Archive for the ‘Thailand Weather’ Category

The Perfect Lifestyle – Retiring In Thailand?

I have been here in Thailand pretending to retire for just over 6 months now and it is beginning to appeal to me, much to Kanyah’s relief.

On a previous holiday visit to Thailand, before I came to Thailand to “retire” (quotes because I haven’t really “retired” at all) I had a list of severe reservations about retiring in Thailand. I even listed them and wrote about then on the “Why I Can’t Retire To Thailand” Post.

When I first came here to retire permanently in July I wanted to go back to the UK. I hated it here.

Gradually, over the months that list of concerns on the “Why I Can’t Retire To Thailand” Post have been either overcome or are in the process of being overcome.

Now, after being here just over six months I don’t want to leave.

I have a great – if simple – lifestyle.

I get up around 0630 (when it starts to get light) and go to the computer maybe continue designing my steam models or workshop tools or update my two websites (RetiringInThailand.net and ModelEngineeringInThailand.com) or correspond with my friends here in Thailand.

Then I go to the model engineering workshop and work at building my model steam engines or making tools for the workshop.

I don’t have to drive to work. I don’t have to get on trains. No suit, no tie. Shorts, sandals and T shirt cuts it out here.

And I just know that it’s going to be warm and sunny today. It’s warm and sunny every day.

In fact it’s getting warmer every day now after the ‘cold’ winter where the temperature struggled to top 20 deg C in the daytime and dropped to a shivering 15 deg C at night. Now instead of sleeping under a blanket we sleep with the fan on and yesterday it reached a comfortable 32 deg C in the afternoon.

Photo of the Sunrise Today Over Our Pakchong Retirement Home Garden

Sunrise Today Over Our Pakchong Retirement Home Garden

How Those Reservations About Retiring In Thailand Are Turning Out

Now I’m going to go through all the reservations I had about retiring in Thailand as listed on the  “Why I Can’t Retire To Thailand” Post and explain where we stand today.

In Thailand I’m Completely Dependent On My Wife

Kanyah is slowly releasing her total control over my life as I gradually take control myself. I should explain that she doesn’t and never did intend to ‘control’ me; it’s just that unless and until I am able to take control I will always be dependant upon Kanyah. The details are below.

Knowing Thailand And The Thai Language.

I am getting to know Thailand and the Thai people better as you expect after six months living in the country. We have travelled quite a bit including Kamphaeng Phet, Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat) ,Pattayah, Bangkok and even one trip to Cambodia.

But learning the Thai language is a different matter. I feel like I knew more Thai before I came here than I do now!

I have been learning Thai now for more than 30 years. I have dozens of books on the subject and at least three or four courses including audio courses and CDs. I have completed (for example) the “Thai for Beginners” and “Thai for Intermediate Learners” by Benjawan Poomsan Becker, and the Linguaphone course, for example.  I know thousands of Thai words.

But when I come here to Pakchong it’s like they’re talking a foreign language!

Some of it is down to the local dialect, some of it down to me being ‘tone deaf’ and mostly because since I came here I have not studied the Thai language like I used to when I lived in the UK. Just too busy ‘retiring’.

When you go to live in a completely different county halfway round the world there are many things to adjust to, many things needing your attention. To name just one I still have my house in the UK which needs attention and administration to do with silly things like the central heating, the garden, the Utility bills and the mail, to name just a few.

Taking two hours out a day to sit down and learn the Thai language is something I haven’t got round to yet, but I realise that I must do it before too long.

Security Of My Investment In The Property

I have long been well aware that my huge investment in the land, house and even the car here is at risk since none of it belongs to me and there isn’t a reliable ‘heir’ to pass it on to should anything happen to Kanyah.

Not only that, Kanyah has at times reminded me very well that all this belongs to her and not to me. I’m dependant upon her good will to be able to continue to live here. Not very secure at all.

That is changing on two fronts.

Firstly, after a lot of hard work, our son Alex has obtained his Thai Nationality. He is officially Thai and his name is on the house papers. He now has a Thai Birth Certificate. Alex is in the process of obtaining his Thai Passport and ID card from the Thai Embassy in London.

So Alex could now inherit the property.

On the other front, Kanyah has agreed to sign what is called a Usufruct and I’m having that drawn up by a solicitor as I write this. A Usufruct is a legal and binding document that will give me the right to use the land and house as if it was my own. I can’t be kicked out and Kanyah can’t sell it (without my permission). When that (the Usufruct) is signed I’ll feel much more secure.

 Driving In Thailand

I have now passed the Thai Driving Test and have a Thai driving license.

What a story that was, passing the Thai Driving Test.

Anyway now I can drive anywhere (not only in Thailand but anywhere in the world) and that is a whole life-changer itself.

 Getting A Thai Bank Account

This was another concern of mine, I didn’t have a Thai bank account.

As it turns out this was one of the easier things to do and how I did it is all explained on the “I Open A Bank Account In Thailand” Post.

Thai Visa’s And Thai Retirement Visa In Particular

This has turned out to be a real winner after a disastrous mistake by Thai immigration at the Cambodian Poipet border crossing.

