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Update  July, 2019

Thailand News
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Book Review
Health & Wellbeing
Odds & Ends
Science & Nature
Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
Grapevine  The Associated Press

Grapevine - July 19, 2019 - July 25, 2019

 Medical Insurance Again

There’s been a lot of discussion about who doesn’t need medical insurance, so who does? That would be the applicants for an O/A (annual) or O/X (up to ten years) visa at the Thai embassy in their own country. For these visas there is a long list of requirements. But one year extensions of stay granted by the Thai immigration bureau or the 5-20 year elite cards issued here by Thailand Elite do not require insurance. They are not granted by Thai embassies abroad. That’s the key point.

Is Thailand Expensive?

The latest international survey suggests more than previously. But Bangkok is still only the 63rd most expensive country for expats to live in, far cheaper than Hong Kong or Singapore. The cheapest cities in Southeast Asia are apparently Manila and Phnom Penh. But be advised that the survey is based on comparing costs in shopping baskets rather than assessing big issues such as accommodation rates or currency fluctuations.

Window of Opportunity

The requirement to report your address “every 90 days” continues to cause confusion even after all these years. It applies mainly to holders of one year visas and requires them to report if they have lived in the country for the past three months ... without leaving the country. That last phrase is key. Those who do need to report have a window of discretion - up to 15 days beforehand and up to seven days after the due date. The 90 day report is neither a visa nor a permission to stay.

Vegetable Ending

Overheard in a Pattaya venue where two women were chatting. 1st woman, “My husband died on Sunday you know.” 2nd woman, “Oh I’m sorry to hear that, how did it happen”? 1st woman, “Well, he went down to the garden to cut me a cauliflower for our family dinner and had a sudden, massive heart attack.” 2nd woman, “Goodness me, what on earth did you do”? 1st woman, “Well, we had to open a tin of peas.”

Somewhat Contradictory

Some keyboard warriors are having a whale of a time claiming that Thailand has never been so quiet on the tourist front. They refer to deserted immigration offices, empty bar stools and bored taxi drivers with nothing to do. Yet the same people also talk of the irritation of huge queues at visa-issuing embassies, particularly in Laos, and enormous queues at Thai airports requiring them to stand for hours before being processed. You can’t have it both ways folks!

End of Visa Runs?

That said, there’s a current rumour that Thai authorities are working on a new system of on-line visa applications which will not require any attendance at a consulate or embassy abroad. You would download your paperwork online and, assuming you are successful, you will in due course receive your visa in your inbox to affix in your passport. Such a hi-tech system would certainly have its pluses and minuses, but is said to be several years away from an implementation date.

Trotting the Globe

Which area of the world provided the most overseas trips in 2018? Perhaps surprisingly, it was still Europeans leading the field with 713 million. Next came the Asia-Pacific guys and gals with 345 million, then the Americans with 217 million. Africans and Middle Easterners trailed the field with only 11 percent of the total. As many as 1.4 billion people went abroad last year, generating income of US$1.6 trillion worldwide. Does anyone know what a trillion looks like?

Prospects for Tourism

Thailand expects 41 million tourists in the whole of 2019. But let’s remember that growth depends on stable fuel prices and affordable air travel with good flight connectivity. The downside factors include geographical and trade tensions anywhere in the world, including any kind of trouble in the oil rich Middle East and Gulf. Of course, it’s always hard to make predictions. Especially when they are about the future.

What a Pile

It’s estimated that each person in Thailand uses eight plastic bags a day which equates to 500,000 million for the whole nation. Most end up in the sea where plastic bags account for 16 percent of total garbage there. The government recently announced a ban on all plastic by 2022 including take-away food containers as well as cups and straws. There’s much more to this problem than taking your own shopping bag with you to the supermarket.

Thoughts for the Week

On poetry. “My favourite poem is the one that begins Thirty Days Hath September because it actually tells you something,” (Groucho Marx). “Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo,” (Don Marquis). “The most important thing for poets to do is to write as little as possible,” (T.S. Eliot).

