marcel barang

The Kasikorn Bank Russian roulette

In English on 26/05/2017 at 2:26 pm

My yearly retirement visa was due to expire today Fri 26 March – it’s been extended another year, thank you. But it was touch and go, and not because of Immigration, who provided speedy streamlined service as never before in my almost four-decade-long experience.

Immigration insists, in this particular option, on being provided with a letter from a Thai bank certifying that at least 800,000 baht (about 21,000 euros) has been held in the applicant’s account for the past three months.

Ahead of time, I had obtained from Pattaya Immigration a model of that letter. On Tue evening, armed with that model, bank book and passport, I went to the nearest Kasikorn Bank branch along with my daughter who had just driven up from Bangkok. She had taken leave for a day and a half (and was imperatively due back at her office by Thu afternoon) to help her helpless father through this and a couple other administrative hurdles.

How lucky for me that she did!

When we stated our case at the bank branch, we were told that such a letter could not be delivered, because my account was elsewhere – specifically, in Bang Lamphoo, Bangkok, where it’s been for the past twenty-six years. It was a new regulation from the National Bank… So, we had to go back to Bang Lamphoo next day.

As previous experience showed that such a letter might well take days to be issued, my daughter insisted that the bank contact right away the Bang Lamphoo branch to arrange for the letter “to be ready for pickup first thing tomorrow morning”. This was kindly done.

Back on the pavement, we were flabbergasted at the prospect of a 340 km return trip to Bang Lamphoo to get a bloody piece of paper.

But then my daughter said, “I’ve got doubts about this regulation about not certifying money in another branch account, because at first she said it was from the National Bank but then her boss said it was from the bank’s central office. So let’s try another Kasikorn office, you never know.”

Again, we explained what we were after. Five minutes later, we had in hand the letter signed and sealed, and even written more formally than the model provided by Immigration!

A tale of two friends

In English on 28/03/2017 at 10:34 am

Among the Thai writers I consider my friends, there are two I appreciate especially. One I call Khun Chart, the other Khun Saneh. I’ve translated most of their works. They both live upcountry, the former in Pak Chong, the latter in Phetchaburi. Both are being provided, partly through my good offices, with a French literary agency.
As it happens, on February 24-25, the bosses of that literary agency, Pierre Astier and Laure Pécher, were in town on their way back from China and I was asked to arrange for them and their Langkawi-based local agent, Jérôme Bouchaud, meetings with a few local publishers and authors.
The evening before, over the phone Khun Saneh agreed to take the first bus on the morrow and be in town in late morning to join us in the Khao San Hotel some time past noon. We waited for him way past 2 pm.
He never showed up and hasn’t called since.
When I incidentally mentioned to Khun Chart over the phone that I was about to move to Jomthian, he offered right away to help me move my things. He explained he couldn’t handle packages because of his bad back and thus wouldn’t go all the way to Jomtien with me but he’d come over to my townhouse with a friend driving a van to make sure everything was alright.
He did just that.

Moving to Paradise

In English on 25/03/2017 at 2:57 pm

It’s been a week, but with my daughter’s active complicity and Chart Korbjitti’s most appreciated help, I’ve finally settled down in a new nest. Overnight, my living quarters of a quarter century have shrunk by two-thirds – from the 92 sqm of a Thon Buri townhouse with token land to the 36 sqm of the current one-bedroom flat, a broad expanse still, compared to the 1 sqm of the final stretch.

Books donated, the week-long battle has been fitting too many things brought over to such confined space. I’ve learned to streamline: I really don’t need three dozen shirts or decades-old stacks of bills. Kilos of old paper files (all those articles in Libération, Le Monde diplomatique, South, etc.) have been sold at the price of paper. I’ve shed my past as snakes slough off their skins. I feel better in phakhama.

The mini-universe I now inhabit has all modern amenities, including telephone line for les intimes, large-screen TV with Roku stick and high-speed internet, hence hundreds of TV channels and movies to choose from to kill time and self. Market and supermarket are within walking distance and the seashore is five minutes away on the newly acquired lady’s bicycle parked downstairs.

This seventh-floor flat nestled between silent staircase and lift cage is a pleasant set of space-expanding mirror panels and slabs of coordinated colours and fine grain: snow white, off-white, straw, walnut, tan, maroon. The balcony opens onto a wall of four dozen sets of flats – and twice this much if I lean out – over the eight floors of a twin residential project some fifty yards away, with a slice of sky above to greet the morning sun.

The only annoying thing I found out too late about is the constant noise of the frigging mega-Jacuzzi surrounding that project like a moat, turned on from 9 am to 6 pm with a one-hour reprieve over lunch: it feels like being next to the Niagara Falls. Makes me drowsy, too.

Perhaps only one-tenth of the hundreds of living units around are inhabited, mostly by mujiks, it seems, judging from the occasional Russian exchanges down corridors and around the free-shaped swimming pools. But there are also birds – and few mosquitoes.

My new address:

B3/729 Paradise Park Residence Jomtien, Mu 12, Soi Wat Bun Kanjanaram, Nong Prue, Bang Lamung,  Chon Buri 20150, Thailand.

Email, as before: barang@mail.com. Phone: use my Facebook page (works only when the computer is not snoozing).