I’ll not go into the details here because the story about “My Retiring In Thailand Project Changed Dramatically Yesterday When The Visa Issue Suddenly Disappeared And Now I Can Stay Here Forever” has a full Post in it’s own right but the outcome is actually better than I could ever imagine.

I came here to Thailand with a one year multiple entry visa I obtained in the UK. It allows me to stay here in Thailand and to come and go as I please but it has the restriction that I must leave and re-enter at least every three months. (Hence the trip to Cambodia).

But it was only valid for one year. My plan was to return to UK after the one year and renew it. I would have to do that perpetually because I didn’t qualify to obtain a Retirement Visa in the UK. (And still don’t.)

After the mess up by Thai immigration at the Cambodian Poipet border crossing I had to find an answer to the mess they had put me in and (missing out all the details that are revealed in that “Retiring In Thailand Retirement Visa” Post) I ended up with a Thai Retirement Visa!

This means that:-

  • I don’t have to go to the UK (or anywhere else) every year to get a new visa – I can renew this in Thailand
  • I don’t have to prove that I am married to a Thai in order to renew the visa – the visa is completely independant of Kanyah
  • I also have a multiple entry visa so I can come and go in and out of Thailand as I wish.

Another life-changer!

Healthcare In Thailand

This was another big concern of mine and whilst a couple of recent incidents have diminished my concern about minor illnesses it is still an issue for the unknow ‘big problems’.

But lets look quickly at those recent incidents that are a tribute to the Thai healthcare system and the thai people themselves.

Alex’s ‘Fever’

When our son Alex came to visit us last October to claim his Thai Nationality he developed a fever. Hot, shaking and very ill.

We took him to the local Pakchong Nanah Hospital in the evening around 1900 hrs. He went straight in to see a doctor – no waiting or asking questions – and was diagnosed with food poisoning. They gave us a prescription and  few minutes later were on our way home.

We had to pay for the prescription (antibiotics plus a few others) which only cost around 300 Baht and Alex was much better the next day and fine in a couple of days.

My Painful Leg Joints

I had been suffering from terrible pains in my right knee joint and my right hip. And I mean terrible pain.

I had been a bit silly at the turn of the New Year jumping up and down and generally prancing around with the Thai kids from next door inspired by the loud CCR music we had on for good party spirit.

A few days later the painful joints surfaced. I wondered if I had done the cartilages some damage.

As is my way – to avoid doctors and hospitals like the plague – I suffered the pain for a month hoping it would go away. It didn’t. in fact it got worse.

So it was off to the local Pakchong Nanah Hospital again to face the medicine.

There was a wait to see a doctor – the place was packed and very busy – but they asked no questions relating to me not being Thai (like how would I pay for the visit) – in fact before I could see a doctor I had to register. I now have a Thai Medical Card!

Image showing Alan's Thai Medical Card

Alan’s Thai Medical Card

Above is a scan of my Thai Medical card I received when I registered at the pakchong Nanah hospital at Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand. My name printed on it in black Thai typeface.

The time came to see the doctor and we told him the story. I also mentioned that previously in the UK I had suffered from Sciatica in my left leg.

(Sciatica results from injury to or pressure on the sciatic nerve in the spine cause by the spinal discs being out of position. The sciatic nerve tells the brain that there is pain in the leg(s) even though the leg(s) is (are) healthy. The pain can be – and was- horrific. Sitting down or lying down makes little difference.)

Anyway I want to know if I had damaged the ligaments or if it was sciatica again.

I was sent off for some Xrays. No queue. No need to make an appointment and come back another day as Kanyah had too at Saraburi hospital. No straight in and at least 6 xrays taken of my joints and spine. No waiting for films to be developed. the xrays went straight into the central computer where they could be accessed by any doctor in the hospital on his PC.

Back to the doctor again and I was diagnosed with Degenerative Spondylolisthesis which causes sciatica pain. Apparently my spinal discs are out of position. the doctor said I might need an operation to pin them back in place but he would make an appointment for me to see the orthopedic doctor tomorrow.

He gave me a prescription that included some painkillers amongst other goodies. Total cost? Just over 1,000 baht (about £20).

The following day I duly visited the orthopedic doctor who after looking at the xrays and doing some physical checks on my legs and back proclaimed my condition was mild and not serious.

He gave me another prescription that would help me sleep better.

It’s only two weeks later now and I’m fine. No pain at all.

All in all I have great faith in the Thai health care system. The doctors (and nurses) all speak English, they are very compassionate and they know what they are doing.

I’m truly impressed.

So although I would probably have to return to the UK if a big problem surfaced I know that for the occasional ailment I can rely on the Thai health service.

Good Food And English Beer In Pakchong (Pak Chong)

I previously bemoaned the lack of decent places too eat in Pakchong (Pak Chong).

Since then I have found a few places to get good food in Pakchong (Pak Chong).

One of them is called E.A.T. and they do English food and English beer as reported on the “EAT Paradise in Pak Chong” Post.

Of course they do other types of food also and also have a vast range of beers from all round the world. buy my treat is to be able to enjoy a little bit of England. Lamb chops, mashed potato and Fullers ESB Beer.

