Here is a nice little video of the Loy Krathong festival in Kartarawichai, Maha Sarakam opposite our little bungalow pool resort Coconut Palms the other night.
Well, I was not going to bother as I have always got by on my UK driving licence but because I fell in love with and felt compelled to buy a new Kawasaki Vulcan S 650cc motorbike the other day… I was told that the free 1 year fully Comprehensive insurance was only valid if I had a Thai driving licence or an International licence, I realised the easiest option was to get my Thai licence.
So here the amazing story begins… We go to the ministry of road or traffic or whatever and they tell us what we need to provide (documents)
Off we go to get a doctors medical certificate and copies of my passport, UK driving licence and Immigration letter to prove residence.
The Doctors medical
We go to a doctors clinic and speak to the receptionist, she starts filling in a form and asks to see my passport. Then she calls the doctor who appears from his office and he looks at me from his side of the receptionists counter, looks at the passport to confirm it really is me (I suppose). Then he puts his stethoscope in his ears and leans over the counter and places it on my chest…. I looked at him and said “Am I alive”? He laughed and just went back into his office. The receptionist said 30 Baht (Less that £1) and we walked out with the medical certificate… About 5 mins in total. I was in total disbelief as in the UK when I had to get my HGV medical every 5 years it cost £120 and took a good half an hour of tests etc.
This was fairly easy as it was just a case of showing reams of paper work that my wife Jiya had already accumulated for my one year visa, so after about 15 mins we had the official piece of paper showing my address and picture and about 10 documents signed Total cost 500 Baht.
Back to the Driving licence centre
We take our numbered ticket and wait in the que again. When called they start sifting through all the papers and then start discussing in Thai something about my visa… They don’t know if it should be 3 months or 1 year or whatever… This goes on for another 15 mins and phone calls are made and eventually to cut a long story short.. They decide I can get my driving licence with my 3 month visa today.
Driving test – in the same building
Go to room no 2… off I go and there is a mock up traffic light on the wall. Jiya is translating for me. I was expecting at the very least a basic driving test in the car park or whatever…. but no… the driving test is all conducted inside the building. I am told to say what colour the lights are when the girl changes the traffic lights with her switch. GREEN, RED, GREEN, ORANGE….. she looks at me….. OK YELLOW I said…. YES YELLOW and she laughs. Passed she said. Go to room no 1, we walk into the next room and there is a chair in the middle of the room. On the floor is a mock up accelerator and brake peddle (like in an automatic car) At the front of the room is a box with some green lights that go up and down (when the accelerator is pressed) . I am told to watch the lights and slowly press the peddle….. when I see the green lights going up to press the brake (like an emergency stop) OK …. I press the accelerator and the lights start going up… so I press the brake. The girl jumps up clapping and says yes yes very good Passed.
Now we take all the papers back to the 1st woman we saw with all the passed stamps etc. pay 310 baht for two licences – I wanted Car and Motorbike .
Go to room no 4 –
In room no 4 I have my picture taken while the girl is typing all my info into the computer and then within a few mins two official Thai plastic driving licences pop out of a machine behind her and she hands them to me.
So a lot of paperwork and running around and absolutely ridiculous medical and driving test but at least I am now legal on the road…
However, the crazy thing is there are loads of children that look to me to be about 8 or 9 yrs old racing around on honda waves and similar motorbikes with no licences and obviously under age… 100’s of crazy people driving the wrong way on the left in the motorcycle lane thinking it’s perfectly normal to drive like that.. 100’s without helmets and the police do absolutely nothing….. Unless of course it is car or motorbike tax checking day where they stop virtually all cars and bikes and if you don’t have your tax disc… 200 Baht fine (£5) … Same for helmets if it’s helmet day, you will get a fine of 200 B but once you pay and have your receipt… you can continue to drive around all day without a helmet. . If there are no police around in large groups stopping people, then you are free to ride around with no helmet, children, dogs cats or whatever you can load onto your motorbike and the police will not bother you at all.
