Posts Tagged ‘Thailand Retirement’

Thailand Retirement Life In The Fast-Track – In More Ways Than One

 A Very Quick And Short Summary Of My Brief Spell of Retirement In Pak Chong (Pakchong), Thailand, Typed In The Thai Royal Silk First Class Departure Lounge At Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand

DATE: 15 April, 2012

It’s been a hectic and eventful two weeks as I try out my ideal life of retirement at our house in Packchong (Pak Chong), Thailand.

“Retirement” life in Thailand been so full – so busy that not only couldn’t I do all the things I had planned, it’s only now as I am waiting for the flight home that I have some free time to spare to write up my notes on this blogging website.

Many apologies to all those people I planned to meet, but couldn’t, and many apologies for not contacting you previously.

Although I haven’t yet posted online any stories of my retirement life in Thailand for the past two weeks, I have gathered a huge mumber of photos and movies to show you. And I have a lot of insights, facts and opinions to share with you about the pros and cons of retiring in Thailand.

Here are some of the highlights of my two week retirement holiday:-

  • The Fast-Track Route Through Immigration At The Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Flying Thai Royal Silk Business Class – Is It Worth The Money?
  • My Reflections On Retiring In Thailand – What It Means And Why Thailand Is Different (Or Not)
  • Ferocious Hurricane Sends A Mini-Tsunami Of Water Trough Our Retirement House
  • We Hire The Same Landscape Gardener That We Sacked Last Time – And Pay Him More Money!
  • I Screw Up Big Time In My Model Engineering Workshop – And Not A Single Part Of My Model Steam Engine Gets Made
  • I Discover A Fantastic Source Of Model Engineering Materials
  • We Meet Up With Other Expats Retiring In Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand
  • How To Get Online In Thailand – Dead Easy
  • The Horrors Of Songklan
  • …And Much More

Well, that’s enough for starters. I won’t be able to cover everything in this one post and there is more to come than in that shortlist above, but let’s get started and see where we go from here….

First, An Update On Fast-Tracking The Immigration Queues At The Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

I first wrote about the possibilities of fast-tracking the huge immigration queues at the Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport on the “How To Fast Track Past The Long Immigration Queues At Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport And Get Through In Minutes Rather Than Hours” Post.

The quick answer is – if you travel Business Class – then yes you can completely fast track the immigration queues at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. In both directions – i.e. on arrival and on departure.

You’ll get through immigration in minutes, not hours.

First, Fast-Tracking Through Immigration On Arrival  To  Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand

I Fast-Track through immigration at Suvarnabhumi airport at Bangkok in 1 minute!

From Arrival Gate To Baggage Collection In 18 Minutes – Including Time-Wasting Turns

See It All In The Movie:-

Date: 31 March 2012

Typed in a Toyota Hilux Vigo Pickup – see below.

I had a Business Class (turned out they call it “Thai Royal Silk”) ticket for my flight from Heathrow in the U.K. and on boarding the plane I was directed up the stairs to the upper deck. It felt like I was travelling First Class!

Before departing the plane in Bangkok I saw the Thai guy sitting next to me packing up ready to leave the plane and he was careful to take the stub from his Boarding Card with him. I had expected the cabin crew to give me a fast-track pass on leaving the plane but they didn’t. In fact they didn’t say anything about a fast-track service. Hence I worked out that I needed to take the boarding card stub with me. I made sure I had the stub from my Boarding Card in my pocket. It was the only proof that I had travelled Business Class.

Image of Royal Thai Silk Boarding Pass Bangkok Fast Track Immigration

Royal Thai Silk Business Class Boarding Pass

Would it work? Was there really fast-track route to bypass the long immigration queues that had been reported.

Here’s what happened:-

The plane lands at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport at 0530 local time and I’m out of the gate at walking to immigration at 23:52 U.K. time , 0552 Bangkok time.

Here is a photo of my mobile phone still set on U.K. time. this was taken just after leaving the gate at the beginning of the walk to immigration:-

Image of Fast-Track Immigration Queues At Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport Start

Starting Time On Embarkment From the Plane At Bangkok

I actually took out my camcorder to recorded the entire walk and the process through immigration but for some reason the camcorder kept stopping (I only found this out later) and I only had a very seconds of movie recorded.

Anyway I walked long towards immigration, following the signs and at the turn-off to the normal immigration desks there was a blue sign at high level that said something “First Class” and VIP and the sign indicated to keep walking instead of turning right into the normal immigration area.

I walked on about 50 m and came across a place signposted “Fast Track” and “Visa on Arrival”. There were about 20 travellers there filling in visa application forms, attaching photos to them, and clutching a bunch of Thai Baht for the fee.

These people seemed to be getting processed at a cabin clearly signed “Fast Track Visas”.

Since I just wanted a two week tourist visa and nothing more I didn’t want to fill in a form or join this queue.

So I walked past the “Fast Track Visas” cabin and up to one of the immigration desks. Just one person queue. My turn and I gave the immigration officer my passport, Landing Card (properly completed) and my Boarding Card stub.

She told me to go to the left an pointing somewhere on her left which was in the general direction of the normal immigration queues, where I had just come from.

So I walked out and back towards the normal immigration desks. Then after a few metres I saw a big yellow coloured “archway” with words like VIP, Cabin Crew etc. so I took my chance. There were two immigration desks, nobody queing. I gave the lady (they all seemed to be ladies) my documents as before, she processed them, stamped my passport and I went through!

