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  1. #1
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    Default How to settle your spouse into the UK - Part 2 of the Frogster Guide

    How to settle your spouse into the UK
    (Part 2 of “The Frogster Guide”)


    Preamble:

    I am still a British national, and still married to a Thai, we still both reside in the UK, following on from the success of the “How to obtain a Spouse Settlement Visa for the UK” Guide, I thought that the next logical step would be to write a guide on “How to Settle your spouse into the UK”.

    So, here it is, a combination of knowledge in one place, where you can find some useful information about settling in the UK (from the time that your partner gets the Visa, the build up to the trip back to the UK, the trip itself, entering the UK and finally settling down in the UK).

    I want to make it clear that this guide is primarily aimed at “Spouses on UK Settlement Visas”. But, I also believe that a lot of the information here will be of use to people who have other types of Visa such as Visit Visas (but there will obviously be some sections that will not apply, for example “working in the uk”, “NI Numbers”, etc).

    In the same format as the “How to obtain a Spouse Settlement Visa for the UK” Guide, this document is also meant to be used as a reference aid, an informative guide, it contains some of the things we and others did and the methods used, the things that we have found out along the way, useful tips, and how to overcome obstacles, objections, etc. There are lots of “Click Through Links” that will open new windows. To the best of my knowledge, the information contained within this guide is correct and current at 01/06/2012.

    I acknowledge that to be “politically correct”, I should use the him/her, he/she wife/husband terminology thing, but as I said in my previous guide, I do not profess to be a writer, so I am writing this as if it were a Thai wife that is joining her British Husband to settle in the UK, I use the term “Spouse” a lot, if my terminology or writing style offends, then I apologise, The advice is not gender specific, so change it at will.

    I hope some, if not all the advice, information is of use to the reader, and helps future spouses who have obtained a Settlement Visa (and their UK based partners) to simplify their journey and ease their acclimatisation into the UK.

    The “How to obtain a Spouse Settlement Visa for the UK” Guide ended at the point of applying at the VFS in Bangkok, and starting the wait for the Visa decision….. So I think that that would be as good a place as any to pick it up….


    Waiting for the Visa

    It’s been a long wait….. depending on the time of the year, you could have been waiting for just a few weeks or up to 3 months…. Seasonal waiting times for Spouse Settlement Visas, vary considerably; you can get a feeling for the waiting times by looking on forums such as the Thailand UK Forum, or via the UKBA Thailand website, Visa Processing Times Page, however, keep in mind that this is usually about 2 months behind, and waiting times can and do change quickly.

    Lots of people feel at a loss when they have finally finished the application stage and their partner’s application is with the VFS/UKBA…. Doubt starts to creep in, and the longer you have to wait the bigger the doubt. I think this happens to almost everyone; it’s normal and very understandable! I found it helped, every now and then, to remind myself how confident I felt when we first put the application in.


    Getting the Visa

    It is likely that the first indication you will have that the waiting time is over, is when you get a SMS message to inform you that the “Passport is ready for collection” or “is being returned to your wife by courier” etc (depending on the options you chose at the VFS Centre). It may be that you find out by using the Tracking Your Visa Application page on the VFS Thailand Website, a very handy tool to use if you haven’t found it already.


    Checking the Visa

    So, lets for the sake of this, assume that your partner now has the envelope in their hand, has torn it open to find their passport and now is not sure if they have been granted a Visa or not, so they phone you….. You need to evaluate if there is a new entry in their passport….

    For identification, it will take up a page of the passport and will look like the Visa example below, but obviously with different details (this was the best “false” example I could find)


    001.jpg

    The Visa will have on it, amongst other things…
    Your spouse’s photo
    Your spouse’s Name = “Name”
    A “Valid from date” (this is the earliest date your partner can travel)
    A “Valid to date” (the date of expiry)
    The type of Visa, in your case it will be “Spouse”
    Your Spouses “Nationality” = Thailand
    A typed statement that says “No Recourse to Public Funds”

    If your partner has the above…. Congratulations, you have the Visa!!!

