Off To Laos For The Work Visa

Documents? Check! I hope… They’re all in Thai so I assume I have everything. They weigh the same as a games console of your choosing so it’s not as if I’m unprepared. And awaaaaay we go!!! (cue Wacky Races music…)

Chiang Mai to Udonthani by night bus was eventful. I struggle to sleep on buses at the best of times and was drifting in and out of consciousness until the bus kept sharply braking or turning. I was in the front seat so I could see everything that was going on…there was nothing untoward happening so I threw the blanked over my head and tried to sleep again.

The bus started braking sharply again, but this time there were gasps from the other passengers and there was a nervous energy that overtook the entire coach. I took the blanket off my head to see that we were hurtling towards a tree that had mysteriously fallen on the road. The bus swerved and for a short period we had two wheels off the road bobbling through the dirt at 40+ mph. It’s weird, you don’t panic because you don’t have time to. It all happened so fast and before we knew it we were back on the road again, relatively alive…

We got to Udon at 6, and there was a minibus right where we got dropped off that would take us to the border for 50 Baht (£1) each. It was an hour away so it was a very fair deal. What surprised me was that the tuk tuk drivers were very honest and guided me to the minibus instead of saying it was cancelled and I had to go with them. I must admit Thailand is starting to eradicate these dishonest people on the street one by one and its making the country an infinitely better place to travel and live.

I got over the Laos border with no hiccups. I paid a little over the odds as to be expected when you arrive in a country for the first time in years, and was soon at the embassy by 8:30 in the morning.

“This is going pretty well…” I thought to myself, “I could be in and out of here by tomorrow!” As I smiled respectfully at the immigration officials hoping things would go smoothly.

Of course, I spoke too soon; I had my mountain of paperwork to give the official and he began to ask where random documents were. I can speak Thai fairly well, but I can’t read it at all, so I ended up showing him every piece of paper like when Borat would ask in the supermarket what all the cheeses were…

“And what is this?” “That’s not it…”

“And what is this?” “That’s not it…”

“And this one…?” “That’s not it…”

This went on until we ran out of paper. He then told me I needed 6 documents, and I was missing four of them. One of the documents was my diploma. I got really nervous then because I don’t have a degree, I only have a TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) certificate, which I was told was enough. I frantically showed him the certificate saying I had it and he looked at it for a while, then finally crossed it off the list of documents I needed.

One huge sigh of relief, at least now I knew I could physically get the work permit as long as I had the correct paperwork. I was missing two simple documents but also a police report which I was told I needed  by the girl at the school I will be working at, then was swiftly told that I ‘probably didn’t need it’. Turns out I did, and there was no way I could get it this time around. Fortunately the immigration official told me I could apply for a tourist visa and go back to sort the documents out, which is what I did.

Vientiane has changed, somehow for the worse. Now there are very few guesthouses near the embassy, just large hotels that charge you 1000 Baht a night. I did manage to find a guesthouse for half of that though, and it had air con, a TV and a hot shower so I shouldn’t complain, but I will because I’m English…

Lets see… What was good about my trip…? Oh yeah, the bread! Laos has a French influence and eating anything baked there is like sinking your teeth into a lifetime’s supply of Galaxy Cookie Crumble. So I overdosed on chocolate cakes and any kind of rolls. I also spend a few hours doing a few football tricks with an enthusiastic Lao kid (I say kid, he was between the age of 15 and 18) I’m so below the standard of what I used to be, but I can still pull off a fair few tricks that make people gasp. I was speaking to him in Thai, as Lao and Thai are similar languages – kinda like Spanish and Portuguese – And I told him that I hadn’t practiced in 8 years and was ridiculously rusty. His response of laughing in disbelief saying that I thought I was rusty was pretty cool to hear. It was nice to kick a football around again. I’ve still got it! Kind of…

The next day involved picking up the visa. I got my tourist visa and headed straight to the Thai border, ready to take another night bus back to Chiang Mai. I got it and made it back in one piece. Which is great, but annoyingly I still can’t start working yet until I get the work visa processed, so I’m kinda stuck until the paperwork is sorted, and my only form of income is through my books, so maybe it’s time to push them a bit more. If not the last resort is to start a new catchphrase that will go viral and live off of that money. Catch me INSIDE how about that?…

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There are no words when it comes to a condom riding a tiger…

Sometimes I’m My Own Worst Enemy…

Two days ago I was looking at a second hand Facebook page and saw that there was a PS4 for sale. I’ve just recently moved back to Chiang Mai and – to be quite frank – am fucking bored at the moment. This guy had advertised a PS4, 2 controllers and 2 games for 9000 Baht (Roughly £180-£190) which isn’t cheap, but prices for anything real are massively inflated in Thailand so in comparison it wasn’t a bad price.