The time now was 0010 U.K. time, exactly 18 minutes  after leaving the gate. Here’s a photo of my phone again, still on U.K. time.

Image of Fast-Track Immigration Queues At Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport Finish

Time After Being Processed By Immigration

Even including the walk from the gate and me wasting time by going the “Fast Track Visas on Arrival” place I was through immigration in about 18 minutes. Without the mistake it would have been under 15 minutes from the landing gate. Quite a fast time to get through immigration at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi airport.

So I collected my big bag full of model engineering materials and tools (including a steam engine kit) and went outside to meet Kanyah. Except that she wasn’t there! By this time is was 0620 so I phoned her. Yes she was on the way but she hadn’t reached Saraburi yet (Half way between Pakchong (Pak Chong) and Bangkok).

After about ten minutes waiting in the sweltering heat – it was an overwhelming 29 deg C despite the sun only starting to rise and drive away the dawn darkness and it was VERY humid – I had a lovely surprise. Deang, Kanyah’s Thai daughter who works at the airport, presented herself and took me off to her nice cool air conditioned office where I waited two hours for Kanyah to arrive!

New VIDEO Coming Soon!

So I had got through immigration in a fw minutes just to have to wait two hours for Kanyah.

And Then The Time Wasting Got Worse

It’s normally a two hour drive from the airport to Pakchong.

A year ago when Kanyah collected me the car was driven by her nephew, Jalan, and he got hopelssly lost trying to find the road to Pakchong out of Bangkok. That trip took us 4 hours.

This time, Kanyah was driving an our neighbour, Noi, was in th car to “help” her find her way.

In no less that 15 minuutes we were again hopelessly lost. I had before I left London told Kanyah to bring the Sat Nav (Garmin nüvi® 2565 Sat Nav) I had bought in Pakchong (Pak Chong) at Christmas for a great deal of money.

She had forgotten it. I was hopping mad. I’m actually typing this as I sit in the car on our way to our retirement house Pakchong (Pak Chong). It’s 0900 – we have lost an hour and got nowhere. In fact about 15 minutes ago Kanyah hired a taxi to show us the way at my suggestion and we seem to be going in the right direction. We are almost back to the Suvarnabumi airport again. And we have lost one hour. Eventually the taxi left us on a road that Kanyah new on the way back to Pakchong (Pak Chong).

And On Departure From Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand

DATE:15 April 2012

This is exactly what happened to me this morning, just a few minutes ago. As we (or rather as Kanyah) drove up to the departure area at the Suvarnabhumi Airport (using the Sat Nav this time) I saw signs indicating a “Special” gate for Thai Royal Silk passengers. Since I was one of those, I directed Kanyah to the gate (I think it was No. 1) and Kanyah dropped me off.

In seconds a Porter had picked up my baggage and I followed him to the check-in area for Thai Royal Silk passengers. No queue and I was checked in in seconds.

This then led to the Fast Track security channel, which was about 30 seconds walk, and then immediately on to the Immigration Desks. All the way, no waiting, no queues.

Next it was downstairs to the exclusive Thai Royal Silk (Business and First Class only) lounge which was, as you could imagine, luxurious. Plenty of free food and drink and free internet access which is where I am typing this report from as I wait for the plane.

I have made a video of the Thai Royal Silk lounge itself, and I’ll pause this update to shoot a movies of myself making it. (The update)


(Note to self. Get a travel adaptor so that you can power your laptop from the power outlets in public places like this airport lounge without having to use the batteries.)

Retiring In Thailand Swingometer Hint: Assumes I’ll be doing this again sometime. (+2 points)

Flying Business Class to Thailand – Is It Worth The Extra Money?

I’m still awaiting my return flight as I type this so there will be an update later.

But based on my outward trip from London to Bangkok and this wait in the Thai Royal Silk lounge, this is my view:-

Flying Business to Thailand is a huge leap forward in terms of comfort and convenience. There should be no other way to fly. As I remember the last flight home from Bangkok to London ,when (for the first time in my life) I was physically sick on the plane, was such a terrible ordeal, for me there is no other way to travel civilised other than  to fly Business Or First Class.

Back on the ‘standard class’ flights you’re packed in like sardines. No leg room, can’t sleep and the food is atrociuous.

In Business Class you get a huge seat that can be made into almost a flat bed, no more that four seats to the width of the plane and 5 star restaurant standard food, and superb service.

Splendid, thank you very much.

But is it worth the extra money?

Let me just recount the difference in cost between Thai Royal Silk (Business Class) and standard return air fares from London to Bangkok.

My standard class ticket with EVA Air last Christmas cost £1,149.73 ($1,494.65, 55,1087.40 Baht).

In comparison the Thai Royal Silk (Business Class) this Easter cost £2,555.83 ($3,322.58 or 122,679.84 Thai Baht) – more than double the price.

Let me say that if you can afford in my opinion it’s worth the money to arrive at your destination resembling a human being and not like some rag doll who’s been stuffed in a tiny box for 12 hours with no chance of sleeping.

I don’t travel to Thailand often – just twice a year – so the difference between the two air fares is nothing compared to the £100,000 + (Thai Baht millions) I have spent in Thailand over the last three years. So as long as I can afford it I’ll still travel Business Class.

