I’m travelling at the moment…

[iframe http://maps.google.com.au/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=205952551275593028260.0004ac44d00d68966d60e&ie=UTF8&vpsrc=6&ll=13.83808,101.206055&spn=19.117508,13.183594&z=5&output=embed 300 450]View Bangkok to Phuket in a larger map

I’ve been in Thailand on and off for sometime now, but I have been pretty fixed in location. When I have moved I have generally flown (occasional bus, and once a train) everywhere.

We’ve been in Bangkok for the last few weeks and this time, we decided that instead of flying to Phuket, we would drive. With the shelving of the “flight plan”, we hired a car and set off.

It was going to be a two day trip.

A few hours into the trip, I knew that we weren’t going straight back. We had one detour planned on the way already, but as soon as we got there, it turned into another, and another, and even another…

Unfortunately I don’t have good internet (on the road), but as soon as I do, you’ll find a few posts of the travelling variety, around Thailand. This is a beautiful country, with beautiful people. Just stay away from the tourist traps and you’ll be right :-)

The map is rough, (pretty much just the end points), but it’s a guide to where we’ve been, or at least stopped each night. Although you can see where we went on our different day trips.

Stay tuned for more posts about this, because we have done some great stuff! Things I’ve wanted to do for a very long time (such as Hellfire Pass and the Bridge on the River Kwai). I did leave out the Tiger Temple, which has been on my todo list for sometime. But I’ll talk about that later.

See y’all soon!

Phuket Weather Warning

20110826-114759.jpgI’ve been living in Thailand coming up to a year in December and although in the tropics, I’ve never really seen too much rain here. About my 2nd ever trip to Thailand, I think it rained everyday, and although I’ve seen bad bouts of weather (raining for say a week or whatever), it’s always been pretty good for me.

This year, as with many countries, Thailand has seen unusually high levels of flooding. Almost no point of Thailand has been untouched. For months the northern part of Thailand (Issan, where Fah’s family is from), and Bangkok have had weather warnings, flash flooding, and rain for weeks on end.

We’ve been in Bangkok for over two weeks now and other than for an hour or two some afternoons, we’ve seen very little rain. But right now, Phuket (notably Patong) is experiencing bad flooding. And I’m in beautiful (sic) Bangkok where the weather has been fine. We are due to go home in a few days, however we may extend our stay here a little longer.

An associated article (found below) talks about Phuket’s last period of bad flooding. This was back in March. At that time I’d flown home to Australia for a few weeks and so I missed out on the bad weather.

I missed the flooding back in Australia (shortly after coming here), I’ve missed the flooding in Phuket when I returned to Australia, I’ve missed the greater flooding of Thailand (including Bangkok), when I was in Phuket, and now that I’m in Bangkok, I’ve missed it all again!

I have to say, maybe it’s time I bought a lottery ticket :-)

(featured article from the Phuket Gazette)

Getting a driver/rider license in Phuket

Getting a Thai Driver/Rider License in Phuket.

Testing ground at Phuket Transport Office
Testing ground at Phuket Transport Office

This turns out to be a two day process but both are very short. You MAY be able to pull this off in one, but I didn’t bother trying.

Day 1 – getting your proof of address for Thailand. This can be done a number of ways. You will need either: Work Permit, Statutory Declaration from your embassy, or a lease agreement.

I believe the first two are standalone, but I’m not too sure. I didn’t have either a work permit or a stat dec from the embassy, so my option is the lease agreement.

So this is how I did it.

Go to the immigration office and take with you:
– Lease and photocopy
– your passport with visa and entry stamp, and photocopies of these (and your data page)
– 1x Photo
– 300฿*

*this is arbitrary and flexible. The actual fee is free. However, the officer may ask for anything from 100-500฿. I wasn’t going to argue, but I believe if you ask for a receipt he MAY decline to take your money. I didn’t want to test this.

Once everything is checked you’ll be instructed to wait, and 10-15 minutes later you’ll get your certificate. Maybe less because I had to go and get the photo done. I was unaware that a photo was required for this.

All up, including all waiting time I was there less than hour.

Day 2 – I arrived at the Transport office, driving section spot on 8:30. The doors were being unlocked as we got off the bike. The line at the office wasn’t short and we all piled inside.

Take with you:
– passport and photocopy
– drivers license and photocopy
– intl drivers permit and photocopy
– medical certificate
– residence certificate

If you’re applying for a car and bike license, double everything up, so for two licenses you will need:

– passport and 2x photocopies
– drivers license and 2x photocopies
– intl drivers permit and 2x photocopies
– medical certificate and photocopy
– residence certificate and photocopy

In this case, you will have one set that has an original medical certificate and residence certificate, the other will be photocopies. Sign each and every photocopy including originals.

Time line:
– 0830 walked in and got in line
– 0850 documents checked plus wrote my name on a bit of paper and signed it
– 0900 watched a short video (in thai) on the reaction and depth perception tests
– 0910 listened as a thai speaker spoke to the class. This went on for about 15 minutes.

– 0925 the class commences the reaction and colour blind tests. During this test, many Thais failed and their papers were put into another pile. Once the tester got towards mine and other foreigners names, she pulled out the failures and let them have another go. Eventually I got my chance and then walked over to the colour test table. Pretty easy, but I did see two people who were obviously colour blind as they struggled and didn’t pass. I’m not sure if that meant they didn’t get a license or not. Anyway I breezed through it and she gave me my papers back – up until this point she had kept everyone’s papers. I realised this meant I was done. Everyone else had to watch a 2 hour video and do their driving/riding and written tests.

– 0955 went outside to the information desk. She gave me a ticket and within 15 seconds my number came up. The woman at the counter entered my name in the wrong order (so check it!) and charged me 160฿ (and forgot to give me my change). I then proceeded to the next set of counters where they took my photo and I gave them another 220฿. 2 minutes later I walked out with 2 licenses. That was it. I was sitting outside in the gazebo by 1001!

On the other hand, my wife went thru the same morning process but she never got her papers back after the colour blind test. Instead her day went as followed (after that point):

– 1000 watched a video (I believe this one was in thai, but half hour later another one started in English. Not confirmed)

– 1130 my wife comes out and she did her riding test. She made several mistakes on the first go around and they stopped her at the end and just made her do it again. She didn’t make so many mistakes the next go round :-).

– 1200 finished and the place closes for lunch.

– 1300 came back so she could do her written test. whilst this was going on, people outside were doing their driving test for their car license. This was pretty funny to watch. Especially the hill starts – and the test car was an automatic!!

– 1330 she was waiting in the queue to have her photo taken and get her license.

– 1340 we were on the bike going home

All-in-all, not too painful a process. If I had of been by myself, I would have been out of there in an hour an a half. It pays to be prepared, because if you’re not, you’ll have to come back the next day. I believe they only do the video screenings once a day, so if you try and do both steps in one day, and don’t make it to the transports first video, I hear you can drop off all your paperwork and come back the next day. It will only speed up the morning bit. Personally, however, the way I did it was easy enough.

Good luck!