Once upon a time, when this writer had dark brown hair and his joints didn't click, he went to Portobello, near Edinburgh, for a week's holiday, principally to attend a jazz festival. A week of art galleries, fantastic food, walks along the promenade, sitting on the sea wall staring at the sea, lots of beer and wine, Stacey Kent, Joe Temperley and Humphrey Littleton. Bliss. I received a job offer there, from a fellow jazz enthusiast, who happened to be a senior manager at Hewlett Packard. The Mrs. Ogilvie of that time vetoed the move.
A couple of weeks ago we received a small order from a US company - just $693, but it all helps and maybe it will lead to more in the future. Yesterday Ploy went to the post office to send the parcel. Now you might ask why we don't use a courier company, but if you had you would soon regret it and we will rant on for hours about all the problem we have had using Fedex - mostly because Fedex only offer a service within 14.7m of their office; beyond that they use 'agents' which is a euphemism for a Thai family in a pickup to collect the parcel where it then nestles amongst the other back seat detritus, the fighting children, 3 week old som tum and the family pets. It may find its way to Bangkok, it may not; some did, some disappeared into the ether. Anyway, we changed to using the express postal service, which worked well at delivering, although customers seemed bemused by our decision. But yesterday, Ploy was met with that blank uncomprehending look that anyone trying to do business in this country will have come to recognise and be frightened of in equal parts.
I can't send it, Ploy was told. It's electronic products, I can't send electronic components. But, Ploy argued, we receive electronic components and you have sent them before without an issue. New law, she said, you cannot send electronic products by plane anymore. How are the electronic parts we order from around the world delivered to us then: dromedary, a French onion seller on a bicycle, tuk tuk? The blank uncomprehending look became sterner. I can send it, but if there is a problem you will lose the parcel. And, she added, I have to charge you separately for the parcel, and also the envelope attached to the parcel (which contained the delivery notes for customs). Ploy was ticket number 312 and when she arrived they were serving number 250. She had waited nearly an hour but was being forced to leave, with her parcel, and the envelope of delivery notes, and worst of all, would have to phone her husband and explain she couldn't send the parcel and then hear him go off on one.
Except this time he didn't (OK, just a little bit). Because a couple of weeks before this incident we had tried to pay an invoice by bank transfer. But the amount was over 100,000 baht (about $3000) and, yes you've guessed it, new laws meant Ploy had to go and get a forest of company papers before they would allow it to be sent. Another morning wasted.
For seven and a half years now, Ploy (mostly) and I have been fighting this nonsense. Visas, work permits, accountants, post office, banks, couriers, printers, the list goes on (and on and on). How much of our time has been spent doing these things? It is not just the amount of nonsense, it is that the nonsense is fluid and ever-changing. Next time we go to pay a bill, we probably won't be able to do it because it rained the Tuesday before or the bank clerk has had a haircut.
It is draining and it is time to do something about it for the sake of our sanity (and for the success of the company). And so Ploy and I chatted, and we are going to do something about it. Because our resources are limited, our first option of getting Trump to nuke the Fedex offices in Bangkok was ruled out, and instead we are going to move the company to somewhere slightly more friendly for running a business. Which is anywhere, including North Korea and Antarctica (but is likely to be Singapore).
And the point of the reminiscences at the top of this page? Well, despite attempts to engage with the technical community here in Thailand (which proved as futile as getting a Britain's got Talent contestant to sing on key) it will be pleasant to once again find like-minded people that, while I am not looking for a job, could lead to opportunities, or at very least a discussion on the best Lionel Blair jokes from 'I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue'.
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