New! English Beer By Mail Order In Thailand

And if I’m too lazy to go down to E.A.T. in Pakchong (Pak Chong) to buy some English Beer I can now order it online and have it delivered to my house!

Here are just some of the beers available:-

  • Fuller’s ESB
  • Fuller’s Imperial Stout
  • Fuller’s London India Pale Ale
  • Fuller’s London Porter
  • Fuller’s London Pride
  • Wells Bombardier NRB
  • Wychwood Ginger Bread
  • Young’s Double Chocolate Stout
  • Young’s Special London Ale

I have just picked out my favourites, there are many more available, plus this is just from the english Craft Beer range. thhey also have similar ranges form other countries, like America, Australian, Belgian, Danish, Dutch, English, German, Italian , Apanese, New Zealand, Norwegian, Scottish, Singaporean, Spanish, Sri Lankan.

And there are also sections on the website for Fruit Beers, Cider, Mead , Beer Club, Discovery Cases, Mixed Sets.

Here is the website:- http://www.wishbeer.com

Stuck In Pakchong (Pak Chong) And Enjoying It

On that  “Why I Can’t Retire To Thailand” Post I complained about feeling ‘stuck’ in Pakchong (Pak Chong), but now I really am getting used to just staying at home and can understand why Kanyah doesn’t want to go out.

I have got into a little routine of doing a bit of work (like writing this Post) on the computer interspersed with building my steam engine in the model engineer’s workshop. I have also started another blog called ModelEngineeringInThailand.com so if you want to know in more detail what I’m doing as a ‘retiree’ in Pakchong (Pak Chong) then hop over to the ModelEngineeringInThailand.com website.

Sometime soon we have to make a visit to the UK – to bring the rest of our personal belongings over (my model engineering workshop mainly) and to get the house ready for renting out – and I’m not looking forward to it.

When I first came here to Thailand on my retirement trip I would have jumped at an excuse like that to go back to UK. Now I’d rather just stay here. Strange isn’t it?

That’s all for now – I just wanted to update you with how our retiring in Thailand project is going and  to report on those reservations I had previously.

 

Retiring To Thailand. Searching for Overwhelming Reasons Why.

Reflections On The Retirement Trip To Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand

(Typed in the Thai Royal Silk Upper Deck of a 747-400 on Flight TG916 bound for London. Sunday 15 April, 2012)

  • Am I ready to retire to Thailand?
  • Why should I retire to Thailand?
  • What is it that wants to make me to retire to Thailand? (If, in fact, that’s what I really want to do)

These are the questions that I went to Thailand on this discovery trip to try to answer.

I guess the key question is:-

Why Should I Retire To Thailand? Is there something special about Thailand that would make it, for me, a better place to retire to than the U.K.?

Yes, there is. But there are also special things about the U.K. that would make it a better place for me to retire to.

After spending two weeks in Thailand pondering the subject as I run a test trial of retiring in Thailand, I have come up with some basic answers.

Firstly, did I come across any single outstanding feature that stood out in big bold capital letters and said “I MUST RETIRE IN THAILAND BECAUSE ….“.

The answer to that is. No.

There was nothing spectacular about my trip that made retiring to Thailand a MUST for me.

Model Engineering In Thailand

Well, now I reflect on that there is one. It’s my model engineering workshop, and the size of the garden and land upon which to play with my steam engines. (When I have built them)

All that could be corrected, though, if I had enough money to buy the same sized house and land in the U.K. Which at the moment I don’t.

So that just comes down to one thing. Money.

Gradually, in Thailand, I am finding the shops and outlets that can supply me with the tools and materials I need for my model engineering hobby. But the scope of what is available is far, far, short of what I can buy in the U.K. Of course, I could order what I wanted from the online shops based in the U.K. from Thailand and pay for the shipping. There would be a time delay while the items were shipped and of course the shipping charges. Again, basically, it comes down to money.

Is The Weather In Thailand A Reason To Retire There?

The weather? Hot and humid, with frequent torrential rain. 32 + deg C in the daytime dropping to 26 ~ 20 deg C in the night. Always “close” until a thunderstorm comes along and clears the air. That’s fine – reduces the temperature – but there’s not much you can do in a tropical thunderstorm in Thailand except to sit and wait it out. That can take hours or days. See the movie I took during one of the hurricanes we had that blasted a ‘mini Tsunami’ wave of water through our retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong).

Except before a rainstorm, very little wind. Often zero breeze to take away the overpowering heat.

In short, whether it was raining or not, it was mostly uncomfortable at best. The heat made me tired and lethargic. Could be down to loss of salts from the body. My legs in particular always felt tired. That is a phenomenon I recall from my ‘pioneering youth’ when I worked in Lagos, Nigeria. In those days I was tired and lethargic until I discovered the magic of salt tablets.

Weather not conducive to smart thinking whilst designing and making steam engines in my model engineering workshop. Do a bit, take a rest was the order of the day. I was wondering if I would become acclimatised over time and discussed that with Kanyah. It turn’s out that she (along with all the local Thais) suffer in the same way. It’s definitely the weather and not just me.

