Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lawyers and NZ immigration

Days 116-117

So, we are still working through Yams application to come to New Zealand. We thought we had filled in all the documentation then had to go to a lawyer to get a couple of things witnessed. Over here, this will cost you $40 per page that needs to be witnessed. This is outrageous as this service in new Zealand is done for free. How the heck could a Thai person afford 1000 bhat per page to be witnessed when they are earning 25bhat an hour. Crazy! The other thing the lawyers did of course was to put the fear of God in to us about the visa process. Even though they had never done an application to New Zealand.

So, once we got back to the condo I put my thinking cap on and thought surely with less than six degrees of separation in new Zealand I could find someone at home to help. Sure enough with a few turns of the cogs in the old brain I tracked down a couple of friends who work in a law firm who have an immigration specialist and after a couple of emails to my friends and a good word after a couple of hours I was on the phone to their immigration specialist. I am sending our documents to him for a review for very reasonable cost plus he has done many applications in Thailand for clients and has a couple of contacts over here at immigration, so it is just a waiting game while he sorts everything out and we will wait and see.

In the meantime I am practicing my Thai and doing my homework as I have class again on Friday. :)

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Days 111 - 115 Thai School

The days seem to be rolling in to each other with nearly a week passing here in Bangkok.

I have enrolled at a local Thai language school and had my first three hour one on one lesson on Friday which was lots of fun. I also have an extra teacher here at the condo who is helping me when I get stuck. There is a lot to learn, the biggest problem being my limited vocabulary which I can only increase by learning words off by heart. This is proving to be a little bit challenging for the old brain and I have had to dust off the cogs and try and remember how to learn and more importantly store all the information. I have got my head around the structure of the sentences which is definitely helping. The language school is only a 500m walk from here which is great and my tutor is a lovely lady who smiles patiently as I ask the same questions over and over. Of course, I want to be able to speak fluentlynow, but need to remember that I need to crawl first before walking.

I also met a really nice Aussie guy up at the pool a couple of days ago. He worked here in Bangkok for 10 years and has since retired and bought a condo in the building with his Thai partner. He now lives off the rental stream from his two properties in Australia. He was very interesting to talk to.

We are also working through the quagmire that is new Zealand immigration and have filled out the forms and this morning need to go and get a couple of things witnessed by a lawyer then will go in to the nz immigration office tomorrow to see whether we have done it right. It is a little nerve racking but I suppose we just have to be patient.

I have also made a de vision about when we will go home to nz. Originally, I was looking at the end of November, but I have been a bit concerned about the fact that by t time we get home and see everyone, when I go back to work will be when it is just getting quiet and heading in to the lull that is dec/Jan so I have decided to get home in October, not December so I can have a couple of months to get a sale under my belt before Christmas I now haven't been working for over four months, and as nice as it is, I cannot sustain it at this juncture in my life. We were planning to go to hong kong on the way home with one of my best friends and his girlfriend. I am yet to let him know and don't quite know how to tell him, but I know he reads this blog so am sure I will get an email from him.there is always the chance that we could go to hong kong from new Zealand depending on the work situation.

If things work out in nz and Yammie likes it, and then we can successfully get a work visa for him, we can then save up and will definitely come back. If it doesn't work out then I will still come back again at some juncture. Looking around there are many opportunities here I reckon.

I have also started to give yam driving lessons which is proving to be fun. He has now driven around the block a few times and is starting to master driving in to the condo carpark. Yesterday we just about ran over the security guards, but luckily they know us now as do allthe small food stall owners down our soi (street) so they were able to see the humor in it. I know i have said it before, but thai people are really very friendly and i definitely will miss that when we leave. On Saturday when we went to pick up our laundry at a shop over the other side of the river, Yammie got us back to the condo in one piece. He is doing very well.

So, as you can see, life carries on and I have settled in to a regular pace of life quite nicely.

By the by, as I write this I am sitting on our (very) little balcony looking out at the vista and there is a large construction site a stones throw from here. They work 24 hours a day and it is going to be the tallest residential block in Thailand at 88 stories high and will take four years to build. I would love to see it when it is finished. It will be magnificent. Picture below -



Our condo "life@sathon" is the small one (27 stories) you can see directly behind the new massive one been built (88 stories) - it's going to be called Maha Nahkon - at the moment theyre still moving dirt, so nothing much to see.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Some useless information ....

