A Part of Me in Thailand

Your item was delivered at 11:24 AM on July 20, 2010 in WASHINGTON, DC 20007 to THAILAND

July has been a very long month for me as I get ready to move to Thailand. Aside from wrapping up estate details I’ve been wrapping up personal details as well while getting all my ducks in a row for the impending move. Everything seemed like it was going in slow motion until this past week when all the pieces started coming together nicely.

Booking a flight from Baltimore to BKK can be a pain in the ass since Thai Air closed it’s New York operations, while there is still a plethora of airlines and flights available to Bangkok the vast majority of them are overpriced. ANA Airlines wanted almost $3000 for an economy seat and a flight that would be 27 hours in total, some of the other airlines were cheaper but 32-55 hour flights are not an option!

So I wandered back to Thai Air and figured I might be able to upgrade to premium economy since I still had about 40,000 frequent flier miles left with them, of course I would have to purchase another flight to LAX but if the stars aligned just right this could work out well…and it did. I have to thank my sister at this point because I hadn’t really thought about heading to California first. Economy on Thai Air one way from LAX to BKK was $800 while premium economy was $1032. I decided to chance my luck and check the business class option…$3300 one way, ouch.

So,  I opted for premium economy and then remembered my frequent flier miles. An upgrade from premium economy to business would cost 35,000 miles :)

Unfortunately when I entered my award miles information my luck ran out ” we’re sorry there are no upgrade seats available”. :(

Then I remembered how helpful Thai Air staff had always been for me, so, I called the LA offices and asked about an upgrade. I was told the same bad news but I would be put on a waiting list for upgrade. The friendly female Thai voice on the other end then said ” call back tomorrow to make sure you have been put on the list as Bangkok sometimes gets this wrong”. Before I called back the next day my phone rang and my new bestest Thai friend let me know that there was no need for a wait list as they secured me a business class seat :)

Okay, maybe I am a little too happy but this ass has only ever known economy seating …and just look at this seat!

Thai Air Business class seating 1 Thai Air Business class seating 2 Thai Air Business class seating 3

I also sent away my passport to the Thai embassy this week, hence the title of this post. I guess I am an odd one but that little sentence at the beginning of this post made me smile like a Thai :)

There was one little snag there though, I had forgotten that a requirement of the tourist visa is a round trip ticket, yes, my excitement, and tightness, got the better of me.

I received a phone call yesterday afternoon from a very nice Thai woman at the embassy and for a brief moment I thought I was going to be denied a visa or have to shell out another grand for a return flight :( Luckily for me she had another option that was much easier. She told me to send her a fax stating the reasons why I had not bought a return ticket and what dates I would be entering and leaving Thailand and that would be all I would need…”you can expect to get your passport with tourist visa by next Friday”

I love Thailand :)

Once I apply at a Thai language school and get accepted for an Education Visa, which usually takes 4-5 weeks, I will have to leave the country anyway to actually get the new visa so it all works out in the end. I’ll probably head to Cambodia for a few days and visit Angkor Wat then pick up the new visa and head…home :) I don’t foresee any problems obtaining the ED visa as I have no criminal record or strikes against me of any kind and of the narrowed down choices for language schools they are all reputable so I don’t anticipate any problems there.

One of the last pieces of the puzzle is housing and where to live. I have changed my thinking to some extent on living in rural Thailand. While Nakhon Phanom is beautiful and very laid back it is also out of the way. I want to explore all of Thailand and have easy access at a moments notice to head in any direction. I have to blame Rick over at Behind the Noodle Curtain partially for this change of heart. He wrote an excellent piece entitled A Day in the Life of My Bangkok & A Day in the Life of My Bangkok Part 2.

Through these posts and a few others Rick has come to terms about where he should be and it really made me think about where I want to be. While I love rural Thailand and all it has to offer, and I will surely be heading back there often, I think the city life is where I will end up hanging my hat. It has the best of both worlds with quiet secluded sections and loud, smoggy and smelly streets. More importantly it has more access to all of Thailand and I believe with more choices I will be in a better position to write about all of Thailand and partake in all she has to offer.

Which city?…housing?  Stay tuned, this is just the beginning!

No smileys were maimed or injured during the writing of this post…while this author is also annoyed by said smileys they just couldn’t be helped :P

talensig
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25 Comment(s)

  1. Good luck with the move. I think you are making a good choice by moving to a city. I lived in rural Thailand for five years; 100 kms from the nearest city. I did love it there, but found that my choices were very limited. I now live in Minburi outside Bangkok and this is the best of both worlds. I think those of us who have children are far better living near a city because of education opportunities as well.

