If you decide that you wish to live abroad then often you will need a visa. If the EU continues to become even more intransigent then UK passport holders might find themselves needing a visa to visit Europe. Even though major economic powers enjoy some visa-free travel, this will not always be the case.

Many different types of visa are available across the globe. Tourist, educational, working, volunteer, to name some. However, the one that interests us most is the retirement visa. Many countries offer this service. Basically, it is a longer-term visa for retirees who commit to not working in their new country of residence.Man and asian lady in forest

Some countries, like Malaysia, have an active “recruitment” campaign for attracting retirees. They offer a 10-year visa with attractive terms. Regular readers will know I opted for its next-door neighbour, Thailand. They offer what they call a non-immigrant “O” visa which can be extended in 12-month blocks.

Retirement visa in Thailand

There are 2 basic routes to securing a retirement visa in Thailand.

  1. Undertake the whole process in your existing country. You can complete the whole process at home by getting a non-immigrant visa and a 12-month retirement extension at the Thai embassy in your home country. You will need the assistance of your bank, your doctor and the police force to accomplish this. Together with your application, you will need to submit a proof of finances from your bank, a medical report to confirm you do not have certain diseases and a criminal records check. I believe the ease of getting all these vary from country to country. For example, I have been told getting the required paperwork from the police in parts of the USA can be difficult. I decided, being a UK resident, that the thought of having 3 parties having to provide documents that needed to be issued around the same date was asking for trouble. I, therefore, decided to adopt method 2.old man thinking
  2. Arrive in Thailand with a tourist visa and complete all other steps in Thailand. Firstly, please note you need a proper 60-day tourist visa. You will not be able to board a plane without a return ticket if you do not have one. Most holidaymakers get a 30-day visa exemption stamp when visiting Thailand. They are generally stopping for less than that period and have return flight tickets. Undertaking this task in Thailand may seem to be an arduous task given the language differences and what may seem a complicated process. However you now no longer need a medical report or a criminal record check. All you need is to comply with the financial requirements (you can afford to live here) and proof of where you are living (a lease/rental contract for example). A complete list of required documents is available here. .


Thai Bank Account

Perhaps the most difficult thing to do is to open a Thai bank account. It can be somewhat chicken and egg in that you need a long term visa to open a bank account and you need a bank account to get a long term visa. People coming here to work with a working visa have the advantage here. However, do not despair. In Thailand there is a solution to any percieved problem. As a friend of mine rightly says “There are no rules in Thailand, only suggestions”. I was fortunate enough in having a friend whose Thai wife had contacts in her local Bangkok Bank. This allowed me to get an account opened with little problem. If you are not as lucky as I was you can use one of the many visa agencies that offer their services. Also you can just keep trying bank branches yourself and eventually you will doubtless find one that will accomodate you.


If the prospect of repeated visits to immigration fill you with dread, or you just want an easy life, there are many visa agents who will do the whole thing for you. Whilst I felt quite capable of doing the whole process alone, I decided for a few hundred pounds I would rather take the stress free route. I think I spent 5 minutes in immigration getting my non-O, 90 day visa and about 2 minutes when getting my reirement extension. Happy days! They do all the paperwork, photos, etc at a price which is inexpensive by western standards.

Travel – Getting around

Travel – Getting around

Travel is one of the great joys we have when we have retired. Visiting interesting places is high on the to-do list, and we want to get the best value. If we have retired abroad, we have a whole new country, and maybe its neighbors to explore.

Here, in Thailand, where I now live the opportunities for exploration are boundless. Neighboring countries like Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar provide even more choice. You could live till you’re a hundred and still only scratch the surface. So, here’s a rundown of the options for travel.


Air travel in SE Asia is extremely cheap by western standards. A return flight from Chiang Mai to Bangkok can be had for around £50. Return flights to countries close by range from £50-100 return. There is plenty of competition on many routes which helps to keep the costs low and the service you receive doesn’t suffer from the lost cost.



Buses are the most popular form of travel within Thailand. Medium to long-distance travel is provided by air-conditioned coaches and again is inexpensive. Some cities, like Bangkok, have single decker in a similar fashion to UK towns and cities.


