Sunday, 20 June 2010

Mourning Glory

I previously posted some incredible images of Bangkok in flames during the most chaotic part of the recent political unrest in Thailand.

After finding this video from I found the video below from Rupert James (thanks to Dwight) and had to share it. It's called Mourning Glory.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Moving to Thailand: Martyn, Beyond The Mango Juice

As follow-up to last week’s Q&A with Talen, from Thailand, Land of the Smiles, we have a new soon-to-be expat in the hot seat.

Using himself as a live human guinea pig for aspiring birds looking to fly south and settle in Thailand, he are the experiences and opinions from a top blogger...Martyn, aka Hoo Don, from Beyond The Mango Juice – another Thailand blog which comes hugely recommended from yours truly.

The man himself, Leo beer in hand

You are living in the UK at present but with aspirations of moving to Thailand. What is it that makes you want to move to Thailand? 
I've been travelling to Thailand for over ten years and fell in love with the country on my first trip, first day is probably the truth. I love the easy laid back way of life in the Land of Smiles and the warm sunshine is a huge bonus too. I'd be lying if I said money doesn't come into it because it does, even at today's poor exchange rate my UK pound still has a lot of value to me in Thailand.
Why are you waiting to rather than moving to Thailand straight away? 
Money. Quite simply I don't have enough savings or equity in my property to make any move long term. When I do spread my wings and fly I want it to be forever and one day more. The thought of returning to England years later with no money and having to find work at say 60 years of age frightens me. Being skint with lots of wrinkles is really scary.
Do you have a plan or timeline for making the big move? 
I have a stock answer instead of a plan. In about three years time. Ask me the same question next week, next year, in two years time and I'll give you the same stock answer. When I do make the move I think it's going to be a spur of the moment decision. Wham, bam, here I go. I've always been a gambler and I'm currently trying to load the dice in my favour, believe me one day I'm going to throw them.
‘Wham bam’ was very much the approach the missus and I took when moving over from London, though a rough plan had been in place for a while. Has served us well to date...I’m not much of a planner whereas she is a woman.

When did you first realize your wanted to live in Thailand full time? 
Literally from day one, when fit young women chase you down the road screaming 'sexy man' it kind of makes your mind up.  
I’ve never been chased down the road (ladyboys not included), am I living in the wrong place? Well given I’m a (happily) taken man we can safely same I’m in the right place. Or perhaps just not chaseable?

How often do you visit Thailand? 
Three times a year. Generally April or May, every September and Christmas. I have had extended stays in Thailand in the past of a couple of months and my longest stay was four months. Nowadays work commitments allow me a total of about 7-8 weeks in Thailand each year. 
Do you have plans to work whilst living in Thailand? If not how do you plan to support you and Wi? 
I would love to find work in Thailand but basically I haven't got the skills they require. I have thought about taking a TEFL course and teaching English but I believe you need a university degree to legally teach English in Thailand. That's something I haven't got and I really can't see any other work opportunities for me out there. 
To support myself and Wonderful Wi I would need savings and income from renting out my property once the mortgage has been paid off. Putting a question like that to me makes me wonder if I'll ever make it to Thailand full time. You bastard (joking). 
Frustrating though it may be, the rental income approach is a proven one which a few people I know use to supplement additional incomes. Worth the wait in gold...or, indeed, Thai Baht.

Martyn and his other half Wi

Do you have any advice for those considering a full-time move to Thailand? 
My advice is in one of my previous answers and that's simply make sure you have enough money to survive until you reach a good old age. And one day more. 
Given the recent political turmoil in Thailand, which has claimed more than sixty lives, do you find yourself reconsidering your decision to move to Thailand? 
My move is a few years away but if it was next week then I'd try to rebook the flight for tomorrow. The current crisis which is suffocating Thailand has been building to a head for a number of years and so I have weighted that into my thoughts for a long time now. The UK government issued a warning not to travel to Thailand shortly before my trip this month but I knew I'd be 100% safe and that proved to be the case. Most countries have their own threat of 'terrorism' and I consider Thailand's scenario to be a lesser threat that most other countries, and that includes the UK. 
Give me a half decent pension and as the song says 'I'll be there.'
A big thanks (and good luck with planning) for Martyn for these responses from a while back. This post was delayed so long it began to rival an ASEAN summit meeting.

