Monday, July 25, 2016

Please help me raise some money

hey everyone!

I wouldn't normally ask, but I am desperate for a new scooter.  My back is real bad and so I am looking for a scooter with suspension!

Please donate to my cause!  donate now

It will allow me to continue blogging as well as keeping mobile.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

If you enjoy the video blogs, please consider supporting me

You know the site is free and these videos are free, but you must also know the website host and all the time spent recording editing and uploading isn't free.

I decided not to make a formal charge for membership because I am new to this and the subject matter is so important, it might put people off if they felt they had to pay a fee to join or view.

I saw on another website they were using Donations, and thought that's a really good way to go.  So, I adopted this method of funding, it is ideal for those of you who can spare a bit of cash and is also ideal for those who really can't afford anything because it means you all see the videos.


Go to this page and click the link, it's a Paypal account, totally safe and you don't need to join/sign up.  You can use debit and credit cards and there's no fee; I pay that bit (so please consider this when choosing an amount to donate. A very small donation - less than £5, will probably not result in a lot of money going to me).

Anyway, I appreciate your every donation and thank you in advance.  It will enable me to continue producing high quality video blogs.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Follow up from my blog post about Wetherspoons

It pays to make them aware, after I sent a copy of the blog post to their MD I have finally received this email back.

In my blog post, you'll find it here, I slammed the accessibility code of their establishments that made me feel like a second class citizen because I almost always needed to go around the back.

As they point out they tend to go for the quirky buildings, mostly with Listed status, and the excuse is that they cannot alter the surroundings.  Debatable.  In two examples I cited, there would be little or no obvious signs of change and it would allow for me to go in the front, with the rest of my party.

So here's the response:

"Dear Mr Wright
Thank you for your email to our CEO John Hutson, which has been passed to us for response.
Firstly may we apologise for the delay in our response to you.
All of your comments from your blog have been noted.
We can confirm it is our intention to seek the best possible access to all of our pubs and hotels. Wetherspoon prides itself on reusing old and often iconic buildings but this can bring challenges and issues with access as you mention, where possible adjustments will be made to ensure ease of access. 
We employ the services of a health and safety consultancy to conduct access audits for all of our new pubs and hotels. Access audits for our existing properties are conducted by our internal auditors. In addition, some of our pubs work closely with disability groups and charities on a local level.
As all of our pubs are unique, our customers are encouraged to give their feedback regarding any aspect of a pubs operation to the management team at the time of their visit. This enables any appropriate action to be taken on a local level.
Thank you for taking the time to contact us with your feedback.
We sincerely apologise once again for the delay in responding to you.
Yours sincerely
Customer Services
JD Wetherspoon plc "

Andy's National Trust Travel Blogs: Stonehenge

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Having to use the rear entrance makes me a second class citizen: Discuss?

Today's post was prompted by seeing a newly built Wetherspoons during filming a travel blog. I'd gone to Melksham and came across the Old Bear, which is now Wetherspoons owned.  I spotted the front door and inside there were at least three steps.  Naturally, I thought the disabled access will be around the back.  I did not see any signs referring me to the rear nor upon going towards the back (where there is outdoor seating) I did not spy a door or an obvious sign.

This is also a similar situation in Warminster.  This Wetherspoons is different because I know for sure there is a back entrance, cumbersome and involving a one person lift to lower a few feet.  It is difficult if you're entering alone because the door needs to be opened manually and then the lift only just takes my small scooter.  Negotiating it (before) was a fun experience.  Inside there is a ramped access to the rest of the pub and a disabled toilet tucked away in the corner.

My point, especially with the Warminster outlet, is the front entrance would not have required much alteration and in my opinion (i'm no builder) would be simple to do and within the confines of the entrance, which has an inner door to be opened manually.

The excuse as always will involve planning permission and the fact that some are "listed" buildings, which must maintain a facade unaltered to the original.  Let's face it, the Warminster outlet could have changes made that don't impact on the outward facade because the sloping part would not be seen from the outside.

I have never been in the Old Bear so I don't know the layout, but I have been in quite a few Wetherspoons and I do know the general design of them.

My objection to the "rear entry" approach is a big why?  First and foremost, where's the sign that says go around the back, and secondly why should it be necessary in 2016 and all of the disability access laws (although leaving the EU will give this government the opportunity to erode these rights).