There is a comprehensive rail network in Thailand, which in the past has been used more for freight than passengers. Back in 1989 when I suggested to my wife that we travel from Bangkok to Khon Kaen by train she looked somewhat bemused. Most locals would choose a coach it appeared. However, we took the train which I found much more comfortable as I wasn’t tied to a seat. Indeed I spent much of the journey standing on the footplate between the coaches, admiring the scenery.


There are a large number of minibus companies offering travel for short to medium distance journeys. They do, however, suffer from a rather notorious reputation with regard to safety. Unfortunately, this reputation is not ill-founded though I wouldn’t tar all minibus services with the same brush. A little research on your part would be advised before choosing one of these services.

Own Vehicle

You can readily rent both cars and motorbikes here in Thailand. Again by western prices, these are quite inexpensive. As before some research is advised before actually renting a vehicle, particularly a motorbike or scooter. scooterMaintenance plus health and safety isn’t always top of the agenda.

If you are planning on staying long term in your new home country purchasing a vehicle would be the answer. In Thailand, it is fine for a farang (foreigner) to own a vehicle with just a little extra paperwork than a Thai would have to produce.

An International Driving Permit is recommended if you want to drive here in Thailand, and please don’t drive a motorbike if your IDP is only for a car. You will be fined as sure as eggs are eggs. In the UK you can get these from the AA or from some Post Offices. Look online for a list of which ones provide the service. For £5 it will save you an enormous hassle.

Summing Up

As you can see getting around in Thailand isn’t a problem, and of course, there’s always shank’s pony for your leisurely sightseeing. If you are driving yourself, please don’t expect the locals to drive like you do back home. Every country has its own idiosyncrasies. Do a little research online before venturing out on the roads. It’s well worth a few minutes doing so. Below, is a video I made a couple of months back which started out as a test for my new action camera but became a critique of local driving. Bangkok or any large city in Thailand is much worse. Please be aware there is a little bit of “industrial” language in my commentary. Nothing you wouldn’t hear on the BBC, but certainly not before 9 pm.

Living with Depression

Living with Depression

Living with depression! Sounds like a title for a book, not a blog post. It is a sad fact that more and more people are being diagnosed with depression and many of those are over 60. It’s fair to say that as the taboo surrounding this subject has reduced that more people are willing to seek help. That said, the facts are that depression is on the increase. As the world becomes more materialistic and life pressures increase this is hardly rocket science. I appreciate it can be hard for non-sufferers to comprehend what a person with depression goes through. I can assure you it’s not feeling sad, feeling fed up or feeling let down. Watch Kat in the video below and you will have a much better idea.

My Experiences

I, myself, was diagnosed back in 2010 but if I’m honest I was suffering long before then. I have an old school friend, a retired doctor, who has experienced depression from both sides of the fence. We both share similar childhoods inantidepressant pills that we were both physically and mentally abused by our mothers. He, together with his previous psychotherapist, share the view that the root cause probably goes all the way back then. In fact, it is much more common than you might think for depression in adulthood to be rooted back in infancy.

I have had the misfortune of having 2 of my past work colleagues and friends undergo the ultimate cure and take their own lives. The second one of these, I think, is what triggered my worsened state. Like most northern English guys I was brought up to “get on with it” come hell or high water. It took a tearful session with my GP to finally admit my problem. Funnily enough, her reply was “I knew you were suffering from depression before you said” but professional ethics meant I had to make the first move.

Take Action

If you are a fellow sufferer don’t hide away and bottle it up like I did. I take one day at a time and some are better than others. My new home and new environment are a step on the road and I will find peace and contentment not too far in the future hopefully. We have lost many people in the public eye that we would never have believed would take the ultimate step of suicide. In sports Gary Speed and David Bairstow spring to mind. In the music world Keith Emerson, Kurt Cobain and lately Chester Bennington took their own lives. Often it’s the people you would least expect who are plumbing the depths of despair and keeping it all to themselves.

It’s a hard problem to tackle on your own. I know that because that is largely what I have done. Don’t be frightened to share your feelings with friends or medical professionals. Depression doesn’t have the stigma it once had. Education still has a long way to go, but we will get there.



