Archive for December, 2010

My Trip To Thailand Is Cancelled Due To Snow At Heathrow

Monday December 20th, 2010.

I was due to travel to Thailand yesterday, Sunday 19th December 2010, to decide together with my wife, Kanyah, on a builder and hopefully sign up a contract to get our retirement house built.

Perhaps you can imaging my frustration – even anger – at having my flight cancelled due to the snow at Heathrow. Knowing that this time of year is very busy I booked my flight in July! What are the odds of the airport being closed on the very day I wanted to fly?

Eva Air Triumph On Zero Grade Customer Services

I was booked on Eval Air flight BR68. I knew about the snow and weather situation at Heathrow after a friend warned me about it so I visited the Eva and the Heathrow airport websites where I eventually found that the flight was cancelled – after making my way halfway to Heathrow,

They gave a telephone number to call and despite calling it constantly, yes, you’ve guessed, no reply.

I also subscribed to both the Eva “Flying Messenger” service and the Heathrow airport equivalent both of which promise to send texts to your mobile giving the status of your flight. Well I did get a text from Eva “Your flight BR68 has  been cancelled”. Nothing else, except for the Eva Air website address which I’m not going to do them the honour of posting here.

I’m sick and tired of this no information situation. Eva have my phone number and my email address. How difficult would it be for them to send an email to everybody on their flight list and let us know what is going on? No. They are too busy running their business. Get todays flights out and let’s hope that all yesterday’s would-be travellers ask for a refund.

Talking of which, it’s not just the flight and ‘holiday’ I have lost, I also pre-booked my train tickets including the Heathrow Express ticket from London to Heathrow. All of which I will lose.

Anyway, here is a movie to keep you amused…

Water Utility Supply Is Now Connected To Our Land In Pakchong

I just today heard from Kanyah in Pakchong (Pak Chong as some search engines call it) that she has managed to get a water supply to our land ready for the construction of our retirement house to start. The water connection cost 2,000 Baht.

She tells me that the electricity company will not connect the electrical power until we have a builder ready to start building the house.

I still have a few unanswered questions regarding the status of the land and our house build project but when I call Kanyah she tells me to wait until I go out there so that we can discuss.

Apart from the situation with builders and the builders offers to erect the house I still don’t know if she has received the Building Permit.

All will be revealed soon.

Thai Non Immigration Visa – Exactly How Not To Get Your Mutiple Journey “O” Non Immigration Visa From The Thai Embassy in UK

A true episode at the Thai Embassy in London on Wednesday December 8th, 2010.

Every day I hope that I am moving closer to my dream of retiring in Thailand.

But more frequently something happens that questions my idea to the core. Why bother?

Sometimes it seems that the whole Thai system has been created to baffle and hinder the foreigner from achieving anything inn Thailand. Well it probably has – hence the difficult laws about owning land and obtaining visas etc. But let’s get straight to the point now, and that is…

… Do Your Homework And Get Your Paperwork Ready Before Applying For A Thai Non Immigration Visa At The Thai Embassy In London

On the page Requirements For Thai Visas I explained what you need to get a Multiple (Non Immigration) Visa from the Royal Thai Consulate in Birmingham, UK.

It was a breeze. All you needed were the application forms, your passport, marriage certificate (married to Thai spouse), two photographs and the fee. The visa was given to me in a matter of minutes and there was no waiting time to hand over my application.

What a contrast with my recent experience at the Thai Embassy in London when I abandoned any attempt to get my Non Immigration visa for my forthcoming trip to Thailand.

Here is my story…

How (Not To) Obtain A Thai Multiple Re-entry (Non Immigration) Visa At The Thai Embassy In London

I’m going to Pakchong in Thailand on 19th December 2010 to meet my wife and to decide on the next steps to take towards getting our retirement house built in Thailand and that is (maybe but not sure) to sign a contract with a Thai builder to construct the house at Pakchong (Pak Chong).

I also want to open a Thai bank account to handle my finances in Thailand. There are a number of reasons I want to do this.

  • First, the house build will cost a lot of money (millions of Baht) and when I transfer the money from UK to Thailand I will be more comfortable if the money is sitting my bank account. (As opposed to my wife’s bank account).
  • Secondly, from the bank if I transfer more than $20,000 to Thailand and get the right Form (I think it’s called a Foreign Exchange Transfer Form) I can repatriate the money back home later if I need to. This is important for me because if my wife dies before me I might want to pull up sticks in Thailand, realise all my assets and return to the UK.
  • Thirdly, I want to pay the builder myself, not through my wife. This will (may!) mean that the house belongs to me and not to my wife which would be the case (as I understand it) under Thai law.

