Returning Home - Again
Four months ago I packed my bags and left Ayr for good. The lease on my factory was due for renewal and I (we - Ploy and myself) decided that six years apart was too long and the reason for moving back to the UK - easier running of the business - while to some extent true, had not led to increased orders, and in any case, personal matters should outweigh business ones.
I spent my last few days eating in favourite restaurants, visiting Oban, Glasgow and Edinburgh and spending a couple of nights in Carlisle before heading to Heathrow and my flight to Thailand.
I had cleared out my factory and a few items, such as my test equipment, were already on their way to Bangkok in a shipping container. The decision to move had been rather hurried. Work was slow as companies recovered from COVID, we had a little money in the bank and the lease renewal sealed the deal. I didn't want another 5 years here away from Ploy and dogs. I got a visa from the Thai embassy, booked my flight, packed up essential items, sold or gave away the rest (aren't charity shops fussy, I threw in a skip loads of perfectly decent items because the shops didn't want them, or wouldn't collect larger items). I left the UK with barely a backward glance - I'll sort things out once I am with Ploy was my mantra. My state pension kicks in later in the year which will more than pay all the bills in Thailand as we own the house and car (and Thailand has no council tax). Bills are just day to day expenses. Two days after arriving in Thailand I got a SIM card for my new (UK bought) phone and was sitting with Ploy in a coffee shop and all was right with the world.
For the six years I had been in the UK, Ploy had been running her own restaurant which meant her getting up a 5 a.m., 7 days a week, to buy things from the market, getting home at 5 p.m., feeding the dogs, sleeping and then rinse and repeat. Not only was she knackered but any other items were just put on a to do list. In preparation for me returning she tried to tidy up the house, but it was too much for her. We agreed she should give up the restaurant, but she found someone else to take it over which gave us a little additional rental income every month. My shipment would not arrive for another two months so I couldn't do any real work - I had taken almost all of our products off of the website and even returned some payments for products that I could no longer manufacture - but that meant I had two months to get the house in order. I quickly set my newly unemployed wife to work.
We had some repairs done on the car. One disadvantage of Ploy being alone is workmen see an opportunity to take advantage of her. Quotes for car repairs were astronomical so Ploy didn't have them done - the engine management computer lit our dashboard up like a Christmas tree. Go in to a garage with someone who knows a little about cars and the price is suddenly a fraction of what Ploy is quoted. We found someone to repair the leaks in the roof (I will try most things, but repairing a roof 20m high in 40degC heat is not one of them). Furniture was thrown out (our Thai house had the remnants of three houses worth of furniture as we shipped things there from the UK, Canada and Singapore in our various moves - and was about to receive another 50 boxes of stuff); rooms reorganised from chaos to proper living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens, and importantly, an office for me to work in. After four months here work is still ongoing, but to be honest it has been quite good fun and a break from sitting behind a computer all day. It is nice to own your own house (rather than rent) and spend time improving it. Ploy bought some fish for the pond and plants for the garden.
By the time my shipment arrived most things were in order and we quickly managed to get my office setup and things assimilated. It was time to get SingMai up and running again.
When I lived here before SingMai was a Thai company. We had to jump through the hoops of business visas, work permits and all the hassle of employing four Thais (a requirement to get the work permit) and was a major reason I moved back to the UK. To avoid the bureaucracy this time I left the company registered in the UK. I am just a remote worker, but all the manufacturing is subcontracted. I just do the design here and answer emails - I am effectively what Thailand call a digital nomad. My accountant has set up some webby thing which scans all my receipts and invoices and it automatically extracts all the relevant information and sends it to him, and a friend set up some magic gizmo where I can keep my old UK SingMai telephone number and calls are automatically routed to my old phone here. Post is handled by a virtual office forwarding stuff to me here. So all I need is a visa, and at the moment I have to do what are called visa runs (leave the country and come straight back) to renew my passport stamp. I can do this for 15 months - after that there are various options: I am much more relaxed about things this time around and it means a short break for us every three months. It was the casinos of PoiPet in Cambodia last time and Penang is planned for the next visa run. First and foremost I get to spend every day with Ploy and the dogs (as Ploy and I are both only children, we actually spend time apart too, as I write this Ploy has gone to the market. If we spent all day together one of us would end up dead). But the dogs like me to be at home; even Pinky who appears indifferent to everything (except food) and is like a grumpy old man - but she is 91 years old in dog years.
And home it feels like now, more so than it ever did before.
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