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.

June 2 – The Front Pergola

The final improvements we made to the house late last year included a pergola across the front of the house. It had several tasks including helping protect the large front windows from early morning sunshine, provide a lovely shady spot to sit and view the garden as well as add interest to the front aspect of the house.

New climbing plants were planted shortly after the construction and they are now fully established and making quick progress in covering the structure. Give it another few months and a bit of rain and this will be a cave of greenery and colour.

Pink flowers coming across from the left. Gaun "borrowed" these cuttings from a neighbour across the road.

Pink flowers coming across from the left. Gaun “borrowed” these cuttings from a neighbour across the road.

That is a red grape climbing the bamboo pole. We are going to build (well probably Gaun is going to build) a new pergola heading the other way so the grapes don't get mixed up with the other climbers. I didn't know how the grape would do here but it is looking very happy so far. Very tasty grapes are 80 baht or $2.20 a ilo in season at the local markets.

That is a red grape climbing the bamboo pole.

We are going to build (well probably Gaun is going to build) a new pergola heading the other way so the grapes don’t get mixed up with the other climbers. I didn’t know how the grape would do here but it is looking very happy so far. Very tasty grapes are 80 baht or $2.20 a kilo in season at the local markets.

Gaun has been replacing pansies in these coconut and plastic pots with new cuttings. They will grow to hide the pots in three weeks.

Gaun has been replacing pansies in these coconut and plastic pots with new cuttings. They will grow to hide the pots in three weeks.

I wanted to share the next couple of photos because I am still enjoying seeing sunshine after months of smoky haze.

Had to share the next couple of photos because I am still enjoying seeing sunshine after months of smoky haze. That tree in the middle of the lawn was bought 12 months ago for $28.00 - well everything was bought about 12 months ago come to that.

That tree in the middle of the lawn was bought 12 months ago for $28.00 – well everything was bought about 12 months ago come to that.

No tropical garden would be complete without a coconut palm.

No tropical garden would be complete without a coconut palm.

I will be replacing the grass with pavers to the edge of the pergola. That large pot is a fountain. This will become a great cool evening spot with a cold drink.

I will be replacing the grass with pavers to the edge of the pergola. That large pot is a fountain. This will become a great cool evening spot with a cold drink.

Isaan ingenuity. We needed a place to store the outside brooms and Gaun just buried a length of pipe left over from the house build and job done. I will paint it to match the column and drill a couple of holes to let rainwater out and it will outlast me.

Isaan ingenuity.

We needed a place to store the outside brooms and Gaun just buried a length of pipe left over from the house build and job done. I will paint it to match the column and drill a couple of holes to let rainwater out and it will outlast me.

June 2 – Bags and More Bags

A post strictly for the ladies. My sister -in-law Sam chose herself a bag as a result of a previous post I put on Facebook so we headed back to the shop today to pick it up for her.

I also had an expression of interest from a good friend in Australia that we are seeing in Bali shortly to celebrate her wedding. I thought I would share a few more photos of one life’s essentials for women along with shoes and jewelry! Sas – see anything you like? My previous estimate on prices were a bit optimistic. They range from $12.00 – $20.00.

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June 2 – Various Observations made on a day out in Si Bun Ruang

I reported on the burger van just recently. Today they had burgers! I am so happy to add to the endless collection of Facebook photos of food. The burger wasn't too bad. Worth a return visit for when I get the farang munchies.

I reported on the burger van just recently in a previous post. Today they had burgers! The burger wasn’t too bad. Worth a return visit for when I get the farang munchies.

Si Bun Ruang is growing up with improvements such as a medium sized Tesco Lotus supermarket shown under construction here. At the moment we travel 30 minutes to the next town to do a major supermarket shop but will in future be able to do this locally. The time saved will help with my busy retired schedule (not).

Only of interest to locals. This has since opened and is hugely popular.