As stated last week, this interviews serve to answer of one most frequently asked questions (to me, at least) – “should I move to Thailand” – all responses and discussions are therefore welcome.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Football: Thailand Officially World Number Two

Thailand has beaten Brazil in football!! Though England remains number one.

It is...well...erm...not quite what you think...

Thailand has been recognised as the world's second-most football obsessed nation according to Heineken with England coming out top.

Just in time for the World Cup, Heineken gets a nice instantly quotable story in the British broadsheets and a little Team England brand association - well done chaps.

I won't often quote news from The Sun, but I think you'll agree this is a worthy exception.
Research revealed English blokes spend more time watching, playing, reading and talking about the beautiful game than anywhere else on the planet.
The study found a typical soccer fan watches football — including highlights — for two hours and 22 minutes every week.
They also spend 28 minutes each day chin-wagging about the latest results, tackles, goals or transfer gossip.
In second place was Thailand, where men spend three hours talking about the sport, followed by three-time World Cup winners Brazil in third.
Of course, as the saying goes, it's all about quality over quantity and given some of the opinions I've heard in both England and Thailand, I'm pretty sure neither country can claim to be the world's most knowledgeable.

At just 120 Baht (£2.50) a shirt switching your allegiance is an affordable pursuit in Thailand

Liverpool is well known for being the most popular in team in Thailand (any many other Southeast Asian countries) although Chelsea, Arsenal and Man United and others are becoming increasingly popular as the Merseysiders continue to struggle on and off the pitch.

Glory hunters, just keeping with what's on vogue or sensibly taking advantage of the bevy of cheap replica kits?

My favourite Thai football story is the fella who went to watch the recent Inter vs Bayern Munich Champions League final with both an Inter and Bayern shirt.

Back to The Sun, the top 15 countries are as below, though I still don't believe Thai men spend close to 10 hours a day talking about football.
THIS is the total amount of time blokes spend watching, playing, reading and talking about football each day around the world:

1. England — 11hrs 12mins

2. Thailand — 9hrs 56mins

3. Brazil — 9hrs 53mins

4. Ireland — 9hrs 29mins

5. Mexico — 9hrs 1min

6. Spain — 8hrs 38mins

7. Italy — 8hrs 27mins

8. China — 8hrs 21mins

9. Scotland — 8hrs 6mins

10. S. Africa — 8hrs 5mins

11. Germany — 8hrs 4mins

12. Wales — 7hrs 46mins

13. France — 7hrs 23mins

14. Russia — 7hrs 13mins

15. Holland — 6hrs 4mins

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Moving to Thailand: Talen, Thailand, Land Of Smiles

Over the course of blogging here at JF I get a fair amount of feedback from people considering moving to Thailand.

If I move to Thailand what job can I do? Is it nice living outside of Bangkok? What about my children? It safe to live in Thailand? Is there hot water? Have you ever been bitten by a snake? The list goes on.

My answer is always the same - I can't possible tell you if you should move to Thailand, it depends on personal circumstances.

In the past I've recommended reading blogs in Thailand as they are often excellent sources of information. Bloggers covers many issues of life here, the good, the bad (the ugly?), regularly reading a number of blogs can help paint a picture of what life in Thailand *could be*...but again, it really depends on each individual.

This post is the first of two combining typical 'moving to Thailand questions' with the wealth of knowledge and experience in the Thai blogosphere.

I've asked a few questions to two bloggers who are planning a big move to Thailand. If you're making, considering the move yourself their opinions may be of interest.

So first up here is Talen from Thailand, Land Of Smiles.

The man behind the hugely popular (and recommended) Thailand, Land Of Smiles blog, Talen.

