Tony in Thailand

All My Stories An Index of all my posts 201 – current
With over 230 posts on this site even I have forgotten what I have covered on the blog during my time in Thailand. I thought I would start the long task of reviewing all the stories and writing a short introduction to each one to help you more easily find topics that might be of interest. Because of the amount of work involved you won’t find a complete list today. I will continue to add to the index and update this post as I make progress so please refer back to it from time to time.

Building a House in Thailand eBook

  • Published 6 July 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Building in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

This book follows the challenges, frustrations and successes of building a house in Thailand from the very start of us buying the land through to moving in and beyond. You will be part of our building team for every day of construction and I will share many do’s and don’ts all designed to save you time, money, sleepless nights or all three. This book is a must have as part of your research on the subject of building in Thailand.

More Hidden Temples in Isaan

  • Published 12 June 2017
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Wats
  • LINK: HERE

Yesterday I had the urge to go for an explore and I picked out two wats (temples) to visit about an hour’s drive from our home in Si Bun Ruang. Having now seen both of them  (and one we didn’t plan on seeing) they stand out a little from “normal” temples and one of them has made its way onto my must do list for visiting friends and family.

Bun Bang Fai Part 2

  • Published 11 June 2017
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

Bun Bang Fai is an exclusively Isaan (a region in the north east of Thailand) rocket festival held in June every year to encourage the rains to come for the rice season. I say exclusive in a Thai sense. The festival originated in Laos, which explains why it now forms part of Isaan culture as the people here came from Laos in one of those historical  movements of population.

Isaan – the Small Stories 31

  • Published 8 June 2017
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

This is a very short edition of “Isaan – the Small Stories” and in fact will be the last edition under this name. In future I will be writing a monthly update of life here in the same format with small stories that give glimpses into the life of a farang living in a rural village in the north east of Thailand.

The Wats of Loei

  • Published 6 June 2017
  • Place: Loei
  • Topic: Attractions & Places – Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

This is the second post relating to a family day out in Loei province close to our home in Si Bun Ruang. The first post titled “A Day with the Thai Army” can be found directly below. Having farewelled Game (Gaun’s nephew) and seen him back with his army mates we moved into the afternoon with three Buddhist attractions to visit.

A day with the Thai Army

  • Published 6 June 2017
  • Place: Loei
  • Topic: Special Interest
  • LINK: HERE

Yesterday I enjoyed the slightly odd combination of spending the morning hosted by the Thai army and then the afternoon wandering through some of my favourite wats (temples) close(ish) to the army base. I started out thinking that both topics would fit into the one post but since then I have split it in two with the army experience in this post and the next one called The Wats of Loei to be published shortly.

Fighting Fires in Lampang

  • Published 30 May 2017
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Special Interest
  • LINK: HERE

Peter Ferdinand is an Australian who bought my eBook “Building a House in Thailand”, and since then we have exchanged a few emails on various topics. In the last few days Peter has shared one of the most unusual and inspirational stories I have heard of a farang in Thailand and I thought you might be interested to read about his experiences.

A House Update 2017

  • Published 23 May 2017
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Building in Thailand
  • LINK: HERE

Today I thought I would write a warts and all update that summarises my experience of living in the house for over two years. It is a very personal list of pluses and minuses that may have no relevance to any building project you have in mind for Thailand but there may just be some aspects that will get you thinking and may influence some aspects of your final design.

Bun Bang Fai 2017

  • Published 15 May 2017
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

Bun Bang Fai (rocket festival) is an event held in the north east of Thailand, a region called Isaan where we live. The origins of this festival can be found in Laos but presumably was imported into Thailand along with the historical movement of population from Laos, some of it made voluntarily and some in the 18th and 19th centuries being forced.

From Chiang Khan to Nong Khai

  • Published 11 May 2017
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

We recently had a friend from Canberra visit us for a few days and I planned a road trip from Chiang Khan to Nong Khai following the Mekong River to shown him a few of the sights away from our home base. The timing was perfect because we had bought a new pickup the week before and I was dying for a chance to try it out on a trip.

Two Days in Isaan

  • Published 22 Apr 2017
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

This is a bit of a unplanned post as I was going to make it a Facebook entry only. When I started to collect all the photos for the story I realised that there were a few topics covered and that a small blog post just to remind people I am still in the writing business might be the go. Also it is 38 degrees (100 degrees F) outside so staying inside with a glass of cold Aussie wine (I know – the things I have to put up with to keep the blog alive) looked like an attractive proposition.

A Day in Nong Khai

  • Published 31 Mar 2017
  • Place:Nong Khai
  • Topic: Places and Attractions – Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

My stepdaughter Peng has started her long summer holidays and she recently asked if we could spend the day in Nong Khai on the river Mekong as a holiday treat. We have been to Nong Khai many times over the last three years and you will find attractions I share in this post are also in several previous posts in the blog. But for new readers this will be new information and I hope there’s enough fresh material for the oldies.

