you are considering selling a
property, now may indeed be a very good time - just before the market
Despite my having written before (June 2001) on the
subject of buying/owning real estate in Thailand, in recent weeks I have
again received several enquiries about buying and owning property here, so
perhaps it’s time we revisited this thorny topic.
The enquiries I receive have mostly been from
middle-aged expatriates who have decided to settle in Thailand with the
girl of their dreams that they met last month or the month before, who
loves him so much that she’s leaving her place of work polishing a pole
in Soi 8 or Pattayaland Soi 2 to settle down in the nice little house she’s
found for them somewhere along Jomtien Beach.
Typically, the enquirer wants to find out why the
property cannot be held in his own name, and if it’s okay to put it in
his girlfriend’s name.
A few potential buyers - mostly ones who have not yet
taken the step to move here, but are still "looking into things"
from afar - are so naïve that they even ask how they can obtain a
mortgage on the property. "Oh dear," I think when I receive
these enquiries, "Not another one!"
At the height of the currency crisis in 1997, Thailand
agreed with the IMF to liberalise its laws with regard to foreigners
owning real estate in Thailand.
The matter was debated in parliament and the press at
great length, and the usual jingoistic (some would say xenophobic)
statements were aired that if the protectionist laws were amended, we
greedy farangs would sweep in and buy up all the land in Thailand and
exploit the poor innocent Thais in our typical colonialist fashion.
(I wonder why the fact that Thais or anyone else with
money can buy any amount of landed property in the UK or USA is never
aired as a counter-argument, and neither the British nor Americans seem
terribly worried that their country is going to be taken over by
colonising Asians - but that perhaps is another topic for another day.)
Some prospective buyers have heard that the law which
used to prohibit Thai spouses from owning property once they married a
farang had been changed, and wanted confirmation of this.
The short answer to this is: A foreigner may legally
purchase, together with his Thai wife, a house, land or property not
exceeding 1 rai which is duly purchased as marital property - that is, the
Parties are legally married and documented at the local Amphur.
The purchase must be jointly held and cannot be sold
without the other partner’s signature, nor can either force the other
out of residence without due compensation. The foreigner’s name will
never be on the actual Title Deed, but a Memorandum is attached to it
indicating his legal attachment to the owner.
A good time to buy?
Clients point out to me the amount of building going on
around Pattaya as indicative that the economy in Thailand is improving,
and now is a good time to "invest" in property in Thailand.
There is indeed a lot of building going on - but
sources tell me that the extensive property development along a certain
main thoroughfare is mostly owned by one family-owned commercial outfit
who are using their spare cash while prices and interest rates are low.
Looking further afield, there are plenty of properties
standing vacant, and a number of failed developments.
I am reliably informed that there are many more sellers
than buyers, which the ‘Mail Market’ pages of the Pattaya Mail would
tend to confirm, week after week.
I also hear a lot of grumbling from businesses which
rely on bumper business during High Season that the High Season just ended
was not good, and consumer spending generally is down. So where’s the
money coming from for these building projects? No-one seems to know.
(To be continued next week)
Personal Directions: Meaning and purpose ... thoughts to share
By Christina Dodd,
founder and managing director of Asia Training Associates
One of the greatest rewards of writing this column is that
it puts me in touch with a vast audience of like-minded people - people who
share a common thread of striving for performance excellence and people who
realize that human emotions are the greatest powers and guiding forces. To
this end I have developed a large correspondence base with readers who come
from a broad variety of locations and backgrounds. Some are bankers, some
lawyers, some housewives, some engineers or farmers, some teachers, some
entrepreneurs and ... well the list goes on and on!
From these newfound friends and colleagues I frequently
receive small quotes, thoughts and - like the following - essays, which, I
feel, should be shared amongst all of you.
Today I have the pleasure of submitting another of John and
Melody Andersons’ inspirational essays. I wish to thank Steven Atkins in
England for this contribution of John and Melody’s work and hope that in
turn this short piece inspires you in the same way that it did me.
If we are prepared to embrace and to find meaning in life,
then our life will have purpose and we can actively pursue our understanding
of that purpose to our own betterment and fulfillment.
One would have to say that unless life is truly worth
living and worth living wholeheartedly, then it is not worth living at
all. This is the kind of realization that an individual can run from all of
their life and as long as the knowledge of it remains unacknowledged, then the
individual can maintain a life of sorts, appropriate to maintaining an
identity, but lacking in honesty and in meaning.