I say why because it makes me feel that I am unworthy and not respected or appreciated enough.  It is a strong statement I know but it is just like apartheid, with a separate entrance for the blacks - in this case the disabled.

Let's not talk about some Wetherspoons that have token arrangements for disabled people, for example one in Swindon and the other in Poole.  Both have a lift to go down/up to the levels and in both establishments  it is completely necessary to traverse to that level in order to access the bar and hence order food.

So, why are they (usually) full up with stuff or in worst case scenario, out of order?   I am VERY lucky in that I use the scooter only for getting around and I can at least walk, and just about, use the stairs.   Once you're inside, both outlets have very helpful staff who are willing to assist you but firstly you need to get inside.

I have been told I need to ask for help, if necessary.  Do other customers need to ask?  No.  So, disabled people are now required to ask for help to access the same facilities as the non-disabled.  For me, this is an immediate turn off.

The get out clause is always, "most disabled have or can have a helper".  I don't and never have.  I have a wife but she's in Thailand and I'm sure she would be willing to help if she was here but why should I rely on her?

A lot of the outlets, for example Weston Super Mare, have tightly packed tables - which is good for business.  However, it usually means a 4-place table is occupied by a one or two person "drinker".  On most occasions at lunchtime (the usual time when you become hungry) I drive in and out due to finding no table free.  On the odd time when I do find a table,  I have no where to park the scooter (which isn't a big one so doesn't require a lot of space).

Then, in some outlets the disabled toilet is situated in a weird place, involving you to weave in and out of the tables, which is tricky when they are occupied.  One outlet required a table's occupants to move so I could open the door and use the toilet.  I'm lucky because I have my own RADAR key, which fits most of the locks in Wetherspoons and other food outlets.  But, why oh why, should you have to "ask" someone for a key - inconvenient if the person you need to see is behind the bar and you're desperate.

All in all, as a disabled person I do my best to adapt to my environment and is mostly achievable, but being seen as a second class citizen by society is harder to overcome.

Friday, May 27, 2016

My wife's tourist visa - update

So Monday I wrote to the Croydon complaints department of UK Immigration and they would have received it yesterday.  I specified my objections to the refusal and actually decided to include some outcomes with the idea that they can compensate me for wasting my time and money.

Here's my outcome requirements that I included with my complaint:

1)  A 6-month tourist VISA without having to submit another application to Bangkok or pay any more money
2) A  free upgrade to the visa from 6 Months (our application) to 2-Years (the next one up) as compensation for the inconvenience.
3) A refund of my fee (£91) for the inconvenience.
4) A payment of 5,000 baht (£100) by way of compensation, to cover the money I spent on bus ticket, hotel, taxi and food for my wife to go to Bangkok to deliver the pointless application.

Obviously, 1 and 2 are the bare minimum and 3 and 4 are possibly chancing my arm!   But, as the TV advert goes (Vodafone) "you get nothing unless you ask".

I am now awaiting the response, which may be a few weeks.  The good news and why I decided to go this route is entirely due to our UK friends and their wives.  One couple had their 6 month tourist visa refused and it went to court, which is free.  The guy attended at the time specified and he and the Judge were the only ones in the courtroom.  UK Immigration just sent a note giving the reasons and did not even bother to attend.  The Judge listened carefully to the guy's real explanations and then awarded the visa.  The Immigration department then have 28 days to appeal, which they didn't but it still took them a long time to issue the visa.

All in all 4-6 months.  I'm not really bothered how long, it is the principle that we're fighting - corruption and deception and politics, all things you would not expect of the UK system, but nevertheless true.   At least in foreign countries you would expect it, and could sort it with a wedge of cash.

I was told to let it go, it is the system and you have to work within the system. But the system is broke, unjust and corrupt.  The government get two lots of cash for all the ones who are refused and then decide to reapply - when conveniently the application is approved.  I have come across this sort of thing before and it does not scare me, it just makes me very angry and more determined.  It is not the faceless bureaucrats who have to live with the decision, it is real people with real lives.

Please show your support by liking and sharing the video and posts.  And wish us luck.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Do NOT go to BATH.....

If you do go, be careful where you drive.  BANES council love to scam money from the public for alleged offences, such as driving in a Bus Lane.  That's okay, providing you are aware it's a bus lane and is suitably signposted.