When I finally retire to Thailand, though, and when money is tight and where I can afford to take a few days to recover after a flight – I’ll probably drop back to standard class.

Coming Up In The Next Post: I Seek Some Overwhelming Reasons Why I Should Be Retiring In Thailand

Retiring In Thailand House Build Project Finished – Photos Of The Finished Retirement House

At last Kanyah settles down to live in the retirement house she has built in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand.

Let’s Get Straight In With The Photos

Click On Any Image To See A Bigger Version

Nine Monks Performing The House Blessing Ceremony (Keun Ban Mai)

This photo shows the nine Monks perform the House Blessing Ceremony (Keun Ban Mai) presumably to bring good luck and fortune to those who live there. Until the House Blessing Ceremony (Keun Ban Mai) is done the owner of the house can’t move in to live there, according to Thai Buddhist Tradition.

View Of The House From The Road

How the house looks from the front – the road side. The new gravel drive on the left and the garden on the right yet has to have the landscape treatment.

Side View Of The House From The Neighbour’s Side

Here the shape of the house is clear. You can see the main house roof and the balcony roof. Looking at the detail the ant-burglar bars to the ground floor workshop and the second floor windows are visible.

The Utility Building From The Neighbour’s Side

The massive size of the Utility Building is clear to see. The narrow window on the left indicates the toilet and shower room and the large window on the right is to the ‘washing and ironing room’. (I have another plan for that room – so I’m not complaining too much.)

I can understand the window to the toilet being on the rear of the building but I would have thought that Kanyah would want to overlook her own beautiful garden when ironing the clothes… Strange.

Above, A Complex Arrangement Of Building Forms And Materials Combine To Generate Mystery And Architectural Mastery

I love this photo. If Kanyah took it knowing that it was a brilliant composition – an exciting and beautiful composition of shapes directions and materials – then I have seen a new side to Kanyah that I never knew existed. This photo could easily be part of any renowned Architect’s portfolio.

Another Great Photo Showing The Stainless Steel Handrails On The Balcony

This is more of an ‘informative’ photo than the ‘pure art’ photo above. Nevertheless notice how the view at ground floor level through the ‘car port’ to the front drive and gate adds interest to the house. That ‘car port’ space was intended to be used as a car port originally but now that Kanyah has paved it with marble terrazzo I don’t know what it will be used for. Just a collecting place for junk or a table tennis or snooker table maybe?

I designed it to be available for additional accommodation in future if we need it.

Natural Wood Lightweight Steps And Stainless Steel Handrails Leading Temptingly Up To The Balcony

I altered the original Architect’s design for these steps specifically to be steps and not the stairs that he designed. The difference between ‘steps’ and ‘stairs’? Steps have a vertical fill material between the treads. I took that out so that you get the gap you can see between each tread to make the steps look light.

Originally I wanted wooden handrails (balustrades if you like) and only agreed with Kanyah’s idea of stainless steel when she said it was cheaper than wood!

I’m glad I went along with Kanyah’s idea because I really do love the stainless steel handrails. They emphasise the ‘light’ look and help give the house a touch of the “Wow!” factor.

What do you think? Please feel free to comment below.

Rubbish All Around – Why Can’t They Tidy Up?

By the way – and this is something you’ll see in many of the photos – why do they leave bits an pieces of junk lying around. It makes the place a bit like René Magritte’s modern art paintings who put common everyday objects at laces in his paintings where you wouldn’t expect them to be, just to shock you.

Image of René Magritte's Man and Dove Painting

René Magritte's Man and Dove Painting

It’s like these Thai’s purposely placed junk around the house just to annoy you.

Don’t know what I mean? There is a plastic bottle at the base of the steps. And on the left of it is a Thai floor brush. Further over on the left is a Thai home-made ladder. You’ll see this junk in most of the photos.

Above, the stairs (steps actually) have that light ‘look-through’ feel.

The design intent of the wooden steps leading up to the Mai Malay wooden balcony was to make them look light and airy. This has been accomplished by leaving out the stair risers and using thin sections of wood.

The polished Mai Malay (Malaysian hardwood) floor of the balcony is well shaded from the sun and protected from the rain by the low overhanging tiled roof.

Another view of the wooden balcony floor but at low level which shows the full extent of the balcony and the beautiful red colour of the wood. Also clearly visible is the wonderfully workmanship of the polished stainless steel handrails locally made in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand.

Although the red coloured hardwood is from Malaysia (called Mai Malay in Thai) it makes a wonderfully warm and welcome flooring.

The hand made Thai teak wooden doors to the accommodation on the second floor level and the polished stainless steel security gates.

Beautiful hand made in Pakchong (Pak Chong) Thai Teak wooden doors and hand-crafted stainless steel security gate with the highly polished balcony floor make a very lovely view and easy on the eye when relaxing on the balcony.

The highly polished and ornate hand-made stainless steel balustrades and handrails together with the natural Thai wood of the stair landing and the white-painted concrete structural frame of the house make a stunning vision.

An optical illusion that takes a bit of mental dexterity before you realise that the wooden planks in the centre of the photo are actually the vertical wall of the house not the flat balcony floor.

Interesting view of the stairs showing masses of stainless steel on the handrails and lovely re-coloured wooden stair landing.

This photo shows the steel anti-burglar bars fitted to the second floor bedroom window. It’s not clear how the steel anti-burglar bars are secured to the window frame or wall of the house, and whether they are made from stainless steel or not.