Meaning is achieved in life through honesty and only
through honesty. Without honesty, meaning cannot truly manifest itself.
Without meaning, life is simply an arduous journey of uncertainty and pain to
which there seems no point. Not only that, but unless the individual is
willing to give themselves over to the acknowledgment of meaning they will be
plagued by unpleasantness and by powerlessness indefinitely.
A willingness to find meaning and to exercise trust in this
meaning enables the individual to become strong and to embrace greater and
greater strength. Meaning also ensures that no matter what the situation, the
individual can find strength in that situation and retain their personal
power, even when the situation seems to suggest tragedy or disaster. Being
able to feel personal power in life depends on the willingness to find meaning
in all things. And indeed, finding meaning depends on feeling a sense of personal
One cannot find meaning in life yet reflect powerlessness.
As soon as one gives in to powerlessness, the individual becomes a victim of
life and its cruel lessons, doomed to ride the uncertain roller coaster of
change and emotion, forever pursued by hurt, disappointment and fear. One may
find a sort of meaning in life without personal power, say if one hands the
responsibility for what happens to an outside force, or if one acknowledges
meaning intellectually, while denying it emotionally. Both negate true meaning
completely and starve the individual of the power to change what occurs and to
prosper from the situations that are encountered in life.
Living a life to which there is no point throws the
individual on the mercy of chance and randomness and indeed surrenders the
individual to the power of accident. Accident and blame are destructive
in their implications, for each determines that the individual is completely
without the power to change things. Readily applying meaning to a situation
arms the individual with the power to ascertain what is to be gained and to
then set about the achievement of the purpose. Purpose and meaning are subtly
different but inextricably linked.
Purpose doesn’t exist without meaning and vice versa. Purpose
is more strongly linked with action. Meaning is more closely
aligned with appreciation. We find appreciation in a situation, and we
find meaning. We identity purpose in a situation and we identify a direction
in which to head. Deny both and we flounder our way through life, the victim
of all that is thrown in our path.
As with much in life, neither purpose, nor meaning can be
created or made manifest without the recognition of contrasting values.
Without an awareness of the value of the absence of these things, or the
knowledge of a vision, the individual cannot commit to a decision between one
option and another. In other words, if there is no value for purpose and
meaning in life and if instead, there is more value in powerlessness and
blame, until the individual is willing to acknowledge existing values, nothing
It is the acknowledgment of existing values and moreover,
the preparedness to move on from this point that determines whether an
individual can advance and make more of life. Without a willingness to
acknowledge value in the status quo, and a preparedness to embrace other
greater options, there is no opportunity for choice and without choice, one
must be satisfied with the norm - one must be satisfied with living a life
without purpose and without meaning.
A realization of value and a commitment to the value of
living a meaningful life provides a constant source of inspiration for wanting
and having more. It allows the individual to achieve in greater and greater
degrees, the ultimate end being a direction of quality and enhancement in
every area of life.
This is, I feel, a powerful and very valuable article and I
hope that you also feel the same. Thank you once again to Steven Atkins and to
John and Melody Anderson for their insights.
The thoughts expressed by John and Melody are part of the
program subjects that we use. Our goal is to build on the positive and
extinguish the negative. This is the only way to approach life and to
therefore have Meaning and Purpose.
If you wish to talk further on matters of personal and self
development, or on matters that concern your business, the effectiveness and
needs of your staff, then please contact me at Asia Training Associates
- email: christina. [email protected]
For details on our programs and Asia Training Associates,
please visit our website: www.asiatrainingassociates.com
Until next time ... Have a Great Week!
The Doctor's Consultation by Dr. Iain
Corness: Well I’ll be plasty’d! The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Cosmetic Surgery
by Dr. Iain Corness
Many women, and a significant number of men, have
contemplated plastic (cosmetic) surgery. Right from the outset, let me state
that mucking around with your face and body should only be done by experts in
the field. An "expert" is a doctor who has specialist qualifications
in plastic and reconstructive surgery and does nothing but that type of work
every day, not the clinic on the corner that does everything from coughs and
sneezes and venereal diseases and the odd boob job as well! So let us have a
look at what can be done, what it is called and how long it takes.