On my observations around Thailand and here in Bangkok I have observed a few interesting things that are completely useless snippets of information but I thought I would share them anyway .... :)

1. There are 9 famous bridges over the river here in Bangkok of which I have been stuck in traffic going nowhere fast on four of them...
2. There are no road rules for going around roundabouts here in Bangkok .. It is each man to their own .... And rue the day if you happen to be near a bus or taxi because they do not wait for anyone....
3. In fact no one waits for anyone
4. The lane markings on the road are obviously indicative only and don't actually mean anything at all
5. Sometimes there are sets of lights in the middle of a roundabout
6. Sausages ... Thai people love to eat sausages but they aren't really sausages that we know, more processed ground up god knows what probably flavored in a food technologists laboratory somewhere
7. To drink water, you buy bottled water only
8. At the local 7.11 store (like an old four square shop) you can do pretty much everything - from buying bread, beer, acne cream or cigarettes to paying your power bill, topping up your phone and a myriad other things.
9. Quite often when laborers are working on a building site, they will build temporary accommodation for them on site.
10. If you say "ha" in Thai, it means 5 - if you accidentally say "he" in Thai it is much much ruder - basically a rude word for a specific part of a ladies body.
11. Before watching a movie at the movie theatre all people stand when they play the national anthem with a video of the King.
12. There is a certain way to bow appropriately - and I haven't quite mastered it yet.
13. Sitting for an extended period of time on your knees when at a temple is incredibly difficult and painful after a while if you are not used to it.
14. Thai people drink beer with ice (and I love the local beer called "Leo")
15. If you want to you can buy a packet of cigarettes called SMS for 30 baht (about a dollar) ... But they should be called SOS because they make you cough up your lungs.
16. When going to the toilet in a traditional toilet you use your left hand for you know what.
17. One more road one ... Speed limits are indicative only ... Actually, I think they mean go at least 40kms faster than the advertised speed limit
18. You can fit a shit load of people and stuff on ..... Scooters, trucks, 4x4's, bicycles, basically any kind of transport.
19. My favorite dish ever ... Raw prawns with garlic and chilli can be bought here at a road side stall for about $2 and is absolutely delicious ... Back home it would cost $30
And 20. I am in love with thailand and could quite happily live here for a few years .. The people are great, I love the hustle bustle and have got used to the great weather. :) I have no doubt I will return again,maybe even to work.

In the meantime though I have booked in for Thai classes ... :) ... They start tomorrow morning at a Thai language school only about 500m from the condo. I am quite excited as I am determined to be able to hold a simple conversation and have been enjoying learning a few new words every day. It has been a while since I have been a student so I am doing one on one tuition for 30 hours, 3 hours at a time, so by the end of September hopefully I can say a few more words than just how much and thank you :)

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

All Black fans, I have the answer ....

Now, as my family would attest, I am a bit of a failed kiwi because dare I say it, I am not a big rugby fan, but, always one to eye an opportunity I have the answer to new Zealand's most pressing problem about the cost of the all black rugby world cup jersey!

I was wandering down Silom road this evening on my way to buy a couple of DVDs and dinner when I spotted an All Black RWC "official" jersey. And, after trying out my Thai on the stall guy, I can buy one for a mere $16.

Now, if I set up a website in competition with Canterbury or adidas or whoever it is, I'm sure I could buy a 1000 or so for even cheaper and then on sell them for a mere $100 New Zealand dollars. Woohoo!

So there you go, it's the answer to new Zealand's rugby world cup jersey tragedy.


Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Freemans Bay, Auckland fab apartment ...

Hi all

My tenants are leaving mid September and my apartment has come up for rent again.

It's a fab three bedroom, two bathroom, two carpark, super large apartment with north facing views of the harbour. Fully furnished, just take your toothbrush and linen. Centrally located with a gym, pool and sauna in the complex.

Flexible rental terms from 3 - 24 months. Only $820 per week.

If you or you know of anyone who may be interested, please call my property manager Jono Cooke on +64 9 360 9005 to arrange a time to view or check out the link - http://www.harcourts.co.nz/Property/View/DEW01288/Auckland-Central-2F-47-8-Howe-Street and send him an email. Thanks.



























Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Day 110 - back in the saddle

Well, it's time I find myself a bike to ride again. Amazingly, I have found two companies here in Bangkok that do rent out bigger bikes so we will see what happens after my enquiries.

Now, obviously this is for the purpose of riding outside of Bangkok rather than in the city. I have the car for that. So, for all my motorcycle mates who are no longer reading my blog because I've swung just a little off tangent, stay tuned as I Suss out the options. :)

Exciting!


Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Day 109 - my Swiss army knife

When I left Auckland on my travels four months ago I packed a couple of things that I thought would eb useful. A couple of them have proved to be useless and a waste of space, and a couple of things essential and indispensable.

Useless has been the all weather mini towel I bought from Kathmandu and my bathroom hangup toilet bag. Both of them I could have left at home.

Indispensable have been the multi country power plug, the iPad obviously and my Swiss army knife.

The most useful aspect of the Swiss army knife has been the bottle opener (it has opened countless bottles of beer). I have successfully used the knife to put a couple if extra holes in my belt (and one large gash in my finger and fingernail), the tweezers Yammie has used and the can opener on a few occasions.

Today we went to the nz immigration service office here in Bangkok and talk about frustrating. Talk about making it difficult for people to come and travel and/or work in new Zealand. I have found it confusing and English is my first language.

The other thing I bought was a DVD player for the condo so we can watch some DVDs in English as the only channels weber are funnily enough in Thai. At $50 for the DVD player and about $3 to buy a DVD it has been great. By the time it is time to return to new Zealand I will probably need to send a box of stuff home ahead of time. I have managed to accumulate odds and ends. The great thing is that if things go to plan and I get my apartment at home rented out again we will have a few bits and pieces for wherever we are living. If worst comes to worst we can find homes for them here.