    If your partner does not have the above, but has a number of sheets of paper similar to the image below (headed with a “UK Boarder Agency stamp” and the words “Refusal of Entry Clearance”), then I am afraid that it is a Visa Refusal, all the reasons will be clarified and given in the refusal notice.

    It is most important that you do not lose or throw this away, although the ECO at the UKBA has refused, there is a right of appeal…. But, even before that (depending on the reason for refusal and how the refusal has been worded), it is not unheard that refusals have been overturned with a well worded letter to the ECM, (as may be advised by some of the more experienced members of the Thailand UK Forum).

    002.jpg


    Booking Flights to the UK

    Now that your spouse has their Visa, you can start to look for flights to the UK. But assuming you are already back in the UK and they are in Thailand you need to decide if you are going to fly out to Thailand and collect them, and then return together as a couple, or if your partner is going to make the trip alone to the UK?

    Bear in mind, that your spouse will more than likely, have never left Thailand before, never been on a plane, and not had to deal with officials that don’t speak Thai, etc. This can, as I am sure you can understand, seem very daunting for them.

    If you, for whatever reasons, decide that your spouse is going to travel to the UK on their own, I would strongly urge and advise you to book a direct flight, and use Thai Airways. This will give your partner some comfort, and help will be at hand by Thai speaking staff if required.

    There has been a number of incidents reported that “the person travelling, needs to present the debit/credit card that the ticket was purchased with”. This is something I strongly suggest you ask at the time of booking…. Copies of credit/debit cards and authorisations can be faxed to the airlines, and confirmations noted against the passenger name thereby avoiding problems at the checkin desk, your ticket agent should advise you what is required and what to do.

    If you decide as I did, to collect my spouse, then you could consider a number of cheaper airlines and non direct flights to ease the cost.

    There are some good comparison websites available, but don’t rule out the Airlines Main Websites, I have twice found cheaper tickets by going direct to the Airline. Especially when they have a sale on, I have had some good deals by just changing a date by a few days one way or another.

    Here are a few Airlines / cheap ticket websites (My personal preference of Airline are well documented elsewhere, but for the purposes of this guide I remain impartial, I do not recommend any one over any other, nor have I precluded or prioritised, this is just a random list of a few names that popped into my head – there may/will be others).


    If your spouse is travelling alone then you can get a copy of the Thai Translation for the UK Landing Card for them here, print it off and send them it or email them it etc, it’s one less thing for them to worry about.


    What to buy in the UK before your spouse arrives from Thailand

    OK, I have tried to put together a list of stuff that would help your spouse make the transition a bit easier, Some of the things are available everywhere, some you may need to go to a Thai shop… but worth the effort I think.

    Rice Cooker, Breville do a good one with an automatic cut out/warm switch, saves burning it out when they forget to turn it off, Argos £34.99.

    • One off those big clay type Pestle & Mortar type things for pounding chillies garlic, papaya, etc. only £9.99 from Argos, or from any good Asian store, a smaller one also, if you want to be flash.

    • A good wok or two, Argos £4.99, I wouldn’t bother with the non stick type…. It’s an alien concept to most Thais; they will just use metal tools in it anyway and scratch the surface off.

    • Some big rice bowls, large eating bowls, extra spoons, a Cleaver and Tupperware type storage boxes, a Brita water filter jug thingy.

    • Some different coloured chopping boards, for different foodstuffs.

    • A selection of Thai foodstuffs from a Thai shop, as a startup type pack, noodles, jasmin rice, fish sauce, oyster sauce, knor stock cubes (all varieties). Large bottle of cooking oil, etc…

    • A warm dressing gown and slippers, couple of jumpers and a good thick coat.

    • Extra thick duvet (at least 15 tog).

    • A UK Pay as you go sim card, (and send the number to your partner, so they can pass it on to friends and family).

    • If you are flying over to Thailand to collect your partner, as I did, purchase an outfit for them to wear on the plane, for UK arrival…. My wife arrived in the middle of winter, in jeans, furry ugg type boots, 2 jumpers, a thick warm coat, gloves and a wolly hat… all purchased in the UK and taken out with me. It reduced the “freezing temperature shock to the system” slightly.