    Paul Garrigan | Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

  2. I have to admit I’m happy for you. I’ve always dreamed of flying in the expensive seats. :)

    Don | Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

  3. Hi Talen good news around. Glad things are making you smile :-)

    I really think where you live is a matter of personal preference and in your case also where you can find a decent language school.

    I will be interested to see if you change your mind about the big city later.

    While I enjoy visiting BKK I personally couldn’t live there, there is just too much pollution.

    That said services are much better and I doubt the residents are on water rationing like we are.

    Just one final thought, you might want to check out the visa friendly countries in Asia(getting ED Visa) since some Thai embassies are not to user friendly. Anyway my guess is you have probably done that already. :-)

    Mike | Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

  4. Paul, choices are limited in rural Thailand…at least some parts of it. And while I love it there after 6 months I might go a little stir crazy.

    Talen | Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

  5. Don, I have always had that dream as well and I hope the real thing lives up to it.

    Talen | Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

  6. Mike,
    It’s probably not going to be BKK…I do love it there but I don’t think I could handle the madness of it 24/7.

    It’s looking like I will be living in Pattaya but traveling a lot to BKK and beyond…Pattaya definitely has it’s sleazier side but I am a beach bum at heart and being so close to the water is something I’ve always wanted.

    Thai women in Bikini’s is always nice too :)

    Talen | Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

  7. I think the nice thing about living somewhere like Minburi is that you really do have a lot of options. I’m right beside the motorway so I can get down to the beach within an hour. I also have central Bangkok right beside me. Even better I can get to the airport in about ten minutes.

    Paul Garrigan | Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

  8. Talen, glad you are finally on your way , I have but one suggestion .
    KANCHANABURI, KANCHANABURI,KANCHANABURI, where the living is easy and the weather is great all year round and you can breath the air and not cough, and you are not far from anything , Just a thought . Malcolm . I live as you know in Wang Pho 50 kl from what we call the BIG CITY (Kanchanaburi) oh ya did I mention Kanchanaburi . ??? ha ha

    malcolm | Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

  9. Talen:

    Good luck with the move. The first year is usually the best ! ;-) [like a honeymoon] haha

    Anon | Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

  10. Hi Talen,
    I’ve only ever flown by cattle class and those up grade seats look so comfy. By the end of an 11 hour flight i find it real torture to have to walk past them to disembark. Don’t you think there should be a different entrance/exit for poor people like me?
    Good luck in the land of smiles!!!

    tom yam | Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

  11. You’ll be happy anywhere if you’re cool about it. The folks who don’t fit over here are those who have to have everything the same as it was in their home countries.
    Pleased you’re close to making the move.

    All the best, Boonsong

    Boonsong | Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

  12. Talen you must be very excited about your impeding move, if it was me, my bladder and toilet would be getting flushed regularly.

    I’ve been lucky in having had three upgrades in the past and flying business class is pure luxury. My problem was understanding the menu. Where I come from potatoes are either boiled, mashed or fried. Etihad’s menu had potatoes which had been transformed by the kind of experiments only a top government scientist would attempt, and the names of the dishes were probably easier to spell backwards than forward.

    I’m a little luckier with flights here in the UK. I’ve just booked a September flight with Etihad (economy) for £418 which is about $630. Great value.

    Living in Thailand….my ideal scenario would be a place in Udon Thani city and our present village home, with time ideally split between the two. The best of both world’s if you like. Mashed potato in the city and hard boiled one’s to throw at the soi dogs in the other.

    Best of luck with your move but just to give you a taster of what you’ll be missing…..I’ve got another 12 hour nightshift coming up in 5 hours time after having had about 6 hours kip. I reckon you’ll miss those kind of joys of working for a living.

    Martyn | Jul 23, 2010 | Reply

  13. Congrats Talen, on the flight and upgrade – you are obviously excited and rightly so.

    I’m kind of stuck in a mix of city and country here in Saraburi but we’re definitely plotting a move to BKK given the opportunities.

    Living in a city will also throw up opportunities, you might find a way to earn, or part-earn a living.

    That said one aspect of being out of town is getting into Thai culture and improving the lingo – has done wonders for me and my Thai.

    Jon | Jul 24, 2010 | Reply

  14. That’s exactly what I am talking about Paul…you can relax and have quiet time or within a reasonable distance go wild.

