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BANGKOK 20 February 2019 11:50


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  1. Great photo. You've got some impressive forearms, buddy, I'm sure most everyone will agree. Inspired me to do ten pushups this morning. Happy trails wherever you land.
  2. I went to my local BKK bank branch and asked about this last Friday. They told me you can come into the branch with no advance notice, fill out a request for an international transfer of funds to your foreign account, they'll calculate the exchange rate to the desired currency, and the transfer will be processed immediately. I got the impression that the speed was similar to a wire transfer, and the commission was ballparked at around 1400 baht.
  3. You aren't telling the owner that you are going away. The owner is confirming that you still live there after you return. How does immigration know that you have even gone anywhere in the first place? Travel outside the country, of course, shows up in your passport with exit and entry stamps and this activity is undoubtedly on immigration's computers as well. Travel within the country can trigger a report to immigration as well. For example, a stay in a hotel will commonly trigger a report to immigration. If the "housemaster" doesn't re-report that you are still staying at your residence after you return home, they might be fined, and you might be fined or have problems with your visa as well.
  4. I currently have a receipt showing that the housemaster has reported my residence where I live, so for the time being I am reasonably confident that I am in compliance with the TM-30 regulation. The problem is that even though I am in compliance, I feel like the re-reporting requirements are so onerous that my freedom of travel has been effectively taken away from me. Yesterday, immigration confirmed that if I leave the country, the housemaster has 24 hours upon my return to report to immigration that I still live in the same place I did before I left the country. This despite the fact that I have been reporting this same address to immigration every 90 days for the past 15 years, and the local police are fully aware of where I live. When I asked immigration if it was really necessary for people who may have been in transit up to 48 hours and suffering from lack of sleep and jet-lag to make this report within 24 hours upon arrival, I was blithely told I should just swing by immigration from Suwannaphumi on my way home. Never mind that I usually take the bus to the airport, typically haven't slept in two days, the housemaster might not be with me, a side trip from the airport to immigration was 120 km out of the way, and never mind the housemaster might have a full time job, live in another province, only own a motorcycle, be in poor health, be unable to drive, etc., etc. I was also told that if I stayed overnight in a different province other than the one I reside in, the housemaster needs to report my return home to immigration within 24 hours. Yesterday, I checked with the local police station (13 km away) to ask whether in the future I could do the TM-30 report at the local police station. The local police in turn called immigration, who said, no, the housemaster would have to go to immigration. I live 95 kilometers (one-way) away from my immigration office, effectively an all-day trip, and certainly not something I want to do the same day or first thing the next morning after returning from a trip home. Even though this is technically the responsibility of the housemaster, obviously the foreigner has to get involved, most likely assist the Thai national housemaster in completing the form, and quite possibly assist in transporting the housemaster to and from immigration. It is my understanding that while the housemaster can be fined for not complying with these regulations, it is the foreigner - who is also subject to fines and having their visa renewal application rejected - who has the most at risk for non-compliance. All this bureaucracy is making me totally fearful of taking any trips, whether out of the country or overnight to another province, and making me feel like a convicted sex offender on parole or under house arrest. I looked up on the internet to see what change of address requirements a registered sex offender in America might be subjected to. While the regulations vary state-by-state, the Federal standard appears to be a three day reporting window. So Thailand is monitoring my whereabouts more closely than America monitors the residence of a registered sex offender. What does that tell you? In addition, Thailand has a similar law that requires the housemaster to report changes of residency for Thai nationals, which goes entirely unenforced. Thais are often left listed on their parent's or former spouse's house registry for decades after they have left home. So Thailand is hyper-vigilant about the whereabouts of foreigners living here while taking a totally lackadasical attitude about where Thais actually reside. How does that make sense from the standpoint of law enforcement? All this really sticks in my craw. I really do feel like I am being treated like a criminal which is something I never thought I would feel here. I don't expect special treatment from immigration, but I do expect to be treated fairly and with dignity. I can't tell if this is being done with malice and forethought, but it sure feels like it. Am I the only one who feels this way?