    What to buy in Thailand to bring over.
    This is a difficult one, and will be down to preference and what luggage allowance and space your partner has available…. But for example my partner included the following:-

    • Lots of packets of the various chillie flakes, chillie powder, nam prik, etc.

    • A few clothes and shoes t-shirts, shorts, jeans, etc. for summer wear.

    • Shampoo, conditioner (anti dandruff, as the different water here will give them “snow in hair”), make-up, body lotions, (ours may be better quality, but not the same – seemingly).

    • Medicines and head ache pills, stomach upset pills, pills for this and pills for that, allergy pills, period
    pain pills, and pills to take in the absence of any need to take a pill – get the idea… Everything can be obtained in the UK, but the names, packets, etc will be different (I found that keeping the packet and showing it to a UK doctor will usually result in them being able to decipher it by chemical composition or something, and prescribe the same or equivalent).

    • Spot treatment, cleansers, etc (change in climate, foodstuffs will produce lots of spots in the early days).

    • A phone number book (completed), it is surprising how everyone relies on their phone for peoples numbers, a big problem if the phone is lost, etc…. and no way of contacting home, all family, friends, relatives etc are 6000+ miles away.

    • Although again available in the UK, my partner purchased a small Buddha, and had it blessed by the head monk at the village… a very small and unobtrusive “shrine” has been set up in a corner of the dining room at home.

    • Don’t forget to tell your partner to bring some family photos etc…
    Some of the things above may sound common sense items to you and me, if we were relocating to another country, but remember that this is most likely their first trip abroad, It’s all new!


    Arriving in the UK

    This may not apply to everyone, but I have found (with my partner) There is some “loss of face” thing by admitting they need assistance, directions, etc… therefore, my partner, although they haven’t got a clue where they are going, will walk miles the wrong way and refuse to ask anyone for help… Obviously if your partner is traveling alone, to a strange airport, in a strange country, they will need some support and education from you, that it is OK to ask someone in a uniform for help!

    When they eventually get to Passport / Boarder control, your partner will have to go via the “Non EU” immigration line, make sure that they have a completed landing card and their passport ready. It is also a good idea to have their TB certificate conveniently located in their hand luggage, if asked it is easily able to be produced. A guide to passport / border control at Heathrow is available, click here.

    There have been various reports of the way that partners have been welcomed into the UK by UKBA officials at Airports, some good, some bad. UKBA staff at Border control may ask a number of questions of your partner, ranging from what is the purpose of their visit, what is their husbands name, where are they going to live, to what is their new address in the UK, etc.
    Again, prepare them for this and all should be well.

    Explain to your partner about collecting their luggage and again not to be shy to ask for directions, assistance, etc.

    So, you have now either both either navigated your way together through the airport or your partner has by themselves and met you at the prearranged meeting point (you did prearrange a meeting point, didn’t you?). A short walk to the Car, Train, Bus, and you are on your way home, together!!!


    The First Days

    Settle in to a new life together, be understanding, be compassionate, be fair, be supportive, but above all “be there”!! A few days leave from work to assist with the transition is in my opinion, essential. In the eyes of your loved one, the whole world has been turned on its head. Where are the little carts with som tum, mango trees, smiling people, where is the sun? It’s a huge culture shock to them, beyond the magnitude of anything you have or could experience, as you have had the benefit of education that promotes foreign travel, different culture, etc.

    Spend some time, making sure that your partner is knowledgeable about where the local shop is, how to contact you at work in an emergency, introduce her to the neighbours, etc…

    All stuff I shouldn’t need to explain or say, but I don’t apologise for saying it!


    Integration into Society

    OK, there are a few important things that now need to be done…. and it’s best to take care of them as soon as possible.

    Register with a GP/Practice. Usually your own doctor will take on your spouse and register them to the same practice, they will probably have to go for a first / initial check-up, give a urine sample etc. If it works the same as with my GP/Practice, registration will also provide a NHS number (this comes via post a few weeks later) If you are having problems then try looking here. NHS treatment is free to spouses on Settlement Visas, normal prescription charges / rules apply.

