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.

Once I catch up with the Small Stories I want to write a couple of posts of our recent trip to a northern city called Nan, driving there on the back roads through some magnificent countryside. A taste of what’s to come:

Thai scenery at its best.

Thai scenery at its best.

A Tuscan winery - where?

A Tuscan winery – where?

The end of the road - why?

The end of the road – why?

Northern delights.

Northern delights. The hills to the south of Nan.

A silver odyssey.

A silver odyssey.

June 17 – Essential Dinnerware

One of the photos in my previous post reminded me of an essential piece of Thai tableware that I have been meaning to tell you about. You will see these everywhere in Thailand although at various levels of sophistication.

A nice match to our dining table.

A nice match to our dining table.

The toilet roll napkin dispenser is not as bad as it sounds and is totally sensible once you get over any natural discrimination towards toilet rolls having a life outside the bathroom. Given time the Australian nanny state will pass legislation to make such discrimination illegal but there’s no such problem here in Thailand.

We have two of these dispensers and my acceptance of them is a sign that I am becoming fully integrated into the local culture. Obviously we don’t lower ourselves to the plastic covers or God forbid the plain toilet roll on the table scenario. No we have hand carved wooden boxes, a family heirloom in the making. You can pick these up at most handicraft sort of markets such as the night markets in Chiang Mai or Chatuchak markets Bangkok (covered in a previous post).

There is a trick to how you set them up, which I will share. If visiting Thailand don’t go home without one. They are a real icebreaker at dinner parties.

What you do is squish the roll (getting technical but try and keep up) to loosen the cardboard centre and then remove it. The paper needs to unravel from the centre not the edge as you would in the toilet scenario. Pop it through the opening in the top and you have hours of clean fingers.

What you do is squish the roll (getting technical but try and keep up) to loosen the cardboard centre and then remove it.

The paper needs to unravel from the centre not the edge as you would in the toilet scenario. Pop it through the opening in the top of the box and you have hours of clean fingers.

June 21 – Happy Snaps 

I am writing an eBook on the construction of our house (which is now finished and you can find it HERE) and trying to get it finished before we head to Bali tomorrow. This post is a welcome break from editing and contains a few miscellaneous bits and pieces from the last couple of days, which have mostly been spent in front of the computer.

This is the back of our house just before we moved in March 2015.

This is the back of our house just before we moved in March 2015.

This is how it looks today thanks to Gaun's planting efforts. Note the clothes line being a bamboo pole set on eucalyptus uprights. No Bunnings required here.

This is how it looks today thanks to Gaun’s planting efforts. Note the clothes line being a bamboo pole set on eucalyptus uprights. No hardware store required here.

And the beneficiary of all these flowers?

And the beneficiary of all these flowers?

A mass of soil added to this piece of land to raise the level above flood level in true Thai style. That is the turn to the family farm on the right. A bland photo but the interesting bit is that this will become a small resort at some stage. I have to wonder at the business plan that supports this venture. This road has NO passing traffic other than local farmers and it is in the middle of nowhere. Si Bun Ruang, which is a small town, already has over 25 resorts so I hear. My only thought is that because it is located so privately it is intended to cater for the "short time" business, which is how most of the resorts making any sort of living. It is a rate designed for couples who aren't planning on doing much sleeping and is about 2/3rds the rate you would pay if you actually want to spend the night!

A mass of soil added to this piece of land to raise the level above flood level in true Thai style.

That is the turn to the family farm on the right. A bland photo but the interesting bit is that this will become a small resort at some stage. I have to wonder at the business plan that supports this venture. This road has NO passing traffic other than local farmers and it is in the middle of nowhere. Si Bun Ruang, which is a small town, already has over 25 resorts so I hear.

My only thought is that because it is located so privately it is intended to cater for the “short time” business, which is how most of the resorts make any sort of living. It is a rate designed for couples who aren’t planning on doing much sleeping and is about half the rate you would pay if you actually want to spend the night!

And this is the road leading to the resort. It is as busy as this all the time

And this is the road leading to the resort. It is as busy as this all the time

One part of Thailand goes up and another goes down. This is the pond that has been created by moving that soil. Will it ever fill?

One part of Thailand goes up and another goes down. This is the pond that has been created by moving that soil. Will it ever fill? Sept 2016 update – And at the end of this year’s wet season I can tell you NO. There’s only a puddle at the bottom.