Weather in the U.K. In the winter not very nice I agree. But if I’m retired why the need to go outside? If that is necessary, I have a car so it’s not so bad.

My model engineering workshop in the U.K. is indoors and centrally heated, so no problem there.

Thailand – A Low-Cost Place To Retire To

The only problem really is that central heating in the U.K. is expensive and getting more so.

In Thailand heating is not needed and we don’t have air conditioning (yet) so fuel bills are absolutely zero.

So the U.K. will be considerably more expensive a place to retire to just because of the heating bills. Again it’s money that matters.

Thai Food. Is The Thai Food A Reason For Retiring In Thailand Or One Of The Reasons Why Not To?

Thai Food. Is it worth basing a decision on which country to retire to on the basis of what kind of food is available? Not in the case of Thailand. It used to be difficult a few years ago to find anything but local Thai food in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand, but with the opening of the Tesco Lotus Supermarket and having our own house, all that has changed. Now I can have virtually any western style food I want if I get fed up of the Thai food. Apart from the occasional egg and bacon breakfast (with mugs of tea) I managed quite comfortably on the Thai food.

In the U.K. There are plenty of Thai food supermarkets and Kanyah has lived in the U.K. before for about 2 years and can eat most of the Thai food she is used too.

One big ‘food’ issue for me is beer. I love my English beer or “Real Ale” as it has become popularly called these days. Lager (and particularly Thai larger) I find hard to get on with. Too strong and lacking taste and absolutely disgusting if not absolutely icy cold. Worth making a retirement issue over? Carries a lot of weight for me.

Steam Traction Engine Rallies

What? What on earth has “traction engine rallies” have to do with retiring in Thailand and what the hell are they anyway?

Quintessentially British (probably English, actually), traction engine rallies are where weird eccentric Englishmen bring their old steam traction engines for a week-end’s play time. Steam fairs, steam organs and all things steam dating back to the glorious days when England was the power house of the Industrial Revolution that changed the world.

So what? Well, my single goal in life is to build myself a steam model traction engine and drive it on the road from our retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand, to the local “pub”. (Which would be a local roadside shack-type restaurant).

That’s fine as an ambition but what will I do with the thing the rest of the year? In the U.K. I can take it to the traction engine rallies and show it off to the public and other steam enthusiasts. But in Thailand? It will most likely be the only steam traction engine in the country and apart from George in Pattaya who has a model steam engine (locomotive) as far as I know it would be the only steam engine of any kind in the LOS.

Who to show it off to? Who to talk to about these lovely machines? A reason to retire to England rather than Thailand? Possibly. It carries weight. But wait a moment. I haven’t built the thing yet.

I don’t know the average time to build an engine of the size I am planning ( 1/3 full size i.e. 4″ scale) but the time is probably measured in decades rather then years. I plan to make it within three years, but if you read my piece about the model engineering workshop debacle on this trip you’ll probably be thinking in terms of three decades instead of three years.

Is Your Mental Health Likely To Improve If You Retire To Thailand?

What about mental well-being?

I must admit to an uncomfortable feeling when I was first in Thailand even on this trip. This I put down to a feeling of vulnerability and generally being away from familiar surroundings and people. Towards the end of the trip I became more comfortable as I assimilated into the country and started to talk more Thai with the locals.

Long term I don’t think that would be a problem for me. After all I have worked overseas for some 20 years and I know from experience that it takes a full year to adjust to living in a strange country.

But what about Kanyah? I know she is soon bored when living in the U.K. and that has lead to some severe problems we have had in the past.

Long-term living in the U.K. (i.e. as in retiring to the U.K.) would be a complete disaster for her. She simply couldn’t cope with it.

So there’s one good solid reason to retire to Thailand – the metal well-being of my Thai wife, Kanyah.

And as I have mentioned above several times, your money goes further in Thailand. That is another big reason for retiring there.

The other issues, the weather, the food, the beer (there is a way around the Beer/Lager issue but I’ll not mention it here), are all minor issues that probably balance each other out.

Has The Retireometer Swung Any Closer To The Yes Vote?

I’ve borrowed the electioneering concept of the swingometer (Steve from The Plough’s idea) and created the Retireometer to measure how comfortable I think i am about retiring to Thailand.

After this trip I feel the Retireometer has notched up a couple of percentage points towards the Yes vote.

But not for the reasons you’d expect.

Reading the above you may be thinking that there are plusses and minuses and you’d be right. In fact you might be thinking there are probably more minuses than plusses. And I guess you’d be right there, too.

The experience of this trip to test out my readiness to retire to Thailand logically cranks the Retireometer over to the No vote.

If I could go back a few years and plan my retirement a bit more carefully with the knowledge and money I have now which I did not have a few short years ago I would I would possibly be planning to retire to England.

England, the Home of Real Ale, Model Engineering and Steam Rallies.

But time has passed by. And I have invested more and more money into our retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand. I am emotionally committed to delivering a Thailand-based retirement life to my dear wife, Kanyah.

