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  1. Like
    Bob got a reaction from byclelloday in Timing - Extending One-Year Visa   
    Hua Hin Immigration told me today that one can extend your one-year (some call it "retirement") visa only within the 30-day time period before it expires; however, after some cajoling, I was advised that it can be done earlier but for an extra charge (5,000 baht!).
    I was between a rock and hard place. My visa expires May 27th but I'm scheduled to fly back to the states on April 26th. I ended up with two choices: (1) Get it extended by paying an extra 5,000 baht (in addition to the 1,900 baht to extend the visa and the 1,000 re-entry permit)or (2) Just let the damn thing lapse, obtain a new Non-Imm O Visa this summer and then get a new retirement visa in the fall. Since I use a visa service in the states, the new Non-Imm O would have cost me about 3,000 baht in total and, of course, the cost of the one year visa is 1,900 baht.
    Bottom-line, get it all done today and pay a total of 7,900 baht or wait and get it done for a total of 4,900 baht. While I could have saved 3,000 baht, I elected to pony up today and save myself the hassle of getting the two new visas in the future.
    Moral of the story, I suppose, is to be aware that the cheap way to extend your one-year visa is to do it within 30 days of its expiration date. Next year, I'll stay until May (as you might note, I only missed the damned deadline by 2-3 days in the first place!).
    P.S. Yes, I could have tried to extend the date of my flights.....but that, in total, would have cost me $300.00 or about 9,000 baht!
  2. Like
    Bob got a reaction from CrazyExpat in Meatload from Lvdkeyes   
    Yep, I think the "meatload" deal is a totally different recipe...
    But the meatloaf recipe does sound great and, if/when I get the urge to actually cook, will have to try it.
  3. Like
    Bob got a reaction from miss expat universe in Some interesting facts about Thailand   
    While I'm a big fan of the Thai people, I have no clue what "84th least corrupt" is supposed to mean. In reality, Thailand's government, elite, and police are more corrupt than any country I've ever known. Absolutely endemic.
  4. Downvote
    Bob reacted to CrazyExpat in Bangkok airport embarks on image makeover   
    BANGKOK — Baggage handlers at Thailand's main airport now wear uniforms with pockets sewn shut to prevent pilfering. Police are hauling away illegal taxi touts. And cushions are being added to metal seats at departure gates derided as a "pain in the rear."
    An overhaul is under way at Bangkok's $3.8 billion Suvarnabhumi Airport, which is virtually brand new but trying to put a scandal-plagued past behind and become one of the world's top 10 airports — a goal senior officials concede might be a long shot for this year.
    The campaign is partly aimed at addressing passenger complaints logged since Suvarnabhumi opened in 2006.
    Free Wi-Fi will be in place by the end of the month and 126 Internet terminals have been installed for travelers without laptops, according to Airports of Thailand, the airport's operator. Other upgrades include more restrooms, improved signs and the upholstery of all 19,000 cold metallic seats with turquoise, peach, green and purple cushions that brighten Suvarnabhumi's concrete-and-steel design, panned by some critics as too monotone.
    More than cosmetic, the cleanup has become a matter of national pride. It comes amid a rash of bad publicity that prompted the prime minister to tour the airport's trouble spots last month — from its luggage-sorting underbelly up through duty-free shops and out to the arrival hall.
    "We must have high and strict standards," Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said during his Aug. 15 visit, prompted by highly publicized claims by European tourists that they were falsely accused of shoplifting at duty-free stores and then taken to seedy motels and extorted by a police interpreter.
    On Abhisit's orders, tourists accused of stealing will now be handled "transparently so there are no complaints," said Ayuth Sucantharuna, a spokesman for Airports of Thailand, or AOT. They will be interrogated at the airport, rather than transferred to an outside police station, and interviews will be videotaped.
    Scams against tourists are the subject of a new British documentary series called "Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand." The program, which aired its first of eight episodes last week on British television, "explores the ugly side of tourism in Thailand" — like getting ripped off by a gun-wielding jet-ski operator and landing in jail after partying at a drugged-out, all-night beach rave.