It’s no surprise that the anti-burglar bars fitted to the ground floor model engineering workshop doors are made from highly polished and decorative stainless steel similar to all the other stainless steel handrails around the retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand.

This is the same white stone drive that runs all the way past the house to the rear garden. The drive is higher than the garden area and is held in place by a small brick retaining wall.

This photo of the white stone front drive is taken from further away from the road so that the full length of the drive from the road to the house can be seen.

The driveway is made from small white stone pebbles (I think marble chips) and passes beside the house into the rear garden. It gives access to the land at the rear of the house.

Proof that Kanyah has moved out of The Mansion in Pakchong (Pak Chong). A Pile of her things collected from her travels around the world and sent to Thailand from our house in the U.K.

80 Days To Fit This Ugly Western Kitchen!

Kanyah told me she had bought a kitchen for 50,000 Baht and they wanted another 40,000 Baht to fit it.

40,000 Baht to fit a kitchen! Taking a Thai craftsman’s wage at 500 Baht/day that’s 80 man-days!!

Nearly 3 months to fit a kitchen.

I later learned that she hadn’t bought it and when I saw this photo it’s obviously a shot of a show kitchen still in the showroom.

I quickly warned Kanyah that the bamboo mat lining to the walls of our house were not strong enough to support the upper cabinets.

She didn’t believe me but after checking with her Thai neighbour she agreed.

Hopefully this grotesque western monster is still in the shop.

Another finely composed photo from Kanyah showing the stainless steel handrail curving towards the house with the teak doors in the background.

View of right-hand part of the massive utilities building. This is the toilet and shower room side.

Left hand side of the utilities building. Note the lack of windows! Looks more like a jail than a washroom.

Why did she put the window at the back?

Notice the concrete forecourt in front of the building where the car is standing.

The photo of the shower unit in the utilities building shows again how much space there is in the shower/toilet room.

The WC in this photo of the inside of the utilities building is not the objective of showing the picture> The purpose is to show how much room – wasted space and expense – there is in the building.

As with the other photos of the shower room/toilet in the utilities room on the ground floor of the retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand, this picture also shows what a huge room it is.

The roof water collection system comprises rain water gutters that collect the rain water from the roof and downpipes that then deliver the water to the rain water plastic storage tanks.

Storing rain water collected from the roof of the retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand, is essential to be able to irrigate the garden in the dry season. This plastic water storage tank is one of two that we have to store the collected rain water.

This plastic water storage tank has the number 2000 in bold letters on the packaging so I assume it’s 2,000 l capacity. (2 m3)

Another plastic rain water storage tank to store the rain water collected from the roof.

The super-strong Thai Teak wood doors are enough of a deterrent to keep the casual burglar from trying to get into the model engineering workshop at our retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand, but these stainless steel gates will make breaking into the workshop virtually impossible even for the most determined burglar.

The strongest Thai teak wood was used for the hand made doors for the model engineering workshop in the retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand.

The massive electric water heater has been sized to suit the bath that Kanyah has had put in her bathroom. in our retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand. In front of the electric water heater you can see the stainless steel sink in the workshop.

The stainless steel sink is to wash my hands and dirty metal model parts in my model engineering workshop in our retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong).

Notice the tiles around the sink. Actually it’s a wash-hand basin. I wanted a massive industrial sink suitable for dropping heavy steam locomotive boilers about 2 ft (600 mm) long in for cleaning after they have been welded. What chance of that with this punitive little basin?

Have A Laugh On Me

Click on the image above. I mean it.

You’ll love it. Honestly.

That’s all for now. Took me 3 weeks part time work to put this Post together hope you like it.

Please leave a comment below.


Today Is The Official Completion Of Our Retirement House In Packchong (Pak Chong), Thailand, As Kanyah Moves In

7th November 2011 – Another Difficult-to-Forget 7/11 Date

Today’s the date that as I reported in the Move-In Date Fixed – Thailand Retirement House Build Project Finished… ? Post the monks will come to bless the house and Kanyah will move in to reside there.

The retirement house build project is officially finished.

Silence From Kanyah In Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand

Kanyah phoned me yesterday to tell me (again) about the monk’s visit today. But she was very subdued and didn’t sound at all excited. “Send me more money” was the theme of her call.

But she did mention that two water tanks to collect water from the roof had been delivered – each tank 4 m3 capacity. She also said that she had bought a kitchen for 50,000 Baht and had to pay more for the builder to fit it. When I pressed her for details of what was in this kitchen she had bought she said that it was a cooker and kitchen cabinets like in the West. So much for my theory of a Thai kitchen on the Move-In Date Fixed – Thailand Retirement House Build Project Finished… ? Post

I’m not surprised that she hasn’t phoned today – it’s Kanyah’s way. No phone call, no photos, nothing.

Kanyah received for house address (Baan Lek Tee ) on 29th October 2011 as I reported on the
Thai House Address – Baan Lek Tee In Thai Language Post and promised to send me a scan of it to put on the website. That was well over a week ago and nothing arrived so far.

Fine when she wants money and I send it to her immediately. But she can’t even be bothered to send me a scan of the house address or any progress photos. That last time she sent me photos from our retirement house build project in Thailand was on Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 3:15 PM and that is just two weeks ago.