Buying a Car in Thailand

  • Published 30 Mar 2017
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: General Information
  • LINK: HERE

I am not writing this Buying a Car in Thailand post as a “how to” entry for the blog. In my stories I mostly just pass on my experiences based on actual events and there will be aspects that might apply to others and some that won’t. There were other things happening around the purchase to make it an interesting few days rather than a bland list of do’s and don’ts.

Living with a Thai Lady – Feedback

  • Published 21 Mar 2017
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: General Information
  • LINK: HERE

The story of Living with a Thai Lady HERE has proved to be my most popular post. My words seem to have resonated with a lot of readers and I have received many comments over time, most of them pretty positive about their own situations or asking for further clarification or answers to questions either about relationships or other varied topics. I thought that I would extract some of this feedback and place them in a separate post that made for easier reading than in the format at the bottom of the original.

A Phuket Holiday – Part 2

  • Published 20 Mar 2017
  • Place: Phuket
  • Topic: PLaces & Attractions – Other
  • LINK: HERE

Reading the heading you don’t need to be a genius to tell that this could well be the second post sharing our recent holiday experience in Phuket and you’d be right:-) This is a long read so get a coffee.

Si Bun Ruang Village Festival

  • Published 19 Mar 2017
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Festivals
  • LINK: HERE

This is a very minor happening and is mostly a photo gallery with comments but I hope you find it interesting. These small but involving events define the passing of the year in the village and provide breaks to the everyday routine however pleasant that is.

Two More Local Wats

  • Published 18 Mar 2017
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Wats and Temples
  • LINK: HERE

I am taking a short break from sharing our travels to Phuket to show you through a couple of local temples that we have visited since our return from the beach a week ago. Wat Pha/Pa Bandai Sawan and Wat Khao Chong Chat

A Phuket Holiday – Part 1

  • Published 17 Mar 2017
  • Place: Phuket
  • Topic: Attractions and Places – Other
  • LINK: HERE

One of the things on my “must do”  list here is to take Gaun’s younger sister and her husband, Yuan and Lud, away from the Isaan life for a holiday on a regular basis. This is because otherwise they never stop working seven days a week 365 days a year and their life is no more than farm, home and market in an endless cycle. Not that it bothers them because they are the happiest couple you could hope to meet.

Isaan – the Small Stories INDEX

  • Published 4 Mar 2017
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

I have published so many Isaan – the Small Stories that I thought it would be useful to have an index so that readers can located specific topics that may be of interest. The headings are pretty vague but do give some clue as to the subject matter. You will find the link for each post at the bottom of the list. Enjoy.

Isaan – the Small Stories 28

  • Published 25 Feb 2017
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

For those of you who follow these posts on the little happenings in my Isaan life you will be both pleased and surprised that I have finally caught up with 2017 although only the first few days of the year. I know this makes some of these entries out of date but I thought they were still worth including because they were all part of the sequence of our time living here.

Isaan – the Small Stories 27

  • Published 7 Feb 2017
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

A burst of hotter weather after two months of perfect mildness has me sitting in front of the computer in a burst of blog related activity. I have decided to return my main energies to the blog after dabbling in Facebook, not just my own page but adding entries to several general Thai related groups, which I have since unsubscribed from. What a wilderness of useful information about living in Thailand that was.

Isaan – the Small Stories 26

  • Published 7 Feb 2017
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

I keep trying to get up to date with these little insights to everyday life in rural Isaan but never seem to make it. Here are a few more events and observations that will never make it to Trip Advisor but are all the more real because of that! Enjoy.

Building a Boat in Isaan

  • Published 31 Jan 2017
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

And now for something completely different to make up for an extended absence from writing posts for the blog. We have just finished building a boat and created a docking area to go with it so I thought you might like to join me on this watery journey.

Isaan – the Small Stories 25

  • Published 31 jan 2017
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

I have got behind in publishing my small stories series as it has been a surprisingly busy time the last couple of months. “Busy” isn’t a word I was expecting to use too much after retiring to the backwaters of Isaan but there you go. I will focus on catching up on these little happenings and then I have a couple of larger single topic posts to write and publish to kick-start the blog again.

Isaan – the Small Stories 24

  • Published 1 Dec 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

I am getting closer to being up to date with these little living in Isaan stories. I hope you are enjoying reading them as much as I am living them! Period covered 5 Nov – 16 Nov 2016.

Isaan – the Small Stories 23

  • Published 30 Nov 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

And the hyperactivity on the blog front continues. More everyday stories that makes you part of my Isaan life, like it or not 🙂

Isaan – the Small Stories 22

  • Published 30 Nov 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

Good things come in threes and this is my third Small Stories post in the last couple of days. I am always amazed at how much can be extracted from everyday living in Isaan if you keep your camera handy and your eyes open.