Back home:

Who's a handsome boy?

Who’s a handsome boy?

Gaun has built a new rustic pergola for a grape vine we bought recently. The vine is climbing up that thin bamboo pole in the foreground on the right and has already reached the top. I will let you know if we get grapes (red) in time. All the materials for this were cut by Gaun at the family farm and brought home.

Gaun has built a new rustic pergola for a grape vine we bought recently.

The vine is climbing up that thin bamboo pole in the foreground on the right and has already reached the top. I will let you know if we get grapes (red) in time. All the materials for this were cut by Gaun at the family farm and brought home.

Mothers are the same the world over. Gaun is shown here doing Peng's homework. The topic is badminton. Peng has mobility restrictions so she can't participate in sports. Instead of actually playing badminton her teacher gave her (Gaun) an assignment to write about the topic.

Mothers are the same the world over. Gaun is shown here doing Peng’s homework.

The topic is badminton. Peng has mobility restrictions so she can’t participate in sports. Instead of actually playing badminton her teacher gave her (Gaun) an assignment to write about the topic.

June 25 – A Holiday in Bali

We were invited to the wedding of good friends of ours at the place of their first holiday together – Bali. For Gaun it was a chance to explore a new culture and for me an opportunity to compare two Buddhist (Bali) tropical locations and reflect on my decision to make Thailand home. We spent all our time in Ubud, in the hills of Bali about 1 1/2 hour’s drive from the airport. These photos are the first impressions of our temporary home:

I have to say that I am very impressed with Ubud. It has been many years since I came here last and it is now a very clean, upmarket location full of beautiful restaurants and good quality shops. Thailand could learn a lot from what they have done. I love these laneways that lead off to who knows where.

I have to say that I am very impressed with Ubud. It has been many years since I came here last and it is now a very clean, upmarket location full of beautiful restaurants and good quality shops. Thailand could learn a lot from what they have done. I love these laneways that lead off to who knows where.

The men are preparing for one of the many dance presentations that are offered most evenings. A much more visual expression of the historical aspect of the culture here than Thailand.

The men are preparing for one of the many dance presentations that are offered most evenings. A much more visual expression of the historical aspect of the culture here than Thailand.

If you have been to Bali you will be used to these little offerings made to the spirits each morning. A new and old mix in this photo.

If you have been to Bali you will be used to these little offerings made to the spirits each morning. A new and old mix in this photo.

Small shops hidden away in the backstreets. Everything very clean and orderly.

Small shops hidden away in the backstreets. Everything very clean and orderly.

Ice cream anyone?

Ice cream anyone?

Much more emphasis on planting up the streets here than back home. Gaun keeps muttering about the Isaan lack of attention to creating a visual like this example.

Much more emphasis on planting up the streets here than back home. Gaun keeps muttering about the Isaan lack of attention to creating a visual like this example.

Another interesting alley leading to a private home.

Another interesting alley leading to a private home.

Great quality bars and restaurants. Compare this level of presentation to Phuket or Pattaya and I know where I would be having a drink.

Great quality bars and restaurants. Compare this level of presentation to Phuket or Pattaya and I know where I would be having a drink.

A temple structure just off the main street in Ubud. They have an evening dance show where those two people are standing the the back, which would be pretty spectacular.

A temple structure just off the main street in Ubud. They have an evening dance show where those two people are standing the the back, which would be pretty spectacular.

Carved stone such an everyday feature here adding interest to the buildings.

Carved stone such an everyday feature here adding interest to the buildings.

We had lunch here overlooking the lotus pond and temple. Good food and not expensive. It is called the Lotus Cafe for obvious reasons.

We had lunch here overlooking the lotus pond and temple. Good food and not expensive. It is called the Lotus Cafe for obvious reasons.

Gaun being Gaun. She is equally if not more interested in taking photos of the flowers as the buildings. Orchids here.

Gaun being Gaun. She is equally if not more interested in taking photos of the flowers as the buildings. Orchids here.

Lunch. About $8.00 a dish with a large local beer for $3.50.

Lunch. About $8.00 a dish with a large local beer for $3.50.

I remember this building from my last trip here. It overlooks a ravine with a stream at the bottom. Not much water here either like back home.

I remember this building from my last trip here. It overlooks a ravine with a stream at the bottom. Not much water here either like back home.

Love the colours and shapes.

Love the colours and shapes.