My Get out Of Jail Card

But there’s a get-out clause in that last sentence if you read it carefully.

Can’t spot it? I’ll quote:-

a Thailand-based retirement life

To get all the benefits of retiring in Thailand (mainly low-cost) and to get all the benefits of retiring in England (Real Ales, Model Engineering and Steam rallies) all I need is….

More Money!

Now there’s an idea to think about.

Lets see how that works out over the next couple of years.

Here’s The Story Why Work On Building Our House In Pakchong Stopped – Twice!

Construction Of Our Retirement House In Pakchong Restarts – In Fits And Starts

In the previous post but one “Roof Tiles On – But Problems Are Arising” I mentioned the fact that work had stopped on the construction of our retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong) and I’m pleased to be able to report that work has now commenced again – kind of…

Big Problems Building Our Retirement House in Pakchong (Pak Chong)

I reported in a previous post Roof Tiles On – But Problems Are Arising how all construction work ceased on our retirement house build project in Pakchong (Pak Chong) as the builder and all the labor disappeared from site on 30th March, 2011.

In that post I mentioned that a couple of issued had arisen on site and that I would explain them to you and why the builder had left the site as soon as I had got to the bottom of it, so here goes…

Big Roof – Big Roof Problem

This issue came up when I looked more carefully at the photos received from Kanyah on the Steel Roof Rafters Installed Post.

This is the photo that made me think something was amiss:-

Image of House Frame Roof Side View 1

House Frame Roof Side View 1

Above, the photo that made me worry and gave me a couple of sleepless nights. Can you spot what is wrong?

Hint, look at the roof rafters and the ridge girder compared to the roof concrete ring-beam.

Next look at this 3D rendering of our house produced by our Thai architect at concept stage:-

Image of Thai Architects 3 D Rendering of the Roof Gable Concept at Stage

Thai Architects 3 D Rendering of the Roof Gable Concept at Stage

Above, now you can see what appears to be missing from the steel rafter progress photo above. In the above concept drawing it’s clear that the roof extends beyond the house. It overhangs (called a ‘cantilever’ in building terms) the house. The steel rafter progress photo above does not show the ridge girder and the rafters for the roof overhang.

This omission I marked on the next photo, below.

Image Steel Roof Rafters Showing Missing Rafters

Steel Roof Rafters Showing Missing Rafters

I sent that marked-up photo to the builder and to Kanyah to find out what was going on and why the builder was (apparently) not following the Thai Architects roof plans.

The answer came back “don’t worry, the roof is not finished yet”.

Big Roof  - Big Roof Problem Gets Bigger…

Then I realised something else that really had me worried.

Those concrete beams at roof level should not be there! I was looking again at the photo above “Thai Architects 3 D Rendering of the Roof Gable Concept at Stage” and I couldn’t see any concrete extending (cantilevering) from the end of the house. This is clear in the next marked-up rendering produced by our Thai Architect at concept stage:-

Image of Thai Architects 3 D Rendering of the Roof Gable March 2011 - Annotated

Thai Architects 3 D Rendering of the Roof Gable March 2011 - Annotated

The photo below (not our house) shows a properly cantilevered roof. No ugly cantilevered concrete beams.

Image of Cantilevered Roof - How It Should Look

Cantilevered Roof - How It Should Look

Next I looked at the cross sectional drawing produced by our Thai Architect as part of the construction drawings. No cantilevered roof beams were shown:-

Image of Architects Section Drawing At Roof Level

Architects Section Drawing At Roof Level

Above, see that red box? I marked that and it is what the builder has constructed, but it is not shown on the Thai Architects original construction drawing as you can see.

I pondered what to no next. I wanted a cantilevered roof, but not cantilevered concrete roof beams which I thought would be unsightly.

Perhaps the concrete cantilevered beams could be cut off using diamond cutting technology?

I need to know if those ‘concrete ears’ have any structural purpose.

If not I was suggesting that they be cut off. This should be easy using some kind of diamond cutting:-

http://www.diamonddriller.co.uk/services/sawing.htm

http://www.cuttingtechnologies.com/services_wire_sawing.html

So I started sending emails to Kanyah, our builder and to the original Thai Architect, with pictures like the ones above and these:-

Image of Concrete Roof Beams to Cut

Concrete Roof Beams to Cut

Image of Detail Cut Concrete Ears

Detail Cut Concrete Ears

Above, I was planning to cut off these cantilevered roof beams (or ‘ears’ as i had started to call them) using a diamond saw. Pretty drastic surgery!

As you can imagine, by this time I was pretty anxious because I had two big problems with the roof and was getting little information from Thailand.

Then our Thai Architect started to reply to my cries for help. Firstly he pointed out that my marked up drawing, above “Architects Section Drawing At Roof Level” being a section through the building would not have shown the ‘ears’. Also, he pointed out that the ‘ears’ were shown on the structural plans as you can see in the picture below.

Image of Structural Drawing At Roof Level - Annotated 2

Structural Drawing At Roof Level - Annotated 2

He also explained that the rendered drawing he had produced at concept stage (see “Thai Architects 3 D Rendering of the Roof Gable March 2011 – Annotated” above) was just that – a concept rendered drawing – and that the roof beams were added in the detail design phase and therefore did not show in the rendered drawing.