Isaan – the Small Stories 21

  • Published 29 Nov 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

I am trying to catch up with these small stories after a period non-blogging. Once I get there I might commit to a regular update every couple of weeks, if the material is there to be written about, to make sure these stories are more current to the events happening at the time.

Isaan – the Small Stories 20

  • Published 28 Nov 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

A post that covers a three weeks of small happenings in and around Isaan August/September 2016.

Chiang Khan to Nong Khai

  • Published 2 Nov 2016
  • Place: Chiang Khan
  • Topic: Attractions and Places – Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

This is the second of my posts chatting about a recent “holiday” we had visiting the small town of Chiang Khan situated on the banks of the Mekong River. In this post I will cover the drive from Chiang Khan to Nong Khai following route 211 as it winds its way alongside the Mekong.

Chiang Khan – a wooden village on the Mekong River

  • Published 1 Nov 2016
  • Place: Chiang Khan
  • Topic: Places and Attractions – Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

My stepdaughter Peng recently had her second school holiday of the year (Thai kids only have two breaks a year at Songkran, Thai New Year in April, and October). She has wanted to visit a small town called Chiang Khan on the banks of the Mekong River for some time and this was her holiday treat. I have to confess that I also wanted to see the place as it is one of the big attractions for Thais in the area.

Usufruct in Thailand

  • Published 4 Oct 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Building in Thailand
  • LINK: HERE

The reason I have added this subject as a stand alone post is that the information contained within it is absolutely vital for any farang in a relationship with a Thai person who wants to gain some security over their investment in some land and a house here.

A Day in Udon Thani

  • Published 3 Oct 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Attractions and Places – Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

Another day out and about in Isaan story. This one follows in the theme of the last two posts HERE and HERE where I had a destination in mind but we captured lots of other moments making small stops along the way and back as well as our visit to Udon Thani itself.

On the Road in Nong Bua Lamphu

  • Published 26 Sep 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Attractions and Places – Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

I must be feeling a bit restless because this is the second outing we have had in the last few days, the last one I reported on HERE. This afternoon’s road trip was another example of setting a destination and then being open to stopping or heading off track to see what else was around. As I have said before the big “wow” sights are few and far between in Thailand but I find the little photo opportunities just as rewarding and a lot more personal in some ways.

Wat Pa Thum Pra Phukao

  • Published 24 Sep 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Attractions and Places – Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

The other day my brother-in-law Tham, who is married to Gaun’s older sister Paed (number four of the seven children – Gaun is number six), told us of a cave wat in his village of Ban Don Han. As this wasn’t far from our home and I don’t need much of an excuse for an explore we hit the road today to check it out.

From Isaan to Nan – Day 2

  • Published 18 Sep 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Attractions and Places – Northern
  • LINK: HERE

This is the story of our second day travelling the backroads from Isaan to the small northern city of Nan. A Tuscan vineyard, the biggest teak tree in the world, a road that disappears into the a lake and an extraordinary silver wat in the middle of nowhere are some of the sights you will read about in this post.

From Isaan to Nan – Day 1

  • Published 9 Sep 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Attractions and Places – Northern
  • LINK: HERE

This trip to Nan, a small city in the far north, via the back roads of Thailand has been on my to-do list for a while now. I knew that the small roads followed the valleys through this very hilly part of Thailand and also the border with Laos for some distance. I was hoping to see some more interesting scenery than the pretty flat countryside around our home in Si Bun Ruang and I wasn’t disappointed.

Isaan – the Small Stories 18

  • Published 9 Sep 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

Another batch of small stories that happened in July about living in rural Thailand.

Isaan – the Small Stories 17

  • Published 9 Sep 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

I am finding it hard to keep up with the small stories of living in Isaan. Good news for me because it means that my life here is more involving than I might have imagined and it also gives me plenty of material to share with you, whether you are planning to live here or not. These stories provide an insight into what life could look like if you were one of the many people who contact me and often visit with a retirement goal of making this part of the world home.

Ban Dung and Lots More

  • Published 20 Aug 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Attractions and Places – Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

In this post you join us for a day travelling our part of Isaan. We start off at the farm and them deliver flower leis to the local temple. On the road we join some spirits and their dancing girls before exploring the salt mining village of Ban Dung, 80 km south of Udon Thani. Fresh peanuts and a visit to a house being built by a farang and his wife complete a great day out.

Isaan – The Small Stories 16

  • Published 3 Aug 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

I have a couple of other topics to publish shortly to break the monotony of Isaan – the Small Stories posts 🙂 but in the meantime here is another in the popular series of little moments in everyday Isaan life. These are extracted from my Facebook timeline and covers a couple of weeks in June.