    Register with a Dentist, this one can be a little bit harder, in my area there is a 6 month waiting list to register for NHS dentist, but best to get on the list… If you have trouble try this “How to find a NHS Dentist website”, in any event if emergency treatment is required it can be obtained.

    National Insurance Number. It is important to obtain a NI number for your spouse, it is easy and quick to do, information on how to apply and get one, is available at the Directgov Website, click here. Tip - When asked if your partner is going to work say “Yes” (even if not for a while). When you contact them by phone they will send out a form for your partner to complete. You will need a copy of your partners passport bio page and Visa page, send them back with the completed form and in about 1 to 2 weeks and they will have their own NI Number.

    Council Tax. Contact your local authority and have your partners name put on the council tax bill for your address, if you were living alone before, remember that you will lose your 25% sole occupancy discount. Ask them to send a letter of confirmation that it has been done (in your partners name).

    Bank Account. A Bank Account can be problematic to open sometimes, depending on a number of things like…. the differing banks policies, if you already have an account there, what supporting documents you have in your partners name already, and other reasons known only to the bank. You may need to “shop around” to open an account and get a debit card, but you should get one if you persevere, I had my partner open one with the RBS, and found them to be the most helpful, but maybe decisions can be made at the discretion of branch managers, I’m not sure.

    Utility Bills. It is worthwhile adding your partners name to a few utility bills for when the ILR time comes round and you and her have to show proof of living together at the same address. For example, I have added my partner to the Water Rates, Electricity, Gas, Telephone and Virgin Media. So a good choice of bills and proof to use.

    House & Contents Insurance. This is one that is often overlooked, add your spouse to the house and the contents insurance, to ensure that they are covered.


    Study

    After a while, your partner may want to start on the “Life in the UK” course or start an ESOL course with citizenship content… Information about both can be found here. Maybe your partner also wants to start a course of study to just improve their English, lots of colleges will provide this, but it is useful to remember that a lot charge a much higher “foreign student” rate unless resident for 1 year, check the fees!


    Acquiring Paid Employment

    From day 1, your spouse (who is on a on a spouse settlement visa) is entitled to work in the UK. Let’s not beat about the bush…. employment is hard to find for anyone at present, with the state of the country and the economy as it is, a newly arrived Thai person, who perhaps does not speak English as fluently as competing EEU migrants or locals, does not drive, has no transport, etc, will in real terms, find themselves at a disadvantage.

    Some good tips:-
    • Compile a CV, aimed at the type of work required.
    • Promote and advertise themselves around local companies.
    • Offering a week’s free trial to prove one’s self could be the bait that catches the fish.
    • It is a numbers game, the more applications the sooner one will say yes.
    • Make copies of your Visa and passport for job applications.
    • Use that English Certificate (the one gained to get the settlement Visa) to show on the CV, after all you paid for it, use it!


    Well that about completes part 2 of the Frogster Guide…. In time, there will no doubt be a part 3.

    There is no charge for this information, but if you have found it useful, why not make a small donation to a Thai Charity via The Thailand-UK Forums and get Premium Membership too – Click here to find out more.

    Thanks for reading…

    Frogster
    Last edited by maokaang; 3rd Sep 2013 at 05:53. Reason: link removed upon request

  2. #2
    Forum Regular สมาชิกประจำ
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    Frogster your a star. dil arrived yesterday and still cant believe it yet after the long wait for the visa.she came on qatar to manchester on her own and was fine.she was asked a few questions by immigration but i had prepared her and they actually said welcome to the uk.no doubt we will be going to china town so she can stock up on big bag of rice etc. pity the weather not great but she is here with us and thats all that matters.thanks again to everyone for their sound advice and good luck to others that are waiting for results.

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    Premium Member sisaket's Avatar
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    Hope your Mrs likes rain .... Tangmo ....lol ...wet in Manchester last nite and this morning .... is it a trip to Kims (Thai) Supermarket ? ....
    Excellent work Frogster ....
    bangkok mags

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    Forum Regular สมาชิกประจำ
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    Hi sisaket. im the mother in law. yeh been to kims many times. used to go to pacific for thai buffet but someone told me it closed so will find out when we go to china town.

