Archive for May, 2014

Phase 2 Complete And Just Two Weeks To Go Before Returning To Thailand

When the Letting Agent took the photos of our empty house in Nottingham, UK, yesterday (Friday 23 May 2014) for use in marketing the property for renting out it marked the end of Phase 2 of our visit here in UK.

Phase 1 being the packing and shipping of my model engineering workshop and all our belongings to Thailand, which were in a container on 7th My and bound for a ship to Thailand.

Here are some photos of our re-decorated and empty house in Nottingham, UK. The house has been emptied and re-decorated so that we can let it out and earn a small income whilst we live in our retirement home in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand, instead of the house absorbing large running costs even though we are not living there.

nottingham house empty

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Click SL to see a SLide show and FS to see Full-Screen sized photos:- 

What’s The point Of Showing You These Photos Of An Empty House?

It’s not to show off our beautiful house in Nottingham because it’s not beautiful at all.

It’s to show you how difficult it is to pack up all your belongings and ship them overseas to Thailand while you are still living in the same house which has (virtually) no furniture in it.

OK so there’s a sofa. But that’s only still here because it wouldn’t fit through the door when a charity company came to remove it. It’s actually quite convenient because I sleep on the sofa and Kanyah sleeps on the floor. (Thais can do that)

The day before we leave for Thailand the sofa will have to be cut up with a saw and posted out through the front door. When it came in to the house the front door was an old wooden one since replaced with a modern pvc door which is smaller than the old wooden door – hence the sofa won’t go out through it in one piece!

Basically all we have left to live with is the stuff we can carry in our bags on the plane back to Thailand.

The Price Of Owning An Empty House

When I was in Thailand for the last eight months on my trial retirement I was always concerned that we were spending a huge amount of money just maintaining our house in Nottingham, which of course we were not using. The sums of money we were paying out were huge compared to my single pension.

Here is a list of the annual and monthly bills I currently pay to keep the house running:-

Name Amount (£) Cost PA Cost Monthly Description
AA INSURANCE £4.49 £53.88 £4.49 Not Sure
BRITISH GAS SERVS £30.99 £371.88 £30.99 Homecare Insurance
CURRYS 3218064280 £8.00 £96.00 £8.00 Washing Machine
CURRYS 5002410821 £3.49 £41.88 £3.49 Fridge
NPOWER £49.00 £588.00 £49.00 Gas & Electric
SEVERN TRENT WATER £74.97 £149.94 £12.50 Water
COUNCIL TAX £837.91 £837.91 £69.83 Council Tax
HOUSE BUILDINGS INSURANCE £271.00 £271.00 £22.58 House Buildings Insurance
HOUSE CONTENTS INSURANCE £241.00 £241.00 £20.08 House Contents Insurance
TOTALS £2,139.49 £178.29

You can easily live on £178.29 (about 10,000 Thai Baht) a month in Thailand.

But what I’m planning is even better. The tenant will pay all those bills and I expect to receive £400 a month in rent. So we’ll be £578 (32,000 Thai Baht) a month better off. That’s around 1,000 Baht a day – you can’t spend that amount of money on daily living in Thailand.

Counting The Days To returning To Thailand

So now with the Phase 1 (packing and shipping) and Phase 2 (preparing the house for letting out) complete and exactly two weeks to go before we fly back to Thailand for permanent retirement and with not much to do except some admin jobs we really are counting the days until we leave.

Royal Thai Embassy London – “Alex, You Should Get Your Thai Passport In 6-8 Weeks”

Well that was the good news (except for the word “should” – I would have preferred the word “will” but more of that later. But getting to that good news point was fraught with misunderstandings and confusion. Let me explain by first describing how to get an appointment at the Royal Thai Embassy, Queen’s Gate, London.

If you are not up to speed with Alex’s passport story click here to read a short summary of the story so far.

How  To Get An Appointment For The Royal Thai Embassy In London.

According to Alex, you have to make an appointment before visiting the Embassy. I have been there many times to get visas and never made an appointment – you just turn up get a queue ticket and wait your turn.

A few weeks ago when Alex visited us here in Nottingham I mentioned to him that we ought to go to the Thai Embassy sooner rather than later in case we had to get some more documents and return at a later date since we (myself and his Mum Kanyah) were returning to thailand on 7th June.

