We were having a coffee, sat on our balcony, early Sunday morning. Ploy said we should have a day off and go out somewhere which had been exactly my thoughts just seconds before. Two hours later, after showers, replying to a couple of e-mails and cleaning the kitchen, we were in the car driving north. The plan was to go to Sing Buri for no other reason than we had never been there before. But first we stopped at Pukae gardens to let Pinky have a run and get the excitement out of her system.
Next, as it was already close to lunchtime we stopped at a new restaurant - to us - which sells various versions of Phad Thai and only that. We had the wun sen noodle version with prawns and it was the best Phad Thai I have ever eaten, far removed from the tourist versions.
Next we went to Lop Buri to feed the monkeys some star fruit we had been given before setting off for Sing Buri. However we never got there as some signs for a temple, (which had the ubiquitous 'famous monk' according to Ploy), and a bat cave, the generic type not the one presided over by Alfred the butler, sent us off down some almost un-navigable back roads. We found the temple but not, alas, the bat cave. We wandered around the temple and watched the parade for a newly initiated young monk but by now it was 4p.m. so we took a leisurely drive home, watched a DVD, I finished a nice bottle of Semillon wine and we went to bed.
On Tuesday I was Googling for Malaysian immigration rules. The night before we had had the visit from Thai immigration dragon woman for my visa renewal. It didn't go well. The woman had tried to move the visit to 7.30a.m. the next day, expecting our staff to also be present at that time. Ploy made some excuse as to why we couldn't make that time so the woman phoned back to confirm that evening. By then our staff had left but it seemed of no consequence to her. It was 6.30p.m. before she arrived. She sat down in our office and Ploy produced the additional papers she had asked for which included the advert for my job. She read through the papers, slowly. Ploy continued to talk as she did so and I could tell the conversation was not going well. She took some photos of us signing some more papers - the purpose of which I had no idea and neither did Ploy: they did not appear to be for the visa application as she wanted to be present in the photos. She took no interest in our work, premises or me; in fact she didn't say a single word to me. She left.
Ploy told me she wanted 10,000 baht and not the 6000 baht that had been agreed. Ploy had refused. The woman had said there may be 'delays' in the application if we didn't pay her new request. Ploy had told her she would take this issue up with her boss if she didn't accept the 6000 baht. (I asked Ploy how that would help as it was clear they were all in on it. Ploy said her boss would have to be seen to do something if she formally complained which would mean him denying he knew anything of what was going on and sacking the woman - sound familiar! Although dragons live to a great age that would be a big issue for her). So she said she would put forward the application as it is and now we wait. Ploy is not expecting to hear from this woman agin until the visa is issued.
Hence my perusal of the Malaysian immigration rules. But for working there it seemed just more of the same. Retirement seemed a reasonable deal, 5 year visa, no 3 month reporting, tax free import of car, all very nice. But working is another issue. 'The work permit application is very bureaucratic', it started: I read no further.
We had already decided that we are better off staying in a country where one of us is a citizen. There is no question of going back to the UK so here it is. We sat on the bed and discussed it, at length. The work permit is relatively straightforward and maybe for two years on the next application. Ploy says she can deal with the dragon. I couldn't but apart from signing the odd piece of paper and refraining from hacking her into small pieces with a blunt machete I don't have anything to do. That job advert can stay there for ever, they will never find anyone; (and if someone suitably qualified does apply I will employ them and retire).
There are other irritations living here but this visa application has made us think too negatively about the country. Issues like the inept government(s) really don't affect us and are they really better than elsewhere. Singapore, the country I most often cite when thinking of where I might choose to live has the highest population of dollar millionaires of any city in the world and the prices increasingly reflect that. And can I live in a country where a (now ex) friend of mine posts a heart-felt complaint on Facebook that the MRT stayed too long at the station. Presumably delayed because another 'I am important and I need to get where I am going' person got on the train in front as the doors were closing.
We have lived in Thailand the longest of the four countries we have lived in together - the hard work is done. We own our house, we have orders on the books, we are happy. Sometimes we just need to reminded of that fact.
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