JUST ANOTHER DAY IN AMAZING THAILAND
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So here we have a great video on how to avoid the scams in Thailand.
Our own story –
We were also ripped off by the first builder that quoted for us on our pool and resort build… The scam is very simple, they quote you a price for any building work and then you agree to pay in stages obviously, 1/3 up front to buy materials etc. 1/3 about half way through and the final 1/3 at the end. We handed over £7000 initially for the start of the pool build and on the day of starting… NOBODY showed up… After several heated phone calls and excuses, it was obvious the builder had no intention of doing anything…
He then blocked our calls and we had to take him to court to try to recover the money.. The lawyer wanted 40,000 Baht (£1000) and after about a year we eventually got a court hearing date and flew back to Thailand.. Of course the builder did not turn up and it was his lawyer and ours in a hot and sweaty courtroom where there were 4 cases going on at the same time!!! At our turn the two lawyers approached the Judge and after about 3 mins they left the room and were chatting to the builder on the phone. (my wife told me what had transpired after the ridiculous court case) They then came back in the room and a few more mins chatting to the judge and next thing I know… they are announcing the next case as we and our lawyers exited the court room…
The judge had told the builders lawyer he had 3 months to pay back 50% of the £7000 or go to jail.. I was livid and my wife was in tears… so after the lawyer and court costs, our flights and ” if “he paid back £3500… we would basically get back about £1500 for all this hassle… It took another 3 months but the builder did pay back the £3500 Cos I had started a website about him and posted onto loads of Thai forums. Two months later, he actually rang my wife and begged us to take down the website and posts as he was obviously losing work and he reputation (if he had one) and he would pay up… I did as he asked, only because, I was also warned that slandering him in Thailand could have caused me even more problems. (so he paid up and was spared a Thai jail sentence)
I then found out – what he did was a very common – scam in Thailand as one of my wife’s friends is a loan officer of 20 years at the Bangkok bank. He borrowed 20 million Baht (£450,000) at an employees special very low interest rate and proceeded to buy a chunk of land and build a 6 story apartment block of about 156 units. Well during the last 6 years (it is still unfinished and still just sitting there as he tries to find a buyer) this Thai guy who is about 45 yrs of age and very experienced in the Thai ways had got conned himself no less than 3 times from various contractors.
At one stage he took a builder onto the roof and pulled out a hand gun and said… If you do not finish what you contracted to do I will have to kill you and then kill myself.. This did not work as the contractor promised to finish the work but never did…
So these things happen even between the Thais themselves so have a good watch of the video and learn about the most common scams in Thailand
On a more humorous note
It is still perfectly OK to ride a bike with your family in Thailand
but do beware it is not “Helmet day” when all bikers get stopped by the mafia style gangs 10 or more police officers all capturing the un- suspecting non helmet wearing riders around specific corners…. But do not fear… once you pay your 200 Baht (£4 ) fine, you can carry on riding your bike all day long (without a helmet) as you have the police receipt proving you paid your fine! LOL
We have just bought a couple of Inflatable Stand Up Paddle boards and two Kayaks for rental on the Nong Bua lake opposite Coconut Palms hotel with swimming pool in Maha Sarakham.
Here are some pictures of Jiya’s first try at standing up on one in the pool. I fell off within minutes LOL but Jiya is a natural. We are also going to become agents for the SUP (stand Up Paddle) boards in Thailand, so if you want to purchase one (or more) click here to go to the sales page on our website. They are very portable and come in a strong back pack with a 2 piece carbon fibre oar, repair kit and fast inflation device. Total weight is 18 kgs.
Coconut Palms (our small hotel resort in Thailand) is now in the Maha Sarakham government tourist guide book and website. Here are a few of the professional pictures taken whilst the government reps were visiting Coconut Palms hotel with swimming pool in Maha Sarakham
Here’s a guy called Ryan who recently moved to Thailand from Japan. His story is very typical of the girls you meet from the dating websites. Enjoy.
This is also another good video The man trap – Happens in Thailand too.