You are living in the USA at present but with aspirations of moving to Thailand. What is it that makes you want to move to Thailand?
Everything! The weather, food, culture and definitely the beautiful women. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I definitely feel like a better version of me when in Thailand. I can't put a finger on it but I think it has a lot to do with learning about and exploring the country. It's all so new and crisp and there is always something around every corner to delve into.
Why are you waiting to rather than moving to Thailand straight away?
Originally I was going to make the move to Thailand 2 years ago but my mother became ill and soon passed away followed by my father's cancer returning. So, my plans were put on hold while I helped to take care of my parents.
Do you have a plan or timeline for making the big move?
My father just recently passed away and as soon as the family takes care of the last of the estate issues I'll be leaving for Thailand. I'm hoping to hit the ground sometime in late July or early August.
When did you first release your desire to live in Thailand full time?
Right after my second trip to Thailand in 2007.
My first trip was great but that was the first vacation I had in a very long time so I spent most of my time in bars. The second trip I really started to see the country and the cultural aspects of Thailand and I just knew this was the place I wanted to be.
I was talking about Thailand so much to anyone that would listen that I had to start the blog so I wouldn't keep annoying people.
How often do you visit Thailand?
Aside from the past year I had been going to Thailand at least every six months since my first visit in 2006.

Talen and his other half Pookie

Do you have plans to work whilst living in Thailand? If not how do you plan to support you and your partner, Pookie, in LOS?
I've saved a nice nest egg to get me going and have been building a blogging empire (joke), But I do have a few blogs going that are starting to turn a decent profit that I am hoping I can live off of in the future.
If all else fails I can always be the second or third falang Kathoey to shake my stuff around Pattaya :)
Hmmm...lets hope this doesn't inspire anyone, Talen.

Do you have any advice for those considering a full-time move to Thailand?
Definitely do your homework and make sure this is something you really want to do. Visit Thailand as much as possible and for as long as possible before you make the move so you understand what you are getting into.
The language barrier and cultural differences are a big stumbling block for many would be expats. I've spent a good bit of time up country in Issan as well as the more traveled areas of Bangkok and Pattaya and I have yet to run into anything that would put me off...including cold showers and squat toilets in Mukdahan.
Also keep in mind that while a lot of things like food and shelter in Thailand are very cheap by western standards there will be other expenses that won't be and shouldn't be neglected like health insurance, visa's and car or motorbike insurance if you live anywhere that isn't easily accessible to public transportation.
Another thing to consider is having a bailout plan. You never know whats going to happen with the government and visa rules have a way of changing quickly in Thailand.
With the events of the last few months, I posed an additional question which is probably going through the mind of anyone considering a visit to Thailand, let alone coming to live here.

Given the recent political turmoil in Thailand, which has claimed more than sixty lives, do you find yourself reconsidering your decision to move to Thailand?
Not in the slightest. Knowing I will be living in Red shirt country might add an air of danger, considering some of the conversations I have been having with Pookie over the last few weeks, but I don't think that I would
be worried about my personal safety at all. Besides I just got a new DSLR and I'm itching for some good pictures.
With the protests now all across the northeast it might give me a better perspective on the ground even though I have very real doubts about the UDD leadership.  In all seriousness though I really hope for Thailand's sake that the worst is behind us and somehow the people can move forward and repair the damage somehow and get back to being known for the smiles instead of the violence.
A big thank you to Talen. My condolences for your recent losses, I'm with you that right now family is one of the few things that would move me and the family back in the UK. In time, we shall see though.

Good luck with the packing and planning, Talen.

Check back later to this week to see which blogger's answers are part 2 of this mini-series.

UPDATE: By "later this week", I in fact mean next week (tease) as tomorrow is Friday already. My excuse? Am in Malaysia on a extended break, somewhat out of sync from the norm.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Phuket Film Festival 2010

Putting recent (and current) political situation to the side for a moment, Friday marks the start of this year's Phuket Film Festival.

There is sure to be greater interest in the event from inside Thailand (at least) as it provides a destruction from said current political malaise while Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethaku's recent success at the Cannes Film Festival (Wise Kwai has more here) has promoted greater interest in the industry here too.

So without further ado, here is the official festival video preview.

More on the festival in this Bangkok Post article.