Healthcare is one of the most important considerations when deciding to retire abroad. However, the cost of this is something that too many people don’t factor into their budget. In the UK we “enjoy” a national health service which was set up as being free at the point of delivery although these days it is much less so. In other countries, like the USA, health insurance is the standard.heart monitor




Thai Healthcare

In Thailand, where I live, the health care is of high quality, much higher than you might expect. There are both government and private hospitals. Whichever hospital you choose, as an expat, you will have to pay. Government hospitals are less expensive but you will have to join the queue. Private hospitals can invariably see you with 10 minutes of walking in the door. Compared with the cost of private healthcare in the UK, costs in Thailand are really inexpensive. For example, you can get an appendectomy in Bangkok for as little as £1100 in a private hospital, including a couple of days recovery. Readers in “The West” will find the cost to be much higher in their own country. In fact, Thailand is beginning to sell itself as a centre for medical tourism.


Dental procedures in Thailand are also a fraction of the cost found in the USA and much of Europe. The equipment used here is state of the art. Many of the dentists have been trained in Europe, and use the latest techniques. It is something to consider if you need dental work. Why not combine a holiday in Thailand with your treatment and save money?






Health insurance is readily available for expats living in Thailand. Obviously, the cost varies with age. Typically a 60-year-old would pay a little over £1000 a year. It becomes a mathematical conundrum as you get older. You can get insurance or effectively “self-insure” by keeping funds in a readily accessible savings account. Just ensure you are covered for the worst one way or an another.


Religion – or the “R” word

Religion – or the “R” word

Religion and politics, probably the 2 most divisive things on the planet. I admit to being a devout atheist, but have aBuddha statue morbid fascination with religion. In my view it has caused so much suffering over the centuries, mainly from the “my god is better than your god” brigade. However, I have no issues with whatever beliefs anyone might have as long as they don’t force them on other people with differing viewpoints.

Thai Religion

Here in northern Thailand the predominant religion is Buddhism. I actually feel an slight affinity for it as it is more a philosophy than a deity worshipping faction. Having visited many temples around Chiang Mai I have found them places of great tranquility. I recently went to somewhere a little different and off the beaten track. I was originally going to make the hour long walk up the mountain, Doi Suthep, from Chiang Mai University, but wimped out and took the bike.

Mekong River DragonsThe place I visited was Wat Pha Lat which is, in fact, a meditation centre rather than an ornate temple. It is sometimes called “The Hidden Temple” as it is tucked away in the jungle away from the roads. Wat Pha Lat was originally used as a resting place for people on the pilgrimage up to worship at Wat Doi Suthep up on the mountain. Then the location developed into a meditation retreat and a monk residence. I found the place almost magical, with an amazing ambience of peace and serenity. It is certainly a great place to go and unwind, and lose yourself in the aura of the buildings and the jungle.

Wat Pha Lat is not your normal tourist trap. There were few people there apart from the monks and some local maintenance workers. The only thing to buy was a refreshing coffee or tea from the unobtrusive kiosk. I found this such an uplifting place to sit and watch the world go by and I will waterfallcertainly be going again.







I’d like to share some images below, but they do not do justice to the atmosphere here. You will just have to go yourselves……….


Chiang Dao Caves

Chiang Dao Caves

Chiang Dao is a town situated about 70km north of Chiang Mai. It’s major attraction for visitors is the caves under a mountain which houses a buddhist temple. Chiang Dao means “city of stars”

One of the major benefits of retirement is all the leisure time you now have to go and visit interesting places. Living in a different country opens up a wealth of possibilities.

About Chiang Dao caves

The cave of Chiang Dao is located 70 kilometres north of Chiang Mai on the road to Fang. The Chiang Dao Caves fishpond at Chiang Dao Cavespenetrate in to the Doi Chiang Dao which is a massive outcrop of rock rising to a height of 2,175 metres to be the third highest in Thailand. The mountain is usually shrouded in cloud and the area is home to Lisu, Lahu and Karen villages.

The Caves have had a significant presence for the locals for over 1,000 years as is evident by the ancient Shan Chedi near the entrance and the folklore surrounding the Caves. The caves are venerated by the Thai and Shan people as is evidenced by the offerings, statues and decorations present at the entrance and inside. At various locations within the Caves are small temples and statues of the Buddha. The caves also offer a plethora of stalactite and stalagmite rock formations

buddha statue inside the cavesOne legend holds that the caves are inhabited by an Indian recluse who has lived there for more than one thousand years. Another, more complex, tradition tells how a group of hermits who live in the caves once called a meeting of deities and angels to create seven sacred objects. A demon called Chao Luang Kham Daeng Khun Yak was appointed to guard these sacred artefacts which are hidden beneath the mountain.