Thinking Of Marrying A Thai Woman And Building A Retirement House In Thailand?

My advice? Read this Post and all the other Posts on this website, read the Dont Retire To Thailand page and think carefully. Above all don’t rush in.

What Next in The Retiring In Thailand Story?

Well, “all” we have done so far is to buy a car in Thailand (Toyota Hilux Pickup), bought some land and built a retirement house in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand.

I haven’t done any retiring at all so there’s that to look forward (?) to…

But let’s get practical.

  • She (we) need furniture for the house.
  • I need to buy my machine tools and hand tools for the workshop.
  • I want a big freezer stocked up with farang food and a bigger fridge stocked up with cool beer.
  • I need an Internet connection, my work desk and executive chair…

And my next trip to Thailand is for Christmas and New Year coinciding with the Pakchong (Pak Chong) Cowboy City festival.

I thoroughly enjoyed last year’s festival as recorded (complete with movies) on the Pakchong Cowboy City Countdown 2011 – Happy New Year 1 page and this year it can only be better.

My Model Engineering Workshop In Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand

Maybe I’ll send some money to Kanyah for her to buy the furniture so that I can spend my visit looking for machine tools. Steve W tells me that there are streets in Bangkok selling second-hand lathes and milling machines at reasonable prices.

Here are some photos of machine tools for sale in Bangkok that I have found on various Thai websites:-

Image of Second-hand lathe for sale in Bangkok 003

Second-Hand Lathe for Sale in Bangkok 003

Above, this second-hand lathe for sale in Bangkok, Thailand is advertised on the website.

Below is a half-decent milling machine for sale on the same website.

Image of Second Hand Milling Machine for Sale in Bangkok 003

Second Hand Milling Machine for Sale in Bangkok 003

My ‘Beautiful’ Workshop Floor Will Be Messed Up In No Time !

Above, these machine tools do a messy job of machining metal. A lot of oil is spalshed on the metal cutters to lubricate it an keep them cool. The metal cuttings (swarf) fly in all directions making an oily dirty mess everywhere.

The ‘beautiful’ marble terrazzo floor that Kanyah has put into my workshop See the (Mission Creep – Costs Escalate – Time Overruns – Photos Show Why) Post will be completly ruind as soon as one of these heavy machines is dragged into position.

Here’s another website selling machine tools in Bangkok:-

To save you leaving this page I have posted a photo of a typical machine tool of the type I’m likely to be putting in my workshop below:-

Image of Second Hand Lathe for Sale in Bangkok 001

Another Second Hand Lathe for Sale in Bangkok

I must admit that these machine tools are a bit bigger and older (worn out) than I really want. It’ll take me some time in Bangkok to find small machines in good conditions with lots of accessories.

So, I have my goal set for this forthcoming visit – to set up my model engineering workshop in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand.

After that, it’s back to the UK to earn more money to replenish my depleted pension pot so that I can eventually retire in Thailand.

I expect that Kanyah will stay on in Pakchong (Pak Chong) until the (UK) spring or summer to give her time to make the Pakchong (Pak Chong) house garden ‘beautiful’.

About Steve W

Steve is very knowledgeable (in general but also about Thailand). Some photos of Steve’s houses on these pages:-

I met Steve out in Pakchong last Christmas and we have kept in touch ever since. His Thai wife is now expecting twins.

Steve (unlike Kanyah) just sent me some photos showing the progress on his retirement house build project in Si Khiu Korat near to Pakchong (Pak Chong) and I’ll upload those to the website in the next few days.

Move-In Date Fixed

Thailand Retirement House Build Project Finished… ?

Fantastic news from Kanyah yesterday!

She has consulted with the monk and a date for the house blessing ceremony (keun ban mai) has been fixed as the 7th November 2011.

I don’t know anything about the Thai house blessing ceremony except that Kanyah can move in to live in the retirement house she has built in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand, after the ceremony.

Finishing Off The House Build

Although the house has ben “finished” for a long time there are still a few things left to do to finish it off.

Talking to other people building a house in Thailand not finishing seems to be a common trait amongst Thai house builders.

These last bits and pieces, according to Kanyah include:-

Burglar bars for the doors on the second floor. Apparently these are made from – guess what – stainless steel – and just have to be fitted. I haven’t any photos of the burglar bars from Kanyah but I can imagine something along the lines of the main gate to the front drive.

Insect screens on the doors and windows. I’m intrigued how these will be configured. Opening windows, burglar bars and insect screens. Quite a lot of components to coordinate and still allow the windows to open.

The kitchen. I don’t expect Kanyah to put in a fitted kitchen as you would find in a western house. I’m imagining just gas stand alone burner perhaps with two rings supplied from a gas bottle. The original house drawings and specification had a granite work top with fitted kitchen sink but I have no idea what Kanyah has had fitted.

Image of Retirement House Thailand Kitchen

Retirement House Thailand Kitchen

The hot water machine. Yes, that what she called it. I suppose she is talking about the hot water heater. I think she said it cost something like 8,000 Baht. Sounds like and expensive water heater to me. And why the plumber didn’t fit it wham all the rest of the water pipes were installed beats me.

Kanyah Is Living With The Neighbour

Apparently Kanyah moved out of the hotel – The Mansion in Pakchong (Pak Chong) – on 31st October. She told me that she is staying with our neighbour while she waits to move into the house. Her belongings are locked up in my workshop.