So prompted Alex got out his smartphone and a few minutes later announced that the earliest appointment time would 1030 on Monday 19th June. He gave us the impression that he had been to the Thai Embassy website to get the appointment.

So on the due day (yesterday) we arrived at the Thai Embassy at 0900 and waited for Alex. As the time grew nearer to 1030 Kanyah started to fret about Alex being late. He arrived at 1015 and said “let’s go in”. “Well our appointment isn’t until 1030″ I said and Alex replied you have to get a ticket and wait in the queue.

I was expecting that Alex had arranged a specific appointment at a specific time.

Today as I am writing up this story I went to the Thai Embassy website to see how to get an appointment because I thought it would be good information for readers. Search as I might I could find no mention of needing an appointment nor any way to get one. instead all I found was this:- “No appointment is required” on the “How to apply for a Visa” page.

So has Alex been misleading us? And why would he fake appointment for two weeks time when he could have faked it much earlier to give us more time if something went wrong? And why did he chose 1030 instead of earlier? (They open at 0900)

I just asked Kanyah about this and she told me that the lady in the Thai Embassy asked her if we had an appointment and when Kanyah said yes the lady then checked the book and confirmed that yes we had an appointment for 1030 on 19th June at 1030. So I’m bewildered.

So, I go back to checking the Thai Embassy website and eventually find a page in English dealing with passport Applications. It’s very difficult to get to this page because when you click the “EN” (English language tab) the page flashes up and then promptly disappears. Try if you like here’s the link:-
Online passport booking
(Select “Passport Only” and “Over 20 years old”)

Anyway on that page (which I’ll include here as a pdf for you to download) it does say “Make an appointment by online reservation system”. Here is part of a screenshot from the website:-

Image of Online Booking Thai Passport Application

Online Booking Thai Passport Application

Search as I might I couldn’t  find the referred to “online reservation system” on the website.  Then I noticed a checkbox and acceptance button at the bottom of the web page:-

 

Acceptance check-box

Acceptance check-box

 

When I checked the box and clicked Accept I was taken to an Appointment Booking page:-

Image showing the Online Booking Thai Passport Application page

Online Booking Thai Passport Application

Voila! My apologies, Alex, for questioning you.

By the way when I tried to find when the next available appoint  might me it looks as if there are no appointments available until 2 July, by which time we would have returned to Thailand:-

Ima ge showing Thai Embassy Passport Application Appointment Calendar

Thai Embassy Passport Application Appointment Calendar

Documents Required To Apply For A Thai Passport At The Royal Thai Embassy, London

It is only now, as I am writing this Post that I come to understand the requirements for Alex to get his thai Passport at the Thai Embassy. On the day (yesterday) I didn’t.

Here is a screenshot of the page showing the actual requirements. Note that I have marked certain sections which I’ll talk bout in more detail in a minute:-

Image showing Requirements to Apply For A Thai Passport

Requirements to Apply For A Thai Passport

Now let’s examine the annotated text using the numbers I have entered in red colour.

1 “Parents are required to accompany to the applicant to the embassy.”

From this requirement alone it’s clear why the Thai Embassy wouldn’t entertain Alex’s previous application forms when he tried to apply by himself.

But there is another point here too. We knew this before Alex came to visit us in Thailand to try to get his passport there. It was precisely because of the requirement for parents to be present that we decided that Alex should visit us in Thailand and make the application there because at the time we had no plans to go to UK.

2 “Current passport”

During the processing of his application (in fact it was after his application had been accepted and he was sent to have his photo taken) Alex was asked for his UK Passport.

He didn’t have his passport with him.

Needless to say I was very agitated by this because it’s such an important and obvious document to have with you when making this kind of application. How on earth could he not have bought it – Kanyah was always telling him to bring all important documents with him.

Alex offered his driving license as a means of photoo-ID and they seemed to accept that.

A huge relief- I was expecting to have to make another appointment for another visit and perhaps there wasn’t enough time before we returned to Thailand.

3 “A photocopy of Thai House Registration or Thai Identity Card bearing 13-digit number”

Kanyah had bought the Thai House Registration book with here and indeed we had already has Alex’s name entered at the Amphur in Pak Chong, Thailand before we came to the UK. And, yes, there was the 13 digit number. We took the book with us ‘in case it was needed” not because we knew this number was required.