It is only possible to see the illuminated areas without hiring a guide. However, this still allows you to see a great deal as you can go about 1km into the cave network. Moving away from the lit areas without a latern carrying guide would be suicidal. It would take very little time for you to get lost.





I hope you enjoy my video from the day. The procession at around 6.30 is a Thai funeral. I was wondering what was going on when I saw all the people in the road before that giving directions. If you do, why not give it a “like” or even follow for future postings.


Beating Diabetes – Part Three

Beating Diabetes – Part Three

D-Day (Diabetes Day). July first 2016. Summoned to the doctors at 8.30am to discuss my latest blood test results asstethoscope and heart a matter of urgency. So with a spring in my step I wandered down the road with a pretty good idea of what would unfold. I knew what my blood glucose had been for the past 6 months as I had been self testing, so the concern could only be the dreaded “C” word……… cholesterol!

Amazed GP

The best thing about an 08.30 appointment was that it was the first one of the day. No hanging around for 20 minutes staring at the floor and the ceiling. So I parked myself in the chair in the doctor’s room to be told “I am concerned about your latest blood test. Your cholesterol level is now very high”. I decided to adopt a typical politician’s approach. “Before we discuss that, what was my blood glucose result”. She looking at my report replied “Well actually, it’s very good. It seems to have come down to normal levels”. So with a big smile on my face I said ” So, I bet it would surprise you to know that I haven’t taken any metformin or forxiga for the last 4 months then” Her jaw dropped like a stone.

It’s all Diet

I then went on to relate exactly what I had and, more importantly, hadn’t been eating for the last 4 months and that I had lost 17kg weight. At this point she insisted that the surgery nurse came to join us and I explained it all to her too. What happened next really made me laugh. The nurse said “So type 2 diabetes is all down to diet then”. “Well” I said “that is very true. The only problem is my diet isn’t what the NHS recommend is it?” I left it at that. No point trying to reverse years of doctrine however right or wrong.  LCHF diet food

Going back to the cholesterol I told them that it wasn’t that unusual for cholesterol levels to initially go up when changing to a LCHF diet, but it would settle down. From what I have read from informed sources, cholesterol along with dietary fat aren’t the demons they have been made out to be for decades. It seems that the mainstream press are also beginning to sit up and take notice, and traditional views dating back 60 years are being challenged.

Take a look for yourself

I stated in my last post I am not a medical professional. However there is an ever increasing movement of professionals towards this school of thought. I got most of my guidance from which is a great online resource. If you are suffering from weight issues and /or T2D it would be worth your time taking a look with an open mind.  I feel better, look better and enjoy my life much more now. I could not realistically contemplated coming to live here in Thailand when I had diabetes.


I am NOT a medical professional. This personal account is a true description of the results I enjoyed on a LCHF diet. Nothing in this article, or anywhere on this site, should be construed as medical advice.

Beating Diabetes – Part Two

Beating Diabetes – Part Two

It’s February 1st 2016, my first day of beating diabetes. I decided to be different and not start of the first day of the new year. January was a month for eating whatever the hell I wanted to. Get it out of the system, no excuse for turning back after I started. From February 1st, carbohydrates were committed to history as much as humanly possible. Bread,gone! Pasta, potatoes, rice, cakes and biscuits, gone!

I also quit something else, though it’s certainly not something I’d recommend and neither would your GP. I stopped taking my diabetes drugs and my statins. This wasn’t from some perverse bloody mindedness on my part, it was for practical reasons. My job involved driving a bus round Heathrow airport and I was petrified of my blood sugar going too low and having a hypo. Not the best scenario if you have up to 40 people on your bus. So, with a modicum of caution I took this decision.salmon-vegetables

Following the guidelines from my friends at, I put together an eating plan to follow. No more sandwiches for lunch at work. Now it was eggs, cheese, ham, tomatoes and salad. Hardly a carb in sight. Days off gave me more scope. Bacon, sausage, eggs, mushrooms and haloumi was my favourite. Now to many people that meal would be classed as fat boy food. As I was told and found for myself it was the total opposite. Dinners were often centred round chicken cooked in various ways and low carb vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, beans and courgettes, together with cheese and full fat cream. The rule with vegetables in general is that if it grows above ground it’s low carb, whereas vegetables that grow under the ground tend to be more starchy. Potatoes are the obvious miscreant here, but any tubers like carrots tend towards the upper end of carb content.

