This Blog Ain’t Dead Yet

June 26, 2017

Moribund, but not dead. I’ll revive it for a possibly too detailed account of the quest for a residence visa to where ever the next country is. Portugal looked good enough on first impression. I’m headed back for 2 weeks in Sept, by way of Vienna, to venture into the suburbs of Porto and Lisbon so as to simulate some day to day resident behavior.

In the meantime, here are Ideas for blog posts I rejected almost as fast as they appeared.


Also known as cholesterol in saturated fat.



No one cares this lie flat airline seat has a cubby hole for your shoes.



Top can has 3 big sardines. Bottom can has “12-22” svelte, pliant ones. They’ve only been sold in Hua Hin for a few months. They are far less likely to trigger my stomach acid problems, so I’m stockpiling them. Why? Calcium and heart-healthy oils.



Sprained my right ankle. Got a Slab put on today. It’s rigid cast material that runs down the calf to the heel, then across sole to in front of toes. Front is open so I can remove it to shower. It’s held on by an Ace bandage. Crutches are going to suck.



I passed on buying this in Portugal because I thought the fun would immediately wear off unless one was drunk enough.

2017 Shoehorned Sandwich

February 12, 2017

My trip folder names are boring. 2014 Fall – Japan, for example. I broke the pattern with 2015 Fall – Slovenian Splurge because it just fit. The trip formerly known as 2017 Spring – Portugal has become 2017 Shoehorned Sandwich.

May looked good for Portugal because it warms up and dries out as Spring progresses (duh, just like most places). My stopover city on the way home, Paris, is less desirable in late May because the French Open adds demand for accommodations. Who knew Springtime in Paris was a thing?

Google Images of Paris parks in Spring

So I shoehorned the trip between the start of the Open, and a date reached by subtracting the number of nights I wanted in Portugal and Paris. I can’t remember doing such precise travel date setting since retiring, except when traveling with a friend from the US of A.

What about the Sandwich?  I’ve kept trying and failing to add more unplanned days to my trips. Actually, more nights without booked places to sleep. I started planning this trip with the best of intentions: book 1 night before and after flights. Immediately remembered budget places near metro stations in Paris sell out early. Booked all nights in Paris when I bought the airline tickets in early Dec.

OK, so first night Lisbon will be easy – but – the next day is a public holiday, so first 2 nights. The more I read about Lisbon, the less it seemed like a relaxing place in which to recover from let jag, uh, jet lag. Lisbon has an extensive light rail system. One line ends at Cascais, a former fishing town that became a weekend and day-trip destination from Lisbon. It shouldn’t be warm enough for beach goers in April, so I’m in.

Google Images of Cascais

The last night is in Porto. Easy. Done. Except the oldest part of the city, the one of most interest to tourists, is on steep hills.

Google Images of Porto

Damn, my knees are older than the rest of my body. The best value budget sleeps nearest metro and bus stations were down to their last few rooms. I added 2 more nights. My knees thanked me.

Good, that left many unbooked nights – but – while putting the bookings on a calendar I saw I’d noted May Day when deciding on flight dates. Not just a big public holiday, a 3 day weekend. Plan was on the 3rd day to head south to the Algarve region on the Southern coast. It’s the warmest and driest part of the country. Plan was to stay 3-5 nights, but that meant moving on during a 3 day weekend. No thanks. I needed a Plan B.

OMG. Sintra is a 30 minute bus ride from Cascais and it’s on a rail line to the Algarve via Lisbon.

Google Images of Sintra

I had figured to hit it in mid trip as I meandered north to Porto. It works better making it the second stop then doing a base camp over the long weekend in Faro as the third stop. Faro is a good transport hub for day trips in the Algarve and interesting in itself.

Sintra is on steep hills, budget sleeps in or near the flat area by the train station… you know the rest. Booked 2 nights in Sintra, 4 in Faro. Aargh.

Adding Faro and Sintra to my calendar removed the aargh because then I saw the filling of the sandwich: Ten unbooked nights in a row in a relatively small country. Woo hoo.

My Cost of Living in Thailand – 2016

January 11, 2017

I’m sorry Ladies and Gentlemen, there’s no reason to do this post here(1). Past cost of living posts were intended to be informative. Also, as I stated in the first post 8 years, 5 months and 15 days ago, all posts are for my use too. In 2016 my spending changed significantly and atypically, so it doesn’t seem like others would find it useful. Besides, most categories stayed the same.

Medical expenses increased, to be expected following a heart attack. The most expensive drug prevents the immune system from treating my stents as foreign objects. Yeah, that’s worth it and will be for the next 2 and a half years I’ll be on it.

Food costs jumped because ingredient labels in Thailand are mostly fiction. Replacing palm oil with heart healthy oils required shopping at the supermarket with imported goods, priced for those who just can’t face life without their favorite foods from home.