Grapevine - Friday July 5, 2019 - July 11, 2019

Monorail or Tram

The latest on the saga of improving Pattaya's public transport is that a raised-level monorail is out of favour with planners. Too expensive. A more sensible solution is apparently to link all areas of downtown Pattaya with a comprehensive tram service. Everyone will agree with that idea - provided planners come up with a solution to traffic chaos and gridlock on our overused roads. Ban all coaches within the city limits?


Plastic Health

The latest street scam is to invite you to buy a small plastic card which you place carefully on your body nearest to a painful area and, hey-ho, you feel better in no time. Can cure anything from headaches and in-growing toenails to prostate cancer and high blood pressure. Maybe. Do you remember those expensive metals pointers which could detect roadside bombs to assist the army patrols? They didn't work either.


Cars and Motorbikes

If you are a foreigner buying or selling a vehicle, you will need a certificate of residence from immigration. To obtain this you will need a copy of your passport and valid visa, proof of your current address and - newish regulation - the log book of the vehicle in question plus photocopy. Don't forget too you will need two passport-size photos as part of your package. Most immigration offices nowadays will issue certificates of residence in Thai only. If you need a translation for some reason, you will need to arrange by yourself.


Drugs and You

Possessing drugs in Thailand is always bad news. Marijuana was banned in 1979 under a narcotics law and even smoking a ganja cigarette can lead to arrest. In 2019, the law was very narrowly amended to permit legal use only for specified medical purposes. Don't believe anyone who tells you marijuana is now legal here. It most certainly is not. About 70 percent of all people who are in jail today in Thailand have been found guilty of drugs crimes, or are awaiting their trial locked up as they can't afford bail.


Sending Currency

If you are sending cash from abroad to your Thai bank here, you need to peruse carefully the applicable rates of exchange. In most cases, it will be cheaper to send the pounds or euros or whatever to Thailand to be converted to baht here rather than in the transmitting country. But a growing number of foreigners have in Thailand an account in their home currency which you can then convert when convenient to you. Check it out.


Keeping Abreast

Overheard in a pub. A local transvestite is appealing for urgent funds to have a second breast implant operation. She told wannabe donors that she had already had one operation but this had proved to be very inadequate. When asked what was wrong, she said had run out of money after the surgeon had performed the procedure on just one breast, thus leaving her very lopsided. Please help.


Trink Remembered 

A reader asks when Bernard Trink stopped writing his column for the Bangkok Post. That would be December 2003, although he still writes book reviews for the same newspaper most weekends. His column Nite Owl was for decades the must-read page for those interested in night life in Bangkok and, to a less extent, Pattaya. A New Yorker born in 1931, Bernard is one of the last literary links to a Thailand which elderly farang remember with affection.


Overdue Solution

At last City Hall is beginning to tackle the problem of illegal dumpers unloading lorry-loads of trash on the still-green areas of Jomtien, thus disfiguring what remains of our verdant pastures. They tend to operate at night for obvious reasons, but there have recently been several successful prosecutions. If you live in or near vulnerable areas, you can report the crimes by phoning the local authority helpline 1337, 24 hours.


DIY Disaster

Attention all those who are disappointed with their personal attributes. You would hardly think that a national campaign would be needed to advise male Thais and farang not to inject their private parts with a black ooze, nor to place them in a boiling pot, nor to cover them with a lumpy cream. But a group of doctors say the warning is necessary because so many men are disfiguring their nether regions with DIY treatments. Now you know.


Thoughts for the Week

Here are some reflections about Success. "There's no secret about success. Did you ever know a successful man who didn't tell you about it?" (Margaret Thatcher). "If at first you don't succeed ... well that's skydiving," (Jim Backus). "The secret of success is to know something nobody else knows," (Aristotle Onassis). "The penalty of success is to be bored by people who used to snub you," (Lady Astor).

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Grapevine - July 19, 2019 - July 25, 2019

Grapevine - Friday July 5, 2019 - July 11, 2019