    The show is sure to hit a sore spot in Thailand, where the tourism industry has barely recovered from last year's public relations disaster at Suvarnabhumi — the main gateway to the country — when anti-government protesters shut the airport for a week and stranded 300,000 travelers.
    Abhisit set a realistic target while discussing Suvarnabhumi on his weekly TV broadcast recently: "I think the problems can be significantly reduced — but to get rid of them all together will be difficult."
    Take the case of taxi touts with "broken meters," which Nirandra Theeranartsin, the airport's general manager, calls "a monumental problem" that started 40 years ago at Bangkok's previous international airport.
    Part of the problem appears to be that senior AOT officials were sanctioning the touts in exchange for kickbacks, Nirandra said, adding "it's hard to prove" but several high-ranking officials are nonetheless being transferred.
    So far, a six-week crackdown on illegal touts and unauthorized tour guides at Suvarnabhumi has resulted in more than 1,200 arrests — a misleading number since several are repeat offenders, AOT and police officials say.
    Touts are charged with creating a public nuisance, which carries a maximum 1,000 baht ($30) fine and is too weak a deterrent, authorities say. Fifty new security cameras are now being installed in the arrival zone to get proof of trespassing and other offenses that carry stiffer penalties.
    Another 327 new security cameras are going up in the luggage-sorting zone, where a "no pocket" rule took effect Sept. 1.
    After Abhisit's visit, baggage handlers were ordered to turn in their uniforms and all pockets were stripped off or sewn shut, Nirandra said.
    "They walk in with the clothes on their back — without pockets — and no mobile phones, no wallets, nothing. Not even a pen," said Nirandra. "And they come back out the same way."
    The crackdown has been a regular topic of letters to the editor and editorials that urge authorities not to relent, predicting touts will return once arrests stop. The Bangkok Post newspaper applauded the new cushioned seats with the headline, "AOT ends Suvarnabhumi's Pain in the Rear."
    The upgrades and new security measures are costing upward of 150 million baht ($4.4 million), which the airport hopes will pay off with a top-10 ranking in the Geneva-based Airports Council International's annual list, based on passenger surveys of 120 airports. Suvarnabhumi is ranked 28th, a point of contention since regional rivals Seoul, Singapore and Hong Kong hold the top three spots.
    "It's about pride of the Thai people," Nirandra said. "I don't know if we can reach the top 10 yet. But we're trying. If not this year, maybe next year."
  5. Like
    Bob reacted to CrazyExpat in Banking in Thailand   
    Banking in Thailand
    One aspect of Thai banking that becomes quickly noticeable is there often is no consistency. Different banks have different rules, regulations, and procedures. Sometimes that lack of consistency exists between different branches of the same bank. It is more of an annoyance than a serious problem, but often in one branch you will be told one thing and then something entirely different in another branch.
    Thai banks have main branches and mini branches. The mini branches are found mostly in shopping malls. The mini branches are quite convenient because they have longer hours than the main branches and are open every day, with the exception of certain holidays. The mini branches open when their mall location opens and usually remain open until about 9:00pm, depending on their location. Nearly every branch, even in small cities, has someone on staff whose English is acceptable.
    If you are to be in Thailand for on a long-term visa, such as a Retirement Visa, holding a Thai bank account is required. Many Thai banks no longer allow foreigners to open an account if they are in Thailand without a non-immigrant visa. There are still some, however, that allow you to open an account even if you entered Thailand on the 30-day privilege you receive upon entry at international airports. If one branch refuses to allow you to open an account, try another branch. Remember about the inconsistency.
    If you intend to retire in Thailand, but do not yet hold a Thai bank account, it can be quite a problem if you cannot find a bank that will allow you to open an account. However, if you apply for the Retirement Visa while still in your home country, provided that you are otherwise eligible, the visa will be granted without holding a Thai bank account. Once you hold the Retirement Visa you will be able to easily open an account at any bank in Thailand.