After just 3 weeks my blood glucose level which had been either side of 6 before I started was down as low as 3.5, no Metformin don’t forget . I had also lost around 5 kilos in weight from a starting point of 98 kilos. After 5 months my BG level was steady around the 4.0 mark and I now weighed 80 kilos. I had, in fact, overshot my weight target by 3 kilos, but am now stable at 83 kilos which is where I want to be.

In July 2016 I had my 6 monthly diabetic blood tests at the hospital.3 days later I go summoned to go and see my GP as a matter of “urgency”. What transpired there will be the subject of my next post.


I am NOT a medical professional. This personal account is a true description of the results I enjoyed on a LCHF diet. Nothing in this article, or anywhere on this site, should be construed as medical advice.

Beating Diabetes-Part One

Beating Diabetes-Part One

Type 2 diabetes, sometimes called adult onset diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases on this planet today. It causes all kinds of complications like heart disease, amputations, sight loss and obesity.

My History

chocolate bar

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes around 2005, and to be honest I didn’t take it too seriously as I was pretty borderline. I did, however, modify my diet a little and initially this seemed to be beneficial. The problem is that it is so easy to become complacent and let things slip and so, after the initial enthusiasm, I became lax with my discipline and my blood sugar levels started to creep up. Of course I lied to the doctors a little about my diet and eventually they suggested I could go onto Metformin if I wanted. I was also suffering, and still do, from psoriatic arthritis and the drugs I was taking were costing me a fair bit. In the UK, people taking diabetic drugs get free prescriptions so rather stupidly I decided to go with the Metformin.  I say stupidly because in my mind that then gave me carte blanche to relax my diet even more. I didn’t have, and never have had, major weight issues. I was classed  by my BMI as overweight, but not close to obese. In fact many people were surprised that I had T2D because I looked fit.

Taking Control

sugar and syringes

Moving on to the end of 2015 I decided to stop being a fraud and to tackle this condition. The drugs were just an artificial safety net in my mind. They weren’t curing anything, just slowing the process down. I had started to get a rock hard mass of fat in my upper abdomen which baffled me. After all fat was supposed to be soft and wobbly wasn’t it? I started to do some research! What I had was visceral fat which I found was one of the worst types to fat to be inflicted with. It occurred to me that my pancreas was highly likely to be embedded in this visceral fat, so how the hell was it going to do its job. So now I set off on a mission to research everything I could find on the causes and effects of type 2 diabetes. As they say, Google is your friend. What I discovered was a real eye opener. It showed my how illogical the approach to diet, obesity and diabetes was. I’m not a doctor, I have no medical qualifications. I do however have an extensive knowledge of chemistry, I have a chemical engineering degree and the things I was reading made such sense. I failed to understand how on earth the “balanced” diet was beneficial to good health.

All my research made to come to conclusion that a low carbohydrate diet was the way forward for me. By this time I have resolved that I would be diabetes free by the end of 2016 at the latest. In my next post I’ll tell you how I got on.

diabetic facts

Keeping it in the Family

Keeping it in the Family

Back in the day when I married my Thai wife, I got the added benefit of a ready made family. Despite our subsequent divorce I still regard them all as part of my family. She already had 3 children from a previous marriage and eventually, we got them all over to England. I’m happy that they have all become good citizens, contributing to the national purse. In addition, we had a son together who has now reached the ripe old age of 24. Having got a degree in film and media production and then attended the famous New York Film Academy he decided to become a freelancer. Maybe influenced by my decision to make Thailand my home, my son Kit concluded that he would give his talents an airing here too. The fact that he has a Thai passport makes working and living here a breeze, with no hoops to jump through like I have to do.

Decorated Passport

He, together with a friend, has started a travel blog and YouTube channel, Decorated Passport. The link to their first video is below.

Details of his site and social media are…….



The videos are very professionally done and are not the normal run of the mill YouTube fodder.