Isaan – The Small Stories 15

  • Published 3 Aug 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

Even more small stories about everyday life in Isaan.

Isaan – The Small Stories 14

  • Published 3 Aug 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

These are some more small everyday stories resulting from wandering around locally with a camera always close to hand. Nothing that rates highly on the tourist scale of interest but hopefully these posts continue to give you an insight into what life can look like for a farang living in this part of Thailand. These are a compilation of posts I publish on my Facebook page and cover a period from early May 2016 starting with the oldest and moving on:

Wat Kham Chanot and Salt

  • Published 29 July 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Places and Attractions – Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

If you find yourself in Udon Thani in the north east of Thailand, an unlikely possibility I know, but you’ll thank me if you are because this trip will make for an interesting and varied afternoon out. Ancient pots, a temple and a salt village. What more do you need?

Bali vs Thailand Part 2

  • Published 23 July 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Building in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

This is the second part of a long post based on our recent visit to Ubud in Bali and a comparison of it and my experiences of Thailand. Will I be moving to Bali and starting a Tony in Bali blog? Read on to find out.

Bali vs Thailand

  • Published 19 July 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Attractions and Places – Other
  • LINK: HERE

I thought I would try to take a different angle on reporting back on our recent trip to Ubud in Bali. Rather than just publish a set of photos with comments I am going to include some of my impressions on the variations between Thailand and Bali and also a few sidetracks into my observations about modern tourism. A mix bag, which I hope will be interesting and more than just a travel post. I suspect it will be a long addition to the blog, but I haven’t written anything recently so this is payback.

Isaan – the Small Stories 13

  • Published 8 June 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: ILiving in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

Another in the long running series about the small everyday happenings in a Isaan rural village and surrounds. Nothing you will ever read about on Trip Advisor, which makes these stories both authentic and more interesting (in my biased opinion).

Wat Pha Sorn Kaew

  • Published 8 June 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Isaan – Places and Attractions
  • LINK: HERE

After a long period of being home based and only writing about the small happenings around the village I thought it was time to head back out into wider Thailand and spend a day being a tourist again. Two friends who had already been to Wat Pha Sorn Kaew recommended it as being pretty spectacular so I decided our first major expedition for a while should head that way.

Isaan – the Small Stories 12

  • Published 30 May 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

More small stories based on my everyday life in a Isaan rural village:

Isaan – the Small Stories 11

  • Published 30 May 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

You won’t find any big “must do” in my Isaan stories but a heap of little everyday events that make up my life here. I think they are more involving as a result because they are the sort of events you won’t find in the travel blogs or social media pages, which have a tourist sightseeing focus. Like living at any location in the world it is most likely your everyday revolves around very small local sights and happenings and the big outings only occur when you have visitors!

Building a House in Thailand eBook

  • Published 07 May 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Building in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

The blog has been very quiet for a while as far as new posts go but there is a reason for that. I am in the process of writing an ebook on all aspects of building a house in Thailand with its many challenges and pitfalls covered in detail. When I originally wrote the building posts for the blog commencing November 2014 they were published on a weekly basis as the house progressed. They tended to be more a report of what was happening rather than a “how to” guide with more analysis on the process, which is what I am aiming to achieve in this book.

Getting “Officially” Married in Bangkok

  • Published 24 Apr 2016
  • Place: Bangkok
  • Topic: General Information
  • LINK: HERE

The process of a farang getting married to a Thai national isn’t all photos in paddy fields like the one on the left but more likely a challenging process of battling the Thai bureaucracy in Bangkok. I thought I would share this detailed story of one couple’s experience in the hope it may help others who are heading down the same bridal path.

Chatuchak Weekend Markets

  • Published 31 Mar 2016
  • Place: Bangkok
  • Topic: Attractions and Places – Other
  • LINK: HERE

If you find yourself in Bangkok on a weekend and you enjoy shopping then Chatuchak markets are the place for you. Set on 27 acres or 70 rai for Thai farang or 11 hectares for the decimal literate, these markets are huge and you are sure to find something to slip into your bag to take home either for yourself or as a gift from Thailand.

Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens

  • Published 30 Mar 2016
  • Place: Pattaya
  • Topic: Attractions and Places – Other
  • LINK: HERE

I have been pretty quiet on the blog for various reasons but this post makes up for my absence by being a long one with lots of supplementary sidetracks from topic that longer term readers are used to. Enjoy. Nong Nooch gardens are a strange addition to the nightclub and bar scene we all normally associate with Pattaya, that farang playground on the coast of Thailand East of Bangkok and 600 km from our home in Isaan. How did we end up there…read on.