This is the canal next to the new supermarket. You can see by the size of the walls that they do expect some serious rain here sometimes although I haven’t seen much evidence of it in my time here.

I hope Tesco’s have done their research because their store is at ground level and any overflow from this river will soak my supply of corn flakes and croissants.

Roadside nose job advertising. Visit Si Bun Ruang. pop in to have a drink with us and then get your nose fixed with prices starting at $370.00! The perfect holiday.

Roadside nose job advertising. Visit Si Bun Ruang, pop in to have a drink with us and then get your nose fixed with prices starting at $370.00! The perfect holiday.

Just outside the moo ban we came across a team of workers spraying this sugar crop for weeds. A simple cloth face mask for protection. I wonder how that will play itself out longer term.

Just outside the moo ban we came across a team of workers spraying this sugar crop for weeds. A simple cloth face mask for protection. I wonder how that will play itself out healthwise longer term.

Who knows what is in these chemical barrels. Sugar is anything but an organic farming enterprise.

Who knows what is in these chemical barrels. Sugar is anything but an organic farming enterprise.

June 5 – Wat Pha Sorn Kaew

I have been meaning to visit Wat Pha Sorn Kaew ever since it was recommended by a couple of friends and I saw the photos. Now I have some to add of my own. This is a very brief taste of a longer post I have published HERE.

We made the trip yesterday so that my stepdaughter Peng could come along on a non-school day and Yuan and Lud also wanted a holiday from the farm so we had a full car. The wat is a three hour 200 km drive from where we live but Thailand is blessed with pretty decent roads unless you really get into the backwaters.

We arrived to rain as the area around the temple is mountainous and wetter than where we are on the plains of Isaan. The wat is spectacular as you can tell from the photos and will be a definite addition to my favourite wats of Isaan.

Grey skies a taste of the rain to come. This small soi passes the wat and then heads into the hills behind. These five Buddha statues had only been recently finished.

Grey skies a taste of the rain to come. This small soi passes the wat and then heads into the hills behind. These five Buddha statues had only been recently finished.

The view from the wat. Pretty wild untouched scenery. We drove through national parks with lots of signs warning about keeping an eye out for elephants crossing the road. This time it would be human road kill!

The view from the wat. Pretty wild untouched scenery. We drove through national parks with lots of signs warning about keeping an eye out for elephants crossing the road. This time it would be human road kill!

My brother-in-law Lud.

My brother-in-law Lud.

The main residential and admn building. No public access. A sort of Swiss alpine style isn't it.

The main residential and admn building. No public access. A sort of Swiss alpine style isn’t it.

I wonder why only five. Nine is the lucky number here and Buddhist building projects often reflect this.

I wonder why only five. Nine is the lucky number here and Buddhist building projects often reflect this.

There are heaps of small places to stay in the hills behind and around the temple. Thais come to these hilly places to experience the cool (it is 800 metres above sea level here). You will recognise the main wat building on the right.

There are heaps of small places to stay in the hills behind and around the temple. Thais come to these hilly places to experience the cool (it is 800 metres above sea level here). You will recognise the main wat building on the right.

The second part of the wat is this building featuring mosaics. Nine levels (lucky number) but you can only get to the first few.

The second part of the wat is this building featuring mosaics. Nine levels (lucky number) but you can only get to the first few.

The main entrance with Lud, Gaun and Peng.

The main entrance with Lud, Gaun and Peng.

All sorts of themes in the temple wall covering. Sea shells here.

All sorts of themes in the temple wall covering. Sea shells here.

Beautiful.

Beautiful.

Not what you expect of a wat! It is all great picture taking opportunities but any true Buddhist connection seems to have got lost along the way.

Not what you expect of a wat! It is all great picture taking opportunities but any true Buddhist connection seems to have got lost along the way.

Looking back at the temple complex from the hills behind. Lots of new eating places and cafes are being constructed to cash in on the popularity of the location. The road you see in the far distance is Route 12 one of the major roads running through Thailand. Follow it south and you will end up in Bangkok 600 km away.