The rice is being harvested here, which is several months ahead of Thailand. I had expected them to be on the same cycle. This photo will be examined with a farmer's eye by the family once we get home.

The rice is being harvested here, which is several months ahead of Thailand. I had expected them to be on the same cycle. This photo will be examined with a farmer’s eye by the family once we get home.

A peek through one of the many archway doors that are so inviting here. A neatness and abundance of greenery that leaves much of Thailand's presentation for dead.

A peek through one of the many archway doors that are so inviting here. A neatness and abundance of greenery that leaves much of Thailand’s presentation for dead.

This small road invites you to go down and explore.

This small road invites you to go down and explore.

I am happy to follow this advice. A relief to many readers I am sure.

I am happy to follow this advice. A relief to many readers I am sure.

The rice harvest finished in this paddy. They must get a couple of crops a year here compared to Isaan's one.

The rice harvest finished in this paddy. They must get a couple of crops a year here compared to Isaan’s one.

Spot the monkey.

Spot the monkey.

If you wanted to read more about the Bali trip and my decision on which country is “best” then follow this link HERE for Part 1 and HERE for the verdict.

July 5 – Back in Thailand

We enjoyed our time in Bali and especially being part of the wedding for two of our closest friends. It was also wonderful to come home. Day one had us out to the farm early morning to check out the rice planting. It is great to see these vivid green scenes taking over Isaan to replace the dry, brown and dusty conditions we experienced from December last year.

Workers planting out the rice with the farmhouse as a backdrop. This rice when ready in November is only used by the family for their personal use and not sold.

Workers planting out the rice with the farmhouse as a backdrop. This rice when ready in November is only used by the family for their personal use and not sold.

Gaun packed me a farang breakfast this day complete with cornflakes, a toaster, butter and marmalade. It isn't easy living here in the wilds of Isaan.

Gaun packed me a farang breakfast this day complete with cornflakes, a toaster, butter and marmalade. It isn’t easy living here in the wilds of Isaan.

No Photoshop required. This is its real colour. These rice shoots are harvested and then replanted by hand to maximise quality and output.

No Photoshop required. This is its real colour. These rice shoots are harvested and then replanted by hand to maximise quality and output.

Newly planted paddies as seen from the farmhouse.

Newly planted paddies as seen from the farmhouse.

Banana shake on the menu this morning.

Banana shake is on the menu this morning for obvious reasons.

The farmhouse is now sort of floating on a sea of rice.

The farmhouse is now seems to be floating on a sea of rice.

And the same view two months later in early September.

And the same view two months later in early September.

Looking from the farmhouse across the newly planted paddies the the family's sugar crop behind. The farm extends to those trees on the far distance. Flowers so you know that Gaun has been in action.

Looking from the farmhouse across the newly planted paddies the the family’s sugar crop behind. The farm extends to those trees on the far distance. Flowers in the foreground so you know that Gaun has been in action.

And again two months later.

And again two months later.

My wonderful brother and sister in laws - Lud and Yuan. Gaun in work mode.

My wonderful brother and sister in laws – Lud and Yuan. Gaun in work mode.

These typical Thailand “postcard” photos (who buys postcards any more?) can only be experienced July – November each year. Rice is planted during the wet season so if you want the beautiful tropical scenery like these photos then you need to be prepared to get wet sometimes. The upside is that it tends to be cooler this time of year with daytime temperatures in the mid-30’s (if you regard that as cooler!). Visit rural Thailand outside this rice season and you will find it a brown and less interesting place visually.

Also remember that in the north Dec – Feb is the cool season and many trees will lose their leaves leaving normally clothed hills pretty bare of coverage. Nice weather though with temperatures 10 – 25 degrees (nighttime/daytime). Do avoid Apr – May if possible where in Isaan the temperatures will be above 40 for weeks and it is super dry so no waterfalls or rural greenery to be seen.

July 5 – Snakes Alive

Life is always unexpectedly interesting here. Today Gaun’s mama arrived at our house to tell Gaun there was a large snake in the bathroom (the family’s house not mine thank goodness!) Gaun grabbed a stick and I grabbed my camera, which shows who grew up on a farm and who lived in a city. I also got my zoom lense, which seemed appropriate not being the bravest farang you have ever met when it come to snakes!