Who’s In Control Of Cost And Programme On This Retirement House Build Project In Thailand? Clearly Not Me!

Mission Creep – The Nightmare Scenario Feared Of Armed Conflict Comes To Roost In Pakchong (Pak Chong)

A bit dramatic? Maybe wouldn’t make the front page of the daily newspapers but when I’m told the house is finished and I am still sending vast sums of money out to Thailand month after month after month, it’s a nightmare scenario for me.

The Return Of The Bad Old Days?

If you have been reading this blog for a long time you’ll recall the Bad Old Days when I was writing posts like “Thailand Retirement House Build Plans Dashed” when the Thailand retirement house-build project was really getting me down and I seemed to have hit an all-time low.

Are those days back again after we lifted ourselves back up with a new builder?

Not quite. The new builder is terrific. Excellent quality and easy for Kanyah to work with, helpful, considerable, knowledgeable, and as far as I can tell – honest.

The Problem Is With Kanyah. Not The Builder

On the “Our Retirement House In Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand, Inches Towards Completion With One Wooden Wall Finished” post dated 28 June Kanyah was talking about 3 to 6 weeks to complete the house construction. She originally (20 June) said it would take 3 months as advised by the new Thai builder.

Now it’s 5 October, and it’s still not finished. The builder has stopped work on the house (original scope) to do all these add-ons (mission creep) instructed by Kanyah.

I implore with Kanyah to get the house finished so that she can take residence there and cease renting the hotel room at The Mansion.

I’m completely mystified why she doesn’t do this. Surely, I think, she would be more relaxed and happier living in her own house, in her own space, with her own belongings unpacked and with the facilities at last to cook real food for herself instead of eating takeaways from the few roadside food stalls there are in Pakchong.

But she is waiting until “everything is finished” before moving in.

What does “everything is finished” mean? Here are some of these mission-creep projects Kanyah has started or is planning that are over and above the original house build scope:-

  • Utility Building – Massively oversized and over-specified. (Work commenced)
  • Concrete slabs about 2m wide all round the house – not necessary. (Work commenced)
  • Marble Terrazzo floors to all ground floor areas – Grossly expensive, extravagant, out of place and unnecessary. (Work commenced)
  • Stone driveway. (Work planned)
  • And then there’s the landscaping of the garden…

Yet all the house needs to make it habitable (so she says) is to put up the light fittings, install the power outlets, switch on the electricity and the final house clean.

Oh! And she says there are no kitchen cabinets, cooker etc.

Never mind that Kanyah! What do you have in The Mansion? A rice cooker that’s all. Get yourself a fridge and a bottled gas cooking ring or two and you’re sorted! Why aren’t you getting that fixed instead of concentrating on all of the additional  external works?

You’ll be more relaxed and comfortable and I’ll be able to stop paying for the hotel bills and water and electricity on two locations.

Now Let’s Look At The Latest Photographs Showing The Progress On Building The Retirement House In Pakchong (Pak Chong)

But before we get into that let me ask you a question…

When you look at these photos what are you actually looking at? Or looking for?

  • Construction techniques and materials in Thailand?
  • The weird and wonderful way the Thais do things?
  • How beautiful (or otherwise) our retirement house looks?
  • Problems building a house in Thailand?
  • And other things you may not know you are looking at or for.

When I look at the photos I am looking for:-

  • When will it be finished?
  • Is it another waste of money?
  • When can I stop sending sack-loads of money out to Thailand?

In the beginning I wasn’t looking for answers to those questions.

No I am because every 100 Baht spent on unnecessary building works can buy me a meal in Thailand when I retire.

And every cubit metre of concrete and every 10m2 of terazzo marble flooring can keep both of us in food and drink for  month when I retire to Thailand. (No calculations done to prove this – it’s the concept that matters)

In other words, I am working in UK and sending all my spare money to Thailand for Kanyah to waste on unnecessary luxuries. That money should be going into the bank to spend on living in Thailand when I retire. We could probably both live your a year or several on the amount of money she has spent just on the stuff you are about to see on this web page.

O.K. On to The Photos – How To Waste Money On Building A Retirement House In Thailand

Image of Concrete Patio Slab Rear 01

Pouring The Concrete To Form The Patio At The Rear Of The House

Kanyah has decided to have a concrete strip about 2 m wide cast all around the house and you can see one of the strips being poured in the photo above. This is the road side of the house which is normally called the front of the house, but we have built our house so that the front – where the balcony is – is at the back, so to speak.

When I asked her what it was for she said “It looks beautiful” and that it was to stop the dirt from your feet coming into the house. Sorry, Kanyah, I thought that’s what the ground floor patio was for – before you covered it with marble-finish terrazzo.

Sure, I can see the benefit of this concrete buffer zone – but the advantages far outweigh the cost in my book. We could live for a year in Pakchong (Pak Chong) on the amount of money that concrete has cost me.

Image of Concrete Patio Slab Rear 02

Pouring More Concrete To Form The Patio At The Rear Of The House

Another pour of concrete going on whilst the first is still being trowelled smooth.

The guy in the foreground is trowelling the concrete smooth while another concrete pour is going ahead in a different position at the rear of the photo.

I know from my considerable construction industry experience URL that the correct way to pour concrete is to pour the next load right alongside the previous one so that the pour appears as one homogenous mass of concrete.