Looking back at the temple complex from the hills behind. Lots of new eating places and cafes are being constructed to cash in on the popularity of the location.

The road you see in the far distance is Route 12 one of the major roads running through Thailand. Follow it south and you will end up in Bangkok 600 km away.

June 7 – A Mix of Small Happenings

It is wonderful to see the new rice shoots appearing and helping to green a countryside that has been in drought for so long. This is the first time I have seen non-irrigated riceland with rice growing only based on rainwater since I have been living in Isaan.

It is wonderful to see the new rice shoots appearing and helping to green a countryside that has been in drought for so long.

Vivid greens of fresh lettuce and coriander being grown on the farm. Recent rains kicks the growth of everything along including the weeds.

Vivid greens of fresh lettuce and coriander being grown on the farm. Recent rains kicks the growth of everything along including the weeds.

Yuan has just planted her rice seeds in this paddy field and we will follow the progress from here to harvest.

Yuan has just planted her rice seeds in this paddy field and we will follow the progress from here to harvest.

We were out to the farm early(ish) because Gaun had taken a boot load of flower cuttings from our garden and wanted to replant them alongside the road the monks take to collect their food in the mornings. Dit, the main monk at the small temple up the road from the farm passed as Gaun was working and noticed what she was doing. Buddhist merit points there I am sure.

We were out to the farm early(ish) because Gaun had taken a car boot load of flower cuttings from our garden and wanted to replant them alongside the road the monks walk to collect their food from the village in the mornings.

Dit, the main monk at the small temple up the road from the farm, passed as Gaun was working and noticed what she was doing. Buddhist merit points there I am sure.

For those of you following these stories you might remember Gaun's mama has been handweaving floor mats. She is up to number three and I have included a photo of the latest. Good job mum.

For those of you following these stories you might remember Gaun’s mama has been handweaving floor mats. She is up to number three and I have included a photo of the latest. Good job mum.

We dropped into our favourite nursery just the other side of Si Bun Ruang to pick up a couple of taller shrubs to mark the entrance to the farm. Owned by a very friendly husband and wife team. He is a teacher at the school my stepdaughter Peng goes to.

We dropped into our favourite nursery just the other side of Si Bun Ruang to pick up a couple of taller shrubs to mark the entrance to the farm. Owned by a very friendly husband and wife team. He is a teacher at the school my stepdaughter Peng goes to.

It would be hard to find anything here over $10.00. Three bougainvilleas on the left for $4.00. Needless to say that even at these cheap prices we have spent quite a lot of money here.

I had to take this photo as we drove through the main street of Si Bun Ruang heading back to the farm. This young bloke is getting in some guitar practice as they ride to school.

I had to take this photo as we drove back through the main street of Si Bun Ruang heading to the farm. This young bloke is getting in some guitar practice as they ride to school.

Gaun is all dressed up but there is never a time when she isn’t ready to get planting. Here we are back at the farm with our new tree purchases.

A total fake photo insisted upon by Gaun. She will now be telling everyone that I worked very hard to plant these shrubs at the farm. You can see the real truth from the previous photo. This shrub still has its plastic on

A total fake photo insisted upon by Gaun. She will now be telling everyone that I worked very hard to plant these shrubs at the farm. You can see the real truth from the previous photo. This shrub still has its plastic on so I’m not really planting it at all.

I am spending a little money to make the farm more farang friendly. I love it out there and I know our many visitors do too. Yuna and Lud recently extended the farmhouse and as it is all dirt flooring I am providing the materials to build a concrete replacement. Everything is clay here and it will be wonderful to have a firm and clean base especially during the wet season. Here 2 cubic metres of sand and gravel are being delivered ($20.00 a metre with a $4.00 delivery fee). I am also going to be buying a small sala (bamboo hut) to be placed right next to the pond with its six hundred fish inhabitants. Fish for your own lunch.