The Law is clear on signage -  and the place where I was allegedly caught driving in a BUS LANE does not have ANY of these.

My blog is about being ripped off and then when you refute it, they hang on to the notion that big corporate government is always right.

Of course I wrote to them when I got back and refuted the offence and asked for a refund of £30 that my sister paid for me because I was in Thailand.  She rightly was concerned I'd miss the deadline and end up paying more.

They wrote back with garbage about the signage having been checked in November 2012 and found compliant. Huh?  It's not even any of the ones shown on the website above!

The conclusion of the letter was a warning:  I could go to tribunal but if I lost they would claim another £30 on top of my original £30....


My reply was forthwith, "Do you really want to waste everyone's time?"   A friend had a similar PCN in 2013-14, in the same location, it went to tribunal and was cancelled on the grounds the signage was illegal - he used the information on the website above.

I await my £30 refund by return.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Professional Collaboration with similar businesses?

In Facebook you're given targeted adverts at the side.  One was "Accessible Thailand" so I clicked through to investigate.

I decided to contact them with a view of collaborating on articles and information and I was pleasantly surprised by the positive response.  I have therefore put the link to their site, where they offer package deals to Thailand, on my website and here - Accessible Thailand

For the most Thailand, like any non-EU country, the situation for disabled awareness is not always the best.  This has begun to change and improve for the better, driven in part by Westernisation and tourism.

Disabled people are there but not always seen or if they are they are forced to beg on the streets.  Not just in Thailand but for example Moscow.  Often I saw people, generally amputees, on the metro collecting cash from passengers.   I saw a few disabled people out and about but to be fair, the plethora of steps would be the nemesis of wheelchair users (just as the Daleks couldn't traverse them until quite recently) who would face a mobility nightmare in Moscow.

While in Moscow I did meet one lady, a powered wheelchair user, with a respectable well paid job. She, like myself, was looking for a dating partner however at the end of our meeting she told me she would be holding out for the tall, dark rich American so a relationship wasn't on the cards.  However, in conversations I gained an insight into travel for disabled people in Russia, especially those in wheelchairs.  They can access "dial a ride" that is an accessible taxi, unfortunately one  of very few and in high demand - plus not reliable on the time keeping front.

Thailand, the country where family is important.  People are taken care of in the family, not farmed off to care homes or "living independently" in "adapted" accommodation.  Just as with any family member, the citizens live at home and are looked after by family members.

One time I was at a restaurant with the wife and niece, we heard screaming and splashing of water from behind the partition. No one took any notice, not even the customers.  Later a woman, possibly 20-30 years old appeared from behind the partition, dripping wet.  I determined she had CP (having it myself) from the appearance plus additional needs.  A lady came over and shuffled her back behind the partition and encouraged the water play, watching for while.  Whenever the woman started becoming loud, the other lady "shhh"ed her, but eventually departed for other duties.

Another time I visited a water park and swimming pool.  Obvious by the appearance, a family gathered near one of the shallow pools with a young girl in a wheel chair.  All family members assisted the girl into the water and helped her swim a little.   No one took any notice, well no one except me.

At another restaurant, (we did a lot of eating), a car pulled up and a man retrieved a "walker" from the boot for his disabled wife, who I could see clearly was suffering from the aftermath of stroke.  

Health Care is a paid for service in Thailand, no free NHS. All those belittlers of the NHS need to go abroad and access healthcare for a while, they would soon stop moaning.

The pavements are terrible and you'll be better in the road.  I found obstacles in the middle of the pavement, gaping holes and slabs out of line, so pretty much dangerous for me.  They do make an effort with curb side ramps, but they are usually steep.

As in my hotel, a recent build, the front has steps up.  Whoever designed the hotel obviously had no idea regarding disabled visitors and there are no Laws governing accessibility.  At this hotel, there is a "ramp", but it is best used for a "slide", it is very very steep.  The same goes for Moscow.

So, I think the point is, if you're a website of similar aims then I am looking for you to reciprocate the links and to work together for the common good.  Contact me via the website contacts page.

