Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Renting a Scooter

Like most things in Thailand there are ups and downs. For me the ups far out way the downs, hence the reason I decided to de-camp here for a year.
Renting a bike is very liberating but if you are from an area of the world where you drive on the right side of the road. You will be find the whole experience an assault on your brain for at least a month.
The amazing thing about riding in the city, is there are not many road rage incidents. If some of the riding and driving occurred in the West there would be fights, stabbings and murders, constantly. But the Thais just seem to get on with it.
Initially if you see someone riding down a one way street the wrong way, or cutting a corner on your side of the road, Forcing there way ahead of you on the left on the right any way they can, Pulling out on you at junctions. All of these reasons are where people will normally bring out that baseball bat, Golf club, or just an Uzi that happened to be in trunk and demonstrate how well they may be able to use it. Here is no problem (mai pend rai krap)
In fact I have rarely seen Thais having a go at each other on the road. It’s normally a Farang involved and does not quite understand the etiquette. (There is None)
Having said all that you soon get used to the fact that everyones riding is  extremely poor therefore if you always assume the worst when anyone is beside, in front of or behind, or even across the road they will do something dumb then you will survive.
I originally rented a bike from the condo I initially moved to when I first got here. http://honeyscoffeehouse.com A lot of businesses will have a sub division, or someone they know who will be happy to rent you a 125cc scooter. I personally prefer doing it that way, only because I have heard horror stories of minor damage, that you may or may not have done resulting in thousands of baht later.
One of the things about living here we suddenly let our guard down if we were back home renting a car or bike, We would walk around every panel check tyres etc…. suddenly we get to Thailand and we forget about simple things like, please be aware.
Riding without an helmet is illegal unless you are one of 4 children that are on the bike having  just been picked up from school. Should you get stopped it really is no fun. The fine is 400 bt and your licence if you have one, taken off of you instantly. No licence no problem, your bike is confiscated until you return from your local station, after signing so many documents you feel like you have writers arm cramp. You then re-visit the scene where you were stopped. If you are lucky the Officer will still be there, or your bike, if not all the best of luck, as your bike may well be in a compound somewhere, or the police officer has left the site. It is hot the helmets are not actually good fits but to save a lot of time and hassle wear a hat.
Hiring a bike is a lot of fun as you can discover many places off the the beaten track some amazing beaches that are not on the official tour guide. The Thai Military have some wonderful beaches which the public can visit. Some beautiful restaurants http://www.glasshouse-pattaya.com/
There are many interesting places such as East Pattaya or locally known as the Dark side. No not because you may well find Darth Vader lurking around there. It’s where more locals live and there are fewer street lights. Bars and Restaurants there are generally cheaper and more authentic.

My tip is to get a bike check out what licence is valid in Thailand and enjoy 

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Renting Your New Home

I always look at every experience and think, Is there any way I can exploit it or just look at things as a learning curve.
Renting a condo or room is very much like that. You will quickly know what you like and what you do not. It is also paramount to consider what are your prerequisites, and what are the less essential so for me budget was top of the list and then 1 bedroom not a studio.
Now you may well say why not a studio. Living here in Pattaya it is more than likely you will have an overnight visitor which is one of the reasons we choose to leave our homeland and move to a place where you don’t understand the language, Culture or food. Although a great deal of fun will be had with your guest if they are Thai they like to sleep and it is not unusual for a Thai to sleep anything from 8-14 hours a day.
As it is probably in most of our D.N.A to get up and do something a local likes nothing better than sleeping or eating not sure what order comes first. Therefore having another bit of living space where you can escape to, Is why along with budget it remains at top of my shopping list.
D├ęcor is a little lower down the list but there again if you have decided to stay for a while, you want something aesthetically pleasing as possible, because lets face it unless you are actively seeking liver damage spending every day in a bar drinking is not the wisest thing to do.
When you eventually find your habitat for however long, Your agent will request anything from 2 months rent upfront or at least 1 and half then you pay your monthly rent in advance so the initial outlay can be daunting but you will get your deposit back providing you have not broken damaged or lost anything that was there prior to taking on the property.

Note to self. Wise to do an inventory of some kind, and agree with whoever is responsible initially for renting you the place. Most Thais are honest but there will be horror stories of agents charging for the slightest thing they can get away with.    

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Looking for Accomadation

Looking for accommodation, sounds easy. Well  it can be if you just want to stay amongst the bars in Soi Bukhoa and I did find, a lot of cheaper rooms but smaller. What I found was there was a lot of studio style rooms with a bed a CRTV not digital, a fridge some storage for clothing etc…
The traditional style wet room. The ubiquitous air con units older style. No cooking facilities (as these tended to be above shop premises)  Wifi  would be accessible. These rentals would offer a daily rate weekly or monthly. The longer you committed the cheaper it would be.
The upside with living so close to the action is that every where is totally accessible Bars, Restaurants, Cafes, Go Go bars even Central Shopping Mall.
The downside it is always busy apart from a Lull from 3am-6am and then it all starts again. When you are dodging Motor bike taxis, Baht buses, Vendors selling everything from dried squid to ladies shoes.
Now I have an issue. I like busy but I also like quiet. Bearing in mind this is not a vacation I am now living here.
I chose to look elsewhere so the areas I looked in were Pratumnak, Pattaya Naklua, Jomtien, Arunathai,Thepprasit all within spitting distance of hub.
There again all these had plusses and negatives.
Pratumnak, Jomtien Thepprasit is South Pattaya and caters heavily for the Russian speaker and it would not be unusual to see Menus in both Thai and Russian. Whereas Pattaya Naklua tends to favour the Northern European Germans and Scandinavians. Arunathai I am still to discover but from my short excursions there was more Italians and French . So getting back to Soi Bukhao which is one of the main arteries through the city tended to be British.
Pattaya is a very cosmopolitan city it just was a case of where I was comfortable.
On previous trips I had stayed in Soi Ko Phai and found it was a good mix of Thai and Farang but mainly Thai so decided well it will be a good value so opted to look in that area.

Friday, 24 July 2015

1st week in Pattaya

I have been coming to the Land of Smiles since 2005 but finally decided to see if I could settle here 2014
Having gone through a divorce and many failed relationships, 4 children who now have families of their own and a  business venture that was semi successful I realised that is not a rehearsal but the real thing and I think many of you will be able to relate to this post, decided what the hell let’s do it
Like many of us, we may have friends in Thailand that have encouraged us to make that bold step and leave our dull mundane lives traffic jams, poor weather reports, boring jobs and worse of all not beautiful bossy partners or no partners at all have ventured to this point, or even thinking of doing so
The reality can be a little different when you are now not in Holiday mode but in reality mode
Suddenly things dawn on you can you live in a hotel or guest house for the rest of your time here, Can you go to the same bars day after day. How will you occupy your time from day to day.
I certainly have not got those answers but I do know every day in the last year I have woken up with a smile on my face. Now in the 55th year of my life I can truly say hand on heart it has been the best year of my long life
Initially I had to look for long term accommodation, It is not that easy. There are a plethora of Agents 1000s of rooms 100s of people giving you advice. In this case I Just went with my gut. I knew I did not want to live in Central Pattaya but wanted some place close by, Stumbling distance or no more than 100 baht motorbike taxi ride away from where I would spend a night out.
That’s when you realise that you have just left being a grumpy old man in your own city to a grumpy old man in a new city.

Agents I think part of their training is to just ignore everything you say be it a Farang or Thai. Whatever you ask for you will be offered nothing like it. However there are some excellent ones as well, who go out of there way to help you almost want to give them your business, because they have been so helpful. This will give you an insight of what is to come