I had an appointment with my visa attorney this morning and decided to do double duty since his office is next door to Makro Food Service. The store is several miles up the road but two songtoew taxis just sped by me as I waited on the sidewalk along the main road. So I grabbed a motorcycle taxi and actually passed one of those songtoews on the way.
More on the visa process below.
I had been in the Makro two weeks ago but just did a quick look-see. This time I brought along my trusty backpack and planned to splurge a little. I walked pretty much every aisle just to see what was available. The Asian spices.sauces and ingredients section was very interesting, if only I knew what to do with them. I did pick up some sweet chili sauce and will experiment with that soon.
Makro is primarily a bulk goods store, like Sam’s Club in the U.S. Restaurant owners like to shop here for volume discount buys, but there were a lot of expats and Thais just stocking up their own kitchens.
The store is super clean, lots of cart room, and it has some amazing items. There’s a meat section where you pick your own chicken or pork, put it in a bag and have it weighed. Also a full-service fresh seafood area. While I had to be cognizant of how much weight I would be carrying back, I did indulge in some binge buying – blackberry jam, fillet duck parts (tomorrow’s dinner, plus 4), six large shrimp (tonight’s dinner), Parmesan cheese (first time I’ve seen it here), sour cream (also first time), popcorn.
I also bought 4 cans of tuna and some ham for sandwiches, salt (had some but this is the first time I’ve seen it in shakers, although I had to buy six), instant coffee, sandwich rolls, room freshener, rosemary ($1 for a large bag), canned corn (3), about a pound and a half of ground pork, three chicken filets, 4 tomatoes and 4 potatoes. Total bill was just over $60.
Many of the items appear to be less expensive than at the Tesco market, although you might have to buy several, like the corn and tuna. But that stuff’s not going bad in a can. The chicken was the same price as Tesco’s day-old offering, the pork was cheaper than Tesco, the seafood looked fresher and was priced at least the same as Tesco.
I have to say it was difficult not to buy a lot of the items they have, but I had a half-mile walk ahead of me once I hailed a taxi, so I had to be prudent. Lots of this stuff will last me for some time, so the $60 was cheap.
Visa – the next step
My visa attorney wanted to meet me to make sure I had all my paperwork in order before going to immigration next week to apply for a 90-day extension. I needed my income affidavit from the U.S. Embassy (got that last week), my rental agreement and two other documents from my landlord (check) and six passport photos (check). With the income affidavit I do not need proof of having a certain amount deposited in a Thai bank, but that will come in handy later.
My attorney will set up an appointment next week, and with the help of his partner and a $30 bribe, we will get to the head of the line. This should be pretty routine and will show me the process for when I have to go through all this again in 90 days, which is why when I had my passport photos made I ordered 12 instead of six.
However, in 90 days my income affidavit will not be usable, meaning I have two choices – either go to Bangkok again and visit the U.S. Embassy again to get another income affidavit, or go to my Thai bank in Hua Hin, deposit 1,000 baht ($30), and ask for a certificate that I will pick up the next day. I had done this already when I opened the account but it has to be done within a week of making the extension application. This is why I’m paying for some help – no where is this kind of information available that I can find. I should mention here that 4 weeks after opening my bank account I still have not received my password in the mail and cannot access my account.
The attorney fee is 3,000 baht, plus the 1,000 baht bribe, plus 1,900 baht for the extension. In 90 days, I will have to pay another 1,900 baht (and maybe another bribe), but I should be able to do the process without my attorney’s help. Then, I will be applying for a one-year non-immigrant retirement visa, renewable annually (with the same cumbersome processes started all over again). That extension will give me a total of 17 months – initial 30-day tourist visa, 30-day extension, 90-day extension and one-year extension).
You really can’t make this stuff up.