He’d obviously had the advert up for a while and had bumped it a few times. That particular day’s bump simply said ‘make me an offer’. So I did, even though I wasn’t in the country at the time.

I messaged him and said that I was currently in Laos sorting out a work visa and said that I wasn’t sure when I was going to be back, but if he still had it by the end of the week (when I knew for a fact I would be back) that I would be more than happy to give him 8000 Baht for it. He messaged me back saying that he would accept 8000, and would hold the PS4 for me.

I didn’t want to be a dick, so I said to him since I’m not in the country he didn’t have to hold it for me, and if he got 9000 for it from someone else I wouldn’t take any offence at all. He thanked me and sure enough I got a message later on that evening saying that he’d sold it. I was slightly disappointed but at the same time I said to him that I was happy that he got 9000 for it (I assume he got 9000 for it anyway…) and accepted that I wasn’t supposed to have a PS4 at that time and carried on doing my thing.

I got back to Chiang Mai yesterday, and when I checked on the second hand sites today I saw the exact PS4 for sale on the same site – just by a different guy – for 10,000 Baht. Hell, the guy hadn’t even changed the photos from the bloke he bought it from. I can’t really blame the guy, it’s not easy to make money in Thailand and since non Thai citizens have to pay a sizeable amount of their wages towards visa fees and expensive trips to leave the country, there’s normally not that much money left for their day to day lives so they have to do what they can to survive. But I can’t help but think if I’d simply said to the first guy “Thank you!” Instead of trying to look out for him and see if he could get a better price before I got back into the country, that I would be destroying that PS4 with a huge smile on my face right now. Instead I’m in my room bored out of my skull, wondering whether I should stop being nice all the time, as it seems to be biting me in the butt…

Reviews For My Books So Far…

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The Price of Fame© A psychological drama following a child actor in their adult life trying to cope with the knock on effects of constantly being in the public eye.

(4 reviews)

“I love this Author’s original style. I was gripped by the emotional ups and downs of his character’s life, in a story which delves into the mind of a troubled soul, one you want to reach out to and help as a friend.”

“A brilliant story. Well written. You feel a lot of empathy for the central character. It opens your eyes and really makes you think! Very sad at times but a good ending!!!”

“A really good read, for a first time author. I enjoyed the interesting storyline that had a few twists. Looking forward to reading more from this author.”

“Really enjoyed reading this book, I am not a big reader but it kept me hooked from start to finish , now looking forward to reading more from this author.”

The Butterfly Killings© A horror, written in a ‘dear diary’ format. This follows a murderer when they are released from prison after killing someone when they were a child, documenting their struggle to deal with their new identity.

(7 reviews)

“The author has been very clever when writing this, as it has some huge plot twists. I really enjoyed reading it and found that I couldn’t put it down, very addictive. I can’t wait to read more books by this author.”

“I love this book I have bought more of books of the author and looking forward to reading them already !! This book needs to be read”

“I did enjoy The Butterfly Killings. It’s a dark tale of a disturbed mind which, left unhealed, takes you on a journey to redemption.”

“This writer shows lots of promise..had me fooled for a while!”

“This book takes a different perspective on child killers and their ingratiation back into society. An interesting read and cleverly written book.”

“This book is a great read, especially if your are looking for a story that you are able to finish easily in a single day. Clarke takes you on journey as you see how someone is coping with a new identity after committing a crime. While the beginning of the story starts off a bit slow once you get past the first few pages it picks up and you are taken in the mind of Chris while experiencing a few twists and turns along the way. One wish I had for the book is the character development and story between Chris and Keira. I felt that it was a bit rushed and this relationship is important for Chris’s character. Overall, I thought the book was a great read, easy to get through and you could easily finish it within a day!”

“An entertaining and quick read. The plot twists keep you on your toes throughout the story, which focuses on the development of the main character.”

Destiny© A comedy. A young man’s dream of becoming a comedian is buried deep down so no one is aware of it. That is until he meets a girl who has ambitions to succeed in another field. When he opens up to her and tells her about his secret dream job they make a pact to help each other mentally and drive each other to success

(1 review)

“I really enjoyed this book and didn’t want it to end. I think it brings a valid message and without giving too much away, proves that alcohol is an unnecessary prop when you have faith in your Destiny.”

LEWIS TALKTOMECOVER (2)

Talk To Me© A romantic comedy that features a man in his mid twenties called Ross. Ross is painfully shy around women and is getting fed up of watching everyone else settle down and because of his own insecurities he can’t seem to even get a conversation going with a girl. So one day he makes a bet with himself; he HAS to talk to a girl for at least five minutes every day for an entire month

(2 reviews)

“I was gripped from the beginning and enjoyed following his character’s journey of self help and realisation.
I started reading this on a ferry journey and it almost felt like I had found a lost diary on an empty seat as it was so naturally written.”