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The snake had taken refuge underneath the washing machine so it was a hard job to get it out. A neighbour was called in to help and he eventually brought in the dogs. The snake made a break for the door, which happened to be where I was standing and in a moment of self preservation rather than any planning I managed to close the door on it whereupon Gaun stepped in to bash it.

A neighbour jumped to safety on the toilet after the snake had a go at him.

A neighbour jumped to safety on the toilet after the snake had a go at him.

The dogs were sent in the flush (so to speak) the snake out from under the washing machine.

The dogs were sent in the flush (so to speak) the snake out from under the washing machine.

iPads sometimes don’t play these videos. If that’s a problem you can find the original HERE.

I would like to impress you by saying that I had a near death experience but haven’t been able to find out what type of snake it was.There are many here that are not venomous through to those that are best avoided such as king cobras, which in full size can stand up and look you in the eye. Best to be sure though especially when it is inside your home.

Not a good day for the snake. If anyone knows what variety it is would you please make a comment.

Not a good day for the snake. If anyone knows what variety it is would you please make a comment.

Thais have an open door policy with their homes and I have watched farangs especially from Europe go down the same route when building their homes with no insect screens. A great idea if you want to share your house with the local wildlife otherwise do what I did and include screens on everything.

July 5 – A Garden Update – before and after

For those non-gardeners out there my apologies. I have been writing an eBook on my house build in Thailand as I have mentioned before and have been adding some before and after photos, which I thought I would share here as well.

The “befores” were taken fifteen months ago and the “after” in July 2016. The amazing change is a testament to the Thai weather, the productive soil and Gaun’s endless passion for her garden. There is nothing in these photos that she hasn’t planted.

Just after we moved in late March 2015.

Just after we moved in late March 2015.

Today. Note the boxing kangaroo flag. Very Aussie.

And now. Note the boxing kangaroo flag. Very Aussie.

The original.

The original.

Gaun has made our front garden the pride of the village.

Gaun has made our front garden the pride of the village.

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I have since added an electric gate opener, which saves my previous remote (Gaun) getting wet in the rainy season.

July 9 – Friends In Isaan

We have friends visiting us for a few days and this is a roundup of their first day in bustling Si Bun Ruang.

Rice planting is in full swing at the family farm so Tara,the granddaughter of our friend, was ankle deep in mud and doing her bit. Well done Tara for getting involved. Gaun on the left and one of my brother-in-laws, Lud on the right.

Rice planting is in full swing at the family farm so Tara, the granddaughter of our friend, was ankle deep in mud and doing her bit. Well done Tara for getting involved. Gaun and one of my brother-in-laws, Lud on the right. Yuan in the distance.

Tara has been accepted as an honorary Isaan farmer and is welcome back on the farm anytime. I will photograph "her" rice being harvested in November so she can see the end result.

Tara has been accepted as an honorary Isaan farmer and is welcome back on the farm anytime. I will photograph “her” rice being harvested in November so she can see the end result.

Not just planting rice but here she is helping Gaun in her mission to plant up the entire farm with flowers.

Not just planting rice but here she is helping Gaun in her mission to plant up the entire farm with flowers.

Mushrooms were discovered under some rice mulch and Lud got Tara involved to dig up the prize. In season you will see lots of lights in the countryside at night as people hunt for mushrooms using small miner's lights strapped to their heads. They get a good price in the market the next day or just end up in the family cooking pot.

Mushrooms were discovered under some rice mulch and Lud got Tara involved to dig up the prize.

In season you will see lots of lights in the countryside at night as people hunt for mushrooms using small miner’s lights strapped to their heads. They get a good price in the market the next day or just end up in the family cooking pot.

Happy Lud.

Happy Lud.

I wanted some coriander to make a dip and the family didn't have any at picking stage. No problem because the farm next to theirs had some and we all walked over to get a bunch. While the coriander was being picked we watched a few of the locals getting rice ready to be replanted in the paddies. The lady closest to the camera is called Nit Noy (a little bit) and is a wonderful but cruel Thai massage lady. She is anything but nit noy especially when she is walking on you during a session. The second lady with the hat is called Jan and we bought our land from her back in November 2013.

I wanted some coriander to make a dip and the family didn’t have any at picking stage.

No problem because the farm next to theirs had some and we all walked over to get a bunch. While the coriander was being picked we watched a few of the locals getting rice ready to be replanted in the paddies. The lady closest to the camera is called Nit Noy (a little bit) and is a wonderful but cruel Thai massage lady. She is anything but nit noy especially when she is walking on you during a session. The second lady with the hat is called Jan and we bought our land from her back in November 2013.