Rhinoplasty is functional re-modelling of the nose and is
carried out to correct malformations and developmental abnormalities. These
procedures can usually be done under local anaesthetic, in most instances, and
will take 1 to 11/2 hours in surgery. The important word here is ‘functional’.
It is no good having a super looking nose that you can’t breathe through!
Blepharoplasty is excision of superfluous skin from the
upper or lower eye lids. This can be done under local anaesthesia with surgery
taking around one hour.
Face Lifts. There are many types of this (depending on how
far your face has fallen)! It can range from the full Face Lift to just
removal of "Crow’s Feet" for example. Major procedures can take up
to 5 hours in surgery and require a general anaesthetic and an inpatient stay
of up to 4 days. Minor procedures are done under local and you may be able to
return home on the same day. Correction of acne scars by Laser Dermabrasion is
included in this list.
Lip Surgery, both thickening or thinning of protruberant
lips can be done as an out-patient procedure. This takes up to 2 hours and is
performed under local anaesthesia.
Mammoplasty - increasing or decreasing the size of the
breasts can take up to 4 hours in surgery and requires general anaesthesia and
an in-patient stay of up to 4 days. These days, saline implants are generally
used, though the ‘dangers’ with silicone implants were more imagined than
real. Minor procedures to reduce the size of areolae or nipples can be done
under local and an in-patient stay is not necessary. For many women these
operations can give them a new lease on life, ending many years of
embarrassment and psychological trauma.
Liposuction. This is a relatively new form of cosmetic
surgery where fat cells are "sucked" away from the tissues under the
skin and requires general anaesthesia and an in-patient stay of one night.
Autologous fat injections. In these procedures, the patient’s
own fat cells are used to rectify problem areas where lack of sub-cutaneous
tissue produces "sagging" or premature aging. Local anaesthesia is
possible for most regions (cheeks, forehead, temples, chin) but major
procedures around the hips require general anaesthesia and an inpatient stay
for up to 2 days.
Surgical excision of fatty apron or scars. This is not as
easy as it may sound and normally requires general anaesthesia and an
in-patient stay of up to 4 days.
Punch graft hair transplants. This is a lengthy procedure
(5 hours) but is carried out under local anaesthesia. 500 punch grafts will
fill in an area 9 cm x 9 cm and a 2 day spell as an in-patient is necessary.
So there you are - now you know what to ask for - but
please do ask the specialists in the field.
Have you noticed all the "work" that has been
done in our cities recently? I move around a lot with my job and the
traffic is just hopeless everywhere in Thailand these days, not just in
Bangkok. In Chiang Mai there appears to be endless work going on tearing
up the footpaths and putting them back down again. Then tear them up
again, and so on. In Pattaya they are not happy with just the footpaths,
they tear up the whole road, lay concrete, produce instant traffic jams
and then move on to the next road. In Jomtien they tore up the footpath,
laid bricks, then built another pavement and then laid another concrete
pathway as well and then erected ornamental lights every five metres. Not
satisfied with that, they then put in more lights, making more traffic
snarls. Is this part of a national plot, or just national madness?
Traffic Jam Johnny
Dear Traffic Jam Johnny,
I doubt if it is part of a national traffic scam or
an orchestrated plot, but it is one way to cut down the road toll.
Stationary cars can’t run over pedestrians. It also keeps the concrete
industry very healthy, and the road construction business is having a boom
time. Not that anyone in the decision making offices have any interests in
road construction, bricks, electric light poles or concrete. I did inquire
about the two types of lights along Jomtien Beach for you - seems the
first ones blew too many light globes. You might have to find an
alternative transport system. Have you considered investing in a
Just as I was preparing to put brush to canvas of your
imaginary likeness based on the sketch I sent you, I suddenly had a flash
- what if my imaginary Hillary was nothing like the real one? I decided
then to do a few contrasting alternative Hillary’s of which the examples
are enclosed. Of course, I would never dream of asking you for clues to
your mystery identity but must use my creative powers to construct a
Hillary based on your witty and eloquent responses to your letters. The
only personal info that I am aware of - that you have given out - is the
champagne and chocolate business. We don’t know if you like Frisbee,
mountain bikes, tofu and vegetables; and I must agree you probably would
not have as much reader input if you craved granola bars and carrot juice
instead. Please feel free to use any of the pictures of my art in your
column, or in your upcoming book, of which I would like X number of
Dear Dickens 44,
Thank you again for the lovely sketches, wondering
which one is me. But Petal, not number 4, Kevin the half-wombat! From your
sketch I can’t even see what the other half of him looks like. Has Kevin
been impersonating me again? If he has, I’ll sue his ass off, you tell
him from me, Petal!
