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About gerryBScot

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    ex-small town west central Thailand, now in China

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  1. As of this month Thai passport holders can enter Hainan Province in southern China for up to 30 days without a visa. There is a requirement to book the trip through an official travel agency and I do not know the precise ins and outs of doing this, but if you do it you'll get in. http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-04/18/c_137120441.htm
  2. The unfolding story about the shocking treatment of UK Commonwealth citizens, the so called 'Windrush' scandal, and the references to the 'hostile environment' that has been the policy of the UK passport office and the immigration service in recent years, makes for depressing reading. In China we are in the business of applying for my Filipino wife to get the bog standard UK visitor visa. This online application process seems to be equally hostile and I am sure it is equally so for those applying from Thailand too. Apologies if this topic has already been flogged to death here. At just under £100 for the bog standard no-bells-and whistles visa it is frightening that it is only after the form has been completed and paid for that there is a categorical message to the effect that information cannot be changed, meaning mistakes cannot be rectified; the first and final message advises that the solution to such a situation is to submit a new application. Plus the volume of information that is required - my wife's complete travel history for the last ten years. That amounts to 20 different entries in my wife's case including two one day entries into Hong Kong which does not stamp entry/departure dates into passports anymore. It doesn't seem to be anything other than making applicants jump through hoops in the hope that they will make errors; I find it surprising that details of specific entry and departure dates are not asked for but just the month of entry and a length of stay in either days, weeks, months or years - you can only select one measure and cannot, for instance , express the length of the visit in days and weeks. So looks like it is a process designed to frustrate applicants and which by its nature facilitates mistakes. One plus is you can pay with Alipay - except I couldn't because I do not have a Chinese mainland resident ID card! Them there Tories are nasty people - glad I live far away from that 'hostile environment' these days.
  3. gerryBScot

    Not drinking

    Thanks but sorry to disappoint you: I am an alcoholic but I am a sober one these days!
  4. gerryBScot

    Not drinking

    One thing you are not talking about as you spar about exotic aspects of diet is the importance of exercise in pursuit of health and well being, and lowering BP. Getting regular, age-appropriate exercise combined with a healthy diet are the keys to health and well being. Exercise in particular might well counter the potential adverse effects of some foods and might allow a little room for some occasional indulgence! On the food front I think a reduction in carbohydrate intake is one of the best ways of reducing weight - switch from rice/potatoes/bread to a fresh salad.
  5. Over the last few days I have been unsuccessfully trying to organise the shipping of personal effects from Thailand to The Philippines. My consignment needs no more than 3 cubic metres. I also wanted to deliver my consignment for consolidation in person by flinging my various boxes and golf club sets into the back of my truck and driving to the port in Bangkok. It's a great mystery to me why I have been unable to deal with anyone in any company who can say to me something like: for consignments from A ( small city west central Thailand) to B ( small city central Philippines) that require from 1 to 10 cubic metres of space, there is a charge of XXXX baht per cubic metre; additional costs such as repacking, consolidation, customs clearance and collection will cost approximately xxxx, xxxx, xxxx and xxxx respectively; there will be additional costs at your destination end and we recommend you to use this particular agent to process clearance at your destination and you will have to meet his/her costs. Two companies insist that they need to pack my personal effects to ensure customs clearance in Thailand; so additional costs there in sending packers/drivers to A and then to drive the load to the departure port. I would be happy to leave the boxes open so that they can be checked. I'd be happy to drive the unopened boxes to their offices in BKK for checking. But no, if you don't do it our way, you don't do it and in any event we can't give you a price. So what these companies are in effect saying is we will take your consignment and then use them as security to extract as much money from you as possible ... because if you don't pay we have your property as collateral. Another company quoted $2,000.00 US for collection from A and delivery to Manila. I asked for some break down of how they reached such a figure, like a quotation, they came back with a reduced price of 55,000 THB with delivery to A. Again no breakdown simply a figure and when I suggested a figure of 50,000 THB might be acceptable they replied that they were already taking a huge risk. Duh! Then a consolidator in Thailand offered 4,750 THB for a super box measuring 75 x 55 x 55 cm; he said he could fit five super boxes onto a pallet. I don't understand how you can make 5 boxes fit on a 1 cubic metre pallet : maybe four, possibly six, but but five doesn't make sense. I compare this experience with shipping personal effects inside China last year. I understand it is not exactly comparable as there is the matter of border crossing and duty. However I used Google translate to send a message to China's leading freight company. Within two hours a guy came to my house on a motorbike expecting to collect a letter and when he saw I had five boxes he said he would need to come back the following evening. This guy arrived on time with a mate as agreed, gave me his WeChat contact details and they took my boxes off, down three floors of stairs. I remember saying to my wife that we might never see our stuff again. An hour letter he sent me price details: 5 boxes weighing 156 kg in total for shipment from C to D by road express would cost the equivalent of about 17,500 THB. I transferred the money to his WeChat account and he sent back the bill of lading and reference numbers. I got a phone call 36 hours later from my people in D to say my boxes had arrived. Knock me down with a feather! I was floored. Meanwhile back in Thailand. A friend has kindly agreed to store my personal effects as we return to China tomorrow. I am not going to be rushed and make a decision that might prove to be very expensive.
  6. gerryBScot