I am spending a little money to make the farm more farang friendly.

I love it out at the farm and I know our many visitors do too. Yuna and Lud recently extended the farmhouse and as it is all dirt flooring I am providing the materials to build a concrete replacement. Everything is clay here and it will be wonderful to have a firm and clean base especially during the wet season. Here 2 cubic metres of sand and gravel are being delivered ($20.00 a metre with a $4.00 delivery fee).

Because of the angle of the delivery site it all had to be unloaded by hand - no extra cost. The guy on the right is a brother-in-law to Gaun's brother number 3! Everybody is connected here if you look hard enough. I think the 100 baht I gave them for a couple bottles of beer or a bottle of lao kao (Thai rice whisky) was appreciated.

Because of the angle of the delivery site it all had to be unloaded by hand – no extra cost.

The guy on the right is a brother-in-law to Gaun’s brother number 3! Everybody is connected here if you look hard enough. I think the 100 baht I gave them for a couple bottles of beer or a bottle of lao kao (Thai rice whisky) was appreciated.

I am also going to be buying a small sala (bamboo hut) to be placed right next to the pond with its six hundred fish inhabitants. You will be able to fish for your own lunch late this year.

June 9 – A Little Nipper

A reminder that it isn’t just Australia that has lots of animals that aren’t too human friendly. This is only a small scorpion but it would still give you a jab to remember.

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June 9 – Bun Bang Fai

I have written about Bun Bung Fai before. It is the Isaan rocket festival held over May/June with dancing, parties and the launching of rockets all designed to encourage rains for the rice harvest. It is also part of the cultural history of Laos but as most Isaan people originated in Laos it naturally followed them here. This weekend was the two day street party and rocket display for the main town of Si Bun Ruang (called an Amphur here). Today we called into the area where the rockets are to be set off.

Rockets are graded by numbers according to size. In 2014, the fist time I saw them they were launching 100,000 rockets. Last year the military cracked down and the biggest were 10,000 and very uninteresting.

This year Si Bun Ruang is having a go at launching a couple of 1 million sized rockets, which if they don’t blow up and destroy the town, will add two more craters on the moon. In another province the governor has threatened the death penalty to anyone launching a rocket that damages a civilian aircraft! Read more HERE.

The following photos might give you an idea of the variation in sizes I am talking about.

These are the three launch pads. From right to left 10,000, 100,000 and 1 million. This photo is taken on maximum enlargement from a position way across the lake, which is where I will be stationed on the day well away from the launch.

These are the three launch pads. From right to left 10,000, 100,000 and 1 million. This photo is taken on maximum enlargement from a position way across the lake, which is where I will be stationed on the day well away from the launch.

A closer view. These rockets are like the little ones you fire off at home with a body at the top and a long stick underneath - except somewhat bigger.

A closer view. These rockets are like the little ones you fire off at home with a body at the top and a long stick underneath – except somewhat bigger.

This is the 1 million rocket launch pad. Can you see Gaun which gives you an idea how massive this thing will be?

This is the 1 million rocket launch pad. Can you see Gaun which gives you an idea how massive this thing will be?

I will be to the right of that red building across the lake. I have only seen a 100,000 and the noise was overwhelming. They do also explode sometimes killing people. I have no intention of ending my retirement in Thailand with a bang :-) The level of the pond shows the effect of the drought here. Normally the water would be well up the legs of that jetty.

I will be to the right of that red building across the lake. I have only seen a 100,000 and the noise was overwhelming.

They do also explode sometimes killing people. I have no intention of ending my retirement in Thailand with a bang 🙂 The level of the pond shows the effect of the drought here. Normally the water would be well up the legs of that jetty.

