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  1. #1
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    From Laos to Turkey - A Christmas story :)

    As requested, here is a little more detail about my recent move to live in Turkey - the background, reasons etc.


    I tend to be a bit of a nomad, moving from country to country. I moved to live in Thailand around 2003, then moved to Burma, then Laos, then Burma again, then Laos! As I moved past 60 years old, I began to consider the realism of growing old in Laos. It's a beautiful country, but certainly in Luang Prabang, it lacks decent hospitals, dentists, shopping centres, and no beach in any part of Laos etc. Additionally, the UK pension that I would start to receive in 2025 would be frozen and not increase each year - that only applies if one lives in EU countries and a select few others, including Turkey.


    So I started to research living in my dotage in a different country, where I would have access to a sunny beach, a choice of healthy food, reasonable healthcare, easy visa, low cost of living etc etc. Time and time again, the beaches of south-western Turkey came up tops. So it was my plan to stay in Luang Prabang until my retirement date, and then relocate to Turkey.


    However, 2 unexpected events moved that date forward. Covid came to the land, and although the number of deaths has thankfully been low, the local economy was all but destroyed. The vast majority of hotels and restaurants and cafes closed down, and their foreign owners returned to their home countries. Luang Prabang was like a ghost town.

    From Laos to Turkey - A Christmas story :)-lpa-jpg


    The second event was unwelcome attention by the local police into my 100% legal amateur radio hobby. I was the only radio ham in the whole country, similar to when I operated my transceiver in Burma, where the military became very interested in what I was doing and how my knowledge of rockets might be useful to them (I designed guided weapons and satellite equipment years ago, so my knowledge was 'historical').


    Although I had a licence from the government office in Vientiane, the local police bigwig decided that I was up to no good and raided (the best description of what happened), my house with 8 police officers. Actually they raided my home twice in the same day, then the next day as well, then took me to their office in town for a grilling. Despite direct communication from the Vientiane government office to leave me alone, they continued their hassling of me, taking me again to their office and fining me $200 cash (no receipt) for some fake charge. I decided that I didn't want and didn't need this hassle, and so brought forward my move to Turkey.


    Trying to leave Laos in the middle of a Covid pandemic was a paperwork nightmare. There were no scheduled flights out of Laos, so I had to book an expensive $700 charter flight to Kuala Lumpur, with no refund if it were cancelled. Then there were documents from my village head to confirm that I lived in the village, another from him to allow me to travel to Vientiane, another from the visa company confirming that they managed my visa paperwork, then another document from them requesting that I be allowed to travel, then the letter from my embassy requesting that I be allowed to travel to Vientiane and fly out of Laos, another document authorising entry into Vientiane, then another document from the Covid task force in Luang Prabang authorising travel, then an official translation of my vax card, copies of flight tickets, hotel reservations etc.!! Phew!


    Once in Vientiane, I went to the national health centre for a PCR test and document. The place was packed with Chinese in hazmat suits and it took many hours queuing for the test. We all returned later that day to collect our results. We all had numbered receipts. The nurse called out about 20 numbers and those people all raised their hands. "Right, you all have Covid" was the comment from the nurse!! We others all moved rapidly away from the unlucky 20 One of them was a guy from The Philippines with whom I had eaten lunch with!


    So the next morning, I arrived at the airport. I had prepaid for extra baggage, but I was still overweight, and it was not possible to pay extra again. (I had 2 boxes with radio equipment in them). So I had to 'abandon' one box at the airport. I chose heavy items that I could make or buy again, but it was a bugger to have to throw away about $500 of equipment....


    One act that the corrupt police boss in Luang Prabang had done at our last meeting was to confiscate my Lao ID card, and this could mean that I would not be allowed to leave the country, since one has to show this card at the airport immigration desk. I had foreseen this problem, and had a police report from a local police station in Vientiane that stated that I had lost my ID card a few days earlier. This police report enabled me to be waved through immigration and onto the departing flight!


    There were many (many!) checks of my documents during the long flight to Istanbul, with stops in KL and Doha. Finally, I arrived at Istanbul Airport and their immigration desk. I prepared all my Covid/vax documents and translations, as well as a Turkish contact QR code that I registered for prior to my flights. The immigration officer waved these away and said "I just need to see your passport"! I was stamped in for 90 days....