Now as far as my likes and dislikes are concerned
(and you are the first one to ever ask about my deep and innermost needs,
bless you) Frisbees - No, mountain bikes - No, tofu and vegetables - are
you kidding, granola bars and carrot juice - are you trying to poison me?
Stick with the champagne and chocolates, dear Dickens 44. What more does
one need in this life, other than perhaps someone who really
"cares" like you, Dickens 44.
Trying to be objective and look at the remaining
three sketches (the ones without that dreadful Kevin the half-wombat), I
must say I would prefer to be thought of as number 3, I just love that
Gallic chapeau, but please erase the tattoos as I do not have one mark on
my otherwise perfect body. Oh you are a one - you’ve got me talking
about my body already, and we hardly know each other! But please remember
that Hillary is as you imagine - and expectation always exceeds
realization. Except in the case of Kevin the half-wombat, disgusting
creature that he is. I think I’ll have to go and wash my hands after
just touching the sketch. Smelly horrible beast! If you’re going to go
for a half anything, a Minotaur would be much better.
Regarding the upcoming book - have you been peeking
over my shoulder, Dickens 44? Don’t deny everything and spoil our
relationship. When it is printed, I will personally autograph one copy
just for you. After you have purchased it of course. Agony aunts have to
live too, you know, and the champagne is getting expensive.
Camera Class: Wounded Cameras
When you fall over and cut your knee, you should know how to
render first aid. When you fall over and injure your camera, it’s about the
same. However, avoiding falling over is probably the most important lesson. It
is always better to have a fence at the top of the cliff, rather than an
ambulance at the bottom! So let’s begin by thinking about all the disasters,
how you can avoid them and what to do if the ultimate disaster does occur.
The first, and often the most common, is dropping the camera.
Cameras are very complex devices full of electronic trickery and mechanical
movements. The shutter on even the cheapest camera can open and close in 1/500th
of a second. It doesn’t take much to knock the delicate shutter around. The
camera is also a lightproof box, dropping it and distorting the case will soon
let light in.
So what should be done beforehand? First is to have a decent
padded camera bag. I recently purchased one which cost over 1000 baht - but it
will keep the camera safe in the situation of it falling out of the car or
slipping from the shoulder. Throw that silly leather case as far as you can, or
feed it to a giraffe.
Another important point - always loop the camera strap around
your neck. OK, so now you have the camera hanging on the strap around your neck,
what can go wrong here? Well the strap can slip or the eyelet rings can break,
and the whole lot hits the floor unless you have lightning reflexes. Answer?
Check and make sure that everything is correctly attached and not worn. Replace
So it did hit the floor, what now? Turn it on. Is it still
electrically OK? If no power, take the batteries out and then put them back in -
they may just be jolted out of position. Unscrew the lens and put it back on.
Look through the viewfinder - if it looks normal, then try to take several shots
at different shutter speeds and apertures and rush to the closest 1 hour
processor. Pray a lot. You may be lucky.
After dropping, the next disaster is water. Cameras are not
like children, you cannot "drown proof" them. They stay drowned. In
the rain you must take precautions. A plastic bag wrapped around the camera with
just the end of the lens poking through, and held on with rubber bands is the
way to "safe photography". Even then, as soon as possible you should
take the camera inside and dry the outside of the case thoroughly. Take the lens
off and dry carefully around the lens mount too, making sure you do not touch
the mirror. Take the batteries out and thoroughly dry the battery compartment
and the contacts. Batteries and moisture do not go well together.
Now we should think about the great shots you can get on
board speedboats and similar situations. Resist the temptation to take your good
camera - you can buy a waterproof Kodak for very little money and you can relax
with peace of mind. Or even one of the disposable ones. Do not take your good
So what do you do when you drop the whole lot in the drink?
If it is a modern electronic camera you have probably just lost your investment
- especially if it is salt water you drop it into. One camera technician’s
advice was, "Leave it there!" However, you can try flushing the camera
in running tap water for at least an hour, then drying it and taking it to the
repair shop. An audience with the Pope would be a good move as well.
Drowning the camera in fresh water is not quite so bad, but
you have to pull it apart as much as you can and then dry it out as thoroughly
as you can - a hair dryer set on "No Heat" can help, but again your
chances are slim.
