Friday, September 27, 2013

Is this state of the art rescue work in Thailand?

I can't see any IV they gave her to make sure she gets enough fluid, neither I hear the sound of any cutting tools. Looks like Thai emergency service have only bare hands to get someone out of a car. Also, as you see in the picture below, First Aid means they give you some menthol to inhale. That's ridiculous. They have no clues at all about First Aid.

Via Phuketgazette

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Scale down - to a foldable city bike

Last weekend thousands of expats and locals celebrated the car free day in Bangkok. Of course Bangkok wasn't car free beside the few streets the rally went on. I am not a big fan of events like this, they may give the participants a good feeling to do something for a day - but I haven't seen much sustainable impact yet (although the Bangkok governor suggested to have a car free day every month).
That doesn't mean I don't like bicycles. I do like them and always had one. First thing I bought in Bangkok was a bicycle. But: This city isn't just made for them. It is dangerous and risky to go with a bicycle on the main roads, since nobody cares - not even the squid seller on this 30 years old Honda Wave that is barely moving forward.

But: There is a solution I can live with. Usually I go around downtown by BTS. Only problem is that sometimes the place you want to go to isn't that close to the next station, at least its too far to walk. Motosay is one solution, but another is actually a bicycle you can carry arround. Thanks to Richard Barrow I got aware of the Bike Expo at Terminal 21, and went there on the last day yesterday. Fortunately I found a foldable city bike with 10 inch wheels for just 3900 Baht since the owner just want to clear the stock. It's weight is 13 Kilo, it's made in China (what is not these days), but the shop owner told me that he actually supervises the production of the bikes (they are branded Transfomer Bikes, of course).

So I bought it and went right on to the streets since I had a appointment at Sukhumvit Soi 6. It is easy to carry although I enjoy an escalator and fast to fold and unfold. There more traffic jam the safer I feel, and around 4 pm there is a lot of traffic jam already. The biggest advantage for the mini bike are the small Soi's. It just safes some time and is fun too.

Later I took it in the BTS during rush hour without a problem and went even to Siam Paragon. You can push it with one hand even if its folded and it just rolls easy next to you. Staff at a restaurant parked the city bike carefully next to the fridge. Another challenge was then the cinema. We want to watch Elysium (Rating: So So), and I was curious to see if I can take it with me. I could. I booked an aisle seat and had the bike right next to me (there was even space enough to have it in front of me).

I wasn't aware that these foldable minibikes are still rare, so many people were actually looking at the bike and usually I overheard "Na rak" (Cute). It's not just cute, it is practical as well. Next challenge will be Chao Phraya boat and Chinatown.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How to get a driving licence in Thailand

When you come to Thailand, you are allowed to drive with an international driving licence for about three months. Then you have to apply for a Thai driving licence. Although some say foreigners are rarely controlled by police officers, I recommend to get the paperwork done. A driving licence also counts as ID, and you need to show your ID in Thailand quite a lot. So better carry a small piece of plastic rather than your valuable passport with you. Thsi article focu on how to get the plastic card in Bangkok.

Although most of the signs and the documents are written in Thai, it is possible to survive without an interpreter. Just ask people to assist you. Some officers do speak basic English enough to help you out.

What documents you need to apply for a driving licence in Thailand? (Note that if you want a car and a motobike license you need two copies of each document)

1. An international driving licence and copies of it
It must have some English written information about your name and what kind of vehicles you are allowed to drive. If you don't have a international driving licence issued by your home country, you may apply back home for it. I did this for my German license, but no idea if it works for other countries as well. Also, I don't know if a driving licence from a neighboring country works. You may call the Department of Transportation.

Department of Land Transportation
Head office
1032 Phaholyothin Road
Lardyao, Chatuchak district.
Phone 02-272-5322, 02-272-5493.

2. Copies of your passport and your visa and the original passport. No tourist visa accepted.

3. If you have one, the work permit and copies of the relevant pages

4. Documents that proofs your residence. Your embassy can issue this or the office in your village. You can also ask the landlord to get you a copy of the housebook, if he has registered you. Embassies usually want to see a rental contract, so make sure all people in the house/condo are mentioned in the contract.

5. A medical exam that you are fit for driving
You can get this in any hospital for small fee. Takes a few minutes for the doctor to examine you. Please note that it is only valid for 30 days.

You don't need to bring photos anymore.

Please sign ALL copies.

Where to apply?
Responsible is the Department of Land Transportation at Chatuchak. Good news is they have branches all over the town (and the city). a list of all branches is here. I went to Bang Chak, and the service was outstanding.

Bangkok Area 3:
opposite Soi Sukhumvit 62/1,
Bangjak Prakhanong,
tel: 02-332-9688 to 96

From the BTS Bang Chak take Exit 3 and walk down Sukhumvit road. Right before DKSH you see a small alley and the gate. Enter there.

Come early, about 8am.

What to do?
This is a description from my experience at Bang Chak, but it should be pretty much the same everywhere. First, go to the reception and ask for the counter for driving licence. There you have to provide all documents and originals and they will to a check if everything is in order. They will give you back passport and international licence. Then you will get a number and have to wait to get called. (They may just call the color of the number tag)

You will then go to a room for a test. This includes a traffic light where you have to say what color is on, a reaction test where you have to hit the brake, a sight test for colors and a test for three dimensional view. The equipment is pretty ancient, and you don't have to worry much - it is quite hard to fail.

Get it signed by the officer and proceed to the next counter (just follow the people or ask someone, its easy to find). In Ban Chak go to the counters 5-9, someone will ask you to hand over the documents for another check. You will get another waiting number. Watch the display and if called go to the related counter. There you have to pay 155 Baht for a car licence and 105 Baht for a motobike license. The office will ask you to double check all of your data. Take this seriuos and read very line (at least the English words. Check the right spelling of your name, birthdate and passport number).

Now the office will take a photo and a few minutes later you are a proud holder of a Thai driving licence.

If you did it for the first time the licence is temporary for one year. after this period you can extend it for 5 years (and have to bring all the documents mentioned above again).

If you don't have any driving licence, the process is more complicated. You have to do attend a three hour training, do a written test (in English, you have to get 27 of 30 questions right) and a driving test (on a parcours on the premises).

It should be noon by now and you may be hungry. If you are at Bang Chak, walk back to the BTS. A few meters before the entrance is a new restaurant called Mouth. They serve excellent Thai food in a nicely designed environment.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

View from my gym to the pool area

There are some advantage living in a condo or a compound, two are they come with gyms and/or pools. Perfect for my daily workout I just resumed two weeks ago. If there is one thing I am missing from Germany then it is the hour long walk in the forrest with my dogs.

Flooded alley

Monday, September 2, 2013

Lonesome dog

Lonesome dog by thomaswanhoff
Lonesome dog, a photo by thomaswanhoff on Flickr.

You may have seen one of this movies where the hero is alone after a war/tsunami/alien invasion destroyed the world. But what will be actually left the day we successfully extinct ourselves?
First thing will be a explosion in the dog and cat population since they are already pretty good adapted to this environment, and at the same time plants will take over very fast.
Its not that nature needs us. We need nature.

Garbage diggers

Garbage diggers by thomaswanhoff
Garbage diggers, a photo by thomaswanhoff on Flickr.

These women are digging with bare hands barely protected by basic cotton gloves for metal pieces. This is a demolished site where a new shiny condo will be build soon.

Garbage digger