June 10 – Back on the Farm plus Following the String

A few little moments in country Isaan life to share today. We tend to head out to the farm most mornings these days, a five minute motorbike ride from home, as Gaun needs more space to use up her enormous energy for greening Thailand. Today it was great to see the new rice shoots happening both on Yuan’s farm and next door on the other half of the farm run by Gaun’s older sister Paed.

I took a couple of photos where I intend to site a sala, a bamboo hut, next to the fishing pond and there’s also a Buddhist chant happening in the village, which unites every house with white string so I’ll cover that too.

This is the same paddy field I shared in a photo a few days ago. Starting to get that wonderful vivid green you will see everywhere in rural Thailand this time of year. This is sticky rice, which is different from steamed rice, in case you thought it was all to do with the way you cooked the rice. The family sugar crop extends to those tree in the background.

This is the same paddy field I shared in a photo earlier in this post. It is starting to get that wonderful vivid green you will see everywhere in rural Thailand this time of year.

This is sticky rice in the photo above, which is different from steamed rice, in case you thought it was all to do with the way you cooked the rice. The family sugar crop extends to those tree in the background.

This is my brother-in-law Tham ploughing to get this field ready to plant rice.

This is my brother-in-law Tham ploughing to get this field ready to plant rice.

Two paddies of new rice on what is actually Gaun's land. She owns two of the seven plots that make up the family farm.

Two paddies of new rice on what is actually Gaun’s land. She owns two of the seven plots that make up the family farm.

My sala will sit under those trees on the edge of the pond so you can easily reel in a fish or two.

My sala will sit under those trees on the edge of the pond so you can easily reel in a fish or two.

The view from the sala once it goes in.

The view from the sala once it goes in.

Update: I am also thinking about building a floating pontoon to put the sala on as something a little different like the one below. I can buy these blue plastic barrels for about A$20.00 each, so it wouldn’t be a very expensive exercise. What will be the outcome? To be advised one day. Exciting stuff.

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Back in the village a ball of white string made an appearance at our house. Once a year all the houses in the village are connected by this string, which ends up at a Buddha statue. Every morning for three days a monk does a chant there, which then radiates out through these connecting strings touching every house along the way with a blessing.

Can you spot the white string running through the photo as opposed to the electrical wires? These now connect every home in the moo ban.

Can you spot the white string running through the photo as opposed to the electrical wires? These now connect every home in the moo ban.

You can see them here running to the yellow flag and then to the house, which belongs to a doctor across the road from our home.

You can see them here running to the yellow flag and then to the house, which belongs to a doctor across the street from our home.

All the strings in the village then end up here in the moo ban's spirit house and Buddha statue, at the community centre. Every morning for three days a Buddhist monk does a chant here which then radiates out through these connecting strings touching every house along the way. This happens once a year.

All the strings in the village then end up here in the moo ban’s spirit house and Buddha statue, at the community centre.

The strings come in and wrap around Buddha before going next door to the spirit house (san phra phum).

The strings come in and wrap around Buddha before going next door to the spirit house (san phra phum).

It’s another example of the natural community aspect to living in a small Thai village. In Australia you’d never get agreement for something like this. You’d need twenty different strings for the different religions and made sure you skip the atheists 🙂 You’d also need to get permits from a range of government and utility authorities.

June 11 – The Bun Bang Fai Parade

Today it was the turn of Si Bun Ruang, our local town, to hold their main street procession for Bun Bang Fai and we spent the afternoon in the sun and rain to record the occasion. This is my third Bun Bang Fai since I moved to Thailand but I still enjoy the opportunity to join in a noisy, colourful and very Isaan event.

The costumes seem to change each year as I am sure I haven’t seen this range before. Spectacular makeup and that wonderful graceful and flowing Thai dancing make this aspect of the festival so worthwhile. I hope I can share some of the quality of the day with you in the selection of photos I have chosen. If you want to see many more striking photos of the costumes and other aspects of the day then I have written a post on my blog and you can find it HERE.

