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.
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.”
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
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).