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Update  September, 2019


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Grapevine - September 20, 2019 - October 03, 2019

Transport off the Rails

It’s a great idea to have an electric rail loop around Second and Beach roads and onward to the Jomtien beach area. Other excellent matters are the redevelopment of Bali Hai pier and the hi-speed rail link from Bangkok to U-Tapao. But wait a moment. None of these with their sky rocket costs have been formally approved yet by the government.

TM 30 Woes

Looks like it’s here to stay! Immigration top brass say it’s very important to know where those pesky foreigners are living. It is not well known that Cambodia has just the same regulation. Householders and hotels are supposed to report all arriving guests within 24 hours of arrival. What happens if they don’t? Not too much at the moment.

Retire to Cambodia

The one year retirement visa in Cambodia with multiple re-entries will set you back around US$300 or thereabouts, depending which agent you use. One guy told us he got one last year without any paperwork at all – no proof of address and no bank statements. However, this year things have toughened up considerably. He had to provide a thumb print.

Sleepy Border

A reader recently arrived in Thailand after crossing a Myanmar border post. But he failed to have his passport stamped either because he was waved through (unlikely) or because the officer was taking a nap. What happens now? You can’t leave the country without an entry stamp, so the luckless fellow has to return to the said border post which is 200 miles from Pattaya. Ugh!

The Czar and Liverpool

An unfortunate misprint on the Thai disc cover of the new Netflix mini-series “The Last Czars”. The wording has come out as “The Last Zcars”. Older Brits will remember that Zcars was a 1960s TV series about the police in Kirkby, a suburb of Liverpool. The Netflix series has some other unfortunate errors. There’s a photograph of Moscow’s Red Square in 1905 which clearly shows Lenin’s completed tomb. But he died in 1924.

Not a Drop to Drink

In case you are wondering why so many Pattaya main roads have recently suffered from single lane traffic, or no lanes at all, you can blame the water. City Hall apparently received a government grant, time-limited as usual, to install new water pipes across parts of the downtown area. Following so quickly on the earlier road chaos to bury overhead wires, the last thing expected was another dose.

Family Visa Query

A British farang, aged 38, is asking what long visa he can obtain as he is the father of a Thai baby but he’s not married to the Thai mother. He can apply for a non-immigrant “O” family visa based on his responsibilities to the baby. It is annually renewable. He asks if this visa comes automatically with a work permit as he needs to earn cash to cover his commitments. Sadly, no. To obtain a work permit he would need to be offered a job or to make an investment in a company.

British Embassy Change

Brits can now avoid visiting their embassy in Bangkok if they want a certified copy of their passport or UK driving licence. The website makes clear this service is now available by post for those who prefer it. The cost is 25 pounds plus a 2 pounds fee for return of documents by EMS. Given the long wait for a time slot at the embassy consular office, this latest discretion is likely to be welcomed. But you still need to book an appointment to swear an oath, for example if you want to marry in Thailand.

Thoughts for the Week

A lot of gardening to do in late summer? “Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration,” (Lou Erickson). A man should never plant a garden larger than his wife can take care of,” (T.S. Elliot). “My green thumb was the result of mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view,” (Fred Ale).


September 06, 2019 - September 19, 2019

Puffs Banned

The new law evidently banning smoking in your own home came in last month. But it is not exactly crystal clear. It doesn’t actually bite until November and does not prescribe any penalties, except for a vague warning to put offenders on a training course. Most likely, the legislation is at best a plea for smokers not to inflict smoke misery on those who co-habit with them. More like a travel advisory than a no-smoking charter.

Fishy Problem

Hundreds of millions of Asians depend on the fish in the South China Sea for their protein. But climate change and over-fishing mean that stocks are being consumed at a much faster rate than they can be replenished naturally. Meanwhile, China claims 90 percent of the important waterway as its own and is busily arming the artificial islands she has built there. Let’s hope a code of conduct is soon agreed if only because 30 percent of the world’s trade passes that way.

Premature Burial

A reluctant farang was persuaded by his wife to give to her the PIN number to his international bank account. “You never know when you will be called and there’s a long legal battle ahead for me when you do eventually shuffle off this mortal coil,” she affirmed. That was six months ago and a bankrupt and perfectly healthy farang is now staring a most frugal lifestyle in the face. No trace of the wife by the way. Nuff said.

Worse in Vietnam

The most unpopular immigration bureaucracy for tourists is without doubt the TM-30 reporting requirement of your address 24 hours after entering the Kingdom. But is it better or worse elsewhere? The local paradise is Cambodia where nobody seems interested in your location after you fill in the initial visa form at the airport. However, we hear that Vietnam is very keen to know any changes in address of foreigners and even restricts your right to stay in a friend’s house. But is it enforced?

Marine Vehicles

If you ever wondered what happens to those old cars which can’t be sold and end up parked permanently on side roads, apparently they are sometimes towed away and then dumped in the sea to serve as fish-friendly coral reefs. At any rate, that is what a government spokesperson said recently. Let’s hope somebody remembers to wind down the windows before the submerging takes place.

UK Visa Query

A reader asks if there are any exceptions to the rule requiring the UK sponsor to have a minimum income of 18,600 pounds per annum if the Thai partner is hoping to emigrate on a settlement visa. Actually, there are a couple. The Thai partner’s income or bank balance (if any) can count and can supplement the UK sponsor - although the detailed rules are complex. Another exception is when the sponsor is in receipt of extra state income, for example for disablement, which permit some flexibility of interpretation.

Prostitution Again

Everyone keeps harping on about how outdated the country’s prostitution laws are. A whole host of overlapping laws are to blame, starting with the entertainments venue act of 1960 which outlawed commercial sex. Amongst suggestions now being floated are civil rights to protect those on the game and even an idea to prosecute the customers and not the service providers. The debate goes on. What will happen? Answers on a postcard please.

Now Bedridden

The latest news on the illness front is that many Thai hospitals are increasing massively the number of ICU beds for those with a very serious medical problem. The surprise is that the figures for Bangkok show that people from Cambodia and Myanmar account for 30 percent of all ICU foreign patients, to be followed by Middle East nationals. Apparently 52 percent of all ICU beds are taken by Thais whilst 48 percent of patients are foreign.

Thoughts for the Week

Let’s muse what US presidents have said. “When the president does it, then it’s not illegal,” (Richard Nixon). “I guess I just proved that anybody in America can be president,” (Gerald Ford). “The day after I became president, I had my high school grades classified top secret,” (Ronald Reagan). “I have a lot of strong opinions but that doesn’t mean I always agree with them,” (George Bush Snr).



HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Grapevine - September 20, 2019 - October 03, 2019

Grapevine - September 06, 2019 - September 19, 2019