Friday 13 May 2016

Wheat free diet from now on?

For years I have put up with heart burn and gastric reflux, generally either ignored or treated with antacids. This has made it uncomfortable to lie down after eating, which is why I don't like to eat late at night and some days I just get through by drinking lots of water and hoping to flush out whatever it is. Lots of water does help as does "going to the toilet".
I was diagnosed in my late teens as having a duodenal Ulcer and a weak sphincter muscles that stops food going back up the Esophagus after eating. After treating the ulcer, which in those days was not actually treatable, I was told to modify my diet and to "live with it."
When talking to Doctors about continuing heartburn in later years I was told to keep off booze, coffee and fatty foods. Never once was wheat, gluten or wheat products mentioned. I never really pushed for answers or solutions.
More recently I had a lunch with a long term friend and he mentioned that he also had regular heartburn. Like me he had been told to drink less, eat less rich foods and eat less. We commiserated with each other and moved onto other subjects. But this raised the priority in my subconsciousness.
Over the next few weeks I seemed to be bombarded with information and messages about gluten, proteins in wheat flour and people suffering from allergies. It began to make me wonder if I was mildly allergic to either gluten or the wheat proteins. So recently I took myself off food that I knew contained wheat or might contain wheat. No breads, no pasta, no cakes and no dry biscuits. No burgers, no Pizza, no sausage rolls, no toasties no battered anything.
At this stage I can say that after 2 weeks I have only had one instance of acidity, that was mild and could be attributed to a bite of Garlic Bread that I started to eat without thinking.One incidence of feeling bloated that could be attributed to too much food or too much fat.
My self diagnosis is not truly scientific in many ways, I have not kept a food diary, I have not noted details of symptoms, I have not had any blood tests or medical input. But I can say that my "movements" have been more solid, but that could be attributed to a course of antibiotics for a dental procedure also incidentally cleaning out my gut bacteria. I have not suffered heartburn. I have not suffered from discomfort when lying down.
The way to test this is to go and eat some bread. To be honest though it is so nice to be heartburn free that I am reluctant to take this step.
I enjoy eating fresh bread or Vegemite on toast, or a toasted sandwich as a quick snack. Missing out on eating cakes or biscuits is not a big deal to me, although I do like to bake those when I have a chance. Burgers are good too.
I am not sure where to go with this. A lifetime without bread seems a bit harsh, on the other hand a lifetime free of heartburn will be very nice. Maybe my diagnosis is wrong and other factors are causing the heartburn. Maybe there is a level of wheat that I can eat without triggering too much discomfort? Who knows.
The Bludger may be slightly intolerant to wheat proteins or gluten.

Wednesday 11 May 2016

Getting a Tourist Visa for China from Thailand

You have reached this page because you a Foreigner in Thailand and want to work out how to get a Tourist Visa for China. Personally I found information hard to find and so I have written this post to help others.
The Chinese Embassy web site has some information. I found that it was not complete however.
All Visa Processing is actually done at the Visa Application Service Centre not at the Embassy.
This link leads you to a form where you can select which country you want to apply from and which city, or you can go straight to the Bangkok page.
I strongly recommend that you read their step by step process on that page.
For me it took 3 attempts to get things right. This was because at each stage my paperwork was insufficient, I learned a little bit more each time until I got it right.
Here is the official list of what is required, but  that is not quite complete either. Click on the image to see it larger.
As well as that list you may need a Declaration that you are not intending to work in China. I suggest that you prepare and print one along with the other Documents
  • You can apply for the visa up to 90 days in advance.

  • !!!!!You can only get a 30 day Tourist Visa in Bangkok!!!!

Preparing your Documents

All documents must be typed, not written in hand. In fact the Visa Application form says typed in Uppercase.

1. Passport

2. Visa application form.

You fill this out online it is a PDF document. Note that it says typed in uppercase.
You can get the form is several locations here is a link but I suggest that you check that it is valid before using it.
Note that before starting this form you need an itinerary, some hotel accomodation booked for at least the first night or an Invitation Letter. You need to put these details in the form.
If you have a laptop or tablet with Acrobat reader you can save the form, otherwise you need to print it out. If you make a mistake you may need to start all over again.

3. Photocopy of Passport ID page

4. Photocopy of Thailand Immigration Stamp

If you are not permanently living in Thailand this is your tourist visa.
If you are permanently living in Thailand this is your Non Imm B, retirement, marriage or whatever Visa you are on.
Your travel plans should show that you are leaving Thailand before this expires

5. Photocopy of Previous Chinese Visa

If you have been to China before, otherwise not needed.

6 . Letter of Certificate Yourself or 7. Work Permit - photocopy

If you have a Work Permit in Thailand you do not need this, show the work permit details instead.
This is a simple statement of who you are, where you live, what work you do and passport details. The following information is required. Remember this is typed and not hand written.
  • 1. Your name
    2. Country
    3. Passport Number
    4. What is your job?
    5. What do you do in Thailand?
    6. What is your purpose to go to China?
    7. You stay in China since.…until….
    8. You will pay for you trip
    9. Sign your name

8. Flight Ticket (go and back)

Booked and confirmed flights into and out of China. It says return I didn't want to return so they accepted an onward ticket. (To Hong Kong for me).
You are going to have to pay for these up front. So if you change plans make sure that flights can be altered or refunded.

9. Hotel reservation in China

Or alternately an Invitation Letter plus relevant details. (Look elsewhere for Invitation Letter requirements.)
This part was frustrating, eventually I obtained an Invitation Letter from someone I knew.
The Visa Processing Service Centre seems only to want to have the first night accommodation booked. It seems to be a tick in the box situation. No accom, no Visa.
However your travel itinerary, part of the Visa Application form, wants addresses of hotels in the places you visit. I wanted to freewheel my travel and not have a set itinerary. This did not sit well.
I offer no advice on how to meet both those needs.

10. Photocopy of Bank statement

Ultimately they did not ask me for this. I offered it but it was not required.

11. Wording of the declaration that you will not work.

Something like this will do. You will need to make it look pretty.


To whom it may concern.

My name is xxxxxxxx. My nationality is xxxxxxxxx, I hold passport no: xxxxxxxxxx

My  employer is xxxxxxxxx

I am normally employed as an xxxxxxxxx

While in China I will not work as an xxxxxxxxxxx. I will respect the laws and culture of China.

Date: xxxxxxxx

Signed xxxxxxxx

At the Visa Processing Service Center

You can look up the address. I normally went to Petchaburi MRT station and walked the rest of the way. Use Exit 2 and turn left along Phetchaburi Rd when you exit the station. About 7 minutes walk. There are motorcycle taxis if you are lazy or in a hurry.

I found the staff to be very friendly and very helpful. You go up the lift to Level 5 and the office is easy to find. A person at the front does the initial assessment. If your paperwork is in order you will get a ticket to be processed. If not they will tell you what you need to do.

The guard at the entrance can do minor photocopying e.g. ID page of Passport, but not big jobs. He also had glue to stick pictures to the application form.
On level 2 of the building is a general store with a couple of PCs and a photocopier. If you have overlooked something they can normally help out. But they do get busy and you are requested not to tie up the PCs for too long as others are waiting.

If you find this useful let me know.

the Bludger is all done.