This is Joe. He's a neighbour. One of those wonderful spontaneous Thai smiles.

This is Joe. He’s a neighbour. One of those wonderful spontaneous Thai smiles.

A nothing photo of a discarded creeper but.......

A nothing photo of a discarded creeper but…….

....you will see it wrapped around Jan's hat and also two of the other workers have it on their heads. It is a natural repellant for the tiny mingies (flies) that buzz around your eyes and ears if working on the farm this time of year.

….you will see it wrapped around Jan’s hat and also two of the other workers have it on their heads.

It is a natural repellant for the tiny mingies (flies) that buzz around your eyes and ears if working on the farm this time of year.

This is a big moment. Tara's first motorbike ride.

This is a big moment. Tara’s first motorbike ride.

With coriander in hand (the farmer wouldn't accept payment for it) we headed back to the family farm. Lud and Tara doing it the easy way.

With coriander in hand (the farmer wouldn’t accept payment for it) we headed back to the family farm. Lud and Tara doing it the easy way.

Every Friday Si Bun Ruang has large local markets in the afternoon and it is the usual riot of colour and food. A must for any visitor. The lady in red on the right is a neighbour in our moo ban (village).

Every Friday Si Bun Ruang has large local markets in the afternoon and it is the usual riot of colour and food. A must for any visitor. The lady in red on the right is a neighbour in our moo ban (village).

This yai (grandmother) sold us three large bunches of asparagus she had grown herself for 50 baht (A$2.00). We bought some prawns and freshly squeezed coconut milk and Gaun cooked up two beautifully tasty dishes for everyone this evening.

This yai (grandmother) sold us three large bunches of asparagus she had grown herself for 50 baht (A$2.00).

We bought some prawns and freshly squeezed coconut milk and Gaun cooked up two beautifully tasty dishes for everyone this evening.

Buy a bunny with dress.

Buy a bunny with dress.

As well as food the markets also have heaps of small clothes shops with most things priced between A$4.00 - $7.00. This is our friend Gina sorting out the local currency to pay for a couple of purchases.

As well as food the markets also have heaps of small clothes shops with most things priced between A$4.00 – $7.00. This is our friend Gina sorting out the local currency to pay for a couple of purchases.

And baby makes two. Dad and son man the stall while dad and son buy.

And baby makes two. Dad and son man the stall while dad and son buy.

This is an old waterway that is being cleared to allow it to run again now that we are actually getting good rainfall this year after several years of drought. I took this photo tow days ago. The road does a sharp dog-leg around the village temple on the left. With no barriers if you don't make the turn you and the car will end up wetter than planned.

This is an old waterway that is being cleared to allow it to run again now that we are actually getting good rainfall this year after several years of drought.

I took this photo tow days ago. The road does a sharp dog-leg around the village temple on the left. With no barriers if you don’t make the turn you and the car will end up wetter than planned.

After one day of monsoon rain this is how that waterway looks today. The guy on the left is called Yuk, and was part of the "A Team" a group of four guys who did most of the work on building our house. In true Isaan style the new river was being fished today, one day after filling! You can see how close the road is to the water.

After one day of monsoon rain this is how that waterway looks today.

The guy on the left is called Yaks, which means “giant’ in Thai and he was part of the “A Team” a group of four guys who did most of the work on building our house. In true Isaan style the new river was being fished today, one day after filling! You can see how close the road is to the water.

July 10 – On the Road with Friends

Day 2 with our friends visiting us in Isaan. We hit the road to see a few sights on the way to Nong Khai and the Mekong River at the border of Thailand and Laos. We finished up at the best Thai restaurant in Udon Thani before heading home with a stack of photos some of which I have shared here.

This impressive temple is hidden away on highway 210 between Nong Bua Lamphu and Udon. Although almost right on the road you would never know it was there. It is in a huge treed compound and includes several buildings and a large lake.

This impressive temple called Wat Bunyanusorn is hidden away on highway 210 between Nong Bua Lamphu and Udon. Although almost right on the road you would never know it was there. It is in a huge treed compound and includes several buildings and a large lake.

One of those amazingly lifelike monks you see in temples around Thailand. Look at the detail and he could almost be for real.

