Thursday, March 09, 2006

Strange Old Week

Amphur Office
This week as been one of the most mental in my life, it was capped off today when Nuch and I got married. We have been planning it for a while now and the fact that she is also 10 weeks pregnant sort of bought everything forward.

The paper work involved in getting married is crazy. On monday morning I went armed to the Embassy with a letter I needed from them stating I was free to marry a Thai National. I got there, waited an hour and then was told I had put on the letter I was born in Derby, when on my passport it says I was born in Holbrook, Those of you not familiar with Derbyshire geography. Holbrook is a village about 2 miles from Derby. So off I went back to the Condo and amended it. That Afternoon I went back and waited another hour. I had to collect it in the morning.

Nuch's Post Meal
The following morning I went back and bizarrly collected it straight away. I had to get it translated into Thai which took another hour. I then had to go to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get the British Embassy Stamp authenticated. I waited one hour to be told the form would take another two hours. I ran a few errands and returned to pick it up. So two days spent sitting on my arse waiting for paper work.

Today we went to the local Amphur Office, this is like a registry office in the UK. We waited for an hour only to be interupted by the guy coming to fit Satallite TV in the new house. So I got my priorities right and went back to the house.

We returned in the afternoon, another one hour wait, then a real miserable woman took all our details and wrote out the Certificate for the Head of the Amphur to sign. He was really miserable, he also noticed they had spelt my name wrong, so we had to wait for an ammendment. This arrived and a few signatures later we were married. No fuss, no messing, just sorted. Nuch then had to have her ID changed which took another 30 minutes. On the way out she showed it me and it was wrong, they still had her as Miss. Another 30 mins later we were all set.

The Certificate

This is just the legal part, when I can afford the expensive Doury, we will have a full on wedding party, to which you are all invited. I will let you know the date.

Tonight we are watching TV, eating Pizza and i'm having a few beers. Just what the Doctor ordered.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Normal Service will be resumed Shortly

Hello everybody. Just a quick note to let you know that after this week the number of entries on the blog will decrease significantly.

Hurrah! I hear you shout.

Unfortunately the new house is on a project so new that they have neglected to put the phone lines in. This is an almighty bummer. I will be working from the local Internet Cafe and friends houses, but this will be mostly work.

I may even get round to sending some of you a letter in the old fashioned way. Whilst i'm on this short blog break, I shall be looking round for interesting little ditties to post once i'm back up and running.

Future posts in the bag include;

Charles Bronson, alive & well

Osamar Bin Laden, pillion passenger

1001 things to do with no internet

Until later

Chris & Nuch

Saturday, March 04, 2006

I like driving in my car

Over the past four months I have driven in Bangkok daily. On first site wanting to commit yourself to the supposed suicidal practice of voluntarily mixing it with the Bangkok traffic is crazy.

Driving is now easy in the centre of Bangkok thanks to helpful signs giving you information on something, alas they are only in the Thai language. So by the time I’ve translated it, the information is no longer pertinent.

Yes, driving in Thailand is very different, the biggest difference is the total lack of a Highway Code, and where there are traffic signals they are routinely ignored by most drivers, other differences are the cars, even though they all have indicator stalks, none of them work. This is either done at the factory, or at the request of the customers of the Garage asks for them to be bypassed as they will never be used on the highway. As you can see from the picture, there is also no red on the air con dial. You don’t need a heater in a car in Thailand.

Thai’s love big cars! I can only think of four Hatchback models on the market. All the rest are large saloons with huge trunks. The car I drive at the moment is the Honda Jazz. A fairly sporty little hatchback that even though I’m a larger than average guy, is more than adequate for the task. Nuch was shocked when I picked her up from her work place in a “small car”. Even though it is larger inside than the last mid range car we had.
Nearly all non taxi private cars are automatic. This as a practical reason, the stop start nature of driving in Bangkok is hell have to use a clutch. I’ve been there and have the enlarged left calf muscle to prove it. Also (This will get me into trouble), automatics are easier to drive. Most Thai’s either pass a very basic test or at best bribe the official to give them a license. Many don’t bother at all and drive around un-hindered by such mundane matters as having a driving license.

The last point is the main reason why some of the driving I have seen borders some where between disgraceful and just down right dangerous. The biggest culprits for general bad driving are the pick up truck drivers. These vehicles crowd the road and in pursuit of making a living forget that there are other drivers as well. What ever lane you are in they will come up behind you and give you the flashing lights to move over. Don’t! It really pisses them off and they then have to embark on some of the most dangerous driving and under taking to get ahead of you. Old cars usually driven by the younger generation are as big a danger, driven by kids who don’t look old enough to have left school, these cars are so battered that at any second they will fall apart like a clowns car.

There is a hierarchy on the road; at the top of the tree is the Bus. These lumbering clapped out; pollution spewing vehicles go where they want when they want. Get out of their way, they will take no prisoners.
Next comes the Lorry, although not a common sight in Bangkok, when you go in country, they are a more common site, give these guys a very wide birth. Once they get a head of steam up, there is no stopping them.
Anyone who as been on Phahonyothin Road will know of the existence of the Mini Bus. These vehicles go from Victory Monument all the way up to Rangsit. They pick up and set down where they like, they pull out into traffic and will dive across three lanes to get to a fare. They are so dangerous that even the Police are pulling them over.
Next is the Private cars and pick ups. BMW drivers like every BMW driver in the world thinks they are at the top of the tree, soon though, they will realise they are only driving a German Ford Cortina and swap it for a proper car like a Mercedes or Lexus.