In the meantime give the Accessible Thailand site a whirl, maybe you'll be jetting to The Land of Smiles very soon.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Visa for UK from non-EEA country

Let  me tell you a story. It is a story of discrimination and subterfuge in which I am a involuntary player.  When I became involved in this story, I had no prior knowledge of the system or events leading us to our current place, where we wait with bated breath for a result.

Knowing as I do, my fears are such that the deliberate sabotage of application by visa staff (VFS Global, on behalf of the UK Immigration Department) due to "unwritten" quotas, means that our latest application will probably be returned as refused.

This is a situation that is wrong.  If you complete a lengthy application and provide all necessary documentation, it should go through for review and decision and not have some lackey try to find an excuse to reject it.

Yes, it happens.  The staff can take out part of the paperwork and tell you that you don't need it, yet upon refusal you find the reason was because the part removed was required. There's no refund of your fees.

In our case the photographs (we had specially made) were given back as not required.  After checking it out on the Visa website I discovered the rules had changed for those offering biometrics in their application and photos are no longer needed.  Phew.

Other nasty tricks are to ask loaded questions of seemingly naive Thai ladies who may not have experienced the underhanded nature of visa application staff who only have one thing on their mind.

For example, they will ring up the lady and request they answer questions such as who they are visiting (full names and ages), places and distances, where these places are (in terms of time - 2 hours from London), etc.  My lady was prepared for this and had a written list of answers, such as the names of my parents, the house address, the layout of the house, what she intended doing while staying with me, etc.  We think they did call but luckily it was cut off upon answering.

This time she was asked questions about the visa type and some of the conversation appears to fit the bill of sabotage, simply because all the answers were in the application the purpose of the questioning being to find an excuse for refusal by trickery.

A lot of the visa application companies spend a long time with the ladies coaching them what to say but also what they must not say.  Ours has become complacent and disinterested in us and the advice (or lack of it) means I will not be using them again. This time around there was very little coaching and my request for help subsequently has so far been disregarded.

Even with a history of a successful 6 month visit (well actually 5 months because the tight-assed Immigration Department back date the visa to the date of application, which was 3 weeks prior) the next applications are still precarious and treated separately.

This time we'd like to have applied for the 2 year tourist visa however in the space of the Songkran holiday (4 days), the option had been removed from the selection process on the website.  It meant that only a one-off  6 month visa was available and also means that further applications would be necessary in the future.

Any non-EEA citizen has to show they have the financial funding (or support) for the duration of the trip, a return ticket and a desire to return to their home country (a job or family ties or both) plus the basics of being a visitor to the UK includes knowledge of the destination.

I despair why foreign people bother coming to the UK, the whole process is humiliating and degrading.  Yes, the UK doesn't want every tom dick and harry, but I believe it is a little late for that, when all and sundry can come from Europe with no limits or requirements, such as being able to speak English.

Don't get me started on the settlement visa requirements, that include having an English examination certificate!

Let's also not talk about the sponsor's (e.g. ME) income criteria that stands at £18,600 per year that the government have set.  Even as full time employed, I never earned that level of salary.  You cannot apply for a visa if the sponsor doesn't have that income.  To be fair, the income can be made of separate sources.

Luckily for me there is (at the moment) a get out clause for those such as myself who are on DLA benefit; we don't need to meet this level of income, which you must prove in writing.

Finally, I must mention the Landing Card... I have no doubt it is a piece of documentation with the goal of making it as difficult as possible for people.  This card is given out on the aircraft shortly before arrival.  It is in English and according to research I did it must be completed in English.  There are translations to French and Spanish, but this card is for NON - EEA countries and at last glance, France and Spain were in the EU and not required to complete these waste of space documents!

So, if you're Non-EEA, the likelihood is English, French and Spanish will not be your first language, although arguably French and Spanish could be for some countries!  In the case of Thailand, none of these fit.

My wife is expected to complete this on her own and will be asked if she did it herself or someone else did it for her (not that she would be able to understand the conversation).  All the information is available in the passport.  To even board the plane she has to show the visa, which gives permission to arrive in the UK, and that shows the duration and other information.

God forbid you tell them you're staying for six months (on a six month visa).  No, the advice we got was to tell them 2 weeks maximum.  But, logically, if they looked at the return ticket they'd see it wasn't two weeks... Which, would then get you deported because you lied.