Knowing that I was concerned about the visual appearance of the cantilevered beams (the ‘ears’) he produced and emailed to me an updated version of the rendered drawing including the beams. As you can see in the picture below, the cantilevered beams are inconspicuous and not ugly.

Image of Thai Architects 3 D Rendering of the Roof Gable March 2011

Thai Architects 3 D Rendering of the Roof Gable March 2011

O.K. I surrendered on that one. Then I had an email from Kanyah showing that the ‘missing’ rafters and ridge beam had been installed. (You have probably seen these pictures but if not, just wait until you see the “How To Tile A Roof In Thailand” Post.)

Now I don’t know why the rafters weren’t all delivered and lifted into place at the same time. I assume a crane was used to lift the rafters and by lifting the ‘missing’ rafters on a second visit would have incurred additional hire costs for the crane.

Also I don’t know how they managed to extend the ridge beam where it wasn’t long enough at each end. I hope they didn’t (but suspect they did) simply weld an extension beam to the existing ridge beam. you can bet I’m going to take a good look at that when I go out to Thailand next week!

So it seemed that this problem was solved…

… and that

… Then came along “Little Roof Big Problem”

Little Roof – Another Big Problem

It took some investigation work by our Thai Architect in Bangkok to get to the bottom of what all this was about.

Although Kanyah had told me there was a problem with the small roof (the balcony roof) she didn’t tell me what he problem was. Perhaps with her not being a technical person she didn’t know. She also told me that the builder had ‘fixed’ it but again she didn’t tell me how. And I received no emails or communication from the builder.

I did have a guess at what the problem might be and a little later I received an email from our Architect who had been talking by phone to the builder and to Jalan, Kanyah’s nephew who was supervising the build for us. The email confirmed my suspicion as to what was wrong…

Don’t Allow Shallow-Sloping Roofs In Thailand!

The Problem Started With My Choice Of Thai House Design Concept Plans

If you go right back to the beginning of the design process for our retirement house in Thailand all as recorded on this website you will know that it all started with Thai house plans for a small traditional Thai house downloaded for free from the Thai government website.

This is described on the Free Thai House Plans page where you can see pictures and drawings of the concept house that we started with and also get all the links to the websites where you can download free Thai house plans. Here is a sample from one of the drawings that formed the inspiration for our house:-

Image of Inspiration for Our House - Roof Slopes

Inspiration for Our House - Roof Slopes

Above, this is where started our house design. A traditional Thai house plan downloaded from the Thai government website.

You can see that I have added the roof slopes, 45 deg for the main roof and 10 deg for the balcony roof.

The final construction drawings for our house, as drawn by our Thai Architect were 35 deg for the main roof and 10 deg for the balcony roof.

It seems that our builder, when he got to the point of laying the roof tiles, realized that the angle of slope of the balcony was too shallow, particularly as there was no gutter between the main roof and the balcony roof. All the water from the main roof would cascade onto the balcony roof. The deep depth of water on the balcony roof would force water between the tiles and the roof would leak.

This is roughly how our Thai Architect explained it after talking to our builder:-

  • The “Inspiration for Our House – Roof Slopes” drawing with the 10 deg balcony roof slope would have been OK because the specification for the roof material was for concrete sheets which can have a large over-lap and therefore safe for deep water.
  • I changed the roof type from concrete sheets to concrete tiles which are much smaller and have much less overlap.
  • Concrete tile roofs typically need a minimum slope of 20 deg. (I would have said 35 deg minimum, but lets go with 20 deg for now)
  • Our Thai Architect added a roof gutter to collect the water from the main roof and preventing it from cascading onto the balcony roof.
  • I told out builder not to provide that gutter to save money. (I have since asked the builder to provide the gutter)
  • According to our Thai Architect, our builder has taken two mitigation measures (but nobody told me):-
    • The 10 deg slope was increased to 12 – 15 deg.
    • The lap of the tiles was increased.
  • Our Thai Architect has proposed various other solutions to prevent the balcony roof from leaking.

My decision is (apart from adding back the main-roof gutter) to leave everything as it is for now and see what happens during a heavy rainfall. If some additional measure is required then deal with it at that time.

Accusations And Bad Feelings?

These problems have led to accusations and bad feelings all round but the basic problem has been lack of clear communication:-

  • The builder blames the design by the Architect
  • The Thai Architect blames the builder for:-
    • blindly crashing on with the build without producing shop drawings
    • not raising issues with the Architect and discussing them before continuing
  • At first I blamed the builder for not building to the Architect’s drawings (I later apologized for that when I realized he had followed the drawings)
  • I blamed everybody on site, that means the builder and Kanyah for not informing me about issues
  • I blamed the builder for making changes to the Architect’s design without authority
  • I blamed Kanyah and Jalan for not checking properly
  • I blamed myself for a load of things:-
    • Not picking up on the shallow angle balcony roof issue at concept stage. (I knew the issues relating to shallow roofs and potential for leakage. I am a building design professional  and have been in meetings with Architects in the U.K. where the roof slope has been a matter of discussion and deliberation for hours. Check me out on the Alan’s Construction Industry Bio page.)
    • Not checking the original Architects Structural drawings well enough to make sure I understood the roof beam design.
    • Jumping to conclusions about the provision of the ‘ears’ based on an early concept stage Architects rendering drawings instead of checking the structural drawings more carefully.