I won’t add many words to the photos because they speak for themselves.

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Of course to have dancing you need music and as always those huge mobile speaker systems were there to keep everything swinging. Massive volumes and playing traditional Isaan dance music, which I really enjoy. If you want to party you can get one of these for the day for 6,000 – 8,000 baht (A$240 – $320).

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A lifetime of living in that face.

A lifetime of living in that face.

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Ladyboys get everywhere. Expensive assets on display as well as the use of some double sided sticky tape to keep that dress in place,

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These huge floats are driven in from a place called Yasothon in southern Isaan and assembled for our festival.

Note the guy with the U shaped pole on the right. He’s there to lift any wires crossing the road that get in the way.

June 13 – Three Stories in photos

Repossession, farm extensions and Wat Ban Dit.

This photo doesn't look much but there's a story here. This family ordered soil to be added to their land to raise the level as is common within the village prior to starting construction work or even just to plant vegetables. The whole village is built higher than the surrounding rice paddies to minimise flooding. The interesting bit is that this family obviously wasn't able to pay the contractor who delivered the soil because recently the tractor and trucks arrived and removed everything that had previously been delivered. I have never seen soil repossession before but there's many things that are "first time" for me in Thailand.

This photo doesn’t look much but there’s a story here.

This family ordered soil to be added to their land to raise the level as is common within the village prior to starting construction work or even just to plant vegetables. The whole village is built higher than the surrounding rice paddies to minimise flooding.

The interesting bit is that this family obviously wasn’t able to pay the contractor who delivered the soil because recently the tractor and trucks arrived and removed everything that had previously been delivered. I have never seen soil repossession before but there’s many things that are “first time” for me in Thailand.

This story follows on from the delivery of sand and gravel I reported on earlier in this post. Gaun had excess energy today because she suddenly decided to started the process to concrete the floor to Yuan and Lud’s farmhouse. We had a friend from Australia drop into the farm to say hello and next thing he was in a set of Lud’s clothes and mixing concrete. His girlfriend knew her way around pouring concrete too so she was roped in as well.

Even many hands didn't make this light work.

Even many hands didn’t make this light work.

The team in action.

The team in action.

Maybe not my most flattering photo.

Maybe not my most flattering photo.

Yuan, Jackie and Gaun. A good looking building crew.

Yuan, Jackie and Gaun. A good looking building crew. You can tell that Jackie wasn’t planning on pouring concrete when she visited with Ian.

The halfway result. I covered the building of this new kitchen area in a previous post. I will be buying a new table and chair set, which will be located in the foreground for us ancient knee challenged farang.

The halfway result. I covered the building of this new kitchen roof area in a previous Small Stories post. I will be buying a table and chair set, which will be located in the foreground for us ancient knee challenged farang.

Our Aussie mate having an Isaan shower in the farm's bore water pipe.

Our Aussie mate having an Isaan shower in the farm’s bore water pipe.

After finishing concreting for the day we dropped into the wat at the end of the road that passes the farm. We call it Wat Pha Ban Dit, which means the forest temple home of Dit (the head monk – a friend of Yuan). The wat actually has a real name but I am not sure what (!) it is.

Here the third monk living in the temple helps construct a new house for Dit. Although small it is bigger than the two other monk's living quarters.

Here the third monk living in the temple helps construct a new house for Dit. Although small it is bigger than the two other monk’s living quarters.

Dit has started digging (well not him obviously but large machines) a huge pond and using the earth to raise the levels of other parts of the temple grounds. At this stage the pond is a sort of Venetian canal.

Dit has started digging (well not him obviously but large machines) a huge pond and using the earth to raise the levels of other parts of the temple grounds. At this stage the pond is a sort of Venetian canal.

Next door to the temple the new rice is giving the land a real Thai postcard look.

Next door to the temple the new rice is giving the land a real Thai postcard look.