On this trip my wife will be coming through UK Border alone.  I will be very annoyed if she doesn't make it through without hassle, because they will, it's guaranteed, ask questions such as "how long are you staying?" (it's on the landing card),  "where are you staying?" (its on the landing card).

I was at the airport recently and I observed them asking the very same questions of some Australians. Last time I answered for her, because she came through with me and I was able to tell the guy "she doesn't speak English" but I wont be there this time .

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Some delicious recipes

Saw this book in Bangkok airport and immediately thought of all the innuendos that you're currently thinking. Admit it..?

 I think someone should have told her about how the translation works in English...

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The end of a series (Thailand 2016)

Yes, indeed, it is the end of the series.  My Thailand blogs are finished.  I have had issues throughout with copyright claims for music I used on the videos, which was especially annoying because all the music is copyright and royalty free.

Other legit claims, I have not disputed, were because I had the radio or TV playing in the background and these generated claims.

Making videos is not easy. Especially when you aim to produce one a day, which in this case was wholly impossible within the time frame. I have just caught up, 8 days after returning to the UK.  It's the time involved in making them where I fell on unrealistic ground, with the editing taking the least time, well, 3-4 hours for 18 minutes of video...

The rendering is the longest process.  One video of 28 minutes took over 5 hours to complete and then another 2 hours to upload.  The last one, Oasis Sea World took over 10 hours to finish and upload,  that's 7.5 to render!

Please like and share any or all, but above all please subscribe.  Lastly keep watching because this is just the first of many, and throughout the 28 days I have gained invaluable experience of video blogging.

My only changes for future series would be to have a dedicated camera person with the same vision of end product who can just take charge of filming...  and some sort of stedicam...

Thanks again for watching and see you soon.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Travel Blog: THAILAND day 21

Trip Advisor Reviews

Here's my page with reviews from the start of 2012, for a variety of places all around the globe.

Spraying of Aircraft coming home to UK

One thing I really hate about returning from Thailand is the "requirement" to spray the cabin - a thing I had no idea about until my first trip. It is apparently deemed safe by the "WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION" (as if I trust a body like that) yet it is chemical pesticide in a pressurised environment...

"Is the spray harmful to passengers? What can passengers do to prevent being effected by the spray?
The spray used by airliners is not harmful to passengers says the WHO.

According to South African Airways, passengers irritated by the spray can, “Cover their noses, mouths and eyes until it is over”. Huh, very helpful.....

It is dangerous for asthma sufferers and as far as I can understand is completely pointless process. What about the stuff in your cases, bugs and things? Do they spray your bags as well? All I can see is a way to poison you with very little choice.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Travel Blog: THAILAND day 11

Travel Blog: THAILAND day 10

Was this the seedier side of life?

Songkran is in full swing.  It is Thailand's new year over 3 days, where the norm is to soak everyone with water. hoses, buckets, guns!

Its a fun family atmosphere and last night, as we negotiated the streets of Khon Kaen there was  a party atmosphere. Our friends and myself and Tad went to the Tiki Tiki bar, which was also frequented by "farang" foreign men.  Most of them fell into the "old and overweight" category, all of them looking for that good time Thai girl.

One particular English chap took my focus as he chatted with my friend and I (or mostly my friend whom he met the day before).  He was with a stunningly beautiful Thai lady, although not stood close together it was obvious. He was short, bald but average sized, and in my opinion would have the right appeal to attract the ladies.

I notice things and one thing i saw was the absence of rings.  During the chat we talked about relationships and how it was with dating.  It came out these people had been together for 5 years and he comes to Thailand 4-5 times a year, which is more than myself - I cant spare the time or afford it.

During conversations about visas and stuff, we talked about how difficult it is to get one. I asked him had he taken his girlfriend to England, and he said no.  The bombshell reason for not doing so and game changer for me with this chap, was when he confidently announced he was married.

Maybe I am small minded, a prude or something else, and of course there could be other factors such as they could be separated or whatever, but I just stopped liking him.  I know when I was going through divorce, I could not envisage being "separated" for longer than necessary.  It just struck me, maybe he was in the seedier side of life which I don't want to see, or perhaps a normal chap experiencing a good time.

People do go to places for "sex" and this is a place where it could happen.  I just hope he has found a lady who doesn't share similar ideas about relationships, because it is a possibility that I foresee could happen where he is not the only farang on her contact list.