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    Premium Member sisaket's Avatar
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    oops sorry Tangmo .... welcome to the UK for your daughter - in -law .....
    bangkok mags

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    Premium Member KhunIanB-UK's Avatar
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    Another Excellent post Frogster

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    Forum Regular สมาชิกประจำ vanbobble's Avatar
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    Well done Frogster, you are a machine

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    Forum Antiquity ของโบราณ bifftastic's Avatar
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    Yes, thanks Kev. Great tip about the water filter. Mrs Tastic says "mai aroi" to the tap water

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    Premium Member caller's Avatar
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    Very worthwhile thread Mr. F! I can't add much, but as for the rice cooker and stuff, living not too far from a store like Wing Yip in Croydon, gave my missus total control, as she had asked for, on purchases such as rice cookers, woks, knives and things, plus a re-assuring access to recognisable food. As time passed, going there became more of a lets enjoy the experience thing aka meeting others and eating in the places attached to the site (thanks to Thongchai and sweet apple from here) - especially the pork buns ! As time passed, we rarely, if ever went there due to newer and nearer discovered stores, but that was all her choice.

  10. #10
    Member สมาชิก Annnick's Avatar
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    Another great source of info frogster, Thks for taking the time for such a detailed write up

    Thank you sir

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    Good guide, frogster.

    Sainsbury's do a pretty good quality heavy pestle and mortar for 10 quid, wish we hadn't wasted kg in our luggage by taking ours. Also wish we hadn't taken so many packets of Tom Yum, Tom Ka, etc, paste. They're about 30p each in Thailand but we found them in Chinatown for 60p. Ok, double the price but the replacement cost of those would have been less than the cost of clothes we had to leave in Thailand. Same with Mama - the missus took a stack but they're only 25p a pack compared to 12p in Thailand - again, they took up valuable space and some weight. Lastly, paracetomol. I remembered that as being much more expensive in the UK but the price difference/cost replacement didn't justify bringing the weight of even 6 bottles, compared to bringing some clothes or a book of photos (OK, we may have those on the laptop but I bet the cost of reprinting any number of them'll be more expensive than the medicine cost difference!)

    We took a new rice cooker from BigC - that wasn't heavy and they're much cheaper in Thailand with a wider choice. That's one item I don't regret.

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    We made that mistake last time Mr Living, bottles of fish sauce, oyster sauce, galangal, Knorr cubes, and bizarrely rice and lime's, I might add this was not my input! This time, a few sachets of Lobo mixes, 12 baht each, rather than 45p each, some digusting rotten fish with chilli's paste made by her mum, that's it, made sure clothes were the first priority and the 900 cigarettes that I took back, good job there was no one on customs at Gatwick! I nearly forgot the cook books, I think there was 5 of them, plus notepads with recipes in them and my souvenirs, wife wouldn't fit in a suitcase!

    Nice bit of work Froggy, the CV and copies of the visa are very good information.

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    We knew we could get fish sauce, etc, and should have known about the paste packets, I guess, because we'd been to the same Chinatown supermarkets on her visit last year. I hadn't seen any pestle and mortars around before but the one at Sainsbury's is better quality than the one we brought over. The wife is still lamenting loss of clothes acquired over the years (and I'm lamenting the possible cost of her replacing them shopping here!)

    My wife brought horrible-smelling fish stuff from her mum too. (It's about the only Thai food smell I can't stand). Strictly speaking, that shouldn't be allowed through customs.

    She's starting to really like the bacon here now. I knew she should!

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    Banned Tribal Fusion's Avatar
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    No horrible rotten fish with chilli's should not be allowed through customs!

    Frankfurters for mine, with sweet chilli and tomato ketchup dipping sauce.

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    Frogster

    Great write up ...

    I can very much relate to everything you listed on the points wise ... great reading to read and think ... '' I did that ... and that .. ''

    Nim recently went back after her visit to England and had 4 months over here ... found it hard for the first 6 - 7 weeks few ups and downs and then she was introduced to some of the local Thai's in the area and she came out of her shell so to speak ... and was very happy with her holiday ...