So you can imagine that tempers were getting frayed, and that’s probably a contributing factor to Kanyah not phoning me and sending me photographs for a couple of weeks.

At this stage the Architect visited site.

The Next Day The Builder And The Construction Workers Were Nowhere To Be Seen

The next day the builder and the construction workers were nowhere to be seen and he didn’t answer his phone for days.

I was worried that he had been upset by all the criticism that may have been flying round and decide to call it quits. But what came next?

Sweltering Summer Turns To Freezing Winter As Freak Weather Storms Create Turmoil In Thailand

Blasts of icy wind from China wreck havoc on Thailand plunging what a few days ago was a blistering hot summer  into a winter monsoon season overnight!

The temperature plummeted faster than a bungee jumper on his downward fall and vast areas of souther Thailand were suddenly flooded meters deep.

Image of Koh Samui Thailand Floods 1

Koh Samui Thailand Floods 1

More on Thailand’s  freak weather, earthquakes, over a million people to be stranded, floods, freezing temperatures and unseasonal tropical downpours.

The Reason For The Builder Leaving Site (For The First Time ) And All Constuction Stopping

At last we get to it. it wasn’t the roof problems that caused our Thai builder and all his labor to stop the building work on our retirement home in Pakchong (Pak Chong). it was the bad weather!

Quite simply, the freak weather reached as far as Pakchong (Pak Chong) and the torrential downpour for three days meant that no construction work could continue.

Thailand Freak Unseasonal Weather News Items From ThaiVisa.com

18 March 20111 – 3 April 2011

Freak Weather In Thailand Turns Summer Into Winter For Over A Week

These news items are taken from the thaivisa.com website and describe the drastic and unprecedented change in weather in Thailand.

I live in the U.K. (AKA Great Britain or England) and these weather changes affected me directly. Here’s why…

Construction Of My Retirement House in Pakchong (Pak Chong to some) Abruptly Came To A Halt

Although now (early April) is the summer in Thailand this changed in weather brought vast downpours of rain to Pak Chong and the builder and labor decided it was too wet to do any useful work on the house.

That’s pretty simple, but what also happened was that the builder wasn’t answering his phone when my wife (Kanyah) who is watching over the house build in Pakchong tried to contact him to find out he wasn’t on site.

This went on for three days and having read in the press about builders in Thailand just leaving a construction project half way through and knot knowing why the builder wasn’t on site I was really worried.

When it turned out that it was a simple case of “rain stopping play” and the builder and labor returned to site just as soon as the rain stopped I was mightily relieved!

Anyway on to the weather reports…

Posted 2011-03-17

Colder Weather In Thailand Is Caused By Global Warming

Weather Department on Thursday said that the global warming is the major cause of dropping of temperature in Thailand.

Department’s Deputy Director General Somchai Baimuang said that the cold weather is likely to continue until tomorrow.

Temperature on Thursday has dropped across the country, with that in Bangkok dropped to 19 Celcius and that in northern province of Loei went down to 6.12 Celcius.


Posted 2011-03-18

Sharp Drop In Temperatures Felt In Thailand As Mercury Plummets Nationwide

The sharp drop in temperatures over the past few days makes it seem as if winter has returned to Thailand.

The mercury plummeted to between 16 and 18 degrees Celsius in Bangkok and its neighbouring provinces, while the temperature on Doi Inthanon, the country’s highest peak, plunged to just 3.4 degrees yesterday.

Meteorological Department acting chief Somchai Baimuang said yesterday that the drop in temperatures had stemmed from an intensely high-pressure ridge, which was now hovering over Thailand.

“Never before in my working life have the temperatures dropped as much as 10 degrees in a single day. Never before have I experienced a winter in the summer,” he said.


Posted 2011-03-24

Earthquake In Burma/Thailand Strong earthquake felt as far south as Bangkok.

RT @REUTERSFLASH: Magnitude 6.9 earthquake hits Thailand, 69 miles north of Chiang Rai – USGS

RT @REUTERSFLASH: Two large quakes, one at 7 magnitude, strike in northeast Myanmar, near Thai and Laotian border – USGS


Posted 2011-03-25

More than 50 dead in quake: Myanmar official

YANGON, March 25, 2011 (AFP) – At least 50 people were killed after a strong earthquake struck Myanmar near its border with Thailand, a Myanmar official said Friday.

Tremors were felt as far away as Bangkok, almost 800 kilometres (500 miles) from the epicentre, Hanoi and parts of China during the earthquake on Thursday, which the US Geological Survey (USGS) measured at magnitude 6.8.