Update: we met up next day while meeting Mike and Mam, at the Kosa restaurant. During overheard conversations it became obvious to me the Thai lady was unaware of his inappropriate activities and though none of my business I had an overwhelming urge to tell her to beware,  because I had some nice conversation with her and detected the blissful naivety of her situation to which  she was an unwilling participant.  I knew the signs of two timing, having been in circumstances where I led a double life of marital deception, and saw this man's actions were the same. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Delayed blogs

Just a quick note to say sorry for the delay in blogs. We've had a few early starts and this is causing a backlog from 3 to 5 days now.

It takes on average, 3 hours to create the blog and then 2-3 hours to render.  Then about 30-60 minutes to upload.

Usually I let most happen during sleep time and when I get up for toilet breaks I put the blog in the next mode.

I am currently working on day 10.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Day 7 written blog

who knows what is in store today, but it started early 630am and went through to 830am with inconsiderate young female teens running up and down the corridors, talking and shouting and slamming doors.  It looks like this phenomenon is a world wide experience.

Oh well, back to bed for some more sleep, now they've all left.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Travel Blog: THAILAND day 3

Day 6 written blog

We are off to kumphawapi today, to meet with the people who introduced us and helped with a visa last year. We're going to ask about another one, but I have reservations because of the cost and liklihood that it is  an ideal direction to be going in when we should be looking at living here instead.

The meeting I had at the university with the trainer for TEFL went ok, if not strangely with the guy not even remembering my name and that I said I was coming to see him that day but also the name change on the door to the office, which made finding it harder.

Managed to complete day 3 video now rendering. Will be uploaded later.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Day 5 written blog

Well yesterday went back to the Big C to try and get the MIFI sorted.  I took Fern who is a partial English speaker to help me translate, and good job too because the girl who served me, who also had partial English wasn't on shift.  Anyway after some too-ing and fro-ing, we determined it was my fault.

I had forgotten about the changing of the password for the MIFI at home via my computer.  Once I reset to default, and put in an updated one, I could then amend the settings to allow the MIFI to roam on the sim.

Basically, I now have internet for my phone, with 12gb data.  I will try not to use it to upload videos

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Day 4 written blog

So, got home and tried to do some video work but far too tired so went to bed. In the morning started to render but it would have been 3 hours, plus another couple to upload so at 50% stopped because Tad wanted to go.

The plan today is to go back to Big C and get the mifi sorted, then take the kids to the water park to swim. It's a good 90 minute drive to what is the zoo, but is also a water park with multiple pools and will be busy.

Right now it's fried rice with prawns for breakfast.

Hopefully I can render overnight so there will be a video later.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The best laid plans

Well, having planned to upload a daily blog I have failed miserably. This has several reasons, mostly due to the internet.

I was up doing the first blog at 5am, having woken with back pain; I had gone to bed at 10pm and slept through with no problems, but woke and had a combination of pain and a need for toilet. I decided that I wasn't going to sleep again so stayed up. After nearly 4 hours the epic first issue wasn't finished and still isnt, and now tonight, I have another day's filming done.

I went to the true move shop and got them to install a sim into my unlocked mifi, which you can discover but does not give you internet. It was a 12gb package  for one month and it connected however only when i got home did i see the problem.

I also finally got the hotel wifi to connect simply because neither understood the password given by staff at check in.

I will talk more about the hotel later but sleep beckons me.

Monday, March 28, 2016

It's Coming! One day and one night left

One whole day and tonight left.  I decided to pack the case today and it all fitted - but with several things left behind. You know, you always take too much and when you get there you tell yourself never again, but do the same.

So, this time I got rid of some stuff.  However I also have a few gifts that I won't have on the way back so it should be lighter.

I also have the camera kit and tripod (the monopod with legs is not working - the legs fold up and don't lock any more). I tested the tripod in Imber and it was okay, but I did have the scooter and I wasn't walking much with it.  The reason I wanted the monopod is because there are only 3 clips to extend the leg, whereas you have 3 clips x 3 legs on the tripod.  Also a little lighter and smaller. It is as non-spontaneous pain.