The objective is to ensure that the concrete does not dry out between different pour batches because that creats a wet-to-dry conrete joint which is no where near as strong as contigous concrete that you get pouring wet next to wet concrete.

Even a non-builder will understand this.

But look at the photo. They are making a second pour well away from the first and still wet pour. Why?

Judging (from the photo) by the area that one pour of concrete covers there are at least two more pours to go in betweeen the two you can in the photo before they meet up. Plenty of time for the previous concrete pour to dry out!

Image of Concrete Patio Slab Rear 03

Septic Tank And Soak-Away Covers

The third concrete pour at the rear of the house. At least this pour is next to the previous pour. Perhaps thay have been listening to me!

But the reason I am showing this photo is to highlight the manholes.

The circular hole is the top of the septic tank I don’t know what the square brick hole is for. I could guess and say it’s the top of a soakaway tank but heh! let’s not conjecture – I’ll save this mystery as something to be discovered when I go out there next Christmas.

My little Christmas treat!

Is Kanyah Building The House Of Babel?

Or Eschers Ascending Descending Stairs?

Image of The Tower of Babel

Is Kanyah Building Another Tower Of Babel?

Bâbel, a Hebrew word means Confusion and the The House Of Babel or more often The Tower Of Babel is a storey found in the Biblical book of Genesis, and is one of the most famous and beloved legends of mankind. It’s a story where all the people building the huge tower that would reach the heavens spoke a common language and the Lord changed all that so that everbody spoke a different language and stopped building.

This picture of  The Tower Of Babel is  similar to the famous “Escher’s Ascending Descending Stairs” where the steps around the building rise and fall in an impossible fashion like this:-

Image of Eschers Ascending Descending Stairs

Escher's Ascending Descending Stairs

The pictures of the The Tower Of Babel and Escher’s Ascending Descending Stairs above are what I want you to remember when you look at the next couple of photos of the retirement house that Kanyah is building in Pakchong (Pak Chong).

Image of Concrete Patio Slab Rear 04

Close-Up Of Poured Concrete To Form The Patio At The Rear Of The House

Notice in the photo above that the top of the new concrete slab and the patio are on the same level

Image of Concrete Patio Slab Side 01

Poured Concrete Slab To The Side Of The House To Carry The Water Tanks

In the photo above the concrete side slab runs down the side of the house between the house and the fenceline to the neighbours land.

This is a complete waste of money!

That area is where we plan to put a couple of huge water tanks to store water from the roof collected by the huge gutters we have had put up.

But water tanks don’t need a flat concrete slab to sit on. If anything they need a slab of concrete independent of the house to allow for differential settlement. Put big water tanks on this slab and I guarantee the slab will crack.

The tower of Bâbel story continues…

Look at the photo below which is a close up of the photo you have just been looking at – the concrete side slab:-

Image of Step Up From Side Concrete Patio Slab To Patio

Notice the 150 mm Step Up From the Side Concrete Slab To Patio

Above, notice the 150 mm step up from the concrete side slab to the patio slab itself (which is a good thing to keep rainwater from the patio). Now compare this the ring of concrete with the rising ramps that spiral around the Tower of Babel in the Tower of Babel photo above.

And remember that in the “Close-Up Of Poured Concrete To Form The Patio At The Rear Of The House” photo above, the top of the new concrete slab and the patio are on the same level.

So where does the level change if it’s not a “Babel Ramp”?

Image of Concrete Patio Slab Side 01

Poured Concrete Slab To The Side Of The House To Carry The Water Tanks

I added the picture above to show the thickness of the concrete side slab. It’s a massive piece of concrete!

My next question is whether Kanyah will continue this concrete slab around the front of the house where the steps are?

OK enough of concrete. lets now look at some of the …

Photos Of The Terrazzo Marble Floors

Image of Terrazzo Marble Floor 01 Workshop 01

Two Floor Grinding Machines At Work Polishing The Terrazzo Marble Floor In My Workshop

Terrazzo is an all natural material only consisting of stones or aggregate (commonly marble, quartz, granite, glass or other suitable chips) mixed with cement. As such, after the concrete/stone mix has been poured and allowed to cure hard the stones (e.g. marble granules) are embedded in the concrete and not visible. The floor just looks like concrete until it has been ground.

Next the grinding machines are put to work to literally grind the concrete and cut into the marble granules leaving a lovely shiny finish.

Image of Terrazzo Marble Floor 01 Workshop 01

Reflections Of The Windows On The Shiny Surface Of The Highly Polished Terrazzo Marble Floor In The Workshop

Above, the result of grinding the marble terrazzo floor in the workshop.

At the risk of booring you to death with my mantra let me say that this is…

… This Marble Terrazzo Flooring Is A Complete Waste Of Money

Here’s why:-

Three Reasons Why Marble Terrazzo Flooring Is A Complete Waste Of Money For The Retirement House IN Pakchong (Pak Chong)

1. I’ll be Ruining That lovely Shiny Finish In A Few Weeks Of Moving In

This will be my workshop. My hobby is making model steam engines and I’ll be retiring to Thailand to do my hobby full time.

Above, some photos of the model steam engine I’m building at the moment. (Part finished) And below some photos of the individual parts.

Image of Making A Model Steam Engine Steam Engine

Some Components Of A Model Steam Engine

I will be putting heavy metalworking machinery in there like a lathe milling and drilling machines, a hacksaw machine and welding equipment.