June 13 – My Third Anniversary in Thailand

Yesterday was my third anniversary of arriving in Thailand from Canberra. I never intended to stay. I was supposed to be here on a seven month reconnaissance to see if the country offered the potential for me to retire earlier than if I stayed in Australia. Evidently it did. Today is my third anniversary of meeting up with Gaun again having originally spent time with her in 2012. This three years has incorporated rented homes in Phuket, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and now our own place Si Bun Ruang, Isaan.

My dear Gaun has gone from friend and travelling companion to best friend and wife, a combination that is rare to achieve.

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My blog has allowed me to record this adventure from my times as a semi-tourist to now living the everyday in a small rural village. 300 readers a day share that journey with me through the blog and we have enjoyed meeting so many people who have made the effort to visit us to introduce themselves and tell their stories.

If the next three years is as interesting and involving as the last I will be a blessed man indeed.

June 14 – Rockets

The second day of Bun Bang Fai was mostly about the rockets being launched. A huge turnout this year when compared to the post-coup shutdown last year when not much happened.

I have told you before that there are a number of different sized rockets built ranging from 10,000 to 1 million in whatever units those measurements relate to. There were two 1 million rockets this year and I managed to miss the launch of both of them. However I did get photos and they weren’t all that bigger than the 100,000 ones. I was expecting 10 times the size.

Much of the interest in the launches revolves around the betting that happens – unofficially of course. The idea is that you bet how long in seconds you think the rocket will stay up. Say you think it will exceed 280 seconds. You then have to find a punter who thinks it won’t achieve that and you lay the bet. As there is no paperwork I have no idea how it all comes together in the end but it seemed to work.

There was also a Motocross competition happening, which my brother-in-law Lud loves so us blokes spent a bit of time there (which is how I missed one of the 1 million launches).

A 100,000 rocket being prepared for launch. It is a battery firing in case you thought they just lit a fuse!

A 100,000 rocket being prepared for launch. It is a battery firing in case you thought they just lit a fuse!

One of the competitor's tents with a row of 100,000 rockets being worked on.

One of the competitor’s tents with a row of 100,000 rockets being worked on.

This is the 1 million being inspected by a monk.

This is the 1 million being inspected by a monk.

On-site work happening to ram the explosives.

On-site work happening to ram the explosives.

Another 100,000 being lifted into place. A decent sized firework isn't it.

Another 100,000 being lifted into place. A decent sized firework isn’t it.

The smoke post-launch.

The smoke post-launch.

A colourful gallery at the Motocross event.

A colourful gallery at the Motocross event.

Properly kitted out, which is good because we saw a three bike crash with one guy carted off on a stretcher.

Properly kitted out, which is good because we saw a three bike crash with one guy carted off on a stretcher.

I won't bore you with all the food photos because it's the same range as you see in the markets, which is a post I have published before. Needless to say the place was wall to wall with choice.

I won’t bore you with all the food photos because it’s the same range as you see in the markets, which is a post I have published before. Needless to say the place was wall to wall with choice.

June 16 – More Farm Concreting

We spent the weekend concreting the floor at the farm by hand. It took the full two days to mix and spread about 34 square metres of concrete. I now know why I used trucks to deliver the 260 sq mtrs for our home floor slab. The new floor is characterful with lots of gentle undulations which fits in nicely with the whole “rustic” structure. Concrete chairs and a table were bought today as part of my effort to make it all more farang friendly and help out Yuan and Lud at the same time.

Mummy scorpion with babies on board. Found under some old timber. She wasn’t happy.

Yuan was on smoothing duty.

Yuan was on smoothing duty.

The last corner being finished.

The last corner being finished.

Lizard eggs.

Lizard eggs.

It may not look much but this is the centre of Yuan and Lud's life and the floor will make it a little more useable especially in the wet season.

It may not look much but this is the centre of Yuan and Lud’s life and the floor will make it a little more useable especially in the wet season.

