Down and out
The following documents, with two photocopies where appropriate, are required. 1) Your passport showing a current non immigrant visa, not the tourist type. 2) Two passport size photos. 3) A Thai bank book and verification letter from that bank stating that you have at least 500,000 baht on deposit (200,000 if aged 60). 4) Written proof, such as a letter from your foreign bank, that your overseas income/pension is the equivalent of at least 50,000 baht a month (20,000 if aged 60). 5) Written proof of where you say you live in Thailand, such as condo purchase papers or a letter from your landlord. 6) Evidence that you are indeed retired such as severance letter from last employer or proof of substantial independent means. 7) Letter from your embassy in Thailand confirming there is nothing adverse in their consular records. Most embassies know the letter you need but send them proof of your annual income, say a bank letter or income tax notification for the past year. 8) The processing fee, currently 500 baht.
You then visit the immigration bureau in Soi 8, or the head office in Bangkok, to request an interview. Additional proof such as the bank foreign currency transaction slips when you send money out here can be helpful, but there is no need to overburden the officers. A medical certificate is not currently required. The visa will normally take two months to process (granted in Bangkok), and you cannot leave the country during this period without voiding the application. If the visa is granted in Pattaya, you must subsequently report there to confirm your address every ninety days. Immigration keeps a form for this purpose. The twelve months begins from the date of your most recent entry to Thailand, not the date of your application nor of the issuing of the visa. A few days before the twelve months expires, you can apply for another annual visa but must again provide most of the paperwork above. But you do not need another non immigrant visa unless you have voided the first one by leaving the country without a re-entry permit.
|Back to Columns Headline Index|
When I first met my husband about 10 years ago, he was fit and trim and one of the best amateur athletes in our small city in England. He played in a local football league, and was one of the best scorers on his team. He also had a good job (still does), which recently brought us to Thailand. For the past two years weve been based here in Thailand, and Ive noticed a big change come over him. Although he still works hard, when he is home he has become absolutely lazy. All he ever wants to do is sit around the house and watch football. He watches UBC, Star TV, even the local channels, even though he cant speak Thai and all the commentary is in Thai. He has become an absolute addict. Sometimes he invites friends over, which I dont mind, but it occasionally gets out of hand with all the beer drinking and singing and trashing up the house.
What bothers me the most, though, is that he has let himself go. He has become overweight, and I dont mean just a little bulge around the middle. He is now downright fat. Now, I still love him, but the problem is that I am no longer sexually attracted to him. When he takes his clothes off to get into bed, I honestly cannot bear to look at him as I remember what he used to look like. Am I being vain in putting too much emphasis on looks? I mean, it shouldnt matter, because he is still a good provider for our family, but I just dont like having this beached whale on top of me. In the past, our love making has always been very good for me, tender, sharing the moment, and until recently I never had trouble reaching orgasm. But now, I cant get even a little bit excited. It concerns me because I feel like Im facing a long life without sexual gratification. It also bothers me because I dont think I should feel this way. What should I do?
Youve obviously got to get on top of this situation right away. Your husbands seeming non-interest in sex is merely a symptom. There may be many causes. You dont state your husbands age, but this could be one contributing factor. There is also the climate change. Some people tire more easily in hot weather than others. If you and your husband came from a cold climate, this could be another reason. You say that he was a very good amateur athlete in your home country. Does he have a peer group with which he can engage in sports here?
He also may be dissatisfied with his job and be dealing with it by just turning off when he comes home. Unfortunately, you are adversely affected by this turn off by being turned off to him.
As your husbands get up and go got up and went it is time for revitalization. There are sports and recreational activities such as golf and tennis which you could play with your husband. Doing this would be good for both of you. If you show some interest in doing things with your husband, you could help him get back into shape, both physically and sexually.
If your husband played a lot of sports at home, he naturally had a large group of friends. Even though he has you, your husband is probably missing his buddies. Male bonding is a mystery to most women but is a very necessary part of a mans life. Try to be understanding. From what youve written, it sounds like your husband doesnt feel very good about himself either.
|Back to Columns Headline Index|
Modern Medicine: Hepatitis C and IV Drug Abuse
Presented by Bangkok-Pattaya Hospital
by Dr. Iain Corness
Of all the new viral infections, Hepatitis C is one of the fastest growing in the world. It is very contagious - in fact ten times more so than HIV for example.
