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BANGKOK 18 February 2019 05:58


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About BKKBike09

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  1. I think it would be quite entertaining to tour Thailand on my PCX. It's no less comfortable than my "man's bike" (FZ09). Touring for me isn't about haring along at 140; it's more about enjoying the scenery, stopping whenever you feel like it, detouring down interesting-looking side roads. PCX is way more fuel-efficient than an 850 triple. Plus you'll find someone who can fix it absolutely anywhere, on the spot. Good luck getting a big bike fixed somewhere in the boonies in a couple of hours. https://www.motorcycle.com/features/ed-march-around-the-world-on-a-30-year-old-honda-c90.html
  2. The recent discussions between SB, MOI and British Embassy regarding the letter of intent. As you know, the embassy used to issue the declaration and then stopped around April/May 2018, on the grounds that the embassy was not able to confirm whether the intent to renounce was actually followed through [despite it a) being none of their business and b] a criminal offence in UK law to make, knowingly, a false declaration]. The letter that has now been agreed with SB / MOI (and which has been available for a couple of months now) makes it abundantly clear to the Thai authorities that the UK Government will not check whether the applicant, if successful, actually gives up their UK citizenship. Effectively (my opinion) it says "this person probably won't give it up and that's up to them, but we need to make you [Thai authorities] properly aware of this". Of course it is better for the applicant from the point of view of UK law in the sense that no legal declaration is now being made, but it wouldn't surprise me if the corollary is that it gets the Thai authorities thinking about whether they ought to ask for proof of renunciation. But then again, who knows ...
  3. While I'm neither retired nor, ahem, 'elderly' (early 50s, own hair and teeth), you're spot on about the massive increase in the number of Westerners. Also Westerners speaking Thai. When I first came to live here in the late 80s it was quite rare to meet any farang who spoke Thai well. Now there are loads. In any case, it doesn't matter how well you speak Thai because, to any Thai who doesn't know you, you're just some random old white guy. But I can take some small comfort from the fact that, years ago, I used to work with Peter Ungphakorn, one of Ajarn Puey Ungphakorn's sons. However Peter looked like a farang so despite being a son of a former Governor of the Bank of Thailand and Rector of Thammasat (shamefully hounded from Thailand after the events of 1976), he frequently got the "you, you!" treatment, and people telling him that he "phuut Thai keng" (of course he was native fluent). The only thing that is guaranteed to get my gander up is a waiter / waitress telling me to "ror sak khru" when whatever you've ordered hasn't materialised after 30 minutes. But I guess that's because I'm on my way to becoming 'elderly'.
  4. The value of PR (as I see it and of course others are free to disagree) is that, once acquired, it provides a great deal of security if you want to live in Thailand long-term. It is also much quicker to get these days: when I applied in 2008, it took exactly 4 years. I didn't use an agent or lawyer. A friend of mine did (same nationality as well); took him exactly 4 years as well. More recently, another friend (same nationality) applied end 2016; he got it in October 2017. Given the ever more onerous requirements for long-term stay in Thailand, seems to me that if you qualify for PR then it's well worth applying for it, especially if you are married to a Thai and therefore pay the reduced fee. Once you have it, if you lose your job, get divorced, it doesn't impact your residency status. Plus if ever you decide to move out of Thailand, as long as you come back once a year to renew your re-entry permit (yes, still needed for PR holders ...), and every five years to re-register at your local police station, you keep PR. Unlike many other countries it doesn't expire after X years of non-residence (like a Green Card, or Singapore PR). To tackle the 'scant Thai language skills' question for PR: one of my aforementioned friends (the guy who applied at same time as me) has basic Thai language skills. It was no problem. As long as you can demonstrate a rudimentary understanding "why do you like Thailand" "chorp akat tee nee khrap, khon Thai jai dee mak khrap "which provinces do you like to visit" "Chiang Mai suay mak khrap chorp krungthep duay tae rot yuh yeh" "what Thai food is your favourite" "chorp tom yam khrap aroi jing jing" - that sort of level, you'll be fine. I'd think 5 minutes or so and then out. [In my case it was 15 or so because we got into a discussion about the differences in how the media report on royal news in Thailand and my home country, because my Thai is pretty good: I suspect that the interview process is, in the main, hugely boring for the panel members, so when the get someone who has good Thai language skills it's more interesting for them and so the interview could be more wide-ranging and go on longer]. On PR vs citizenship: I am currently applying for citizenship because I'm going to be working here for many years to come and it would make running my company much easier. However ... although my home country doesn't care whether I get another nationality, I have a suspicion that the Thai authorities *may* get more serious about this, to the extent of actually requiring proof that you have renounced your original citizenship within a certain period after actually getting Thai citizenship. I could be (and hope that I am) mistaken, but it's always a possibility. Naturalised Thais would then be faced with the choice of either keeping Thai nationality and giving up birth nationality, or giving up Thai nationality and going straight back to tourist visas, even if previously a PR holder ...
  5. My two cents on this would be much as some others have said: there are some very competent specialists and GPs in the Thai medical system, but there are also some useless ones, just as in any country. My sense is that over-prescription, whether drugs or tests or both, is exacerbated if you have insurance. The logic seems to be: "if you are not paying for this, what difference does it make?" Of course this is a deeply flawed approach, but sadly I think it is quite prevalent. Recently, at one of Bangkok's best known private hospitals, one of my kids was treated for what turned out to be an MRSA infection on a limb. The treatment (specialised antibiotics aside) required the wound to be cleaned and dressed every day. After 3 days of this, costing around THB 2,000 a time, I queried the cost of the swabs, saline and dressings. The doctor told me that, because it was all covered by insurance, they used "the best", the implication being that if it wasn't covered by insurance, they'd use cheaper supplies. I bought exactly the same supplies at a local pharmacy for literally 30% of what the hospital charged and dressed the wound at home (for the next month, but with weekly visits to the hospital to check that all was healing properly). Of course it is also because of rampant over-prescription of antibiotics that MRSA infections are much more prevalent (and, worryingly, they are now becoming resistant to classes of antibiotics that used to be effective).
  6. It is allegedly now possible to register to use the E-Channel gates at Suvarnabhumi. I was told today that all I needed to register was a copy of my referee's ID card and household registration, and to have at least two years in my current passport. You can register on your way out or coming in. I queried why, having PR, I needed a referee - "because you always have to have a referee for a visa and that's what happens in your country too". I disputed this but the officer, a Captain, was adamant. I'd like to have argued further but I bit my tongue. I don't know how long it takes, after registering, to be able to use the service. And you also apparently have to continue to travel with the stupid little blue book. Doubtless we'll still have to have that stamped in and out or something. Has anyone actually managed to register for the service and also been able to use it? I was told by a very excited Immigration guy a few weeks back, coming in, that the service was up and running, but when I went to try and register then it turned out this guy didn't know what he was talking about.
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