Around Town


One-year multiple entry visas in Cambodia have long been very easy to obtain: get a one month “general” (not “tourist”) visa on entry for US$35 and extend for 12 months by paying the agent around US$300.  No paperwork, not even a photo.  Technically, this one year extension of stay was for business purposes and to facilitate obtaining a work permit, but was in practice often used by non-working expats and retirees.  But no more.


Cambodian authorities have announced, effective this month, non-working expats and retirees based in the country must now apply for a new one-year extension of stay known as Retirement.  The problem is that the precise documentation at the time of writing isn’t clear.  There has been talk of “proof” the applicant is a retiree with an income from his or her first country, but the devil, as usual, lurks in the actual detail.


The Thai 10-year Retirement visa, actually two periods of 5 years, is now with us, but sources say that the Immigration Bureau has not been overwhelmed by the number of applications.  The documentation is substantial to say the least – police clearance from the home country, proof of 3 million baht in a Thai bank (a bit less with proof of foreign income) and comprehensive medical insurance from named Thai companies.  The one-year Retirement extension of stay, by comparison, is straightforward indeed. Many farang are hoping it remains that way.


What happened to the government’s policy that all foreign tourists entering Thailand should have travel insurance which would cover medically holiday accidents and holiday diseases?  With some 30 million tourists expected to descend on Thailand next year, mostly Chinese, the implementation would be Titanic.  The guiding principle seems to be that too many foreigners are taking advantage of free hospital treatment, hence the need for cover.  But, as ever, the devil is in the detail.  For instance, most hospitalizations are not covered by travel insurance in any case.


Pattaya’s new underground pass on Sukhumvit looks very polished and professional.  Its main merit is separating the traffic wanting to turn left and right at or near Pattaya Central Road with less queuing traffic.  The main demerit, on busy days, is the lengthy tailback as through traffic seeks to join the main highway after exiting the Chunnel.  Ah well, Rome wasn’t built in  a day or even a week.


Of all the social media rumors concerning the flight of Yingluck last month, the most bizarre was surely the notion that she hired a small boat at Rayong and rowed all the way to Cambodia.  Second best was the theory that she could never have crossed an unmanned land border at Trat because the terrain is mountainous and she would not have wanted to risk losing a foot to a land mine.  Hmm!


If you wondered why you never see The Nation for sale anymore in supermarkets or the diminishing number of news stands, the explanation is that the newspaper’s owners have now banned sale or return.  In other words, the retail outlets cannot be reimbursed for unsold copies.  However, you can still read the newspaper online or peruse a paper version with your coffee at Starbucks.


Not too many people know the name of movie director Tobe Hooper, who died last month, but they certainly have heard of his most famous 1974 horror film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.  Tobe allegedly spent several vacations in Pattaya in the 1990s and even caused a rumpus on Beach Road when he queried whether or not the stalls selling Leather Face masks were in breach of copyright.  Of course, they were.  This is Pattaya.


Technology is supposed to make life quicker and simpler for us all.  But it doesn’t seem to work when it comes to paying for your snack in a fast food joint.  Using your smart phone to perform the simple transaction seems to take triple the time of actually handing over cash and getting your change.  The days of the banknote may be limited, but let’s keep them in circulation for the time being.


 Not everyone in the restaurant business understands that whilst vegetarians can be flexible, vegans want to consume only plant-based food and avoid dairy products at all costs.  Two places that certainly do understand the debate are Five Stars, the Thai restaurant located at the junction of South and Third Roads, and Saras, the Indian eatery on the top floor of Royal Garden Plaza.

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