    Welcome to Turkey


    Next post, I'll talk a little about Istanbul and my trip across the country to live near Fethiye, and why I chose that location.
    Groping women when you're old is fine - everyone thinks you're senile

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat David48atTD's Avatar
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    Great start Simon ... looking forward to the rest.

  3. #3
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    Should be a great thread simon, has the makings of one like Mandy does another country not in the thread title.

  4. #4
    Praise Jesus
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    Right at the death, he's got you licked for Thread of The Year this year Mendy.

  5. #5
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    Smart thread. I love Turkey.

    Istanbul has changed a lot during Erdogan's time at the helm, but it's still a great city.

  6. #6
    Isle of discombobulation Joe 90's Avatar
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    Congratulations on escaping a situation that potentially could have ruined your life.
    Looking forward to the upcoming chapters.
    All the best for 2022.

  7. #7
    Praise Jesus
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    Add in decent enough football with great atmospheres and the odd European game, great food, big burly hairy Mendo-esque men, and I'm half sold already.

    How much for a 2 br condo not far from a beach? and I presume no issues with ownership for a European citizen?

  8. #8
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    i love istanbul and would dearly like to explore Turkey more. food and arak is fabulous (if not quite as good as neighbours). women look like fair ground attandants in a down at heel, scruffy/ hot way

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon43 View Post
    Despite direct communication from the Vientiane government office to leave me alone, they continued their hassling of me, taking me again to their office and fining me $200 cash (no receipt) for some fake charge. I decided that I didn't want and didn't need this hassle, and so brought forward my move to Turkey.

    What a nightmare! I understand your move completely. Essentially a local bully boy running his own fiefdom.
    Last edited by DrWilly; 21-12-2021 at 05:09 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by hallelujah View Post
    Istanbul has changed a lot during Erdogan's time at the helm, but it's still a great city.
    Not for the better but yes still a mad mix and bye snd large great people. Just hope the don't go too far down the Iran root.

  11. #11
    Isle of discombobulation Joe 90's Avatar
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    A mate of mine works in Istanbul and has just come back for Xmas.
    Apparently the City is permanently gridlocked so people are now getting about on hired electric scooters.
    Still cheap as fvck though.
    Might visit next year, always wanted to go.

  12. #12
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    @Simon43 - thanks for the thread. Looking forward to your adventures & pics in Turkey.

    @edmond - from what I've watched, foreigners can own property in Turkey. I've watched some YT vids of "Mick and Trudy", a retired UK couple. They also have a vid on how they applied for PR. I liked their travel vids and their grocery/ cost of living vids (similar grocery prices to PH).

  13. #13
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    Simon, I thought your plan was to head to Northern Cyprus.
    Has it changed or is that the long term objective?

  14. #14
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    Hi, my plan was either Turkey or North Cyprus. In any case, I had to fly into Turkey and then wait 2 weeks before being allowed to fly onto North Cyprus (Covid reasons etc). The decision to fly onto North Cyprus was dependent on the government giving me a ham radio licence to use, whereas in Turkey I can use my UK ham licence for 90 days and then get a Turkish licence with a copy of my annual residency permit (which I got 2 days ago).

    Well, the silly buggers in North Cyprus haven't yet issued the ham licence! Not refused it, just too lazy to do it So for the moment, (if not long-term), I will settle in Turkey and teach online from here, and run my ham gear from here. So far, all is going OK.

    If the North Cyprus boys give me a ham licence, then I could move there, but it's actually rather controversial, because it's not a recognised country and therefore some consider it illegal to operate a ham station from that territory, even if the government of North Cyprus issues a callsign/licence. Were I to operate my ham station from North Cyprus, I would definitely upset hams in the Republic of Cyprus, Greece and anyone else of Greek extraction, (which is probably why I considered doing this!! - that is a joke, I think....)

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe 90 View Post
    A mate of mine works in Istanbul and has just come back for Xmas.
    Apparently the City is permanently gridlocked so people are now getting about on hired electric scooters.
    Still cheap as fvck though.
    Might visit next year, always wanted to go.
    Yes, the traffic is terrible in Istanbul. It took me 2 hours in a taxi from the airport to my hotel somewhere in old Istanbul.