    She was certainly more happy to have a holiday first then come straight over ... as she said it would have been a massive shock and not sure how she would have coped ... but the 4 months gave her a good insight and also being able to get her hands on her own food types was a major bonus ... but she relised it was a lot more expensive etc .

    I through her in the deep end regards flights i selected her flights with Emirates into Birmingham and pre warned her about Dubai as i been through it loads of times which she was ok to navigate ... At BHX she forgot to get a Landing Card and was sent to the back of the Q ... and then when she sorted that out she did get a grilling off immigration about various things but wasn't overly worried as she had lots of info at hand and was pre warned about immigration ... She said she was glad she did it on her own as she had to do it for herself and not have somebody guide her though it ... so when we go for the Settlement Visa she will be well clued up on what to expect next time she comes though BHX ...

    Im due back over there in about 5 weeks for use to do some of the stuff in Bangkok for the Settlement visa ... and then we can go ahead and put all the information back in for the next Visa ...

    I also did a dummi Settlement Visa and applyed for one with different email address etc ... just so i could fill out as much info as possible for myself and for Nim to write manually before we re-do our own Settlement Visa and then print it off .... doing the dummi settlement visa was great as i got a good look at what i had to provide and Nim also ... in total i think there was about 177 questions that we had to fill out .. that i noticed when printed it off ... and then started amending things by pen ...

    During her stay i was able to still compile evidence for a settlement Visa to further back up our stay and our relationship and i know that when i go back to Bangkok it should not be overly stress full as i know its just a waiting game at the Embassy and MFA and Amphur while everything is translated and officiated etc ...

    Just a big thanks Frogster and others for there input and experinces on there Visa attempts and info ...

    regards

    Stu

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    Member สมาชิก Annnick's Avatar
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    Lads

    Just a quick update,the missus has been here 2 weeks and all is going great,even got the weather here in sunny essex.managed to apply for Ni card which was straight forward,doctors and dentist no problem at all,bank acc to come once Ni card arrives and need change some bills into her name.food hasn't been a problem,was able find most things in sainsbury/asda or the local market has a Thai shop and we are growing chillies,basil etc.

    I followed frogsters advice and we went out and bought the rice cooker,woks etc,also bought a sticky rice steamer set and a electric mincer from eBay which is very handy. We bought a few Buddha and monk pictures home so gradually the house is changing for the better lol.

    Wifey seems to be settling in fine,next thing will be looking for work she's sending her cv off to many companies as we speak so fingers crossed. One thing she is concerned about is her skin and spots she say not as clear and have little spots. Did anyone else's wife suffer from this and what did they use?


    Early days but the signs are great

    Cheers

    Annnick

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    I get these spots too and little bumps on my fingers too when i travel anywhere with a huge climate change, hot or cold but usually clear after 6-8 weeks of being there. As for what you use I dont use anything, waiting for my partner at the moment so id like to know what to use too incase she has the same problem

    Cheers
    Dave

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    My wife's skin suffered when she came over last year for a month. This time we bought a water filter for drinking water and, so far, (she's been here since the beginning of June) she's had no problems. The shower water plays a bit of havoc with her hair but it's not too bad.

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    Veteran ผู้มีประสบการณ์ toddmeister's Avatar
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    waiting for my partner at the moment so id like to know what to use too incase she has the same problem
    This doesn't really answer the skin issue. But if your wife has a particular favourite facial or cosmetic cream that cant be found here, then tell her to bring a few months supply over with her. My Mrs has tried many face creams here from big brand names to cheap supermarket stuff and is almost always disappointed. She only likes a specific brand called Kangsen (I think) which she always used in Thailand. Recently she gave up trying other brands and had her friend post some over for her. Not a problem but not exactly cost effective when you pay for sending money plus the postage to the UK. Same goes for clothes. The Mrs already plans to bring an additional suitcase full of clothes back from Thailand next time we go over because everything here is so "paang mak".

    Steve

  20. #20
    Premium Member Gavva's Avatar
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    Similar to Biff, the only problem my wife seems to have is that she's shedding hair like a sasquatch. This is due to the hard water correct? I don't think it's a major problem as she's still got a lot more hair than myself but does anyone have any advice about this? Can it be prevented? (Hope this isn't off topic)

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