One of those amazingly lifelike monks you see in temples around Thailand. Look at the detail and he could almost be for real.

He probably even has fingerprints!

He probably even has fingerprints!

This Buddha sits on highway 2 on the way to Nong Khai 15 km outside Udon. Behind it a a large silk village selling a huge range of clothes and fabrics. Not just silk but cotton too. Well worth a visit if in the area.

This Buddha sits on highway 2 on the way to Nong Khai 15 km outside Udon. Behind it a a large silk village selling a huge range of clothes and fabrics. Not just silk but cotton too. Well worth a visit if in the area.

Our friend Tara adding 20 baht to the temple's coffers on the way into the village.

Our friend Tara adding 20 baht to the temple’s coffers on the way into the village.

Glorious colours.

Glorious colours.

This is the main road through the silk stalls. Several side streets as well so you're not short of choices.

This is the main road through the silk stalls. Several side streets as well so you’re not short of choices.

Handmade silks.

Handmade silks.

Machine made but half the price.

Machine made but half the price.

Arriving at Nong Khai we took the required tourist photo of the mighty Mekong the world's 12th longest. Thailand on the right and Laos on the left. These are floating restaurants.

Arriving at Nong Khai we took the required tourist photo of the mighty Mekong the world’s 12th longest. Thailand on the right and Laos on the left. These are floating restaurants.

Gina and Tara. Just to prove they were there.

Gina and Tara. Just to prove they were there.

More shopping. Large markets run alongside the Mekong selling all the junk (mostly) that you will ever need. This photo shows that Thais can sleep anywhere even when at work. These clothes didn't fall into the junk category, which is maybe why nobody was in there keeping the sales guy awake.

More shopping.

Large markets run alongside the Mekong selling all the junk (mostly) that you will ever need. This photo shows that Thais can sleep anywhere even when at work. These clothes didn’t fall into the junk category, which is maybe why nobody was in there keeping the sales guy awake.

I found the prices were more expensive than the local markets at Si Bun Ruang, although obviously more choice here. Maybe catering to the Thai/Laos tourist trade rather than locals.

I found the prices were more expensive than the local markets at Si Bun Ruang, although obviously more choice here. Maybe catering to the Thai/Laos tourist trade rather than locals.

Decent cargo pants at $10.00 each. Sold.

Decent cargo pants at $10.00 each. Sold.

Any visit to Nong Khai should include Sala Keoku, which is a garden full of these huge concrete statues. 20 baht to get in.

Any visit to Nong Khai should include Sala Keoku, which is a garden full of these huge concrete statues. 20 baht to get in. More HERE.

Many of the statues have a story but as they are written in Thai I am not the person who will be sharing them with you.

Many of the statues have a story but as they are written in Thai I am not the person who will be sharing them with you.

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His and hers.

Tara found the cat far more interesting than the statues I think.

Tara found the cat far more interesting than the statues I think.

You will find your birth month animal in this section.

You will find your birth month animal in this section.

Impressive.

Impressive.

Feeding the fish.

Feeding the fish is a Thai national pastime. It is a way to gain merit to balance the demerit when contributing to killing animals for food. You will see birds and turtles in markets, which can be bought and released for the same reason.

Tara's not too sure about the fish.

Tara’s not too sure about the fish.

Add a description

It is hard to come here and not take plenty of photos. This is my third time and I still can't stop capturing new images.

It is hard to come here and not take plenty of photos. This is my third time and I still can’t stop capturing new images.

Heading back into Nong Khai this is another hidden temple you'd never find unless you knew it was there. One of my favourites.

Heading back into Nong Khai this is another hidden temple you’d never find unless you knew it was there. One of my favourites. Wat Noen Panao Wanaram.

Heading east out of Nong Khai.

The monks and nuns were in the middle of a chanting session.

The monks and nuns were in the middle of a chanting session.

Great detail. None of it will be maintained and it will be a wreck several years from now so see it soon. An unfortunate story that applies to so many of Thailand's temples.

Great detail. None of it will be maintained and it will be a wreck several years from now so see it soon. An unfortunate story that applies to so many of Thailand’s temples.

Back in Udon we called into the temple dedicated to our western spiritual needs - Central Plaza. I was after some shoes but I have got too used to the real world prices outside and couldn't bring myself to pay three times the cost of a non-brand.

Back in Udon we called into the temple dedicated to our western spiritual needs – Central Plaza. I was after some shoes but I have got too used to the real world prices outside and couldn’t bring myself to pay three times the cost of a non-brand.