When we at the Thai Embassy there was a place on the Application Form that asked for the applicant’s Thai ID Card number. This always perplexed us because Alex didn’t have a Thai ID card.

The Missing Link That Make All The Difference Whether Your Thai Passport Application Is Accepted Or Not

Then it clicked. The number in the Thai House Registration book next to Alex’s name would be the number to go on the Application Form and on his Thai ID card when he gets it.

There are some more points here:-

  • When Alex made his previous applications he had a copy of the Thai House Registration book so could have entered the ID number had he known the significance of it!
  • As I said we had already registered Alex in the Thai House Registration book in Pakchong to progress his Thai Passport application  but we had no idea that this was essential proir to applying for the passport.


4  “The Royal Thai Embassy in London will issue a passport containing the forename and surname of the applicant in accordance with the personal data in House Registration Document ONLY.”

We (Kanyah and myself) had never seen this requirement before but it emphasises what we had learned above. That Alex must be registered in the Thai House Registration book   the local Amphur in thailand before an application for a passport can be made.

Now this poses a question. We ((Kanyah and myself) happened to be in Thailand and were able to make this registration. But suppose we were living ‘permanently’ here in the UK. Would a visit to Thailand for that specific purpose be required? I assume it would.

Same Forms, Same Information, Different Result

The end result of our visit to the Royal Thai Embassy in London, UK, was that Alex’s application for his Thai passport was accepted for processing.

But the Application Form Kanyah filled in for Alex yesterday was exactly the same one that Alex had previously submitted to the Thai Embassy and the answers were the same. If fact Kanyah copied the answers from the previous Form to fill out the new one yesterday.

Here is a copy of the Thai Passport Application Form which I have translated into English:-

Image of Alex Thai Passport Application Form

Alex Thai Passport Application Form

The only difference was that we now knew what number to put where is asks for the Thai ID number.

But Alex had that information with him when he presented the Application Form previously and could have entered it it had he known (or had the Thai Embassy staff explained where it was to be found).

These are the possible reasons why the Thai Embassy staff did not process Alex’s previous application:-

  • He did not know his Thai ID number.
  • His parents were not present.
  • He did not make an appointment.

 ‘Should’ Not ‘Will’ Receive His Thai Passport.

What happens next?

Now we come to the ‘should’ not ‘will’.

They (the Thai Embassy staff) told us that the documents would now be sent to Thailand for checking (and/or approval?). Also there would be a police search for any criminal charges on Alex’s record. It’s not clear if this police search will be conducted in UK or Thailand.

Now Alex isn’t a criminal at all but he does have a criminal record. How? In the UK if you have a drink-and-drive conviction that counts as a criminal offence. Will it stop them issuing his passport? We have to wait and see.

What A Tremendous And Important Week In The UK Preparing To Return To Thailand For Permanent Retirement

We have accomplished so much in the last few weeks towards moving to Thailand for final settlement but in the week just gone so much was achieved it’s ‘like a mountain being lifted from your head’ as Kanyah said.

  • Entire House Decorated
  • New carpets and vinyl floor covering
  • Existing carpets cleaned
  • Kanyah discovers she is entitled to a significant UK State Pension – and a sizable lump sum payout
  • I place the order for the Little Samson Traction Engine boiler
  • We obtained the Landlord’s CP12 Gas Safety Certificate for the house *
  • I arranged for the Energy Efficiency inspection for next Tuesday (Required to obtain the Energy Performance Certificate or EPC) *
  • We had the central heating boiler serviced
  • I arranged for the Letting Agent to take the photos of the house on Friday 23 May
  • I completed some tricky DIY jobs
  • Kanyah finished tidying up the garden
  • I ploughed through a number of difficult ‘admin’ jobs, including:-
    • Applying to renew Kanyah’s lost counterpart driving licence
    • Setting up Internet Banking for Kanyah’s UK bank account
    • Finding out how to apply for Kanyah’s (and mine) State Pensions
  • I found out how to programme the house security fobs
  • I ordered a load of building materials due for delivery today to fix up the house outside (fixing the fence and painting doors, etc)
  • Ordered a second skip to get rid of residual unwanted items and rubbish
  • And (not in the last week, but in the week before – 7 May) all our belongings were dispatched to Thailand via container

* These certificates are required by law before the house can be let. I only discovered this in a telephone conversation to the Letting Agent yesterday.