  5. Forget mandatory health insurance. If this keeps up, Thailand might start requiring expats have funeral insurance. All joking aside, immigration changes are no doubt triggering anxiety and depression among some expats who have limited options because of their finances and age. Going home isn't a viable option for everyone. Sadly, you probably are going to see more suicides. It would be nice to see a little more solidarity in the expat community.
  6. If you can't see the impact urbanization has on rural communities, you need to look closer. There isn't a corner of Thailand which hasn't been impacted. You also need to live in a village on an ongoing basis to see the impact: husbands go off to Bangkok for protracted periods to find work, kids are shipped back to the village while their parents work in a factory in Samut Prakan or Nontaburi. If you just occasionally visit a village (you did refer to "your wife's town", not "the town where I/we live"), chances are you're not going to pick up on these changes. Most rural villages have tons of school age kids and people over 50, with few working age people. This is a direct result of urbanization.
  7. CaptainJack: Before you sign off, I was hoping you could answer a question I've been curious about. When you moved to Thailand did you liquidate all your personal property which you didn't ship here, or did you put stuff in storage/leave with friends, hedging against the possibility that you might move back home if things didn't work out the way you planned?
  8. I have a background in risk management as well and before moving here I researched Thailand for close to a decade. Strong points: language study, estimating cost of living, trying to understand the culture. Weak points: reading Thai behavior, detecting the difference between a diamond and cubic zirconia gleam in a girl's eye, and understanding the socio-economic composition of the expat community. I'm just saying, no amount of preparation will prepare you 100% for taking the plunge and I wouldn't beat myself up too much in the 'what-I-know-now-but-didn't-know-then' department.
  9. While some roll their eyes at those who complain about immigration hassles, the truth is that the regulations regarding overstay, bank deposits, 90 day reporting and housemaster reporting are anything but "senior friendly." The consequences for making an innocent mistake or being forgetful can be severe. People become more vulnerable as they get older, and language barriers, cultural differences, and a less established social network compound the risks of living in a foreign country, especially if you move there at an already advanced age. While I currently enjoy very good health, I, too, have been reflecting lately on what life would be like here were my health to decline, and I have to admit the more I have thought about this, the more concerned I have become. The OP should be congratulated for making an objective evaluation of his circumstances and doing what he believes is in his best interests.
  10. Elder respect is falling by the wayside in Thailand, and there's a very good reason why: urbanization. Unlike in earlier times, when inter-generational family ties were strong, today they have completely broken down, especially in rural areas. Kids are routinely raised by relatives and in some cases non-family members, because parents have moved to urban areas for employment and simply don't have the time or the resources to care for their kids when they're putting in 12 hour shifts. Although this trend started decades ago, the repercussions were initially hidden because the caregivers had the fortune of having been raised by their parents, and were better able to replicate a passable home environment. Nowadays, kids are often left in the care of caregivers who themselves were raised by caregivers who in turn were raised by caregivers other than their parents. So the mechanism for transmitting those family values isn't any longer in place. Only occasionally do I see kids being taught to wai adults anymore. Yes, kids genuflect to their teachers and give them flowers on Teacher's Day, but it's largely perfunctory. In my village, there are plenty of elderly people, some with some family, others effectively on their own, who just hang on on a day-to-day basis, almost never receiving any special attention or care. I'm sure this post will attract people claiming that respect for elders is very much a vibrant tradition in their communities, and I'm happy if this is truly the case, but sorry to say, I see little evidence that reverence for elders is still a core cultural value in Thailand.
  11. Thais don't celebrate Valentine's Day. They celebrate Walentine's Day.
  12. I agree somebody probably knew high value items were in the house. about the 'bars-or-no-bars' debate... you might want to at least put bars on a window when the air conditioner installed below the window provides a highly tempting ledge for climbing in said window.
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