Having read the above I can understand that you might think I’m a selfish old git, wanting to keep as much as possible in my own name, rather than my wife’s. But all I’m doing is planning for the possibility that my wife may die before me and in those circumstances I may want to return to the UK with as much as my investment in Thailand as possible. On the other hand, if everything is in my wife’s name and she dies, to whom does everything (land, house) belong and will I be permitted to still live there if I want to?

By way of explanation, this happened to me once before when I was married to a woman from Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands. I went out to work for a few weeks in Nigeria and on my return she had left me for another guy. Now in Guernsey, they have a two-tier housing market, one classification for the locals and another for “non Guernsey nationals”. We were living in ‘Local Market’ accommodation and after my wife left me I was no longer permitted to live there and was evicted. So perhaps that’s why I’m sensitive on the subject.

Back to the plot. I went to the Thai Embassy in London to get my Thai non immigration multiple re-entry visa. I took along the same documents that I had used to get my previous Thai non immigration multiple re-entry visa at the Royal Thai Consulate in Birmingham. I did check with the London Thai Embassy website to make sure that if there were any changes to the application requirements then I could get the additional documents. As it happened the requirements seemed to be the same.

I was wrong!

The Thai Embassy In London Need More Documents To Apply For A Thai Non Immigration Visa That Did The Royal Thai Consulate In Birmingham!

I mentioned that I was in and out of the Royal Thai Consulate In Birmingham with my Thai non immigration multiple re-entry visa I under an hour.

Well, I was in and out of the Thai Embassy in London but without my visa!

What a disappointment!

Also I mentioned that at the Royal Thai Consulate In Birmingham there was no queue to submit your application. What a contrast to the Thai Embassy in London! The Thai Embassy in London (visa and passport section) is in a tiny basement and it was jam packed with Thai and farangs alike. (I guess that just before Christmas and the new year is a very busy time).

They had ticket systems in place, though, so there was some order to what initially looked like mayhem. The blue tickets are for foreigner visa applications. I was in the Embassy at 1050 and pulled ticket No. 67, the current ticket in process being No. 54. I thought I was in for a long wait…

Disappointment No. 2.

As I always seem to do in these circumstances I started to time how long it took to process each ticket and then estimate how long I would have to wait. (Sorry, I am an engineer, and engineers do these kind of things!) Anyway it seemed that the average time to process each ticket was around three minutes and I calculated that I would have to wait about 40 minutes. And so it turned out to be.

My ticket was flashed up and I confidently handed all my papers over.

I had heard the lady dealing with the applications telling applicants to return on Monday (today is Wednesday) to collect their visas (and passports). Contrast that with the service at the Royal Thai Consulate In Birmingham where your visa is granted on the spot!

That was disappointment No. 3.

But it was soon to get worse…

“Do you have any identification for your wife, like a passport?” the lady asks. “Well, no I replied. My wife is in Thailand”. Thinks ‘They never asked for that at the Royal Thai Consulate In Birmingham and it isn’t called for on the Thai Embassy in London website’.

“Or Thai house papers?” she continues… “I have a photocopy at home, is that OK?” I reply thinking ‘that’s blown it I won’t be at home until next weekend’. “Yes” she said and then she threw me into utter confusion with a barrage of questions… “Are you retired? You are only going to Thailand for two weeks? Do you have your bank statements?”

She must have thought I was applying for a retirement visa.

I answered in the negative to all those questions, picked up my application forms and passport, thanked the lady and headed off.

I should mention that just before that at 1135 another Thai lady came into the basement and shouted above the background chatter (there must have been 30+ people in that tiny room) to the effect of ‘form a line to collect Thai visas’. She was asking foreigners who were there to collect their passports with their Thai visas. Well, they tried to form a line, but there simply wasn’t room. There was no spare standing space left. ‘At least’ I thought to myself, ‘I know the system for collecting your passport now’.

On the way back to work (I work in London and had taken an hour off to get my visa) I did some calculations. (Engineer, you see!). I was trying to work out if I could get the Thai non immigration multiple re-entry visa next week by applying on Monday and perhaps collecting it on Thursday. It would be a tough call given that I am under pressure at work to finish certain things off before I go on leave hence it would not easily be able to get much time off to visit the Thai Embassy in London.

From what I had read on various forums and on the British Embassy In Thailand website, to open a Thai bank account, I need a Residency Letter from the British Embassy confirming my address in Thailand. The website indicates that this is easy to obtain, the application is made one day and the letter can be collected the next day.

Hang on. that’s two days in Bangkok. Add two days to apply for the bank account and that’s four days. I’ll only be in Thailand for twelve days on my next trip. That’s 30% of my time to try to open a bank account.

It was at this stage that I felt my goal of opening a Thai bank account slipping away from me. Almost in an instant I decided to give up on the idea for now. I would simply get a tourist visa at Bangkok airport when I arrived.

Strange how it’s always difficult to achieve anything related to Thailand.

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