On Programme For Return To Thailand

We have done so well that we are in fact ahead of our programme of works and can confidently predict we will be on our planned flight back to Thailand on the 7th June.

We then have one week in Thailand to ‘relax’ until the container arrives at Laem Chabang Port – Near Pattayah – and then the fun begins – getting the container through customs.

All the above has been tremendously hard work – not only physical hard work but knowing what has to be done and how to do it, making the plans, obtaining materials and tradesmen has been just as demanding.

And although we are on course to finish on time there is still a lot to be done – external DIY and admin jobs – including winding up my UK limited company and closing back accounts etc, etc.

This whole exercise of packing our belongings and sending then to Thailand (including getting the half size Traction engine castings), preparing the house ready for letting and arranging our affairs for permanent Thai residency has been one of the hardest things I have ever done in such a short time.

Think about it. When we leave for Thailand the house has to be completely empty and we have only our bags packed for Thailand. As we progress through our action plan workshop tools, furniture and cooking utensils all disappear. Then when I find I need some tool to do a little DIY job I have to buy another one having sent my own to Thailand. There is only one chair in the house (in my ‘office’), the beds have gone, we have one cup, one plate, one bowl and one each of knife fork and spoon!

And after the cooker has been cleaned next week we won’t want to dirty it again so will be relying on microwave and takeways for the remaining three weeks.


XXX

Alex’s Thai Passport

This next Monday, 19th May we are going with Alex to the Thai Embassy in London to try to obtain his Thai Passport.

If you haven’t read the story of how we have tried to do this before (in Thailand) and managed to get Alex his Thai Birth Certificate and have his name put on the Thai house papers as a Thai National then here is a quick summary:-

  • Alex is our son and of course half Thai and half English.
  • He was born in UK and lives and works in London.
  • He came to Thailand in November 2013 in an attempt to get his Thai Passport and ID Card.
  • On that visit we managed to get the Ministry of Foreign affairs to write a letter to The British Embassy in London requesting them to issue a Thai Birth Certificate for Alex.
  • This they did and a few weeks later the Thai Birth Certificate arrived at our house in Pak Chong.
  • With this Kanyah visited the local Amphur and his name was added to the House Papers as a Thai National
  • Alex, by this time back in UK tried to obtain his Thai Passport from the Thai Embassy in London

Alex has visited the Thai Embassy himself several times and Kanyah has filled out forms he sent to us in Thailand as demanded by the Thai Embassy officials, but Alex says he is just bullied and they (the Thai Embassy officials) are not helping him. He says that they (the Thai Embassy officials) will only speak to him in the Thai language and of course Alex can’t speak Thai.

So Monday will be an interesting – and no doubt fraught – day.

What An Amazing Day – I Have Never Accomplished So Much In One Day

Wednesday 7th May, 2014 (yesterday) is a day I will always remember. Such a huge change in my life and so much achieved it’s (as Kanyah says) like a mountain being lifted from my head.

The bullet points:-

  • Container loaded with my model engineering workshop and household effects and sent to the port for shipment to Thailand
  • Booked the carpet cleaner for next Tuesday
  • Booked the decorator for next Wednesday
  • Bought my air ticket to return to Thailand on 7th June
  • Cancelled Sky contract
  • Ordered the Gauge 1 LMS 2F Tank Engine Laser-Cut parts
  • And I already had the new carpets ordered for fitting next Monday

Now for some details…

Container Loaded And Sent To The Port For Shipment To Thailand

You can’t begin to understand what a relief this was to both myself and my wife Kanyah.

We have both been working flat out 8 – 10 or more hours a day for five weeks to get all our stuff in our nottingham (UK) house packed up for shipment to Thailand.

Even our son, Alex, came to help for a few days.

We had planned to spend four weeks to pack our things but we had to delay collection by the shippers by a week because we weren’t ready in time.