“I gave this book a try after a recommendation from a friend and it did not disappoint. At first I just wanted to read a few pages just to get an idea of what the book was about and before I knew it I was a quarter of the way through it. Ross seemed to have his issues but I found myself rooting for him, and getting annoyed at characters that were messing him about! Nice and easy read and I can’t wait to read this author’s other work.”

Click on the descriptions to view them in the original Amazon.com page. Some reviews are on the Amazon.co.uk page which is why they haven’t shown up. There is a review on the Amazon.co.jp page but unless you are fluent in Japanese I felt it was pretty pointless to put it up…

200 Posts!

Ever since the first post talking about my teaching escapades in Thailand 3 years ago I never thought I’d make it to 200 posts. I’ve ended up writing about all sorts of things; from two separate travelling trips to issues living back in England coping with the natural anxiety that comes with it. I still write predominantly about my books, which was the main reason to set up this blog, but over the last three years it has become much more than that…

Thank you to all of you who have been followed my life so far and I hope you have enjoyed reading about what I’ve been up to, and thank you to those who went a step further and enjoyed one (or more) of my books. I hope we make it to 400!

Chiang Mai 5-0 Trat

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Sell out crowd (Probably, I didn’t check…), and they were all cheering for Chiang Mai… I guess… Who cares? It was Chiang Mai FC vs Trat FC, my first Thai football game in years, and time to awkwardly squint throughout the whole game because I’d forgotten my glasses.

Kick off, and nothing of note really happened. All the ex-pats were chatting away to each other discussing strategy on what they would do since they’d taken Exeter City to the Champions League final on Football Manager. (I don’t mean to brag, but I won the Premier League with Staines Town and nearly got San Marino into Serie A with a minimal budget, so if anyone should pretend to be a bitter armchair manager it should be me!!!)

Then tragedy struck. Well, nearly anyway. Trat had two clear cut chances in the space of 5 minutes that they should have buried, but they didn’t. Chiang Mai were holding on. They were being ripped to pieces in midfield and the defence looked shaky. But ultimately the goalkeeper was doing his best Manuel Neuer impression and destroying any player who dared believe he had the ability to spank the ball past him…

Chiang Mai survived this barrage, and completely against the run of play built up an attack and The Macedonian Beast who was playing upfront coolly finished the move off. one-nil. Don’t know how it happened but I wasn’t going to argue.

Trat were still dominating possession, but now were struggling to mount any offence. Chiang Mai’s defence were gaining confidence. They would have been a lot more confident if Jeff (Chiang Mai’s Ivorian winger. I don’t know his name so I’m gonna call him Jeff…) had buried his one on one with the keeper. Jeff picked up the ball on the left and tried to dink it over the keeper. He failed, but we weren’t angry because his name is Jeff…

So half time; 1-0. Did we deserve it? Fuck no! But I didn’t care, all I wanted was to eat some garlic pork and rice with a fried egg for 35 Baht, which is about 70p in the land of England. The food was soon demolished and Trat were about to be too. Spoiler? Possibly, unless you read the title…

Chiang Mai were far more up for it in the second half. They were splitting the defence apart and you could tell it was only a matter of time before the second came. And it did, courtesy of The Macedonian Beast. Who I’m sure has a name. Hold on let me look on Wikipedia…

The Macedonian Beast…

There we go: Hristijan Kirovski. He’s apparently played for CSKA Moscow so I reckon he’s a good egg. Right, Chiang Mai were all over them now, and gaps were appearing in Trat’s defence more and more as the full backs pushed up to try and get back into the game. They would have done so if their goalie wasn’t having a shocker, and when Chiang Mai’s Thai striker shot inside the area Trat’s goalie finally saved. Great! Except he parried it to none other than The Beast, who spanked it in from 1 yard out. Hat trick!!!

The hat trick soon became four. Matey boy in goal thought he would make amends from his previous errors by collecting a cross. Only he completely missed the cross, leaving The Beast to head into an empty net and sent the fans into raptures…

Then I remembered that I needed to take some photos. You know; 21st century and all that. I went to turn the camera on and my phone froze. Stupid £40 phones! I got it working just in time to catch Chiang Mai on the break again looking for a fifth. Our Macedonian beauty running through a few challenges and then nearly beating the keeper at the near post, cannoning off the post and going wide. I got a few photos, and the contingency of Chiang Mai went through a vast array of emotions. Well worth the 80 Baht ticket!

And that was it! 90 minutes gone and a job well done. Actually The Beast didn’t think so, and after another well structured attack he placed the ball past the keeper into the far corner.