As far as weight is concerned, there is a dilemma, though.  Thai Air allow 30kg London to Bangkok.  They used to run the Khon Kaen route, and it was 30kg.  But end of last year the Thai Smile (allegedly a different company after splitting from Thai Air) now runs the route, but only give 20kg. I spotted this after buying the ticket, and having made a mistake with the return flight, the cheap ticket became dearer following a revision charge.

Before, it was easier. Same carrier, one web site, one booking.  This one involved finding a slot near to arrival but not too close due to reasons mentioned later.  Thai Smile have already changed the time slots by 10 minutes for my flight, luckily it is in my favour on the way out but not on return.  It will give less time for re-check in but hopefully it should be smoother outbound as there isn't as much customs.

My main suitcase is approximately 21-22kg. I have a rucksack of presents plus my camera case and separate tripod.   Basically, I will put money on them trying to charge me money for over weight baggage.  I know what the system is like.

There is little choice for Bangkok to Khon Kaen unless you change airports. Then, Air Asia are cheap but charge per bag per kilo, so that could be expensive.  I think Smile also run from the second airport too, but there is also Bangkok air which are quite good, Nok air (another budget airline) as alternatives.  The transfer would be best by Taxi and is a fair way, I know because I have driven it or by bus.

However, this time as per every other, I am staying put in Suvarnaphumi.  I have a tight window of 4-5 hours to transfer, which is pushing it.   There's customs, baggage reclaim, check in (domestic) and security again all while being wheel chaired through by customer service assistance (who generally don't speak English).

The video blogging will begin in earnest, Wednesday at 6am.

here's the link, go subscribe, put your feet up and follow along with the daily blog....

SHORTS: thailand upcoming blogs promo (coming soon)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport acolade

I saw on my facebook page that the airport I go to quite a lot is number 36.  At first glance of the article it said 5th, I  am pretty sure.  However, upon loading this I see it is actually 36, up from 49!

Anyway, worthy award for a nice airport.

Friday, March 18, 2016

10 things I didn't know about Thai Culture

Thai culture can be a little strange to outsiders at times, and many Thai customs and traditions take some getting used to.

From men not washing women’s underwear to it being bad luck to nap at 6pm, I’ve heard some weird and wonderful things, not all of them understood by or even heard of by some of the Thais I know.
Like dialect in Thailand, customs differ from region to region, and on your travels up and down the country, you’re likely to come across many a different custom and tradition.
thai culture
Here’s a list of 10 you may or may not have heard before…

1. Unopened Gifts

Should you visit a Thai home and take a present for your host, you may find it is put on the side and left unopened. Don’t be offended by this, though. It’s actually considered rude to rip the present open there and then in front of the giver. A Thai person is more likely to wait until you have left to open the gift. This is part of  the “grengjai” custom (in consideration of).

2. Asking a Ghost’s Permission

Historically, overnight visitors to a Thai home were requested to ask permission from the phra phum (spirit ghost of the land) to stay in the house. The visitor would then be asked to thank the ghost when they left. This custom still exists in some rural areas of the country, but you probably won’t be asked to do this as a foreigner. However, some Thais will even perform this ritual before going to sleep in a hotel room.

3. Keeping Your Cool

Raising you voice is unacceptable in Thailand, and considered an act of losing control. Me and a couple of friends caused quite a stir once in Chiang Mai when debating current affairs at the table of a restaurant. Quiet and humble is always the best approach in the Kingdom; you certainly won’t achieve anything by becoming aggressive or loud. Jai yen yen (cool heart)instead of Jai rawn (hot heart)

4. Wearing a Bra

As a foreign women in Thailand, you will see women, particularly in Bangkok, dressed in short skirts, heels and backless tops, and often think, “that’s a bit dressy just to go to the mall”! This may appear as a green light to dress liberally, but in actual fact, as a foreign women, you should always exercise modesty if you want to be perceived in a good light.
The perception of western women is one of a highly sexed bunch who like to let it all hang out, a notion borne out of western movies and different cultural upbringing, and therefore, not wearing a bra underneath your vest top with your nipples poking through or cleavage hanging low, is likely to cause a fair few looks of judgement .
It may feel a little contradictory as you see a Thai lady walk past with shorts on shorter than your knickers, but that’s just one of those “Thainess” things you’re going to have to get past to enjoy your holiday.