Image of Workshop Machine Tool Lathe

My Lathe in the Workshop

Image of Workshop Machine Tool Drill

Another Workshop Machine- A Pillar Drill

Image of Workshop Machine Tool Bandsaw

Workshop Machine Tool Bandsaw

I’ll be dropping heavy steel parts on the floor (always happens) which will chip the beautiful shiny floor finish and the metal cuttings (swarf) from the machines will form an ideal grinding paste to wreck the marble finish.

Image of Workshop Equipment Dirty Swarf on Lathe

Dirty Swarf on the Lathe

Here’s a picture of a typical workshop floor to give you an idea of what a workshop looks like (not my workshop by the way):-

2. I Won’t Be Able To find Anything I Drop On The Floor

My models incorporate some very small pieces about the size of a matchstick or smaller. These are often screws, washers etc and as you’ll see in the photo below the marble terrazzo floor makes a perfect camouflage for such tiny pieces of metal.

Making A Model Steam Engine Steam Engine Small Bits

Image of Making A Model Steam Engine Steam Engine Small Bits

Image of Terrazzo Marble Floor 01 Workshop 02

Brass Construction Joint In The Highly Polished Terrazzo Marble Floor In The Workshop

Above, try to find a black steel nut the size of a rice grain on this floor!

Note also the brass strip put in to act as a construction joint to control cracking between different sections of the flooring arising from thermal expansion of the terrazzo flooring.

The next photo of the workshop is more to do with the sink than the marble terrazzo flooring:-

Image of Terrazzo Marble Floor 01 Workshop 02

Kitchen Sink In The Workshop

In the photo of my workshop above in the distance you can see what looks like a kitchen cabinet. It’s probably my kitchen sink that I asked Kanyah to have put in. I just wanted a stainless steel sink to wash my oily hands and to wash oily pieces of models etc, like this one:-

Image of a Stainless Steel Workshop Sink

The Stainless Steel Workshop Sink I Envisaged

Obviously, Kanyah is trying to please me, God (whoever that is) bless her.

Next is another close-up picture of the marble terrazzo flooring. This looks like a step to me, probably the step up from the patio to the workshop:-

Image of Terrazzo Marble Floor Detail 01

Detail Of The Brass Expansion Joint At The Step Down From The Workshop To The Patio

And talking of the patio, here it is:-

Image of Terrazzo Marble Floor Patio 01

Terrazzo Marble Floor To The Rear Patio

Lovely terrazzo marble floor finish on the patio, above.

Turn the corner and we see the car port:-

Image of Terrazzo Marble Floor Patio Car Port 01

Terrazzo Marble Floor To The Car Port Patio

Above the marble terrazzo floor finish in the car port.

3. You Don’t Need Expensive Marble Floors For A Car Park!

If you haven’t worked it out this is the third reason why This marble terrazzo flooring is a complete waste of money.

What do you commonly see in a car park?

  • Oil. Dripping from the cars.
  • Dirt. Dirty soil brought in on the tires.
  • Tyre marks. Big black tires scuff the surface and scratch it whilst also leaving behind tire rubber marks.

In short- marble finish terrazzo flooring is the last thing you want for a car port!

Meet Our Second Thai Builder

Image of Our New Thai Builder 01

Our New Thai Builder Seems To Enjoying Himself

If you want a retirement house built in the Pakchong (Pak Chong) area then do your best to get this Thai builder to do it for you. He is very pleasant to deal with and does  superb job as you have seen on this blog.

The Largest Utility Building In Pakchong (Pak Chong)!

When we signed up with our first builder was asked him also build a toilet downstairs for the use of guests and anyone in the garden. It would also be handy for myself whn working in the workshop.

That fell through when Kanyah sacked the builder. So when she told me she had asked the new builder to build a downstairs toilet I said “That’s fine but can you also put a shower in it?”. Useful, I thought to cool off on a hot day.

Now look what she’s having built:-

Image of Toilet Block 01

Right Hand Side Of The Toilet Block Showing 4 Of The Six Posts

Above, the toilet block is so big Kanyah can only fit half of it in the camera frame. It’s a six-post building and in the photo above you can see four of them.

The left hand side of the building is shown in the photo below:-

Image of Toilet Block 02

Left Hand Side Of The Toilet Block Showing The Other Posts

Above, note that the ridge of the roof is directly over one row of three posts. that means that the entire front half of the roof is unsopported by the posts but is cantilevered out. Strange design.

Image of Toilet Block 03

Rendering The Blockwork On The Right Hand Side Of The Toilet Block

Above the lightweight concrete block walls are up and are receiving the cement rendering finish.

Image of Toilet Block 04

Three Quarter View Of The Toilet Block

In the photo above you can see the cement rendering on the end of the building is quite smooth, that on the front is clearly not finished yet. it looks like this side of the building will be the toilet given the lack of windows.

Image of Toilet Block 05

Rear View Of The Toilet Block

The rear view of the utility building showing on the left a small window for the toilet and on the right you can see a larger window. this is likely to be a Utility Room. i.e. Washing and ironing.

Image of Toilet Block 06

Front View Of The Toilet Block Showing The Concrete Slab Thickness

I have added this view to display the thickness of the concrete floor slab. Should be strong enough and high enough to keep the rain water out.

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