The Red Lotus Sea

  • Published 28 Feb 2016
  • Place: Isaan
  • Topic: Attractions and Places Isaan
  • LINK: HERE

The Red Lotus Sea is an easy drive from Udon Thani, Isaan and a great morning photo opportunity in season. Combine this with a visit to Ban Chiang World Heritage site and you will have an interesting day out.

My Favourite Isaan Temples

  • Published 18 Feb 2016
  • Place: Isaan
  • Topic: Attractions and Places Isaan, Wat/temple
  • LINK: HERE

This is an easy entry to the blog because it just indexes references to other stories I have already written. I ended a recent post about a wat (temple) down the road from our home in Si Bun Ruang called Wat Tham Pha Keong HERE with a list of my favourite wats in Isaan. I thought I would pull those references from that post and put them into a separate entry so that they would be easy to find for any readers visiting my part of Isaan and also so I could update the list as we make new discoveries.

A Festival for King Naresuan

  • Published 17 Feb 2016
  • Place: Nong Bua Lamphu, Isaan
  • Topic: Festivals
  • LINK: HERE
Every year on the 18th of January the city of Nong Bua Lamphu, our nearest larger town, celebrates a famous (in Thailand) King called Naresuan and puts on a week of activities. The 18th is significant because on that day in January 1591, King Naresuan the Great killed Prince Minchit Sra of Burma in a single elephant combat, marking the end of Burmese invasion. The battle is one of the epic moments in Thai military history and the day is now commemorated as Royal Thai Armed Forces Day. Find out how a couple of hundred dancing cowgirls met up with a 400 year old king in this post.
How to get a Yellow House Book

  • Published 1 Feb 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang, Isaan
  • Topic: General Interest
  • LINK: HERE
This is another brief post which may be useful to expats living or planning to live in Thailand but of limited if any relevance to the general reader. However, as I always say for this type of administrative post, it is also an insight into the non-tourist side of living in Thailand and could be worth a read to just for general interest. The Tabien Baan or Thai house book is the official document that links a person to an address. The house book comes in two varieties and two colours, blue and yellow! The blue book is issued to Thai citizens and along with their ID card forms the basis of individual identification depending on circumstances.
TV from your Home Country

  • Published 27 Jan 2016
  • Place: NA
  • Topic: General Interest, Retirement, Special Interest
  • LINK: HERE
I have completely rewritten a previous post on this topic so have added it here as a new entry. It will be of interest to readers living in Thailand but might have broad appeal to those living outside as well. Accessing overseas media material presents two problems when living in Thailand. Firstly countries like the US, Australia and the UK (and probably many others) restrict access to TV channels and even some internet streaming like Pandora music (US). Secondly the Thai government restricts access at this end for some media outlets. Find out how to access TV and movies from the world in this post.
232. Isaan – the Small Stories 10 

  • Published 14 Jan 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang, Nong Bua Lamphu – Isaan
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE
Heaps of new small stories have been added to my list for this post since the last one I wrote HERE, so get a coffee or beer and settle in for a very mixed bag of little events. The first couple of topics are more family personal so you can skip these if you are after more general insights into Isaan life. I included them because the events they describe form part of my life here, which is the main theme for this blog.
231. Wat Tham Pha Keong

  • Published 11 Jan 2016
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang, Nong Bua Lamphu – Isaan
  • Topic: Attractions and Places – Isaan
  • LINK: HERE
A recent trip to Khon Kaen for a medical appointment took us through the small town of Phu Wiang, where a guy who was fitting some gutters at home the previous week told Gaun there was a good temple to visit. Having “wasted” the morning we decided to call into this wat on the way home as I am eternally (mostly!) optimistic that the next temple I visit will be worth the effort. Many aren’t but this one was definitely a go’er and therefore it has replaced my partly finished “Isaan – the Small Stories 10” post as the next story to share with you.
230. Teddies in Thailand

  • Published 3 Jan 2016
  • Place: Thailand general
  • Topic: Sightseeing in Thailand
  • LINK: HERE
This is my 230th post and I thought I’d do something I haven’t done before and publish a post provided by a couple of readers of the blog who recently holidayed in Thailand. The reason I have done this, apart from being lazy, is that almost their entire trip in the North of Thailand was planned using my blog and the stories of places Gaun and I enjoyed in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. It was interesting to see familiar places we visited from another point of view (closer to the ground!) and of course the photos that resulted from the trip.
229. Living in Thailand Tips and Advice

  • Published 30 Dec 2015
  • Place: Thailand general
  • Topic: Information
  • LINK: HERE
I receive many emails from readers asking specific questions about some aspect of living in or moving to Thailand. When I write a new post I try to include as many tips and hints I can think of that relate to topic. I thought it would be useful to bring all of these together under the one heading and pin it to the main blog menu so that you can refer to it whenever you need.
228. Making Merit with a Monk