The message is first aid is possible, but prevention is much better!
Recipes from Rattana: Tuna Cheese Stuffed Potatoes
This is a favourite in most families and the stuffing is very
simple, being available from the supermarket shelves. Unfortunately this is not
a quick dish to prepare, as it requires some time in the oven, so is one that
you should plan for, rather than a spur of the moment decision.
Ingredients serves 4
Potatoes 4 large
Tinned Tuna 1 medium
Onion, finely chopped 1 medium
Green pepper 1 small
Cheddar cheese grated 50 gms
Milk 125 mls
Butter 2 tbspns
Salt 1 tbspn
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.
Wash potatoes well, rub all over with salt and bake for one
hour in the oven.
Drain the liquid from the tuna and mash with a fork.
Remove potatoes from oven and cut into halves. With a spoon,
carefully scoop out the majority of the potato, leaving the skins intact. Mash
the scooped potato with milk and butter, stir in the seafood, onion and pepper
and return to the potato skins.
Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, then sprinkle
the cheese over the tops and bake on high until cheese melts.
Wine Column: Katnook: Fermenting for flavours
By Ranjith Chandrasiri
If you’ve ever had the chance to taste wine (grape
juice) before it has been fermented, you know it doesn’t taste anything
like wine. It tastes like, well, grape juice. So where do all those fruit,
spice, vanilla and other flavours come from? Do winemakers put them in? Can
they actually add different flavours to make wine taste a certain way?
Cruse (right), the owner and general manager of prestigious Château D’Issan
in Bordeaux recently met with Ranjith in Margaux to talk about flavours of
First, let’s look at fruit flavours in wine. If
winemakers don’t add other fruits to wine (and they don’t), then where
do these fruit flavours come from?
A (wine) grape is a unique fruit in that it contains
natural chemical compounds that are also found in other fruits and
vegetables. Fermentation, a simple chemical reaction, releases these
compounds, so we smell and taste these same aromas and flavours in the
finished wine. For example, the strong black pepper aroma and flavour of
California zinfandel (red, of course) comes from the same compound that
gives black pepper its spicy kick. And the tangy apple flavour found in most
chardonnays comes primarily from malic acid, the tart acid found in apples.
Everything that a winemaker does in producing his wine
affects the taste of the wine in one way or another. The taste of the wine
involves the wine’s aroma, body, texture, length and so on and not just
Producing wine actually involves two separate steps: the
growing of the grapes, called viticulture and the making of the wine, called
vinification. Sometimes both steps are performed by the same company, as
with estate bottled wines, and sometimes the two steps are completely
separate. Some large wineries, for example, contract with hundreds of grape
growers. These growers don’t make wine; they just grow grapes and sell
their grapes to whatever the wine company that offers them the highest
The vinification end of wine producing falls into two
parts: fermentation - the period when the grape juice turns into wine and
maturation - the period following fermentation when the wine settles down,
smoothes its rough edges and gets ready to meet the world. Depending on the
type of wine being made, the whole process could take up to three months or
a few years.
Once the juice has been pressed from the grape,
winemakers place it in a fermentation container (stainless steel tank,
barrel, etc.). At this point they can either let the wild yeast (that came
in on the grapes) do the fermentation or they can add cultured yeast.
Different yeast strains create different flavours in wine. In chardonnay,
for example, one strain may produce more tropical fruit flavours while
another may impart more citrusy flavours. So winemakers can choose a
cultured yeast strain that gives them the flavour profiles they want in the
finished wine. Or they can let Mother Nature do her thing and work with the
flavours that she comes up with.
Secondary fermentation, also called malolactic
fermentation (ML), usually produces flavours of butter and/or butterscotch.
To make ML happen, the winemaker adds a strain of lactic bacteria to the
wine, which converts the harsher malic acid - the main acid in apples to
lactic acid - the acid found in dairy products. So, it’s basically a
conversion of a tart acid to a soft, creamy acid. A chemical by-product of
this process is diacetyl, the component of butter that makes it smell and
taste like butter. So, if the winemakers want a softer wine with buttery
characteristics - a chardonnay, for example - they put the wine through
Once fermentation is over and the sugar has turned into
alcohol and other by-products, the yeast cells die (their food source is
gone) or become dormant and fall to the bottom of the barrel. When the white
wines were left on their yeast sediment called lees, for an extended period
of time, pleasant yeasty, pastry-like flavours develop in the wine.