This is where you go for shoes in Udon Thani.

This is where you go for shoes in Udon Thani – on highway 22 as it passes through the centre of town.

Multi-story, overpriced brand shopping. Bliss for many I know. You don't have to do it rough in Isaan.

Multi-story, overpriced brand shopping. Bliss for many I know. You don’t have to do it rough in Isaan.

Could be any plaza in the world. Biotherm - designed for the Isaan rice farmer!

Could be any plaza in the world. Biotherm – designed for the Isaan rice farmer!

Our day finished at the small Udon Thai restaurant called Samuay & Son. For once I agree with Trip Advisor and this is a great place to eat. Friendly staff, complex Thai flavours beautifully presented. Highly recommended.

Our day finished at the small Udon Thai restaurant called Samuay & Son.

For once I agree with Trip Advisor and this is a great place to eat. Friendly staff, complex Thai flavours beautifully presented. Highly recommended. The Trip Advisor map is wrong for the restaurant’s location (how unusual) but I have provided the correct details later in this post.

I hate adding to the endless photos of Facebook food but anyway....pork belly.

Pork belly.

Beef in a Thai southern curry.

Beef in a Thai southern curry.

July 11 – Back in the Village

After a big day yesterday we stayed closer to home but still managed to mix up the activities to keep our friends busy.

A beautiful sunny morning so breakfast in our outside living area.

A beautiful sunny morning so breakfast in our outside living area.

Tara has become addicted to motorbikes. We were invited to have coffee at an Australian friend's place so Gaun and Tara headed off on the bike while we more mature folk followed in the car.

Tara has become addicted to motorbikes. We were invited to have coffee at an Australian friend’s place so Gaun and Tara headed off on the bike while we more mature folk followed in the car.

I had arranged for Gina to get a strong Thai massage on the farm done by Nit Noy, a lady I have mentioned in these posts before. She has no mercy and finds all the spots that need attention. For her it was a break from rice planting, for Gina it was less than relaxing as you can see from the photo. Still Nit is rebooked for Wednesday so mission accomplished. $12.00 for two hours.

I had arranged for Gina to get a strong Thai massage on the farm done by Nit Noy, a lady I have mentioned in these posts before.

She has no mercy and finds all the spots that need attention. For her it was a break from rice planting, for Gina it was less than relaxing as you can see from the photo. Still Nit is rebooked for Wednesday so mission accomplished. $12.00 for two hours.

The farm on a bright sunny morning.

The farm on a bright sunny morning.

Tara volunteered to help Yuan, Lud and Gaun plant rice.

Tara volunteered to help Yuan, Lud and Gaun plant rice yet again. Isaan blood flows in her veins.

Meanwhile Nit Noy was applying her full weight to the massage on Gina. I have told you before that "Nit Noy" in Thai means a "little bit" and as you can see she isn't quite in that category.

Meanwhile Nit Noy was applying her full weight to the massage on Gina. I have told you before that “Nit Noy” in Thai means a “little bit” and as you can see she isn’t quite in that category.

My stepdaughter Peng is collected from the family home to have her massage with Nit. Tara didn't refuse the chance for another bike ride.

My stepdaughter Peng is collected from the family home to have her massage with Nit. Tara didn’t refuse the chance for another bike ride.

Gaun and Yuan start to prepare lunch at farm. These are Gaun's new gardening trousers bought for $2.00 at Nong Khai.

Gaun and Yuan start to prepare lunch at farm. These are Gaun’s new gardening trousers bought for $2.00 at Nong Khai.

It has been all too much for Tara.

It has been all too much for Tara.

Lunch is served and what a view.

Lunch is served and what a view.

After lunch we headed back into the village to watch a new monk initiation. Gaun and Tara get a lift with the mayor of the moo ban (village) next to ours.

After lunch we headed back into the village to watch a new monk initiation. Gaun and Tara get a lift with the mayor of the moo ban (village) next to ours.

The monk procession passes our house. Only a very small celebration this time. Many people become monks for Buddhist Lent, a three month period which is just about to happen. Either that or it is a good way to get out of planting rice!

The monk procession passes our house. Only a very small celebration this time. Many people become monks for Buddhist Lent, a three month period which is just about to happen. Either that or it is a good way to get out of planting rice!

