I will not lie to you, dear reader, the last few months here have been just a tad difficult. Money became very tight as possible customers prevaricated over whether to order or not, I became hospitalised for the first time in my life, Ploy couldn't settle on what to fill her days with and started to show signs of cabin fever, we came across the dragon woman in Lop Buri immigration as we attempted to renew my visa here rather than travelling to Singapore every three months - everything effectively conspiring to make our decision to live here seem somewhat problematic.
On Friday Ploy got a call from the aforementioned woman to say my visa was ready for collection on Monday. OK, it had taken 7 weeks as opposed to 1 day in Singapore, but I should get a 12 month visa for a total cost of 8000 baht which is less than a single flight to Singapore, and that for only a 3 month visa. In fact, in visa fees alone we are 2000 baht better off over one year. With hotels flights and all other sundries we are probably nearly 200,000 baht better off.
On a whiteboard in our workshop is a list of prospective orders, just those that have become firm enquiries and have a very good likelihood of becoming real orders. There are 8 items there now, totalling over 1.6million baht and two have already been confirmed in writing. I had five new enquiries just last week including two from Japan and one from Taiwan who past experience has shown, tend not to be timewasters. The website traffic has also been very good and we still have new products lined up which involve very little further investment costs.
Ploy has fell upon a job she likes. It is an agent for a Bangkok based cosmetics agency who are new to Thailand so she is in at the beginning. Already it looks like bringing in enough money to pay our bills leaving SingMai to pay for the Jaguar and the boat. She is good at selling and unlike our previous ideas, it involves none of my time so I can concentrate on SingMai.
The silly altercation on the Thai forum and that led to me purging all my Linked-In and Facebook 'friends' lists has actually proven to be very refreshing. It is actually a (small) pleasure to read Facebook of a morning as the news items are from people I know well, and mostly in person, and that also posts links that I find of interest. In other words, they really are like minded friends and not people I would cross the street to avoid.
The tightness in our finances also led to us being more careful in our expenditure which is no bad thing at any time. Eating more at home, using the workshop air conditioning less, (helped by the cooler weather), less small washes in the washing machine. If nothing else it made us realsie how little we really need to live here, should ever the worse come to the worst.
This coming Friday I have to return to the hospital. Having mentioned to the belly doctor that my father died of bowel cancer - or at least from complications arising from that - he suggested a colonoscopy. I didn't think much of it at the time but as the day loomed over the horizon I sought out Google to find out about the procedure. I wish I hadn't. The basic mechanics of the examination seem straightforward enough, it is the comments from some of the websites, some stating it even led to death, that are just a tad disturbing. It also left me feeling a little unprepared - will they use an anaesthetic, am I admitted or out-patient, will it hurt, (web opinions vary from 'I didn't notice a thing' to 'excruciating' and the 'worst pain I have ever experienced'). My father is the only one from either side of the families that died of cancer; his mother lived until her nineties, one brother and sister are in their eighties now; my mother is dead but from a congenital heart defect - I have no brothers and sisters to base a judgment on. Overall though it looks pretty good history-wise so maybe I will 'forget' and hope Ploy doesn't remember either. I mention this as a plus because, should I be the brave little soldier, this treatment is 100% free and I have to admit, most of the nurses are easy on the eye, albeit they won't be seeing my best aspect, (although some might say...).
I also have some plans to kickstart my Thai language lessons. Five days of intensive lessons, 1 on 1, in Bangkok for 16,000 baht (40 hours total). 1 week there, 2-3 weeks here. Ploy, immediately realising potential in this idea, suggests we rent an apartment there rather than pay for a hotel each time. It could become our holiday home, in an arse about tit way, but from our relatively rural existence we can go there for a little city buzz from time to time. We have enough furniture to furnish another small apartment so the rent is the only cost.
The upturn in our fortunes, whilst not dramatic, should not be surprising. Living here, and certainly running a business here, does tend to make things, well, interesting. But each cycle of our fortunes we learn a little more and this time we will definitely come out stronger. The naval studying period allow me to realise exactly what it is that SingMai is best at, which may seem a bit stupid, but we had plans to do many, many things. The monetary strictures meant we had to concentrate on what would bring in money the quickest and made me, at least, realise that we should concentrate on that, and that alone - there are plenty of avenues to explore anyway without spreading ourselves too thin. So I sold all our audio test equipment, which helped the finances no end, (and freed up space in the workshop). Some of it I had hadn't ever switched on since purchasing it. Audio will now be just a hobby.
Whatever you may say about living here, it is certainly not dull. The most important thing, and one of this country's biggest assets, is it allowed us to make some mistakes. If we had done the same thing in the UK (as I did before) or Canada, or even Singapore, we would have had to take emergency measures - although we didn't have any. Short surveys of our options show how limited they really were. But we have come through this one without anything being on the line, without bailiffs knocking at our door, without occurring any debt except for a few pawned items that we can purchase back in the next month or so. The house and car are still ours, we didn't need to sell Pinky into prostitution. On Monday I should have my visa, a month later perhaps a 2 year work permit and maybe some more ticks by that white board list.
One thing I have learned whilst living here is there are some things you (Ploy) can fight and others you have to turn a blind eye to. Go with the flow would have been my motto. I just didn't expect the flow to be sometimes so turbulent or sometimes so still. Rarely is life here a babbling brook.
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