The Beast 5-0 Trat. Poor old Trat, they just weren’t ready for The Macedonian Beast. Having said that it could have been an entirely different outcome had Trat converted at least one of their chances early on in the game. Not that anyone in Chiang Mai was complaining. What a result! Everyone there said that I wasn’t allowed to miss another home game now. As long as The Beast continues to hit five goals in every game I’m more than happy to keep going. No pressure mate…

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I thought it would be a good idea to get a picture of the scoreboard before the final whistle went and there was a mad rush. The Beast thought ‘Nah, I’m not having any of that’ and being the excellent bastard that he is, smacked in a fifth, because he can

Stop 39: Lapu Lapu Again, Final Few Days in The Philippines

Air conditioned minibus to Cebu for 100 Pesos? I’ll have some of that! I did get a bit car sick though as I had my bags on my lap the entire time (and my big bag is starting to stink as I put my dirty washing in the top compartment all the time) and on top of that I was doing a sudoku to pass the time which didn’t help the carsickness. I stopped the sudoku so I wouldn’t puke in the car and luckily that was a winning formula.

Once off the bus me, Lee, Harvey (Some random Australian bloke we met who was built like an absolute tank despite being 66…) and Harvey’s Filipino girlfriend got off the bus and went to a local ferry. A ferry I had no idea about.

Bear in mind the ferry to Bohol was 400 Pesos, this local ferry was a grand total of……. 14 Pesos. Yup; 14 fucking Pesos! Granted I had to pay a whopping 2 Peso ‘terminal fee’ as well, but we were off, and hopefully heading towards Lapu Lapu and not the bottom of the ocean…

We slowly pulled away and I joked with Harvey that with his tree trunk arms he could probably swim there quicker than the boat went so I had no idea why he was paying for a ferry ticket. He laughed, and possibly flexed…

And we made it to the west side of Lapu Lapu. We walked through the market to the main road where the jeepneys were and me and Lee said goodbye to Harvey The Machine and girlfriend of Harvey The Machine. During this time Lee was chatting away to a lovely looking Filipino girl. Don’t worry Hazel he wasn’t trying to get his end away (At least I hope he wasn’t…) He was talking to her as she was an English teacher on the island, and she said they were looking for native English teachers. So once he found out where the school was and we got to his house he was online messaging schools saying he’s a big time English teacher plucked from heaven sent down to teach English on an obscure Filipino island.

After that we had some lunch, Hazel (Lee’s wife) cooked us some pork with vegetables and pineapples. It was above average. Then someone mentioned that there was a festival going on in Lapu Lapu for reasons that can only be explained through 80’s references, so we went out in search for it.

It wasn’t hard to find. Just follow the crowd and the noise really… We watched secondary school kids perform some long drawn out musical routine. To be fair to them it was actually quite good, but it should have been 3-4 minutes long, not 20…

After buying some touristy things we went back to Lee’s and had some bacon and egg sarnies for dinner. Think of your favourite love ballad, that’s probably the way I would describe the bacon and egg sarnies…

The next day was my final day in the Philippines, and I wanted to show my gratitude to Lee and his family for how well they had treated me, and I knew they wouldn’t accept any money or me buying them dinner, so I bought them a fan. I knew they were struggling with the heat in their house so a fan was something that they’d actually use. Hazel wanted the standing fan and money was no object (only when the difference was literally $2) so I bought them that one. Then I bought Henley (Lee’s daughter) a McDonald’s ice cream. Henley asked for a strawberry sundae, and soon found out why I usually get the hot fudge one instead. She was eating it very slowly pretending she liked it when in reality she was most likely waiting for us all to look one way so she could launch it towards a bin or a homeless person (so he/she could eat it instead of course! Not to randomly abuse the needy. What kind of person do you think I am?)

Then Danny, the next door neighbour randomly popped his head around the door, saying that there was a ‘Mrs Gay’ ladyboy competition that evening (I’d rather not know what social circles he is in to know about this unprovoked…) and asked if we wanted to go. I thought it would be fun to go to on my last night in the Philippines, so we got ready and walked to where the competition was being held and got there at 7, when it was supposed to begin.

Except we were the only fuckers there! There wasn’t even any contestants, just a blinding spinning spotlight that would remind us it was there every 10 seconds. Hazel asked one of the judges when it was going to start and he didn’t know. Half an hour later we were still the only idiots there. Eventually the judge said ‘Maybe nine…’ so we cut our losses and went home. I had an early flight anyway that I had to get up for. So I watched the film ‘Bleed For This’ instead, and I must say I do not regret my decision…

So that’s it! The next stop is Thailand where I will be fart arsing around trying to get my work permit sorted. If everything goes to plan this will be the end of my travelling escapades for now, if it is too difficult to get the work permit sorted (which isn’t that far fetched, I’ve heard it is very difficult to get a work permit processed in Thailand nowadays…) then it may be a case of moving on and going somewhere else. Which of course could be the best thing that ever happened to me as you never know what is waiting for you in a place you’ve never been before. If you don’t believe me have a look back at what happened to me in Serbia…