The monk's pick-up passes our gate. The kids are mostly there because the monk throws out handfuls of sweets mixed with small coins as he goes through the village. Mind you the adults are pretty enthusiastic as well.

The monk’s pick-up passes our gate. The kids are mostly there because the monk throws out handfuls of sweets mixed with small coins as he goes through the village. Mind you the adults are pretty enthusiastic as well.

An older monk to be. Mostly they do the monk initiation after school.

An older monk to be. Mostly they do the monk initiation after school.

A proud mum. The same look is given to kids no matter how attractive the world over.

A proud mum. The same look is given to kids no matter how attractive the world over.

This lady is happy dancing to the music. Can spot the Aussie boxing kangaroo flag?

This lady is happy dancing to the music. Can spot the Aussie boxing kangaroo flag?

The procession passes on down the road in a riot of umbrella colour heading to the temple where the monk will exchange his white robes for the orange.

The procession passes on down the road in a riot of umbrella colour heading to the temple where the monk will exchange his white robes for the orange.

A Trip Advisor Warning

Just a warning if travelling in Thailand. Trip Advisor/Google Maps location pins are often wrong and sometimes by quite a margin. I remember trying to find the Immigration Office in the northern border town of Mae Sai and Google maps had it in the middle of a rice field, rather than its true location in the middle of town.

For anyone relying on finding the lovely Thai restaurant Samuay & Son in Udon Thani Trip Advisor has you probably eating in a motorbike repair shop! The comparison of locations is shown in my example below.

1-020

Please double check all locations using street view in Google maps if relying on Trip Advisor in Thailand.

Update 4 Mar 2017: I have found Google Maps to be very responsive if you do advise them of a wrong location so don’t be passive but help others. For Google Maps changes go HERE.

July 15 – Free Beer

Somehow a Chang beer truck (chang means elephant in Thai, which is why you will find them on the label – see below) managed to cross the road and end up on its side in this small pond on the main road between Si Bun Ruang and Nong Bua Lamphu.

chang-beer

For those Thai beer enthusiasts out there , and I know one or three, the Chang bottle recently changed from brown to green to commemorate the brand’s 20th anniversary.

It was a decent sized flatbed truck that would have crossed oncoming traffic and then rolled into this pond. A soft landing. Maybe the driver had been sampling the product.

It was a decent sized flatbed truck that would have crossed oncoming traffic and then rolled into this pond. A soft landing. Maybe the driver had been sampling the product.

The truck had just been extracted when we arrived and was being towed off but the salvage effort for the beer was in full swing. The rescue was being helped by a bit of liquid incentive using the recovered bottles of beer. A good time was being had all round.

It's a hard job but someone.............. Steve W if you are reading you can see that maritime rescue has been brought in.

It’s a hard job but someone…………..Steve W if you are reading you can see that maritime rescue has been brought in.

Many of you will glaze over but I had to include this wonderful piece of marketing gobbledok about why the Chang bottle has changed colour and shape. How many hours went into this process and at what cost? You have to love modern corporate life:

Happy 20th anniversary to Chang Beer! To commemorate this milestone in its rich history, the iconic Chang Beer has revolutionized its packaging. The cool, modern and stylish newly designed bottle for Chang beer features a longer neck and elegant contours with embossment that befit the brand’s stature. The special emerald green colour of the new bottle is a refreshing change from its current amber colour, making it a significantly more appealing, premium and refreshing drinking experience. The gold used on the cap and labels has been updated to a fresher, more premium champagne gold, which is brought to life by the satin sheen of the labels.

The bottle has been dramatically re-shaped for a more tactile feel in hand. The taller neck and elevated bottle shoulder create stature and a stronger, more masculine look. The bottle waist has been adjusted to offer better grip, and the beautiful embossing down the bottle side adds visual and tactile interest.

The refreshingly different appeal of the new packaging underscores the drive to position the brand for even greater success and desire to position Chang Beer as the beer of choice in line with Chang Beer’s premium positioning in international markets. Chang’s commitment to quality and its brewing of an international award winning beer continues to be the objective and dedication of its internationally trained master brewers. Only the finest malt and hops from Europe, Australia and USA are used with every brew resulting in an exceptionally smooth, full bodied and well balanced beer with a fruity aroma and crisp finish that is enjoyed by consumers of today.

Enough already. Heaps more to come so keep an eye on the blog.

Thanks for reading.