June 16 – Skywalk

My stepdaughter Peng told me about this lookout that has been built attached to a temple called Wat Pha Tak Suea. It is located in the Sangkhom district, which is to the left of Nong Khai in the far northeast of Thailand and about 1 1/2 hour’s drive from us. None of these photos are mine.

The construction close to being finished. It cost 17 million baht or A$680,000 to build.

The construction close to being finished. It cost 17 million baht or A$680,000 to build.

I think we’ll be adding this to the list of places to visit this year. That is the Mekong river, which is best to see this time of the year as there is plenty of water running. I will report back.

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That's a view worth travelling for. As you can only get 20 people a time on the platform I wonder how that all works out.

That’s a view worth travelling for. As you can only get 20 people a time on the platform I wonder how that all works out.

Google Nong Khai Skywalk if you want to get there before me.

June 17 – Yaun’s Birthday

This post is more designed for people who have been following the blog for a while and know my Thai family as well as I do!.

It was Yuan’s birthday yesterday and the family gathered at our place in the evening for an Isaan buffet. This is masses of meat, prawns, squid and raw vegetables cooked on an aluminium bowl over a charcoal fire with a broth “moat” creating the most amazing soup afterwards.

The fires set up in our outdoor area. A big chest full of ice for the drinks.

The fires set up in our outdoor area. A big chest full of ice for the drinks.

Yuan got a makeover from Gaun, which she was really excited about. She wouldn't drink for a while because she didn't want to disturb her lipstick! She's moved beyond that stage in this photo.

Yuan got a makeover from Gaun, which she was really excited about. She wouldn’t drink for a while because she didn’t want to disturb her lipstick! She’s moved beyond that stage in this photo.

Thais are very reserved in public so this is a very unusual photo. Lud giving Yuan a semi-kiss (only for the camera). Thais never kiss and quite often never touch in public. Lud and Yuan have been married for 23 years so it's not like they don't know each other.

Thais are very reserved in public so this is a very unusual photo. Lud giving Yuan a semi-kiss (only for the camera).

Thais never kiss and quite often never touch in public. Lud and Yuan have been married for 23 years so it’s not like they don’t know each other.

Three of the sisters in my Thai family. Of the seven kids these are Yuan (7), Paed (4) and Gaun (6). Paed and Yuan run the two halves of the family farm.

Three of the sisters in my Thai family. Of the seven kids these are Yuan (7), Paed (4) and Gaun (6). Paed and Yuan run the two halves of the family farm.

You can see the cooking arrangement in this photo. The heat is provided by charcoal and the meats are cooked on the raised area in the middle. The juices run into the soup around the outside, which is where the prawns, squid and vegetables are cooked. The base is concrete and costs $2.00.

You can see the cooking arrangement in this photo.

The heat is provided by charcoal and the meats are cooked on the raised area in the middle. The juices run into the soup around the outside, which is where the prawns, squid and vegetables are cooked. The base is concrete and costs $2.00.

And yes, you can buy birthday cakes in Si Bun Ruang. Thais have no concept of meal courses so you are just as likely to start with cake, although in this case we are working through the normal sequence. Peng, my stepdaughter, Gaun and Yaun of course.

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There was heaps of food left over so today we had a mini-repeat outside while the tropical rain poured down around us.

There was heaps of food left over so today we had a mini-repeat outside while the tropical rain poured down around us.

Peng and Gaun both of whom can eat their own body weight at a buffet in true Isaan style.

Peng and Gaun both of whom can eat their own body weight at a buffet in true Isaan style.

Note the subtle sound system, which shakes the foundations at half volume. Essential party equipment.

Note the subtle sound system, which shakes the foundations at half volume. Essential party equipment.

Enough for this post. I hope you have enjoyed being part of my life over a few days in June and I hope you’ll join me again for the next few week’s activities when I publish Isaan – the Small Stories 17 shortly.

Thanks for reading.