I am actually really enjoying Bangkok and could live here for a couple of years I reckon. Yes, the traffic is hideous but in parts it is actually a beautiful city and I have grown quite accustomed to the hustle bustle. I think too that after three months in the hotter climates, my body has become more accustomed to the heat which is great because there's no doubt it's pretty bloody hot.

I am getting better at having myself understood in shops now too. I just wandered down the road to get us a bite to eat from the road side stalls that are dotted everywhere and I managed to get myself understood and understand how much I had to pay.

Yesterday I had a seriously funny moment when I went to a food stalland had got Yammie to tell me what I needed to say and all the way down the road I was practicing the line .. I was going to say in Thai ... Can I please have the yellow noodles? ... Anyway, when it came out the poor girl looked at me like I was from mars and all the people eating stopped and had a deep conversation to try and work out what I had said, then one of them worked it out. We all had a good giggle and when she said it I would of sworn that I said exactly the same thing, but it seems that my strong new Zealand accent does workagainst me sometimes. I love these interchanges though as it is all practise and I find people so appreciative that I am at least trying.

Thenext couple of days we plan to hang around Bangkok while I work out where I want to go next and we try and get visas and stuff sorted.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 108 - Temples, Food and Markets

What a great day today.

It had been a week or two since we caught up with yammies best mates. All girls he studied with at university and who he worked with at his job here in Bangkok. They are really sweet and in their early 20's like Yammie, so a bundle of energy.

We picked them up this morning at 9.00am just around the corner from our condo and we headed off for our days excursion. Today is Sunday, and "Buddha Day" this is a very popular day for locals to head off to the temple for the day.

I have decided that Thai people love to especially do four things -

1. Eat
2. Buy stuff at the markets
3. Go to the temple
4. Talk

..... And today I can see why people love Sunday's. They can go to the temple and buy stuff including food at the markets near the temple while talking with their family and friends. Talk about madness and mayhem in a good way.

We arrived at the first temple where it seemed half of Bangkok was. It was a 40 minute drive out of the city. The first step after navigating the madness to find a park was to offer a donation then pick up a candle, a couple of incense sticks, and three little pieces of paper with tiny squares of gold leaf in them. Then we whipped off our shoes and hustled our way to a podium where you planted the incense and dropped off your flowers after a little bow of the head and pray. Then it was off to another room where you again bustled your way to the front tp offer another prayer then rub the gold leaf on a giant buddha. After this we went to the main area just to have a look. It was very cool!










Bustling with the 1000's ....


You rub the gold leaf on one of these statues....






Me with my new super short tropical heat friendly hair cut.



Yammie with his girlfriends

After this we headed to a local market where we enjoyed a great seafood meal and walked through the hustle bustle picking up little morsels of Thai food along the way. At these places we went to today, I would have seen 1000's and 1000's of people and I only saw one other "falang" all day. It was just brilliant. After the meal we split the bill and it came out to about $4 each. Brilliant!















From here we went to another hugely popular local Sunday tourist spot. It seemed that there were a number of overseized deities that people were worshipping here.



















Yammie trying to work out where we were....

There was a large market here too, but we headed off to a floating market not too far away that was fascinating in the all the shop keepers were sitting in boats with their food cooking for people.













Yes, that is dirty brown water....

From here we headed to the final market for the day which was on the river again. Here we had yet another meal which when split came to a whopping $1 each.

It was then time to head back to the city. We have just arrived home.

A great day!

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Koh Chang photos

So, were back in Bangkok now after a leisurely drive back to The city. It's actually only a couple of hours from Pattaya to Bangkok. I have uploaded my photos from the camera from Koh Chang. I hope you enjoy :)




On the way out of the big city .....



Toll booths....



One of the main arterial routes has literally been built above the city....



Even on the back roads, corners are few and far between....



From the mainland looking across to koh Chang



On the car ferry ... Wasn't quite ready for the photo :)



Cute..



The view from our little bungalow...







Yammie with Ay






One of the beaches :)









Seafood dinner at a floating restaurant



On the way for a days dip at a local waterfall..



Dressed for the bush:)



Beautiful




Swimming :)

Apart from the upset stomach, i really enjoyed koh chang. I found the island to be much less commercialized than Phuket and you could actually find quiet spots to enjoy.

Pattaya on the other hand was the other end of the scale and although pleased to say ive been is not a place i would probably hurry back to.

All in all though a great week discovering yet more parts of Thailand.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

photo update 1

Yammie (Top) has kindly uploaded a few photos for me that he took on his phone so they can tide me over until we go back to Bangkok tomorrow where I can upload a few more photos, so thought I'd publish them as the text only blogs are a bit boring looking.

For those of you that are not completely computer literate :) (mum and Joan hehe :) ), just so you know, you can click on each photo and it will open up bigger so you can see it more clearly :)




So, I've discovered the local beer called Leo which is great on a hot day.



Swimming at the waterfall









Ok, so this one was taken a couple weeks ago, but i thought it was quite slimming so thought id include it anyway. :)

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.