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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16 Responses to “Container Gone – New Life Begins – A Blistering Day”

  • mel:

    great job so far. i hope everything goes as well at thai customs. three years!!! you have been planning it longer than that, unless kanyah starts on the whiskey again, or the lathe falls on you, three years will be a doddle. mel


    admin Reply:

    Hi Mel and thanks for your continued support.

    Thai customs is a whole other story and we won’t know until it has happened. It’s too late do anything different now – it’s all set in stone. I’ll be reporting the outcome of course.

    As to planning, this retiring in Thailand idea started in December 2006 which is eight years ago. So it’s time to actually retire properly I think.

    As to the lathe falling on my I doubt that will happen. It’s firmly anchored to the floor by about a ton of gravitational force. Three years to build the half size traction engine is enough time if I can get a the components and don’t get distracted – you know me well enough to know that that is a risk.

    Best Regards

    Alan Brown


  • Mike:

    Hi Al,
    Glad to hear that your shop is packed and on it’s way to Thailand. May I ask, what arrangements you’ve made in Thailand to process your goods through Thai customs and then to transport them to Pak Chong? Have you made arrangments to use a freight forwarding company? I paid $4000 Baht to truck my household items from the port of Bangkok to Nong Khae,… I had less than half of what you are moving and I’m a little closer to the port (I’ve been told that this is an extreamly good price). Also, I trust you’re importing your goods into Thailand under your retirement visa, which is less than 6 months old, which allows you to bring all your household goods in duty free; if not, Thai customs will want to charge you import tax on everything.


    admin Reply:

    Hi Mike and thanks for the comment. You make some very good points and I’m afraid that I expect a great deal of grief from Thai customs.

    I am bringing my goods under my retirement visa which is less than six months old but I’m confused about the rules.

    I’m trying to get my stuff imported to Thailand free of duty under the ‘importing personal effects’ rules using my Retirement Visa which is less than six months old.

    But the rules are not straightforward at all.

    It seems you can import within 6 months after (critical date) but not within one month before (critical date).

    One source says the (critical date) is when you get your retirement visa, another when you enter the country on it.

    Since I got my retirement visa in Thailand I’m not sure what they will take as the entry date. My goods will certainly arrive within one month of my arrival in Thailand next time.

    Anyway, I’m expecting to pay something either way – so if I can (as I did) make the castings look like just old cast iron maybe they won’t put much value on them.

    It’s a damage limitation situation really.

    We had a quote of £2,600 (140,000 Baht) to ship from UK to the port (Leam Chabang) only and then the shipper wanted another £950 (50,000 Baht) for customs clearance and shipment to our house in Pak Chong.

    Total door to door is £3,550 (190,000 Baht).

    Of this £950 (50,000 Baht), £650 (34,450 Baht) was for customs clearance (!) so the delivery to Pakchong (Pak Chong) was £300 (16,000 Baht).

    When I moved the large lathe and milling machine from Bangkok to Pakchong (Pak Chong) it cost me 12,000 Baht, so 16,000 Baht looks reasonable. But 4,000 Baht to truck household items from the port of Bangkok to Nong Khae, which is half way to Pakchong (Pak Chong) seems very cheap to me.

    What the £650 (34,450 Baht) for customs clearance is for I have no idea… but I’m just hoping that’s it’s enough.

    The above quotes are from Anglo Pacific http://www.anglopacific.co.uk

    The quote from 1stMove International http://www.shipit.co.uk for a similar door-to-door service was £4,121.40 (218,000 Baht).

    That last quote included:-

    “Professional Packing and Loading & Securing to your shipping container £1,190.00″ and,
    “Destination Charges £1,736.00″

    Best Regards

    Alan Brown


    Mike Reply:

    Quite right you are Alan,…the official Thai customs webpage at:
    is less than clear as to when exactly one’s duty free window starts. The following quote from the above webpage does not clearly define what constitutes the start date, “It is important that the used/secondhand household effects must be imported not earlier than one month before or not later than six months after the arrival of the importers. Under exceptional circumstances, Customs may extend the time limits for the importers.”

    For what it’s worth, my Thai wife is certain that the clock starts when you first entered Thailand on your tourist visa, which you later converted to a retirement visa.

    However, I believe you made a very wise decision by shipping door-to-door, which tasks a “freight forwarding company” to handle all the paperwork involving import and Thai customs. From what I’ve read on other websites, folks run into more trouble when they ship door-to-port and attempt to handle all the paperwork with Thai customs by themselves.

    I wish you a smooth & trouble-free import.

    Mike & Pan


    admin Reply:

    Hi Mike and thanks for you comments.

    We have been so busy with packing and decorating I have had no time at all to respond to comments until now so please accept my apologies for being so late in responding.

    A few years ago we sent about three boxes from UK to Thailand by air freight. They contained pictures (the kind you hang on the wall) and dining table placemats. Stuff of no real value but Kanyah wanted to send them.

    It took several days of Kanyah and her daughter Daeng to clear these through customs. They were pushed from office to office from building to building paying a charge each time. In the end they ended up paying more than the goods were worth to get them cleared through customs.

    Learning from that experience we decided to pay the extra (£950 in this case) for customs clearance and delivery to our retirement home in Pakchong (Pak Chong).

    Since this topic (cost of shipping personal effects to Thailand) has generated so much interest I have added the details of the quotations I received to the website here:-

    As to when then ‘clock starts’ ie the magic date for importing your personal effects to Thailand I appreciate your wife’s comments. However that magic date is far from clear. There are just too many variables. Is is the date when:-
    - You get your retirement visa, or,
    - The date you enter Thailand prior to getting your retirement visa, or,
    - The date when you re-enter the country under your retirement visa (as I will be doing), or
    - Any other date you can think of.