When I say it is new, I mean it. Hep C was only positively identified in 1989. Before then we referred to strange cases of hepatitis as non-A non-B hepatitis. Of course there is also D, E and F and probably a whole Alphabet full which we havent identified yet.
We are still unsure of all the exact ways you can get Hep C, but we do know that by far the vast majority of cases comes from a blood to blood transmission. And the commonest way this occurs is the dreadful habit of sharing needles for intra-venous drug abuse. After that there is unhygienic tattooing and body piercing, blood transfusions before 1990 and exposure to infected blood after a penetrating injury.
The problem with Hep C is that not only can you get an acute liver inflammation with jaundice and feeling generally unwell, but around half the cases will degenerate into a chronic, long term inflammation called chronic hepatitis. In turn, that chronic condition may lead to cirrhosis of the liver and even cancer.
Although we are unable to be totally specific about the ways you can acquire Hep C, we are not completely ignorant about the disease process. The first point to be aware of is that Hep C is not a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD). Sharing glasses, towels, cups and plates does not spread the virus, nor does hugging or kissing.
There is a chance that a Hep C positive mother can transmit the virus to her unborn baby, and this is around 5% (or 1 child in 20). If the mother is very severely infected with the virus, then there is more chance of this type of transmission.
We also do have some forms of treatment for this insidious illness, the principal one being a drug called Interferon. Unfortunately, Iterferon is highly expensive and has some severe side effects, so much so that many people will not complete the course (generally between 6 and 12 months). There is also a need to avoid alcohol as the combination of the virus and alcoholic liver disease is potentially more lethal.
Anyone who has a history of blood transfusion before 1990, tattoos, having shared needles or body piercing should be aware of the Hep C situation and tests are available to see if you are harbouring the virus.
|Back to Columns Headline Index|
Family Money : Maintaining Flexibility
By Leslie Wright
Nowadays more and more expatriate employees are on short-term or open-ended contracts. The days of long-term contracts or permanent, pensionable employment seem to have disappeared in the name of corporate efficiency and expediency.
In many cases, contracts can be terminated at any time, almost without notice - especially if your employers infrastructure project has been shelved as a result of the economic situation over the past year.
This makes planning for your future that much harder.
But it also means you should give even greater consideration to your short-term financial planning, just in case...
All too often I meet people who have been earning very good money on short-term contracts who have nothing to show for it, except a few hazy memories or holiday snapshots.
Most people on short-term employment contracts are earning considerably more than they spend, and should be putting this excess income to work for them effectively while they have the opportunity.
However, one of the most important criteria to bear in mind when considering investments nowadays - especially for those who dont know where they will be in a couple of years time, or whether they will even have a good-paying job then - is flexibility.
By this I mean asking yourself (or your financial advisor, if you have one) several important questions about any investment you might be considering.
First, how easily could you access your money if necessary? After all, if you were suddenly out of work, or had to seek employment elsewhere, youd need some cash to tide you over, wouldnt you?
Second, what penalties (if any) might you suffer if you had to do so?
Certain types of investment instruments carry quite heavy penalties if you stop them early or want to take your money out.
Even a time deposit at the local bank carries penalties: you generally lose all the interest if you withdraw your money before the contracted maturity date.
This aspect should be clearly understood before committing to any investment program - especially a long-term savings plan.
Third, could you access your money anywhere you might need it - in another country, for instance?
Nowadays people working for multinational corporations can be shifted around the globe at a moments notice - and may not have time to rearrange their investments if these are tied up locally. Bureaucratic procedures and exchange control can cause delays, additional costs, or even prevent you getting at your capital altogether.
Fourth, could you continue your investment plans if you move elsewhere?
For instance, say you had started up a regular savings plan, and then had to move to another country for one reason or another. Would you be able to continue contributing into this plan, or be forced to suspend it - perhaps because of local exchange control regulations, or the high cost of bank transfers, or various other reasons - and perhaps suffer penalties for so doing, and certainly not achieve the target for which the plan was set up in the first place?
Fifth, must any contributions you make into your investment plans remain fixed, or could you increase or decrease them as your circumstances change? What benefits or penalties might apply to doing so? (This is especially relevant whilst living in a high-inflation area, where savings should be increased in line with rising income, to offset the erosionary effects of inflation.)
These aspects of sound financial planning should be considered before entering into any investment scheme, whether it be a bank deposit, a lump-sum investment, or a regular savings program.
If in doubt, seek professional advice. Ask your financial advisor these same questions about any investment program that is proposed to you, and ensure you receive clear and unequivocal answers.
