Problems facing expats living in Thailand

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Gaybutton
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Problems facing expats living in Thailand

Post by Gaybutton »

Expats, please feel free to add to the list if the article doesn't cover some of the problems you are trying to deal with.

And please feel free to comment on problems discussed in the article that also apply to you.
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Expats feel the pain of a pandemic

Govt measures causing problems

By Thana Boonlert and Kornchanok Raksaseri

6 Apr 2020

As the number of domestic coronavirus cases continues to rise, foreigners living in Thailand are among those who have had to adapt the most as visa requirements and visits to immigration have now become fraught with additional risks as well as the usual inconvenience.

Starting on Friday night, a six-hour curfew banned people nationwide from leaving their home between 10pm and 4am, except medical staff, patients and those working for transport or delivery services. Neon-lit Bangkok has turned into a ghost town as city residents scramble to get home ahead of the deadline.

However, the impact of anti-coronavirus measures was already being felt. J Geoffrey Walsh, a retired British expat in Bangkok, said the partial lockdown of the capital [from March 22-April 12] has changed his life.

"I live in an apartment on Wireless Road. The area is much quieter than it was. I am going out twice a week to do grocery shopping at a supermarket at Central Chidlom. However, I agreed to go into partial lockdown for my own safety because I belong to a risk group [the elderly]. Fortunately, my partner helps me with food," he told the Bangkok Post.

Mr Walsh said he has been spending his time reading books and following the news about Covid-19. He expressed concern about the government's communication with the public and its handling of visa requirements for foreigners living in the country.

"I have to submit 90-day reports and also renew my retirement visa at the end of April every year, but if I go to the Immigration Bureau, I won't be able to observe one-metre social distancing," he said.

Following the coronavirus outbreak, the Immigration Bureau has recently reminded foreigners that they can notify their residence and stay over 90 days by registered mail or via online services. However, many have complained the online system is unreliable. These methods of application are also not available for long-term visa extensions.

Michael Sobelman, a retired American expat in Khon Kaen, said he supports the government's move to enforce a curfew to contain the spread of Covid-19.

"Keeping people at arm's length was nearly impossible. You know, I saw a lot of people not wearing face masks at bars and restaurants. They had no regard for the law. I am happy to see these outlets closed for now," he said.

However, Mr Sobelman said the coronavirus outbreak is likely to cause him problems when he has to renew his retirement visa which is due to expire in August.

"I normally fly back to extend my visa with the Royal Thai Consulate General in New York, but I can't do it this year because the situation is critical.

"However, I can't open a bank account in Thailand either because banks are closed for now. When I contacted the Immigration Bureau, nobody answered the phone," he said.

Meanwhile, Peter Braunwarth, a German bookshop owner in Chiang Rai, said the pandemic has chased away tourists and brought his business to a halt.

"I have sold only one book over the past five days. My neighbourhood has gone silent because tourists are not allowed to enter the country and locals are staying at home. Many shops have closed and restaurants offer takeaway only.

''My bookshop remains open and maintains social-distancing, but nobody is coming," he said.

Li Min, 49, a Thailand-based reporter from the China Media Group, said she is having to rely on phone interviews and goes out to shop only as necessary.

"It's sad, [Thailand is a] tourism country and it's quiet now even for domestic tourists," she said.

"However, it's quiet at night, there's no noise from motorcycles or tuk-tuks so I sleep soundly these days," she said giggling.

Ms Li said she sees no point in the requirement to report her address every 90 days as it is inconvenient and she rarely travels anywhere else during the year.

She adds the online reporting system has not worked when she has tried to use it.

Some foreigners are not directly affected by the partial lockdown because they can work from home.

However, they think the coronavirus outbreak should be a wake-up call for people to try new ways of living.

Goustan Bodin, a French landscape architect, said the coronavirus crisis shows our overdependence on the system for survival.

"It is very fragile, but self-sufficiency can make us more resilient and autonomous. When any problem arises, we can depend less on how the system provides water, electricity and food," said the founder of the HyperTree group, which aims to reconnect city residents with nature.

"Beginners can visit our Facebook page 'Grow Learning Gardens' and contact me to help set up balcony gardens. It is helpful to have a network who can help you in a difficult time," he said.

Kelvin Ng, a Singaporean distributor of educational technology in Thailand, said schools do not prepare for pandemics and so are ill-equipped for online learning.

"It is a necessity and a way forward for students as the disease continues with no end in sight. For instance, schools in Hong Kong have been closed since January. They will remain closed until the situation improves, so they should combine offline and online learning," he said.

Mr Ng said Thai schools must adapt to customise the learning experience for each student.

"When the coronavirus breaks out, they can just duplicate the classroom experience on virtual platforms, for example, by using Google and Zoom.

"In fact, we can now track individual learning performance and deliver shorter and more interesting content," he said.

https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/ge ... a-pandemic

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Re: Problems facing expats living in Thailand

Post by Gaybutton »

My personal take on all this includes:

1. Although I still think the face masks really don't do much good, I don't mind wearing it when I go out.

2. The curfew doesn't bother me in the slightest. During most of the curfew hours there's this weird thing I do - I go to sleep. At my age I wake up to pee every so often, but I'm not interested in going out at 3 or 4 in the morning, curfew or not. Besides, virtually everything is closed during those curfew hours anyway, so go out for what? To do what?

3. My major peeve, and I have a feeling most expats will agree, is the 90-day address report. I've never understood the need for it in the first place. To me it would make better sense to submit a report only if your address changes. I fail to see the point of having to report the same address every 90 days.

So far the current excuse for keeping the 90-day address report in effect is "national security". Let's see, the vast majority of expat foreigners on a retirement visa are just that, retired - which means most of us can be placed in a category known as "The Elderly". Thailand has granted us permission to remain here for a year and as long as we can meet their requirements we can continue to remain here year after year.

Would someone please explain to me how we fit into a national security issue? Would someone tell me how many retirees are in Thailand committing crimes or causing other problems? I hope someone can, because until then guess what's on my "I Don't Get It" list . . .

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Re: Problems facing expats living in Thailand

Post by Dodger »

Like most people, I've learned to adjust to this situation by making the necessary changes in my daily routines. So, no big deal there.

But what I have been concerned with, is in the event my daughter in my home country ever needed my help, I wouldn't be able to get there. As a father, this is very hard to cope with. My son is serving in the military and very well-equipped to take care of himself. He's been a U.S. Navy SEAL for the past 12 years.

For me, the lifting of the international travel ban, will be the biggest relief.

GB...the 90 day reporting is all about "Control". Living in a third-world country with an autocratic government does have a few disadvantages.

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Re: Problems facing expats living in Thailand

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Dodger wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 11:45 am
GB...the 90 day reporting is all about "Control".
As Robert De Niro might say, "Control this . . . !"

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Re: Problems facing expats living in Thailand

Post by Alex »

So far, I've had no problems at all (in Bangkok). Sure, there are restrictions, but I'd face much the same back home at this time. Stay safe, everyone!

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