    Public Taxis - Impressed by Organisation

    Fair comment but this was done by the booking desk and 150 baht off airport was ok. Previously I have been quoted ridiculous prices so I was happy to splurge!
  7. I seem to recall seeing an SF-Express counter on the departure floor when I flew out of Swampy back in January. Has anyone had any experience using this service? I've used SF-Express in China to ship goods and their service their is awesome. However I have been dealing with their office in BKK and let's just say it is hard to believe I am dealing with the same company. Anyone care to share their experience of using the airport service if it actually exists? Thanks
  8. gerryBScot

    Selling a Second Hand Truck - Paperwork

    Thought I'd reply to my post as I resolved the problem and sold our truck yesterday. Mrs GerryB went into the local Immigration, in this instance in Ratchaburi, and explained our dilemma. She was given a form for the landlord/housemaster to complete, basically a confirmation of residence. Our house master duly completed this, provided a copy of her Thai ID card and we went back to Immigration who issued a letter to certify my wife was lawfully in Thailand and presumably could sell our car; attached a photo to the letter which was then signed, sealed and delivered. Free. The Immigration Officer even came running after us as we went down the stairs saying we needed to come back for the letter of certification. Unbelievably good service from Immigration. The deal was a cinch.
  9. On arrival recently I was very impressed by the way the taxi lines are organised at Swampy into three sections: Short Rides, Regular Taxis, & Large Taxis. Unfortunately there was a massive queue for Regular but we were staying locally in Lat Krabang so went for the short ride option and got taken to our hotel immediately for 150 THB: no hassle from the driver who might have spent three hours in a queue waiting for a poxy fare and an 'acceptable' level of overcharging; I say this because it would have been less than 100 on the metre but .... what the hell? So well done to some one for sorting this out!
  10. I'd be grateful for some advice on a little bureaucratic issue. Our dear old truck which did us wonderful service for 10 years is up for sale and we have a buyer. The issue is my wife is the car's legal owner and she is currently here on a 30 day waiver. Of course when we first bought the beast she was here on a Non-B as she worked as a teacher and was here in that status for 11 years; we can prove all this but that was before, and not now. We have left Thailand and now live and work in China, though currently here on a short break. I've been told she should go to Immigration and get a letter from them. She can do that but can someone please advise what that letter should actually say? As I say I'd be grateful for a steer on this. Many thanks
  11. gerryBScot

    What is a 'normal' drinker?

    The world of alcohol dosing really exposes as a nonsense any attempt to describe norms. At best so called safe limits are a bench mark or yard stick but there are huge variables and variations. A friend tells me he gambles on a pokey every day for an hour and limits himself to a certain, affordable amount. He's self-evidently deluding himself in the same way that I'd be deluding myself if I thought I was drinking 14 or 21 units of alcohol a week and thus was drinking within safe limits, whatever that latter term may actually mean. I am so glad to be out of the debate other than in this context....
  12. I reckon it depends on what kind of visa you have for your stay in Thailand. If you are on a Non-immigrant Thai visa, that should suffice as proof of your current residence in Thailand and you should be able to apply in Khon Kaen. If you are on a 30 day waiver or a tourist visa, then in all likelihood you'll need to apply at the Visa for China place in Bangkok. Note that the Chinese visa place is a different place altogether than the Chinese embassy - you can even try their website, which should tell exactly where to go : www.visaforchina.org I know of one person, a US national, who secured a China 'Z' visa at KK, that is the one you need for employment, at Khon Kaen; he had to produce his Non-Imm B visa and provide a copy of his work permit in order to get the visa. In the great scheme of things getting a tourist visa for China should be relatively easy provided you have someone inviting you - either a Chinese citizen or a foreigner with a residence permit. If your paperwork is in order I would simply go into KK and try to apply there but Would check the webpage above before just to make sure.
  13. Just returned from two week family holiday in Philippines. Mrs Portnoy is a Filipino so that helps. Been a fair few times before. I really rate Cebu City very highly despite a worsening traffic situation. Excellent shopping malls - SM Seaside and City, Ayala; reasonably priced food and lots of options in the mall. Filipino food is far from my favourite but I have to say I ate some delicious local food during this trip. Try the House of Lechon in Cebu, where we had a really pleasant feed on local food including blood soup. We spent a few days on Bohol which were disappointing - very touristy and commercial; Alona beach is cool but quite crowded. Then to Dumaguete in Visayas, a very popular destination for Americans and onwards to Bacolod City, which appears to be on an upward curve. One thing that made a huge difference was being able to use the Grab taxi app - only once did a driver up the price and my complaint to the company produced an immediate response. Yes it is dirty and can be dangerous but a lot of the risks can be minimised by not putting yourself on offer. I think next time we're going to tour, fly into Cebu and see where we end up - hopefully on some glorious white sand beach and clear blue ocean! Mabuhay!
  14. gerryBScot

    Maths Olympiad preparation

    I would suggest www.cimt.org.uk which has a full K-12 course with many extras; www.nrich.maths.org . Also search for a couple of blogs by Maths educators, specifically Don Steward and Mr Barton. This stuff is all in English.
  15. gerryBScot

    Varee - International school

    Seconded......unless you have lots of dosh and can afford to enter your kids into one of the big name schools which have all the trimmings.