    Those electric scooters are everywhere, including down here in Fethiye. But they seem to operate as a 'pick up, go where you want, then leave it' business, rather like the millions of bicycles in Shanghai, Amsterdam etc. They have some kind of box on the front, maybe an ATM card reader or GPS/location transceiver unit. I'm not sure, because I never see them being recharged and I never watch anyone actually start and unlock the scooters.

    From Laos to Turkey - A Christmas story :)-scooter1-jpg

  16. #16
    A Cockless Wonder
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    Hope you are enjoying the transition Simon. Nothing like fresh pastures to fire up the synapses.

    When are you gonna compile your unusual life story into a published work?

    When they make the movie about your life what actor would you think best suited to playing the hero?

  17. #17
    Thailand Expat russellsimpson's Avatar
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    Great start Simon. Am eagerly looking forward to the next chapter.

  18. #18
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    @simon - in honour of your thread, I watched this vid while drinking coffee. I agree that you should write a book about your life story. Just the part about the hotels & ex-wives would be a hoot!

    @looper - yeah, if Simon's future book gets to be made into a movie (ka-ching! $$), who would act as Simon? These come to mind: Benedict Cumberbatch, James McAvoy, Eddie Redmayne, James Madden (Robb Stark in GOT), Callum Turner (in The Capture). Maybe Jeremy Irons as the older version (or they could do make-up/ prosthetics and just age the younger actor).

    Anyway, here's Fethiye, Turkey in winter (Simon lives near here, he said), c/o Mick & Trudie (retired UK expats). I hope you don't mind the vid.


  19. #19
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    I think Simon is not giving credit where its due. He's been trying to escape the asian gravitional pull for approaching a couple of decades and has suffered numerous bouts of jasmine fever yet finally he found a cure in the latex clutches of Candy and what does the cold heartless bastard do to his long suffering lovely?

    Well its too awful to repeat but ladies in Turkey steer clear of remote shacks.

  20. #20
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    ^lol. That warning reminds me of Ted Bundy. He was said to be smart, articulate and good-looking, that's why he was able to lure those young women into his lair. There's a movie about him. The lead is Zac Efron - who grew up to be a hot hunk! I still remember watching "High School Musical" with my niece. Zac Efron was a young teen then, paired up with Vanessa Hudgens (who is half Filipino).

    Poor Candy...

  21. #21
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    I'm affraid Katie its a salutory lesson in the misuse of steroids and spending too many hours listening to white noise. I do hope Simon gets better on his sabatical.

  22. #22
    Thailand Expat
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    Quote Originally Posted by katie23 View Post
    ...

    Poor Candy...
    As mentally-deranged as it sounds, part of Candy is still with me. I dismembered and burnt her body, but brought her head with me to Turkey..... She sits on the table in my new house .
    No, I don't hold conversations with her...

    Which actor should play my role in the new movie? I was thinking more like Bennie Hill or maybe Patrick Moore.

  23. #23
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    I was thinking the bedt ones have sadly passed. I think some great character actors, the likes of John Hurt or Michael Gambon

  24. #24
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    Turkey is an attractive retirement option, the one thing that bothers me is the exchange rate. This week the Lira started about L19 to the GBP. Then it went 24! Then it went to 16.6!! All in this one week.
    It has been as high as L9.7 to the GBP during this year and I wouldn't bet against it rising further from where it is now. Which makes retiring on a fixed pension a bit of a gamble.

    From Laos to Turkey - A Christmas story :)-turkishlira-jpg

  25. #25
    Thailand Expat
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shutree View Post
    Turkey is an attractive retirement option, the one thing that bothers me is the exchange rate. This week the Lira started about L19 to the GBP. Then it went 24! Then it went to 16.6!! All in this one week.
    It has been as high as L9.7 to the GBP during this year and I wouldn't bet against it rising further from where it is now. Which makes retiring on a fixed pension a bit of a gamble.

    From Laos to Turkey - A Christmas story :)-turkishlira-jpg
    It's not really a gamble if you keep your funds offshore. I get paid in USD. The cost of living in Turkey is so cheap that at 5 lira to 1 USD, everything is cheap. At 15 to the USD, I'm paying a pittance! It is illegal for Turkish citizens to rent houses and cars using a foreign currency (although many expats don't know this!). I rent my house and car in lira, and saw my monthly outgoings plummet.

    BTW, the huge change in the exchange rate yesterday was after Erdogan made a speech how he would refund anyone who lost out due to the exchange rate problems!!

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