Nine months! Where has the time gone?
At the end of last year we almost ran out of money. Ploy had to borrow a little from friends for us to be able to pay our bills or even buy food. Our orders had completely dried up as a result of the China company not just copying our product, but aggressively warning our customers against buying from us (infringing the China company's patents - it wouldn't have but who wanted an expensive legal case with a huge China company with various government officials in its pocket). It is still going on between them and others and we are glad to be out of it. It is a nasty business.
With the help of a couple of friends we managed to get through it and a couple of orders tied us over while we recovered and planned for the future: planned for this not to happen again.
Ploy found a friend who knew someone at a bank. They would give us a business loan she said - a safety blanket for us. We could design new products without worrying we were over-stretching ourselves or waiting for sales (and payment). Ploy could expand on those many ideas she always has so we have another revenue stream. It took months but we did finally get the loan and the money is now in the bank.
My visa situation finally got the better of us. Actually, not so much the visa, but all the hassle and bureaucracy that Ploy had to deal with 'employing' four Thais (a condition of my work permit) and the small fortune we pay out for their salary and social insurance which, of course, is the same as just burning money as they do nothing. So I retired. I changed my visa to a yearly marriage visa. I let my work permit expire and I reorganized the company so my Singapore subcontractor now does everything. I doodle new designs and then send everything to them to manufacture and test. Another source of stress and hair-pulling gone (and not inconsiderable expense). Just as an example, to buy some electronic components from my favourite company in the US, to have them sent here I pay $40 for Fedex shipment and then a random amount of customs duty which has to be paid to the Fedex agent on delivery - an agent that carries no change whatsoever. To have those same parts sent to Singapore by Fedex is free and there is no duty.
I started formal Thai lessons at the end of last year too. It involved a trip to Rayong - a 3.5 hour drive, so I went one day, stayed overnight, and returned the next, fitting in two 4 hour lessons each day. I really enjoyed it, not just the lessons but the trip there and the evening to myself in Rayong. Unfortunately the school closed but on the 1st June I start with another teacher in Ayutthaya. I've started so I'll finish.
I got medical insurance sorted out for the first time. There was no urgency while I paid s0cial insurance, but at 60 Thailand would have forced me to retire and if I didn't start with BUPA now, my cover would run out when I reached 70 (assuming I did). Now it extends to the rest of my life.
I found time to refurbish the downstairs bathroom and I am currently painting the whole upstairs and refurbishing that bathroom too.
I have now self-published two books and I have a few good reviews for them too (not self-penned). I am quite proud of them. Neither are threatening the New York Times best seller list yet, but then I haven't had so much time to promote them. Time will tell.
Ploy is now out every day with her own business, selling garden ornaments. The signs are already good. It does mean we don't see each very much; she comes home late when I am normally already asleep, I wake early as usual, Ploy later, we chat for five minutes and then she goes off to work again. So I am now the house husband, running around with my furry-bunny slippers and pinny, which is actually a job I am good at (thanks Mum).I borrow the car from time to time, soon for the new Thai lessons, twice a week, but also for food shopping or just so I have a nice lunch out somewhere for a break.
So it has been a traumatic nine months, but something good came out of it. I am finally getting to actually enjoy living here instead of just being a slave to my work, Ploy has been able to use some of our loan to work for the future and I know she is happy and proud to be doing what she is doing and contributing. The dogs are happy. I am pleased with the redecorating I have done and much more relaxed in myself. Yes, I am happy too.
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