The next member of the Tree is the Motorbike rider. It seems for every car there are ten motorbike Taxis and Couriers on the road. They travel up lines of waiting traffic at speeds that defy common sense. The life expectancy of a motorbike rider is something akin to a First World War Fighter Pilot. About twelve hours on the road! I have seen so many accidents involving motorbikes including two deaths that there is know way I will ever use a motorbike taxi. It is not an uncommon sight to see a whole family on a bike, the most I have seen is six on one bike.

At the bottom of the heap are cyclists. In short, don’t ride a bike on the streets of Bangkok.

Now for a few mentions of my favourite people. Firstly member of the Bangkok Constabulary, the Boys in Brown flit about on their motorbikes apprehending over weight pick up trucks, motorcyclists who don’t wear helmets and anyone who may have the means to pay a fine. I use fine in the loosest terms, should you be unlucky enough to be pulled over. You’ll be told what obscure law you have broken and then informed of the on the spot fine you have to pay. This is were personal experience comes into the frame. I was foolishly riding my mountain bike for a little exercise when I was flagged over by two gun toting officers of the law. My crime it turned out to be riding my bike on the road. I kid you not! I had a choice of a 400 baht fine with a receipt or a 300 baht fine without a receipt. I paid 300 baht. How much made its way into the coffers of the Thai Treasury? Who knows?
The second mention as to go to all the rich old Thai women with their dyed black beau font hair styles who drive round in their big mercs. These old women actually think that they own the road and everyone should make way for them, they cut you up at slip roads, dive into waiting lanes of traffic at the front and expect the law to wave them through at traffic lights. Their great, a national institution.

Don’t be put off driving in Bangkok, its one of life’s must do things, like Bungee Jumping and Base Jumping.

Friday, March 03, 2006


PM Thaksin

I thought i'd escaped political bullshit when I left the UK. It seems however, that its just as bad in Thailand.

At the moment, there is a national problem with the PM Thaksin. Thaksin is an incredibly rich bloke to start with, he used to own the largest mobile company in Thailand. That was until he sold it to a Singapore based company for a cool $1.2 billion. The opposition went ape shit for several reasons;

1. Thaksins kids sold a load of shares a few days before the sale, thus making a load of dosh and avoiding an even bigger capital gains tax payment.

2. Selling a national icon to a foreign company is seen as treason. Why I dont know?

3. They did not get their share of the cash!!!

It seems to be only the middle class in Bangkok who are making a fuss, Most of the people and all of the rural territory support Taksin, he seems in my veiw to have done a OK job as a PM. This wont stop the vocal minority from causing loads of trouble under the pretext that the lower class dont know any better. Its not that they dont know better, its that they have more things to worry about. Like the UK, whoever is in power makes no difference to your everyday life.

I thought politicians wanted power to improve themselves and get more money, why else would you go into goverment?

There is a massive opposition rally on sunday, hopefully there are no flash points, last time there were this type of rallies ten years ago, scores of people died in the ensuing chaos.

I'll keep you informed.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Bangkok Life Feb 2006

What a strange and bizzare month this as been. On the one hand I had some news which I will go into next month that is life changing. On the other I must admit i'm skint, the house is taking so much of my funds I may have to consider a two month trip back to Blighty to raise funds. This isn't something I want to do, but needs must. So if there is anyone out there who needs some tempory staff for a few months let me know.

My ebay venture, whilst doing OK needs the cash injection to get going properly, I also have a new website specializing in top end bike bits, but again I need the funds from a trip back to the UK to start it up.

Hopefully it doesn't come to this and I get six numbers in the lottery this weekend!

With the exception of my trip to Cambodia this month most of my time as been taken up with doing the house. I have recently tiled the Kitchen and we have set up a rudementry water system up until we get mains water at the end of the month. We still plan to move in during the first week of march. I can't wait. Its been good living in Phils Condo, but it is the most expensive part of Town. So moving out into the sticks will be alot cheaper.

We have discovered loads of places in and around the area of Phils Condo this last Month. Good restaurants and good Pubs, hopefully i'll get the oppurtunity to share them with you when you visit.

Phil and John are coming out again at the end of march, there are several other people coming out towards the end of the year. So i'll be quite busy.

Despite all the going's on, I have still manage to find a couple of new beers. The first is Beer Lao. As the name would suggest,this beer comes from Laos. To be honest its a very fine pilsner, superb when chilled.
The second is Angkor Beer from Cambodia, unlike most things to do with cambodia, this is one thing I do like. This beer could easily become my favourite and at only $1.00 a can in the Restaurant I was in, the price is good too. In the same Restaurant I also bought a can of Draught Bass. Bizarre that I was drinking a beer made 20 miles from Belper, 6500 miles away. What a small world.

Talking of small worlds, On my way back to the Condo last weekend I took a double take of a couple that I recognised. It turned out that I did in fact know them. The guy Dean Hodgekinson, I went to school with his elder brother darren and the women whose name I forget (Sorry), I went to school with her elder brother , Andrew Tonks. We talked for 15 minutes while I passed on my best to my two old schoolmates.

Obviously Febuary is Valentine Month, the Thai's love this day and showering gifts on your loved one is expected. I've included the picture of Nuch with her roses and cuddly toy, She seemed fairly impressed with the effort that I put in.

Speak to you all soon!!!!