Camera spending increased because I picked up 2 more camera lenses. They’re faster and sharper ones which duplicated focal lengths of lenses I already had. Did I need them? Nope. Did I want them? Yep. Will my photos improve? Nope, though I will be able to shoot in lower light than without them. Now, because this blog has too many posts without images, the 2 newbies:


When I saw the average spent per month on travel I thought it couldn’t possibly be correct. It was, because I’d forgotten buying tickets in December for 2 trips this year. I hadn’t forgotten they weren’t Economy class tickets. I’ve always had trouble sleeping on flights. With age, that’s had greater impact on travel fatigue. As I suspected, upgrading has made sleep easier with less jet lag. Also, seems priority boarding and disembarking will be useful on one of these:


(1) Paraphrasing one of the best improvised actions by a guest on SNL disrupting a live show that had been timed to the second He wasn’t invited back for almost 12 years.

Old Man Squinting

December 14, 2016

I’ve finished what was to be the next post. There aren’t enough photos in this blog, so here is something barely worth posting.

Aging eyes and growing cataracts means to read my phone while wearing single focus lenses, I first slide them down nose, then peer over the top. Bigger fonts on a bigger screen was the answer for when I wasn’t wearing reading glasses.

My 3 smartphones: HTC 2011, S4 2013, J7 2016:


Believe it or not, the J7 is my fifth mobile phone in 20 years.

Australia In March

December 13, 2016

About a month ago I had the idea of spending a week relearning how to fly a sailplane. Why? For the fun of one last fling in the air. For travel with a purpose. For something to spend on with my Social Security checks, which start in January.

Australia and it’s impending summer were the obvious choice. Near Melbourne is a gliderport that’s next to a small town serviced by bus and train. However, its weeklong learn to soar programs were booked well into the months that are way too hot for me. Maybe next year.

But I wanted to get outta town, outta Thailand and outta SE Asia for a couple weeks before my TBD spring trip. The answer kept coming up New South Wales and Victoria in March, the beginning of their Autumn. So I now have a round trip ticket to Sydney for 14 nights. No plan yet except Sydney – somethings – Melbourne – somethings – fly from Melbourne to Sydney.

Maybe the weather will cooperate, allowing a day of sailplane lessons.

Oops. Spain is Back on the List.

November 27, 2016

Ah, the dubious pleasures of trying to learn something from the Internet. Didn’t help that I had a 2 spreadsheet errors plus a brain fart. <:-|  I’ll try again.

It took a bleep-load of digging to learn enough about Spanish income taxes to post a meaningful meaningless comparison. I dug some more, verifying from disparate sources. Then I plugged some realistic numbers for income (IRA withdrawal), interest, dividends, capital gains and Social Security into a calculator. I’d owe Uncle Sam about $13,000. No state tax because my domicile is in Florida.

Spanish income tax is simple enough to use a spreadsheet, but the first time I screwed it up anyway. I knew the tax was going to be more from the much higher rates and smaller standard deduction. Also knew the double taxation treaty said I’d owe Spain only the difference between Spanish and US tax laws. That’s $10,600 $8,000 more. (Lower this time because I correctly excluded Social Security.)

Spain has a wealth tax on worldwide assets. Uh, some autonomous regions have a wealth tax. Pensions (which includes IRAs) are excluded from assets. No wealth tax for me in any foreseeable future.

Only $8,000 more in taxes means I put Spain back in consideration for my next country.

The rest is for tax nerds only. I owe it all to an expat blogger in Spain who apparently knows more about taxes than most. The IRS gives Foreign Tax Credits to US citizens who pay taxes to foreign countries on income sourced there. That does me no good because all my income is sourced in the US. Spain and the US have a treaty to prevent double taxation. It says Spain may tax foreign pensions, which means both the US and Spain tax US pensions of US citizens living in Spain. How did that slip through the treaty? The US either let it or fixed it, because in the instructions for IRS form 1116 – Foreign Tax Credit is:


That turns a US source of income into foreign source income in the eyes of the IRS, qualifying for the foreign tax credit. Of course, there is another IRS form (8833) where one must justify how the foreign country is violating the tax treaty. Pension violations must be common, as 8833 isn’t required for pension based claims. If all this is true, correct and assuming I got it right this time, then my additional income tax cost from living in Spain would be about $400. Woo hoo!






Yeah, this is Thailand

June 24, 2016

Two reminders within 10 minutes of the culture adjustments one must make not to get worked up while living here means I have a new post.

Combining the drop in tourism since the coup with the usual substantial drop in business during low season, and one would think foreigner oriented businesses would try to hang on to their loyal customers. Not here, surprisingly often. After breakfast yesterday, I walked over to the boss lady (BL) and handed her a 100 baht note for my 99 baht tab. Sitting next to her (they were both attending to a baby) was an older woman I took to be the BL’s mother. BLM said ‘Thank you’ with finality. I didn’t have 10 baht for the tip so I held out (but didn’t give to her) a 20 baht note  and asked if she had ‘small money’ (i.e. change in coins). BLM took the note and said no. I took it back from her, said ‘next time’ to the BL while BLM glared at me. I’ll know from BL’s reception next time if I should even bother sitting down or ever returning.

Next I went to the local branch of Bangkok Hospital to change a follow up appointment from Bangkok to Hua Hin. As usual, the English abilities of those working reception was excellent. Appointment was for Friday, 1 July. No can do because the July doctor schedules are not in the system yet. I asked what about Thursday? Same answer. I asked isn’t Thursday the last day in June? It took a second for her to be embarrassed. Not my intent, but sometimes not taking no for an answer is the best tactic.