Oak barrels, depending on their age, oak type and toast
level, contribute certain flavours to the wine. For example, oak can impart
clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, caramel, chocolate, coffee, vanilla and, of course,
oak flavours. So winemakers will do what they call barrel trials to
determine which type of oak barrels can best produce the flavours they want
in their finished wine.
Barrel fermented or barrel aged?
The term barrel-fermented means that the unfermented
juice went into barrels (almost always oak) and changed into wine there. The
term barrel-aged usually means that the already fermented wine went into
barrels and stayed there for a maturation period of a few months or a couple
of years. Barrel fermentation applies mainly to white wines and here is why
you might care to know whether a white wine is barrel-fermented or just
barrel-aged. Wines that were fermented in barrels actually end up tasting
less oaky than wines that were simply aged in barrels, even though they
might have spent more time in oak.
Knowing how and where the flavours come from can help you
understand why you might like a particular wine and it can even influence
your wine buying decisions.
Ranjith Chandrasiri is the resident manager of Royal
Cliff Grand and President of the Royal Cliff Wine Club, Royal Cliff Beach
Resort, Pattaya, Thailand. Email: [email protected] or [email protected]
Website: http://www.royal cliff.com/rcwineclub.htm
Ask your local US Consul
How can I get a job at the Consulate?
- In need of beer money, of course!
I suspect there are easier ways to achieve your goals.
Like high-wire diving, for example. Or shark wrangling. Ever consider a
career in shark wrangling?
Of course, I’m kidding, mostly. Working at the
Consulate can be supremely fulfilling and sublimely inspiring. And I don’t
say that because I’m contractually obligated to do so, although I’m
pretty sure that I am.
The problem is, despite the occasional apparent public
perception that we have an army of workers whose job it is to answer the
phone, and another phalanx dedicated solely to the recovery of errant social
security checks, the truth is that we’re a very small operation up here.
How small? I’d tell you, but then I’d have to (etc., etc.)...so just
trust me. And, of course, Consulate jobs are SO good that people don’t
give them up easily or often (or something like that). In any event,
openings are rare.
But, assuming you’ve spotted a vacancy - and, as luck
would have it, there’s one to be spotted in the Chiang Mai News right now
- the next question is, where does your passport say you’re from? Certain
jobs, such as managerial/officer positions, White Chedi maintenance, etc.,
can only be held by U.S. citizens.
If you’re interested in one of those types of jobs -
and you’d have to be really interested - the application procedure
involves joining the Foreign Service, which, in turn, involves a year-long
in-depth process, with, ultimately, a minuscule chance of being assigned to
Chiang Mai and a very large chance of being assigned to Mexico City. If your
need for beer money is such that it would drive you to contemplate sitting
behind a desk in Moldova two years from now, then you just might be Foreign
Service material! No, that’s not how I meant to end that sentence. What I
was going to say is that you can get the whole scoop, and even sign up for
the next entrance exam (to be held in April, 2004) at http://careers.state.gov
Most of the other jobs, the more specialized ones (such
as the current vacancy, for a media relations person), are open to both Thai
and U.S. citizens, but be warned that each listing generates as many as a
hundred applications. Be realistic about your qualifications, review the
instructions carefully, and put together the best package that you can.
You didn’t ask, though people do, about volunteering or
interning at the Consulate or Embassy. The short answer is that we wish this
were possible, but security regulations preclude it.
There IS an internship program administered by the
Department, geared towards students, and information is available on the
careers.state.gov page, under the "student programs" link. Note
that with these programs too, it isn’t possible to apply only for a
particular geographic location. For college students who want to get a
career taste, though, these programs are excellent, and also a good way to
acquire the necessary skills and confidence for taking the entrance exam.
Closer to home, U.S. citizens are always invited to
become Chiang Mai "wardens" - the unfortunate name given to the
selfless folks who work with the consular section in getting information to
(and from) the broader community. The position will net you only merit,
however - no beer money involved.
Perhaps in the next life,
Have a question about visas, passports, travel to the
United States, services for American citizens, or related issues? Ask the
Consul. Send your e-mail to [email protected] with "ask the consul"
in the subject line. If your question isn’t selected, you can get an
answer by calling the Consulate at 053-252-629, from 8 to 4.