    Talen | Jul 24, 2010 | Reply

  15. Malcom, I have heard that Kanchanburi is a good place to live…what do you say?

    I will definitely be heading to your neck of the woods before Xmas to check out all the sites.

    Talen | Jul 24, 2010 | Reply

  16. Tom, I have passed by those seats many times after a 17 hour flight and hated everyone sitting in them…it will be nice to plant my ass in one for a change.

    Talen | Jul 24, 2010 | Reply

  17. Martyn, very exited and a host of other emotions as well…no urinary problems as of yet though.

    Thai Air has always had some pretty good food in my opinion…well, it tastes good and I can tell what it is when I look at it…which can’t be said for ANA Airlines food.

    Prices are cheaper for September flights from the U.S. as well…the summer season always sees a price hike.

    I promise you Martyn that the very first beer I have I will think of you and the 12 hour shifts :P

    Talen | Jul 24, 2010 | Reply

  18. Jon, you are spot on about the rural life…did wonders for my Thai…err…Issan…

    Opportunities are definitely another reason for city life…that and I would make a terrible rice farmer.

    Talen | Jul 24, 2010 | Reply

  19. Awesome stuff Talen! Not saying I’m not a tiny wee bit jealous, but Golf, Alivia and I won’t be too far behind you.

    Nice that you got that upgrade, having flown both classes in the past there’s no doubt that business class is the way to go, especially for a flight that long. No way I’ll have that chance again now with 3 of us flying.

    I’ll put my vote in here for Bangkok, I couldn’t possibly live in the countryside. Even though the people are wonderful I get pretty nuts after several days of not much to do and less. Chiang Mai wouldn’t be too bad either, but as something of a beach bum myself there’s no way I would want to be that far away from the waters edge (although an airplane will get you there in a scant 90 minutes).

    Once again congratulations! Can’t wait to hear where you finally settle down.

    Steve | Jul 24, 2010 | Reply

  20. I hate to “rain on your parade” but sadly Thai airways business class is about the same as normal economy on any decent airline. I fly Thai business class to Thailand every month and return via Singapore on Singapore airlines, the difference is “chalk and cheese”, I usually get the A380 out of SIN which is amazing. On my flight into BKK a few weeks ago I upgraded to First class and they served the same breakfast as they were dishing out to economy, the hostess said it was because there was only 11 business and first class passengers they didnt bother with the normal breakfast!

    BTW make sure you get good travel insurance until you get your ED visa, I got bitten by a dog today and found out to my surprise that most UK and US travel insurance companies dont cover for the full rabies course or repatriation as after the first injection you can travel and treatment is free in the home countries, crazy.

    Lloyd | Jul 24, 2010 | Reply

  21. Lloyd, Definitely working on travel insurance and expat insurance …I’ve heard too many horror stories.

    I have flown Thai Air quite a bit but always economy ( which isn’t bad ) Just the extra leg room in business class looks enjoyable. I have only flown the A340-500 airbus so I’m not familiar with the other planes they have.

    You want to talk really bad food then ANA does a great job with that…the crap they served me last trip was completely uneatable even for an Asian dog.

    Talen | Jul 24, 2010 | Reply

  22. Steve, you’ll be here soon enough…I’ll probably never have the chance at business class again either so I will be savoring the ride.

    I am leaning to the beach…

    Talen | Jul 25, 2010 | Reply

  23. Chok dee kub Talen, very much look forward to reading your adventure.

    Ben Shingleton | Jul 25, 2010 | Reply

  24. Chok dee kub Talen, very much looking forward to reading your adventure.

    Ben Shingleton | Jul 25, 2010 | Reply

  25. I somehow missed this post. Well, here I am, two and a half weeks late to comment on your exciting adventure.

    First, you’re beating me to my new home. You’re welcome to call it your new home, too, though! It’s big enough.

    I think the big word for Bangkok is “opportunity.” But I’ll restrict my comment to the potential of a little work on the side. This counts for a lot and I’ll put up with all the rest ;-) I can’t imagine beating the bushes, as many as there are, for some work in an Isaan village.

    Although I have no immediate plans to seek work upon landing. That would be crazy!

    And great luck scoring a comfy seat for the trip. A fitting arrival, yes?

    Now all I have to do is follow my own advice in my blog, which you generously pointed to. ;-)

    All the best Talen and I’ll see you in LOS, possibly for a beer or three.

    SiamRick | Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

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