5. Pregnancy Taboos

Pregnant women in Thailand will generally avoid visiting the sick, eating chilies and fishing. Chillies, I guess, are bad for the baby, visiting sick people might make you or your baby sick, and fishing…hmmm, no idea.

6. Take Off Your Shoes, Always!

Shoes must be taken off upon entering someone’s home. Even if you get a “mai pen rai” (no problem/it’s okay), still take them off! Shoes walk on the ground and pick up all manner of dirt. A no-brainer really.

7. Don’t Touch The Head

Don’t touch anyone on the head unless you want trouble. You may see Thais rubbing kids on the head, but I would refrain from this unless the child is in your extended family and a bond has been established. In contrast to feet, the head is considered the sacred part of the body and not to be touched without permission; certainly don’t put your feet near someone’s head!

8. Don’t Point!

Pointing is a no-no in Thailand. Your Thai friends won’t take offence if you point when joking around, as they will understand that as a foreigner you may point instinctively. However, don’t point at monks or pictures of any of the Royal Family, and as a general rule don’t point at people to make reference to them. If you need to point (indicate) someone out, instead of extending your finger, bend your hand downwards with your fingers leaning toward the floor and your palm facing upward.

9. Paying For Meals

If Thailand the inviter pays for the meal. In cases where it is unclear who the inviter was, the superior will usually pay. Remember, if you are going on a date with a Thai woman, don’t think going “Dutch” is an option. It isn’t, and you may well be seen as tight (kee-nee-ow) for expecting to split the bill. In this part of the world men pay the way on the dates, I’m afraid.

10. Ducking Down When Walking Between Two People

You’ll see the majority of Thais duck down slightly when passing in front of two people engaged in conversation. It’s a polite gesture of respect to acknowledge the interruption. The same applies if you walk past a person and block out their vision for a split second.
This list is a fairly brief overview, and there’s  a ton of other customs and traditions out there. There’s also likely to be variations and completely different customs found as you travel between regions. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Thailand is nearly here

So, with 15 days left to go until my trip back to Thailand to visit the wife, I am not getting too excited because I still have another week or so of working.  Once it is the weekend of the 26 / 27, then I shall be becoming more excitable!

I'm still trying to put into place the mechanisms for blogging. You'll see the majority of blog entries here have been video entries from the You Tube channel. My aim is to produce a daily blog of videos of my time in Thailand.  I'm not sure how this will work out as I often spend a long time editing videos, although to be fair I do wake up early most days.  Instead of facebooking I can edit and upload videos!

I have a MIFI device, which I purchased on Ebay and is unlocked (but actually O2, the same network I am already with). So the first job is to get a sim card with True Move (the better of the two) for one month's unlimited data. This is going to be a challenge simply because my Thai is non-existent, my wife's English not much better.... Hey Ho, that's what the English speaking nephew is for.

My website is nicely updated and I'm quite pleased with the outcome.  I have yet to do the forum but it can wait for a while.

Details for future reference:

Travel blog site,

You Tube Channel, (Travel Playlist)

You Tube (just the user name)  /soyoukan/

This blogger page

Please go and subscribe to the You Tube channel and return often to see the daily reports, as from 31 March.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016


Well there's 29 days to go before I go to the country 6,000 miles away where my wife lives. I am planning on vlogging every day, but my experiments with travel blogs has been a technical disaster of equipment failures.. so I have just ordered new kit, an EOS Rebel T5 1080p camera DSLR with a Rode microphone. I will need to take my tripod, extra hassle as I'm going to the airport on the train this time rather than a £120 taxi.  I hope it will be here in time for me to practice!

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Second day back to the day job

Yes, as expected, yesterday was knackered after teaching 3 sessions following a long time on holiday.  Second day working today but need to find time to finish the update to the website destinations pages. Want to have a go at video  blogging at some point in preparation for when I am in country so to speak.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

New year, new blogging platform

I have tried to make "andywrightonline" all a bit more consolidated, especially as I want to go in new directions with the stuff I already have, rather than my usual of adding more to the portfolio. So, my website has been redesigned and the blog revived and the usp changed. Updating will be easier becuse I can now blog from the tablet and phone.  So, as from now this will be all about travel,  with the underlying flavour being about disabilities and travel. Please like and share my website but above all come back regularly, read the blog, contribute to the forum and enjoy the exploits of my world wide travelling extravaganza.