    I can’t bring the stuff in to Thailand under my wife’s name as a returning Thai national because she has lived in Thailand for the last five years while I carried on here working.

    In reality as the currently popular phrase go “we are where we are”. The container has gone and we leave for Thailand in two weeks time. The container will arrive at the port of Laem Chabang a week after we arrive in Thailand.

    Thereafter it’s in the hands of the Thai Customs gods.

    Best Regards

    Alan Brown


  • Dudley Carelse:

    Hi Allan,
    I’ve been reading about your experiences with great interest.

    There’s just one point id like to make. I went through a similar situation when I had my house hold goods brought over. My wife is Thai and before we shipped our stuff she made some inquiries and fortunately she had s friend connected with the Thai customs and was told that all the goods must be imported on her name.

    The only requirement was for her to have owned the goods for more than 2yrs. The result was, we had no problems st st all. The total value of our goods wsd around $20000 aus. Maybe it’s not too late for you to do the same.

    All the best mate.

    Regards Dudley


    admin Reply:

    Hi Dudley and many thanks for the comment.

    Sorry for the delayed reply – so busy these days since I retired to Thailand.

    Our container got through Thai Customs OK as reported here:-


    As I understand it to import goods under the Thai wife’s name it has to be on the basis that she is returning to live in Thailand after a long spell abroad. That’s not our situation because Kanyah has been living here in Thailand for about the last eight years.

    Anyway we got our container through OK and all the goods are unpacked here at Pakchong (Pak Chong).

    Thanks again for your comment.

    Best Regards

    Alan Brown


  • Ross Harbottle:


    General question: I am moving from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in the next few months.

    I will need a 40′ container (have lived in Thailand for 21 years, and collected Thai furniture, etc.).

    All of the websites I email/phone to get no response.

    Any ideas on what it would cost (reasonably)?


    admin Reply:

    Hi Ross, and thanks for the query.

    I may be able to help but not until we get to Thailand after 8th June.

    The company that moved those big machine tools (lathe and milling machine)from Bangkok to Pakchong said if I needed a container moving they would like to do it.

    I don’t think they supply containers but they would probably know a company who could.

    The only snag is that I don’t have their contact details – they gave me a business card but it’s in Pakchong (Pak Chong).

    What I will do is ask the people on the announcement list if they can help.

    Best Regards

    Alan Brown


  • Steven Jones:

    I had a quote of £1500 to move items to thailand including all fees.


    admin Reply:

    Hi Steve,

    A quote of £1,500 to move from Uk to Thailand is very good but what does it include?

    We had a quote of £1,250 for “Container Shipping Costs” but when all the other costs are added in it came to around £4,121.

    Since this topic (cost of shipping personal effects to Thailand) has generated so much interest I have added the details of the quotations I received to the website here:-

    Alan and Kanyah in Nottingham


  • Len:

    Finally getting around to your posts – been sick for a month but much better now. Had some of the fun you had – I
    used a 40′ box. 180 boxes and much furniture cost me
    $15,000 door to door. I was told that it would be duty free but when it got here it was $3,000 saying the rules had changed – they settled for $1250 plus another $800 for paperwork and storage because my house was not completed.
    I suspect they will get you – they usually do but it is
    important to you and like me you just pay it and smile. You
    should be fine age/health and money wise so sit back, have
    a beer and start building your dream.


    admin Reply:

    Hi Lenny, and many thanks for your contribution – much appreciated.

    Sorry to hear about your illness but glad you have recovered.

    There are a stack of comments here from you going back months that I haven’t responded to yet. Even though I have ‘retired’ there just isn’t enough time in the day and I just keep inventing new projects for myself…

    I’m thinking the same as you – I’ll be caught one way or another with the container. However, I did pay a massive £650 (34,450 Baht) for “customs clearance” so I’ll be arguing that that’s enough and I don’t need to pay any more.

    We’ll see soon but like you say I’m braced for it – pay up if necessary – get a beer, smile, and live the dream.

    Best Regards

    Alan Brown


  • paul and kalaya:

    interesting stuff, I am just planning to retire in thailand having been married for 5 years and thai wife now has UK passport (phew!!). My stuff is varied including electronics workshop gear so will have some customs fun there. I know all about thai systems! I have lots of amazing aluminium ( by edak and zarges look it up as you paid a fortune for them in taxes and they “mod” threw them away.!!) all ex military transit cases, so am going to use them as they have 8 shock mounts (internal) and handles and moisture seals. So my thai wife’s collection of pottery (ebay!) and my CDs can go in inner sealed containers. I am interested in hearing how you got on, who you used, can I get on some email list for this forum. Also I have a few spare containers as well I am sure I won’t fill. Ideal for real valuables. breakables. (I am a military surplus gear collector/restorer) regards and choc dee…


    admin Reply:

    Hi paul and thanks for your comment.

    Apparently (we were not present) the customs clearance went smoothly.

    Our agent said there would be duty to pay which is normally 48,000 Baht for a 40 foot container and pro-rata 25,000 Baht for a 20 foot container.

    Two boxes were open when we received the container but there were no questions to us about rusty traction engine castings, steam coal or steam oil!

    As long as you have a good Agent to clear customs for you (DON’T try to do it yourself) and you are ready to pay the duty as above you should have no problem.

    I should add that since the Coup the Army are down at the Customs trying to stamp out corruption. That may have helped smooth clearance of our container.

    Best Regards

    Alan Brown


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