  • Published 21 Dec 2015
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang, Nong Bua Lamphu, Isaan
  • Topic: Monk initiation festival
  • LINK: HERE
At about 5.30 am many days the “mayor” of our moo ban (village) gets on the loud speakers and tells everyone what is going on – like it or not! It is one of the reasons I built a quiet house with double walls and glazing. Maybe Gaun picks up stuff from this or from the family but however she stays informed she knew that a monk initiation ceremony was about to happen. The invitation for us to attend came when the mother of the monk to be spoke to one of her neighbours who has land next to ours and she in turn yelled over the wall to Gaun. Formalities over we turned up yesterday to the final of the three days ceremony in the process of initiating a new monk.
227. Tour de Thailand

  • Published 21 Dec 2015
  • Place: Nong Bua Lamphu
  • Topic: Bike for Dad
  • LINK: HERE
Bike for Dad was a major event held by Thais worldwide as part of the festivities for the king’s 88th birthday. Over 600,000 Thais formally registered to take part after a similar event not surprisingly called Bike for Mum on the queen’s birthday earlier this year. Having missed mum’s bike ride, which was at a much hotter time of the year, I thought that we’d saddle up for dad.
226. An Isaan Sport’s Day

  • Published 21 Dec 2015
  • Place: Si Chomphu, Nong Bua Lamphu, Isaan
  • Topic: Festivals
  • LINK: HERE
I had a moment when I wondered whether sharing a Thai sports day opening was really the sort of thing I should be covering in the blog. It sounds so mundane doesn’t it? However on very modest reflection I thought that it was and is very much in the general theme of this blog. This event is a great example of how us expats need to keep a lot of our western preconceptions of life boxed in the storage shed along with many other concepts brought from our home country that might stop us experiencing this new culture to its fullest.
225. From Farm to Market

  • Published 16 Dec 2015
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang, Nong Bua Lamphu, Isaan
  • Topic: Farming
  • LINK: HERE
One of the joys of living in rural Isaan is experiencing the wonderful freshness of the locally grown food. Much of Thai food on offer is very basic and often quite different in style from the menus in your local western Thai restaurant. What makes the difference here is that you are more likely to find that the ingredients in your roadside food stall offerings were either in the ground that morning or walking around not that long ago!
224. Wat Tham Sang Tham

  • Published 9 Dec 2015
  • Place: Nong Bua Lamphu, Isaan
  • Topic: Wat/temple
  • LINK: HERE
Now “Tham” means “cave in Thai (pronounced more like “Thum”) so Tham Sang Tham seemed to double up on the cave bit. However Gaun tells me that the two “Tham’s” are actually different words, so close in the Thai pronunciation that in translating them to the English phonetic they are spelt the same. Tham number 1 refers to the cave aspect and Tham number 2 relates to the sort of meditative state one enters when spending time with a Buddhist monk. The “Sang” means light as far as I can make out so I think the whole name means a cave where you experience ”lighting up” (maybe a clarity or enlightenment) of your life while spending time with a monk. Anyway whatever the name this is a super cool wat
223. Who Will You Talk To?

  • Published 7 Dec 2015
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Retirement
  • LINK: HERE
I started this story a while back intending to make it my 200th entry to the blog, which coincided with my second anniversary in Thailand. This milestone seemed like a good time to review how retirement is working out for me here and also to reflect on the challenges retirement offers in general no matter where you make your home. It didn’t work out for the 200th post but it does today.
222. Loi Krathong in Isaan

  • Published 27 Nov 2015
  • Place: Nong Bua Lamphu
  • Topic: Festival
  • LINK: HERE
This year we decided to split the difference size-wise and visit Nong Bua Lamphu, our nearest larger town, which is based around a good sized lake. It puts on a big party for the event and this event is one neither Gaun nor Peng, my stepdaughter, have seen before. This year was also different from the last in that despite the fact Gaun and I had got married in the morning (HERE), Gaun decided that she’d make her own krathong for the event rather than buy. 60 THB saved!
221. Married Again

  • Published 25 Nov 2015
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang, Nong Bua Lamphu, Isaan
  • Topic: Marriage
  • LINK: HERE
Today on the auspicious day of Loi Krathong, which you can read about HERE, Gaun and I completed a ceremony to officially marry under Thai law, which is also recognised internationally. I thought I would combine sharing the day’s events with details of the process required to formally marry a Thai national in case the situation ever comes your way.
220. Isaan – the Small Stories 9

  • Published 22 Nov 2015
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang, Nong Bua Lamphu, Isaan
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE
One of a series of short stories about any topic of interest I observe while living in a small village in Isaan. This is a cut down version of what would have been a longer post further down the track. I have a close friend in Australia who is spending time with her dad who is very ill and she asked me to send her some stories to help lighten the day.
219. Nong Bua Lamphu Markets

