Barely a pension
Most Britons refer to the state pension for the elderly as ‘old age pension’, but that is a very generous description. It is simply a supplement which depends on the number of national insurance contributions you have paid during your lifetime. Still well under £200 a week, assuming you get the maximum, it’s hardly a basis for celebration and it’s one of the poorest public schemes in Europe.
Frozen in Thailand
As any British expat in the Land of Smiles knows, pensioners here receive a frozen state pension from the date they become non-habitual residents in the UK. The grievance was debated endlessly inside and outside the UK parliament with no positive outcome. Britons residing in most Asian countries are in the frozen state, but those in the Philippines are getting a paltry annual raise. Does anyone know why there is a special arrangement for the archipelago?
Strange that they are included in the latest 10-year Thai visa proposals, as most simply want the freedom to travel rather than being based in one country indefinitely. The new rules state that they must have a master’s degree (for what?) and can benefit from tax exemption privileges which they do not need anyway, since payments from employers are generally made directly to their bank accounts. Someone has to research these nomads.
Good Italian restaurant
We hear good reports of Frankie’s on road number two from Jomtien. Basically Italian but with an international mix too. Lots of weekly specials and the pizzas are crispy and delicious. The lasagna manages to avoid that heavy, mushy touch found elsewhere. Good selection of imported wines and as usual in high class Italian restaurants the desserts are to die for.
Illegal SIM cards
Thousands of illegal SIM cards have been seized by police in recent crackdowns on fraud and online gambling. They were mostly related to the contact details of Thai and foreign people who had been scammed by the specialized “call center” companies trying to get your personal data. Using these cards allows scammers and fraudsters to hide their identity. The Thais even have a name for them: “ban chee mah” or horse counts.
Postal mail wins
Sending a thin document to Europe by courier (DHL for example) will cost you around 1,400 baht with more or less guaranteed delivery in around four days. The Thai post office offers international EMS for 1,050 baht, but it takes at least two weeks to arrive. This is because these parcels have to wait their turn to pass through a checking machine in Bangkok. The strange thing is that a regular mailing envelope will probably arrive in about a week.
Covid extensions a rarity
Thai immigration offices appear to have mostly abandoned the 60-day Covid extensions that have characterized the extension of stay system for nearly two years. They can still be given until the end of March, but are discretionary and most bettors find it difficult to convince the immigration officer of their case. Nevertheless, some well-connected visa officers can still arrange, but not for 1,900 baht. Sure.
Land borders still closed
Despite optimistic forecasts, Thailand’s land borders remain closed to most traffic except for goods and returning guest workers with permits. Maybe that will change soon but it hasn’t yet. If you want to leave the country and return quickly, your best bet may be Cambodia which has significantly reduced its entry bureaucracy. But you will still need to apply for Test and Go to return to Thailand with its insurance and health testing requirements.
A reader asks if self-insurance – showing extra cash in the bank – has ever been introduced for long-stay visas in Thailand. The answer is no. The government has suggested that the Annual O/A Retirement Visa could have such a provision from the fall, but no specific details have been released. It is best to wait and see that more discretion can be vested in individual immigration offices. The assumption that all these offices act in unison is a false premise.