This would be a fairly simple job for most normal people but I’m not ‘normal’ as you may know. My model engineering workshop and all the tools and machines was in a first floor bedroom. It all had to be dismantled, taken downstairs and packed or wrapped.

We’re taking heavy stuff here, 30 to 100 kg per item.

Not to mention the half sized traction engine castings which alone must have weighed a half a  ton.

Rusting Traction Engine Castings

By the way I decided to give our shiny brand new traction engine castings a brown patina (ie rust) to make them look old. This was interesting (for an engineer) and you can read the story on the Rusting Traction Engine Castings Page on the ModelEngineeringInThailand.com website.

To summarise we ended up with 158 individual boxes or packets some containing up to 20 items.

The whole lot would only just fit into the 20 foot container we had ordered. I took a look when it was all packed and there wasn’t an inch to spare!

A Tip For Packing Containers

If you ever have the need to pack a container to ship your personal effects to Thailand (or to ship anything anywhere) I can give you some good advice.

This is what I did to estimate how much space our ‘stuff’ would need to make sure it would all fit into the container:-

For each box or individual item if it wasn’t in box I took the measurements (Length, Width, Height) and calculated the volume.

(At first I measured in cm but the container company uses feet and ft³ so I switched to measuring in imperial units)

Then, I filled out a spreadsheet recording each item with a total volume calculated. Here is a small sample from my huge list:-

Image showing Extract From My Container Shipping List

Extract From My Container Shipping List

What is important is this:-

  • A 20 foot container has an actual volume of 1,170 ft³ but the usable space according to the shipper is only 1,050 ft³. (More on this in a minute)
  • I calculated the total volume of my items to be 632 ft³ ie 60% of the declared usable volume. But our goods only just fitted into the container!

So beware if you have a lot of items to ship in a container since unless everything is perfectly rectangular you won’t have the space you may think you have.

New Life Begins

So, now that the workshop is on it’s way to Thailand and I have booked the tradesmen to smarten up the house here in Nottingham so that we can let it out for a decent monthly income I can start to dream about the new life that awaits me ahead in Thailand.

As you should know my one single ambition in life is to build a large scale model steam traction engine and to drive it from our house here in Pak Chong, Thailand, to the local ‘pub’.

In fact I have chosen the model traction engine I want to build and as explained above have bought the castings and they are in the container on the way to Thailand. I just hope the Thai Customs God is having a nice day when that container arrives!

A simple statement but there are so many other accomplishments that must be achieved to allow that ambition goal to be realised. For example:-

  • I must live long enough in Thailand. This traction engine project is likely to take up to three years.
  • Living Thailand for three years is a challenge in itself. Not only must I remain healthy and fit I must make sure my visa is not invalidated for any reason.
  • I must have the skills and machine tools to be able to make the traction engine parts.
  • I must have the money to be able to live in Thailand for all that time.
  • And last but not least I must maintain my commitment and enthusiasm to complete the project.

And it’s this last point that excites me. I don’t want to wait three years before seeing the results of my efforts manifesting themselves into a real live working model.

So I will build other smaller models in parallel with the big traction engine so that I will have a series of little models completed every few months alongside building the big one.

Other Steam Models To Make

There are so many models I want to make but first I must complete the one I am currently (when I get back to Thailand that is) building which is the Stuart Turner Victoria Mill Engine.

Then I have to build the boiler for it.

Following that I want to build a Garden Railway and a Gauge 1 LMS 2F Tank Engine to run on it.

Here is a movie of a typical Garden Railway of the king I’m talking about:-

And here is a photo of a model LMS 2F Tank Engine of the type I want to build:-

(Click on FS to see a bigger image)

So I think now that you can see with so many enjoyable projects in mind that I can totally forget about ‘working’ and devote my life to what I have always wanted to do – making models of steam engines.

Back To Decorating

But we’re not quite at that stage yet.

Before we go back to Thailand to start our new life we have to prepare this house here in Nottingham to let it out. I said I hade arranged for a carpet fitter and a carpet cleaner and also for a painter to spruce up the walls and woodwork.

Even so there’s still a lot myself anf Kanyah have to do like cleaning, a bit of tiling in the toilet and generally making the place look nice.

Also I have a load of admin to get through all associated with extracting myself from the UK and retiring to Thailand forever!

 

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