  • Published 21 Nov 2015
  • Place: Nong Bua Lamphu, Isaan
  • Topic: Markets
  • LINK: HERE
I have been to quite a few markets across the country and I find that each one is pretty similar in the types of products for sale but they achieve a degree of local flavour through the food they have on offer. These Nong Bua markets are more oriented towards retail rather than food, which the smaller village markets revolve around.
218. A Visa Run at Nong Khai

  • Published 18 Nov 2015
  • Place: Nong Khai, Isaan
  • Topic: Visa
  • LINK: HERE
Written by a friend “I have non-imm O-A retirement Visa. The 12 months was almost up, so I did a border run at the Nong Khai ‘friendly bridge’ border with Laos, while visiting friends near Udon Thani.  I now have another 12 months permission to stay stamped in Passport and on Departure card. I found some good advice here and on other sites on how to do it – here is my experience and more details that may help some others”.
217. Visiting Isaan – Part 3

  • Published 16 Nov 2015
  • Place: Isaan
  • Topic: Attractions and Places – Isaan
  • LINK: HERE
The third and final part sharing with you some of the local attractions around our part of Isaan including a School Visit and Takraw, Suanam Lion Park Resort, Lake Ratana, Phuphan Noy, Phu Phrabat or Phra Bat Historical Park and much more.
216. Visiting Isaan – Part 2

  • Published 16 Nov 2015
  • Place: Isaan
  • Topic: Attractions and Places – Isaan
  • LINK: HERE
The second part sharing with you some of the local attractions around our part of Isaan including a variety of topics including Udon Thani, UD Town and Tawan Daeng nightclub, Nong Khai, Mut Mee Guesthouse, the broadwalk, lunch on the Mekong, Wat Po Chai, Sala Kaew Ku, Wat Pern Panau, the Nong Khai aquarium and Isaan Rum Distillery.
215. A Forest Temple Festival

  • Published 7 Nov 2105
  • Place: Nong Bua Lamphu, Isaan
  • Topic: Wat/temple
  • LINK: HERE
With the three month Buddhist Lent period, also called Vassa, finishing on the 27th October the restrictions on temple festivals and many other Thai social events such as weddings and monk ordination, has been lifted. Our social calendar has picked up with three temple festivals and a possible wedding happening in the next few weeks. The first of these was a big festival at Wat Pha Silawa, a temple we support in a very minor way by joining in their evening programmes a couple of times a week.
214. Isaan – the Small Stories 8

  • Published 31 Oct 2015
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang, Nong Bua Lamphu, Isaan
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE
One of a series of short stories about any topic of interest I observe while living in a small village in Isaan.
213. Bangkok

  • Published 29 Oct 2015
  • Place: Bangkok
  • Topic: Attractions and Places – Bangkok
  • LINK: HERE
This is a bit of a mixed post with no big highlights or hidden Bangkok treasures to pass on. As always I will just ramble along and hope that there are some aspects to our trip that helps fill in a coffee break for you. It includes why we took the trip (to obtain documentation to get married) and how, getting into Bangkok from the airport, using the BTS (Bangkok’s sky train), International Translations and Silom Road plus lots more.
212. Isaan – the Small Stories 7

  • Published 28 Oct 2015
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang, Nong Bua Lamphu, Isaan
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE
I think this series of posts will end up being an eBook. The stories just keep on coming. I really enjoy writing these posts because they pick up on the variety of life here and allow me to skip around a whole range of often obscure subjects rather than just plod through a single topic. I will be out and about with my camera and take a photo and already see in my mind the story that will go with it in the next “Small Stories” publication. Without that motivation many of these moments wouldn’t have been either recorded or shared.
211. A Ghostly Meal

  • Published 28 Oct 2015
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang, Nong Bua Lamphu, Isaan
  • Topic: Isaan Festivals
  • LINK: HERE
Yesterday was a particular day of importance because it is a time when people give food to the ghosts (Gaun’s terminology – she means spirits but I prefer ghosts). Thais are very mindful of spirits and I have written often about the influence they have on life. Also one of my favourite moments in Thailand was coming across a sound stage and dancing girls set up next to a “holy” place to appease the spirits (who must be male ghosts in this case) and bring good luck to whoever paid for this show.
210. House Update – 2

  • Published 25 Oct 2015
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang, Nong Bua Lamphu, Isaan
  • Topic: Building a House in Thailand
  • LINK: HERE
There is silence in the air – the builders have left. Well silence apart from the occasional passing motorbike, dogs barking, roosters, loud speakers from people selling things and any happenings such as funerals. At least there are no weddings or new monk celebrations happening during the three months of Buddhist lent. Come November add them to the list. I partly jest. In reality the village has its moments where the double glazing comes into its own but mostly is a very quiet place to be. I thought I would chat with you now that we have finished a long list of minor extensions and additions to make what has worked out being a very liveable house design even better.
209. 90 Day Reporting Online