Posted 2011-03-27

Disaster Zones Imposed In South Of Thailand After Flooding

Southern Thailand is suffering from downpour-triggered floods, with all 16 of Nakhon Si Thammarat’s districts, eight of Phattalung’s districts, and three of Chumphon’s districts declared disaster zones yesterday.

In response, the government will open a flood situation follow-through centre at Government House this morning.

Phattalung yesterday declared its Muang, Kuan Khanoon, Kongra, Srinakarin, Pa Payom, Khao Chai Son, Sri Banphot and Bang Kaew districts as disaster zones. The situation was particularly severe in Muang and Kuan Khanon, where a total of some 8,000 households and 45,000 rai of farmland were under deep floodwater. Chumphon’s Mungam Lang Suab and Sawi districts were also declared disaster zones.

Meanwhile, the Meteorological Department’s southern region office continued to warn people on the southeastern coast. especially those in Phattalung, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani and Chumphon, of heavy downpours until tomorrow as well as possible flash floods and landslides. Small fishing boats were also urged to remain on shore due to strong winds and 2-3 meter-high waves during this period.

In related news, 150 homes of 1,200 people in 10 tambons of Trang’s Muang, Na Yong, Huai Yod and Wang Wiset districts were flooded yesterday, while many areas of Surat Thani were flooded, especially the low-laying Kanchanadit district. The district is now under 50cm-deep water and at-risk residents have been evacuated.

The continuous rainfall prompted Ranong to have its seacoast residents to move their belongings to higher grounds for fear of flooding condition from rising tides. They also watched out for landslides.


Posted 2011-03-29

Flood Situation Gets Worse In Thailand’s Mid-South THOUSANDS STRANDED ON KOH SAMUI

Bad weather closes Nakhon Si Thammarat, Samui airports; deaths rise to 9

Flooding in the South has stalled services at Nakhon Si Thammarat and Samui airports.

Thousands of passengers were stranded on Koh Samui in Surat Thani province yesterday, while Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport has been closed since Sunday.

Tourists on the island of Samui had completely lost access to the mainland as of press time because ferry services were also suspended.

As the severe flooding raged on in the South, the death toll rose to nine.

Flood waters are now wreaking havoc in the provinces of Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani, Trang, Krabi and Phatthalung.


Posted 2011-03-29

More Cold Weather In Thailand Expected

The mercury in many parts of the country will plunge by three to five degrees Celsius for a few days due to a low-pressure ridge, the Meteorological Department said yesterday.

Greater Bangkok could shiver in 19-degree weather while even the South might see temperatures drop as low as 22 degrees.

A northern weather bureau said the hot season would return early next month, at about 39-40 degrees.

“It will be scorching then just like any other summer.”

April 17 is expected to be the hottest day of the year, as the sun will be directly overhead.


Posted 2011-03-30

1 Million People Stranded As Floods Rage Through Thai South Nightmare islands

1 million stranded as floods rage through South; 9 killed, with Nakhon Si Thammarat hit the hardest; Heavy rain likely to continue for next few days

Nearly a million residents living in flood-hit areas in the South have been left stranded with no access to land and air transport, even as the number of deaths increased to nine, with the grim prospect of heavy rains pounding many of the areas for the next few days.

A storm yesterday aggravated difficulties for the hardest-hit province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, damaging 250 homes in coastal areas and the Talum Phuk peninsula. The raging winds felled a number of power poles, causing blackouts in many areas.

The latest official update on the disaster yesterday reported seven deaths, with 979,665 people living in 310,406 affected households. The flood areas cover 63 districts in seven southern provinces.


Posted 2011-03-30

At Least 4 Dead, 100 Missing In Krabi Mudslide Thai floods kill 15 dead, thousands stranded

KRABI, March 30 — At least four people were killed and more than 100 are missing in a mudslide at Krabi’s Khao Phanom district, while rescue workers have halted their operations fearing further slides.


Posted 2011-04-03

Flood Crisis In Thai South Still Bad

The flood crisis in Surat Thani remained critical late last night amid surging rivers and high levels of water.

Helicopters were used to airlift about 1,000 stranded villagers in Nakhon Si Thammarat to safety for a second day running.
Flood-related fatalities increased to 45, with latest five coming on top of 40 in an official update yesterday. Some 21 occurred in hardest-hit Nakhon Si Thammarat, according to provincial clerk Decha Kangsanant.


Posted 2011-04-03

Last Week’s Freezing Temperatures A ‘Freak Event’

The sudden plunge in temperatures last week could be a rare climatic phenomenon, according to a Thai expert.

Assistant Professor Prateung Jintasakul of Rajabhat Nakorn Ratchasima University said the mercury plunged unusually sharply in the Northeast to 15-16 degrees Celsius from March 28 to 31, even though it is summer.

The academic said the same thing occurred during the Ice Age 10,000 years ago when pandas fled extreme cold in China to northeastern Thailand.

In 1982, fossils of pandas were found in the northeast province of Chaiyaphum by a French anthropologist. The fossils could be dated back to the Ice Age.

“So far, it’s not yet conclusive but it certainly is highly unusual. What happened during March 28-31 could also be attributed to alteration of the Earth’s axis or magnetic field etc.”


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