Friday, 25 March 2011

The government want a photo of my toilet, and my girlfriend needs a new cushion!

It's true! They do!

If you've read the post 'Mai Dai!' you'll be aware of just how bureaucracy in Thailand can chuck spanners around like they're going out of fashion.

I've been involved in a house purchase in France, and I thought they liked 'hoop jumping' as a spectator sport until, that is, I ventured into dealings with the Thai government!

As you may know, we reached a somewhat convoluted compromise regarding the Title deed for our house in Chiang Saen
It's nothing special, but it has all the things we need. 
Two bedrooms, a large living space, a kitchen and, so as not to upset the government, a toilet!

After Bow took her sister and the man who sold us the house along to the land office to execute the afore-mentioned compromise, she returned home happy. She, at last, had the Chanote transferred. Not into her name but her sister's will do for now. "So," I said (13,000 baht lighter of pocket by the way!) "now you can take that to the bank, yes?" (we need to borrow a little for the wedding and they need to hold on to the Chanote as security) "Mai Dai!" she says. " Oh FFS!" I think to myself, what now?

Anyway, it transpires that we need to be allocated a house number. I had originally assumed (dangerous, I know) that, as the house had been previously occupied, and had a number, we wouldn't need to do this. Wrong!

We need to get the Amphur or Town Hall, to issue a new number, which first requires a visit to the local hospital. 

Yes, the hospital. 

With photos..........

...of the toilet.

By now, I've become very accepting of things, after all, it's not my country, it's not even on the same continent. Nothing of it's customs or culture bears much similarity to that of my country, it's language is very different, the rules are somewhat different, I'm used to it. But why does the hospital have anything at all to do with the registration of a house? I have to say, that one stumped me, as it did my friend in Bangkok. As opposed to the usual  "Ah yes, don't worry bro, it's normal, it's the Thai way" she was as perplexed as me! 

Turns out, it's a kind of health visit, we have them in England when you have a child, the Health Visitor comes and checks you out, they're making sure you're ok and they have a little snoop around your house to make sure it's big enough and clean enough for the baby. In Thailand, or at least in our little corner of it, you go to them, not when you've had a baby, but when you buy a house.

By now, Bow was getting used to these prolonged 'take a ticket and sit down all day and wait' visits to local government establishments and, much to the amusement of everyone present, brings a cushion with her! "Mai ow buart toot" (Don't want sore bum!) The hospital needs to issue a certificate, which is then taken to the Amphur, without this, no house number can be issued. The issuance of this certificate depends upon the house owner meeting certain criteria, which include, having enough space for everyone who will be living in the house, an understanding of general hygiene, and a toilet!

Quite how a photograph of a toilet guarantees that there is actually a toilet in the house was not clearly explained to me, but there we have it.

So, another day spent sitting on a cushion.

At the end of the following day, the hospital having spent four hours showing my girlfriend how to keep her house clean and take care of her children, something she's been doing very successfully for ten years now, granted the certificate and the nice people at the Amphur graciously allocated, after watching her sit on a cushion for another four hours, a house number.

I'm suddenly very sympathetic towards Thai postmen!
Numbers aren't allocated in a sequence, as in, number 1 is at the top of the road, the house next to it, or opposite it, is number 2 and so on. No. They're allocated in a sequence, yes, but it's the order in which they were registered at the Amphur, and it's changed every time the ownership changes.

So, we're now; 
383 Mu 5
Soi 6 
Ban Sob Kham, 
Thambon Wiang, 
Amphur Chiang Saen, 
Changwat Chiang Rai
57150 Thailand

Which is next door to 213 Mu 5 and diagonally opposite 252 Mu 5. 

Now I know why the postman just turns up in the Soi and shouts the name on the letter out until someone comes out!

Next week she's taking her cushion to the bank.


  1. I'm thinking of investing in a cushion of my own. On my last trip to LOS I did my fair share of sitting around whilst trying to sort the legal side of my marriage...Thai MFA & Kathu Amphur both became very familiar to me :(
    I'm sure there'll be more of the same on my next trip in September. I've tried adjusting to "thai time" and adopting the "mai bpen rai" attitude but sometimes I think they could do with a rocket up the #rse lol

    Its quite interesting about the house number allocation but again I guess thats "thai logic" for you. To be honest with all the superstition around in Thailand I thought it would have somehing to do with lucky numbers....something my wife is always on the lookout for, especially when its lottery ticket time :)

  2. Mate, we spent TWO DAYS in the Amphur up in Chiang Saen getting the marriage certificates! Luckily it's only 5 minutes from the house. I knew it was a bad sign when I saw all the 'presents' on the window sill behind the person who had the power to decide if it was going to happen or not. Sure enough, two bottles of whiskey later, he was all smiles 'yes yes no problem you get marry here, come back tomorrow'

    Still, it's done now :-)