Being the rainy season a sunny day is unusual here so when one did arrive we decided to take some exercise and go for a walk out the back of our property.

We are on the very back edge of this little village so behind us is nothing but farming country mostly owned and operated by the Singha Beer company.  Singha is the oldest and most popular beer in Thailand although now being challenged by Chang beer. It is brewed by Boon Rawd Brewery, a fact that has little significance until a photo taken later on our walk.

215px-BiereSingha

The Singha logo for real at the entrance to their Chiang Rai estate.

The Singha logo for real at the entrance to their Chiang Rai estate if you arrive via the main road (Route 1211)

The land is mostly devoted to the cultivation of tea but they are also growing rice, corn and rubber.

The path from our house is a narrow one and we can hear motorbikes on it from early in the morning as estate workers head through to start the day.

The highway from just outside or house heading into the Singha estate.

The highway from just outside our house heading into the Singha estate. You can just see the roof of our carport at the back.

It's off to work I go.

It’s off to work I go.

Once we walked through this more enclosed part of the road, which is mostly given over to corn, it then opens to the broader area of the estate.

The more open country heading into the hills in the background. You can see tea on the lower slopes with corn being grown in front.

The more open country heading into the hills in the background. You can see tea on the lower slopes with corn being grown in front.

The low structure you see on the left is the accommodation for the Myanmar workers who harvest the tea on the estate.

Myanmar (Burmese) workers picking the tips from the tea shrubs.

Myanmar (Burmese) workers picking the tips from the tea shrubs.

Over the top of a hill we came across this almost Australia rural scene. A large paddock with a concrete rail and post fence. No animals in it and the fence wouldn’t keep them in anyway as it didn’t go the length of the field. Work in progress or just for show – who knows.

Horse country without the horses.

Horse country without the horses.

I shouldn’t say this but although this was supposed to be a walk for exercise, as I do very little of it here, the final destination was the Singha restaurant located on a hill overlooking their estate. I have been here once before and was impressed but we drove as I wasn’t aware of the walking option then. What luck it happened to coincide with just the right distance for having a rest, a cold drink and heading back home.

The Singha restaurant.

The Singha restaurant.

The land directly in front of the approach to the restaurant this way is growing rice as you can see in this photo. I am learning all sorts of farming things via Gaun whose family owns a rice and mixed vegetable farm in Isaan. Part of my education has been that not all rice is cultivated in the same way.

Firstly there is rice grown in the more traditional way we associate with Asian rice farming. The photogenic rice fields with their quite sophisticated levy system to control the flow of water from field to field. The water reduces the number of weeds and pests that would otherwise have an effect on the yield.

Pure Thai

“Wet” rice fields.

There is also “dry” rice, which can be planted out on land that has not been prepared for the water based rice. This type of rice requires far more maintenance to produce a decent crop.

Rice being grown in water on the left and "dry" rice on the right.

Rice being grown in water on the left and “dry” rice on the right.

The method of planting and harvesting varies as well. Rice is grown by either randomly distributing the seed or planting rice shoots. The planting can be done mechanically or the traditional hand method. Singha use mechanical or grow directly from seed. When grown from rice just thrown onto the field you end up with a result like this rather than the neat rows of plants you can see in the first photo in this “rice growing” group.

Poor quality rice production.

Poor quality rice production.

The water hasn’t been properly managed here either because you can see the number of weeds mixed in with the rice. Rice planted mechanically is very regimented when compared to hand planting. and no doubt will eventually replace farm workers in the longer term.

This can be compared with the traditional method of cultivating rice shoots and then replanting by hand as shown in the next couple of photos:

Rice shoots being prepared ready for planting. Photo taken on Guan's farm in Isaan.

Rice shoots being prepared for planting separately. Photo taken on Guan’s farm in Isaan.

An Aussie hard at work showing Thais how it's done.

An Aussie hard at work showing Thais how it’s done.

Enough about rice. This is a rubber plantation with a difference. I don’t know whether this leaning effect is as a result of constant wind or if the young plants were following the sun. You would think that staking the trees in their early life would have been the go.

Like the current government in Australia - a pronounced lean to the right.

Like the current government in Australia – a pronounced lean to the right.

After our long trek through the wilds and heat of rural Thailand to bring you this story it was rather nice to spend some time at the Singha restaurant recovering. Any benefit gained from the walk was unfortunately lost as a result of the consumption of two Singha beers (of course) and a rather good fish and chips!

Doing it rough.

Doing it rough.

The view from our table overlooking the Singha estate. The ploughed area is being prepared to replant corn.

The view from our table overlooking the Singha estate. The ploughed area is being prepared to replant corn.

Basically a flashy barn construction open on all sides.

Basically a flashy barn construction open on all sides.

Cushions and lighting moved in for the evening. Food and drinks brought out to you.

Cushions and lighting moved here for the evening. Food and drinks brought out to you.

A kind Thai bloke offered to take our photo so thought I would post it as it's unusual to have one of Gaun and me together.

A kind Thai bloke offered to take our photo so thought I would post as it’s unusual to have one of Gaun and me together. It’s the post hat removal on a hot day hair look for me.

Remember early on when I said there would be a photo relating to the brewer of Singha beer? Well here it is – the estate is called guess what?

At the entrance to the restaurant area.

At the entrance to the restaurant area.

Slightly further up the hill Singha are just completing the building of a new restaurant, which is going to specialise in local produce grown around the estate. It looks as if it will be a more upmarket version of the one where we had lunch. The structure itself is mostly finished and they are now working on the landscaping. It will open in November. We’ll be in Chiang Mai by then but plan to come back to try it out and will report.

The new restaurant, which will have great views over the countryside.

The new restaurant, which will have great views over the countryside.

Landscaping in full swing. Mostly Myanmar workers.

Landscaping in full swing. Mostly Myanmar workers supervised by Thais.

I had to take this shot.

I had to take this shot. Just love the traditional hat. We are going to explore the village in the background as I’m sure we can get to it on motorbike using the estate dirt roads.

Tea being grown on the land at the back of the restaurant looking back towards Chiang Rai.

Tea being grown on the land at the back of the restaurant looking back towards Chiang Rai.

So there you have it. A walk in the country Thai-style. A pretty pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

UPDATE 7 October 2014

The new restaurant on the Singha estate is now open and the old one closed. Do make sure you visit the new one for a meal. Very smart – uniformed staff and wonderful views. Make sure you sit on the left side of the restaurant overlooking out to the hills. The food is excellent and good value for money if more expensive than a local eating place. Highly recommended.

Thanks for reading.