Then ask yourself whether your financial advisor addressed these points adequately, in order to give you the best objective advice in making recommendations that will be to your benefit.
Or, as is unfortunately sometimes the case, did he simply try to sell you a plan that would be to his or his firms benefit, but doesnt quite suit your needs or address your particular circumstances. (Did he even ask about your needs & circumstances before making such recommendations?)
If in doubt about the answers you receive, get a second opinion.
With so many investment plans on offer nowadays from so many internationally-recognised firms, client-orientated financial advisors should be in a position to offer their clients a virtually ideal fit to match their particular needs and circumstances, and address the various what if factors of flexibility.
The problem is that some advisors are tied - that is, their firms are not truly independent, or are not in a position to offer a wide range of investment options from a number of competing institutions. They have brokerage or agency agreements with only one or two, and tend all too often to promote the vehicles that return them the most brokerage fees or commission, rather than recommend to their clients the investment vehicles that would be the most cost-effective or most appropriate for that clients particular circumstances.
It is, in my opinion, perfectly in order to ask your financial advisor what alternative vehicles are available, and how these compare with his principal recommendations.
Although it is an important part of a professional advisors function to identify and recommend to you the investment vehicle that is most appropriate for your unique needs and circumstances (just as it is your doctors function to prescribe the best treatment for whatever ails you once this has been identified), he should nevertheless be able to justify his recommendations to you in a compare-and-contrast exercise against alternative investment vehicles, and have a good knowledge of these - just as a good doctor will have knowledge of alternative treatments that may be more costly or less effective than that he has prescribed for the particular case in hand.
It is worth bearing in mind that not necessarily is the cheapest alternative the most cost-effective.
Nor, indeed, is the most cost-effective vehicle the most appropriate for all given circumstances.
For instance, there is generally a trade-off between cost and flexibility.
A bank deposit, for example, will typically offer you a higher rate of interest if you agree to keep your capital on deposit, rather than have instant access to it through a passbook or ATM card. That is, you give up accessibility in favour of a higher return.
If you want to withdraw your money, you can; but you pay a heft penalty for this right, by foregoing the interest.
Theres always a trade-off
Most savings plans work on a similar basis. If you make a long-term commitment with your eyes open, but later want to get at your accumulated savings before the maturity date, you will probably suffer a penalty or loss of bonuses.
Some such plans levy higher up-front charges, but allow a greater degree of relatively inexpensive accessibility down the road; others spread their charges throughout the term of a plan, so accessing the capital early can be relatively more expensive, but less so the closer you come to the selected maturity date. Again, theres a trade-off.
If you require total accessibility and total flexibility with one of these plans, you will probably have to forego the bonuses and increased allocations which accompany the longer-term plans, but which dont accompany most of the short-term, open-ended plans.
Also, the minimum amount accepted into these various schemes differs, and affects the charges that are applied.
Generally, the more you can afford to put in, the lower the entry & exit costs.
But again, theres a trade-off. Totally flexible, open-ended plans generally have substantially higher investment thresholds (the minimum amounts accepted into them) than the more rigidly structured longer-term plans.
In other words, you cant necessarily have your cake and eat it.
On the other hand, if youre able to keep to your commitment in a long-term plan, the charging structure of the more cost-effective plans on the market tends to favour long-term savers over short-term ones or those requiring greater flexibility and/or accessibility.
So, if you are reasonably sure you can ignore some or all of the flexibility factors, you may well be able to get a better deal in taking out one or another of the longer-term plans.
Otherwise, and especially if you can afford to save more substantial amounts from your high-earning short-term contract, it would be wisest to keep your options open and ensure you have a high degree of flexibility built into your investment planning.
If you have any comments or queries on this article, or about other topics concerning investment matters, write to Leslie Wright, c/o Family Money, Pattaya Mail, or fax him directly on (038) 232522 or e-mail him at email@example.com. Further details and back articles can be accessed on his firms website on www.westminsterthailand.com.
Leslie Wright is Managing Director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd., a firm of independent financial advisors providing advice to expatriate residents of the Eastern Seaboard on personal financial planning and international investments.
|Back to Columns Headline Index|
Copyright 1998 Pattaya Mail Publishing
370/7-8 Pattaya Second Road, Pattaya City, Chonburi 20260, Thailand
Tel.66-38 411 240-1, 413 240-1, Fax:66-38 427 596; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Created by Andy Gombaz, assisted by Chinnaporn Sangwanlek.