    All Thai banks permit opening an account with a minimum deposit of 500 baht. Upon opening an account you will be issued a passbook. The ATM card is called Visa Electron. There is a fee for the Visa Electron card. Most banks charge 200 to 300 baht for it. When it expires, the banks charge a fee for renewal, usually 100 baht. Banks that offer interest to a foreigner’s savings account usually offer only a very low interest rate.
    Thai ATMs are sophisticated and plentiful. Even the smallest towns will have ATMs. In larger cities they are virtually everywhere. If you make a withdrawal at an ATM at which you hold an account, there is no fee if you are within the province at which you opened the account. If you are in a different province, most banks assess a 25 baht fee when making withdrawals. If you make a withdrawal at an ATM other than your own bank’s machine, a 25 baht fee is assessed no matter where you are in Thailand.
    The Visa Electron card also works outside of Thailand. You can make withdrawals at most ATMs anywhere in the world. Most grocery stores, department stores, restaurants, and nearly anywhere in Thailand that normally would accept a credit card will allow you to pay with your Visa Electron card. PayPal now allows you to hold an account if your bank is a Thai bank. When registering for PayPal they ask for a credit card. The accept the Visa Electron card, which means you can have PayPal deposit funds into your Thai bank account. It takes 5 to 7 days for the funds to reach your account via PayPal. PayPal does not yet issue their ATM card for Thai-based accounts.
    If you go to an ATM representing your own bank, anywhere in Thailand, you can do much more than simply make withdrawals. You can do balance inquiries, even for other banks. You can pay bills, add time to your mobile phone, pay bills, and transfer funds to any Thai bank, including other banks. For example, if you hold an account with Kasikorn Bank, but wish to transfer money to a Bangkok Bank account, you can do so at any Kasikorn Bank ATM, but many banks restrict the hours in which those types of transactions can be done. The hours available for those types of transactions are usually 6:00am to 8:00 or 9:00pm, depending on the bank.
    At branch locations there are usually Cash Deposit Machines available. You can deposit cash into your own account or any other account. The machine checks the cash to verify the cash is genuine, not counterfeit. In most cases the funds are immediately available once the machine accepts the cash. In some cities that service is available 24 hours per day. In other cities that service is available only during restricted hours, even when it is the same bank.
    There are usually passbook update machines at branch locations.
    Depending on the bank, ATM withdrawals are limited to 20,000 to 25,000 baht per day.
    All Thai banks have online banking available. Some banks, however, permit online banking only if you hold a non-immigrant visa. Depending on the bank, establishing online banking ranges from quite simple to quite complicated. Once you have established online banking, you can check your balance and do transactions from anywhere in the world. Short of withdrawing cash, you can use online banking to do every kind of transaction that can be done at ATMs.
    Online banking also includes bill paying services. Billers that have contracted with the bank will have their names appear on a dropdown list. You select the company to which the bill will be paid. When filling out the form you will be asked for two reference numbers. Both reference numbers appear on the bill. Banks charge a 10 baht fee for each bill paid via their bill pay services.
    Some Thai banks have non-commercial branches in foreign countries. Bangkok Bank, for example, has a branch office in New York. That branch office has a routing number, which means that any funds you can receive by direct deposit can be sent to your Bangkok Bank account via the New York branch. You will normally receive the funds the same day they are deposited.
    Several banks now offer mobile phone services. If your mobile phone has Internet capabilities, the banks that offer such services provide secure services and allow you to fully access your account via mobile phone. You can check your balance, pay bills, top off your mobile phone time, and transfer funds to other accounts.
    Thai banks do not offer account insurance similar to the USA’s FDIC. It is advisable to be very careful when using an ATM. Make sure no one can see you enter your PIN. Change your PIN code on a regular basis, which can be done at an ATM. Do not let anyone approach you when using an ATM. If you use an ATM at night, try to use one in a well lit location with plenty of people around.
    If you are a regular traveler to Thailand or stay in Thailand on a long-term basis, then holding a Thai bank account is convenient and cost effective. Nearly every Thai bank assesses a 150 baht fee for transactions and withdrawals if the ATM card being used is a foreign ATM card.
    cc 2009