  • Published 23 Oct 2015
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang, Nong Bua Lamphu, Isaan
  • Topic: Visa
  • LINK: HERE
I have an OA Retirement Visa and one of the requirements of this type of visa is that I have to report my current address to Thai Immigration every 90 days. As with so many aspects of bureaucracy the world over it is best not to question why and just get on with it. A report by exception, that is let Immigration know if you change your notified address, would seem to make more sense but it’s a waste of energy getting all worked up about things you can’t change. On the good news side, where previously you had to appear in person with copies of paperwork including the all-important TM47 form, this process can now all be done online.
208. An Isaan Funeral

  • Published 19 Sep 2015
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang, Nong Bua Lamphu, Isaan
  • Topic: Isaan Festivals
  • LINK: HERE
We are having some building work done on our newly completed house with the aim of making what has ended up a very liveable design even better. One day after starting all work stopped for three days and loud Isaan music could be heard being played from our part of the village (my commitment to double glazed windows pays off every day). What had happened? Someone had died. In fact this is the fifth or sixth funeral that has happened in the last few months but the first one where I had previously met the deceased. Based on this we went to one part of the funeral wake and I thought I would share the day with you.
207. Retirement Visa and More – Comments

  • Published 6 Sep 2015
  • Place: General Thailand
  • Topic: Visa
  • LINK: HERE
My original post on the retirement visa and the largely unknown automatic 12 month free extension was covered HERE, and has proved one of the more visited stories on my site. There have been a number of updating comments made since I published it back in August 2014 and I thought it would be worth organising these into a more readable post, extracting those points that may be useful for readers looking for answers to the often confusing visa topic.
206. A Day in Chiang Rai

  • Published 4 Sep 2015
  • Place: Chiang Rai
  • Topic: Northern Attractions
  • LINK: HERE
This post is a direct follow-on from my story “A Day in Chiang Mai”, which you can read in post 204 below. Here we travel to Chiang Rai for an overnight stay and a look around some of my favourite attractions. This is a great post if you are planning a visit to the far North and have limited time to see the best it has to offer.
205. Isaan – the Small Stories 6

  • Published 27 Aug 2015
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang, Nong Bua Lamphu, Isaan
  • Topic: Living in Isaan
  • LINK: HERE
In my last post, A Day in Chiang Mai, I said that my next story would be about the following day on this trip, which we spent in Chiang Rai. However I must be getting more Thai because having sat down at the computer to write that post I have ended up doing something completely different. Hang on for Chiang Rai because it will be the next thing I do – maybe.
204. A Day in Chiang Mai

  • Published 25 Aug 2015
  • Place: Chiang Mai
  • Topic: Northern Attractions
  • LINK: HERE
This trip came about because I had promised Gaun’s (my wife) younger sister Yuan and husband Lud that I would take them to Chiang Mai for a few days and include their first ever airplane flight as part of the experience. Getting them away from the farm is always a challenge and a slightly quieter time in the season gave me a window of opportunity to take them on a rare holiday.
203. A Day with the Monks

  • Published 9 Aug 2015
  • Place: Nong Bua Lamphu, Isaan
  • Topic: Wat/temple
  • LINK: HERE
I am so embarrassed. This is my second wat orientated post since I said I wasn’t going to do anymore! My excuse is that this is a story more about a day travelling around the countryside with a van full of monks than the wats themselves so I hope you forgive me and keep reading.
202. The Cost of Living

  • Published 6 Aug 2015
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang, Nong Bua Lamphu, Isaan
  • Topic: Information
  • LINK: HERE
This post will give you some ideas of the cost of living here in Isaan and give you a basis for comparing that with your current expenses wherever that might be. My conclusions are that if you live like a local it can be dead cheap. Anything farang orientated is mostly what you’d pay in your home country or more. Most service that involves a large labour component is very cheap. Where people earn 300 – 400 THB or $12.00 – 16.00 a day it isn’t hard to work out why. Anything imported is hit with huge taxes and ends up being expensive.
201. Wat Pha Nam Yoi

  • Published 6 Aug 2015
  • Place: Roi Et, Isaan
  • Topic: Wat/temple
  • LINK: HERE
I finished my last post describing the Ubon Ratchathani candle festival and more HERE with the words “On the way about 70 km out of Roi Et we spotted this chedi on a hill and decided to have a look. I know that I am yet again being wat obsessed but trust me this has the potential (it’s still being constructed) to become one of the most impressive temples you will see in Thailand. I will cover it with lots of photos in my next post.” Let’s see if I can convince you the last part of this statement might be true.