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

July 13 – A Day in the Isaan Countryside

Another mixed day in the local countryside with friends of ours. The afternoon included monkeys and a cliffside temple, a rubber plantation, driving through the lush views of the wet season, water slides and a family Isaan buffet.

The monkey wat is hidden away deep in the country. The temple itself is nothing special but you can buy food and hand feed the monkeys and get photos like this one.

The monkey temple actually called Wat Tham Pha Nam Thiang is hidden away deep in the country. The temple itself is nothing special but you can buy food and hand feed the monkeys and get photos like this one.

Mum and baby.

Mum and baby.

The wat is located against these cliffs and is being renovated. There is no main temple building, just a small cave. A great drive through paddy fields and small moo bans to get there.

The wat is located against these cliffs and is being renovated. There is no main temple building, just a small cave. A great drive through paddy fields and small moo bans to get there.

They have a guy with a sling shot with you all the time just in case the monkeys get a bit excited. They aren't the most soft and cuddly creatures in case you haven't met them in the wild before.

They have a guy with a sling shot with you all the time just in case the monkeys get a bit excited. They aren’t the most soft and cuddly creatures in case you haven’t met them in the wild before.

It is such a delight to be travelling through such lush countryside now that the rains have arrived.

It is such a delight to be travelling through such lush countryside now that the rains have arrived.

The monkey way is at the base of that rock formation on the left. These are cucumbers growing and a small moo ban (village) in the background.

The monkey way is at the base of that rock formation on the left. These are cucumbers growing and a small moo ban (village) in the background.

Guess what's on the dinner menu for us? $0.80 for a kilo and you can't get fresher that this.

Guess what’s on the dinner menu for us? $0.80 for a kilo and you can’t get fresher that this.

One of the many rubber plantations in the area. Gaun is still in her sarong from visiting the temple. Remember to keep one in your handbag (ladies only advice!) if you prefer to wear short clothing here. Temples with lots of farang visitors often have them available to hire.

One of the many rubber plantations in the area.

Gaun is still in her sarong from visiting the temple. Remember to keep one in your handbag (ladies only advice!) if you prefer to wear short clothing here. Temples with lots of farang visitors often have them available to hire.

Tara's first rubber tree experience. It is slow action!

Tara’s first rubber tree experience. It is slow action!

The weird Tham Sang Tham a cliffside wat miles from anywhere.

The weird Tham Sang Tham a cliffside wat miles from anywhere.

Tham or Thum means cave in Thai and this shows why this wat has it in its name.

Tham or Thum means cave in Thai and this shows why this wat has it in its name.

A massive multi story structure, which is decades from completion. I have only ever seen two monks here so what it is designed to achieve is beyond me.

A massive multi story structure, which is decades from completion. I have only ever seen two monks here so what it is designed to achieve is beyond me.

I have shown this guy in a previous post about this temple. He is still here and will be for his lifetime. Hand pouring moulds for the small Buddha structure on level three.

I have shown this guy in a previous post about this temple. He is still here and will be for his lifetime. Hand pouring moulds for the small Buddha structure on level three.

This is his work in a more completed stage.

This is his work in a more completed stage.

And from above with this wonderful green views as a backdrop.

And from above with this wonderful green views as a backdrop.

I took a similar photo when another friend visited earlier in the year and it was mostly brown.

I took a similar photo when another friend visited earlier in the year and it was mostly brown.

Looking the other way.

Looking the other way.

This is only 40 minutes drive from our house and you'd never know this landscape existed.

This is only 40 minutes drive from our house and you’d never know this landscape existed.

The monkey wat entrance is that red roof centre left.

The monkey wat entrance is that red roof centre left.

A san phra phum or spirit house with the best view in Isaan.

A san phra phum or spirit house with the best view in Isaan.

480 steps to the top. Counted and checked by Tara.

480 steps to the top. Counted and checked by Tara.

Tapioca plants setting off this magnificent landscape.

Tapioca plants setting off this magnificent landscape.

Goodbye Tham Sang Tham until the next visitors!

Goodbye Tham Sang Tham until the next visitors!

A day at the wats deserves a swim at the equally eccentric resort Saunam complete with canals, lion waterslide and loud Thai music.

A day at the wats deserves a swim at the equally eccentric resort Saunam complete with canals, lion waterslide and loud Thai music.

Why this is all here in the middle of rural Thailand is beyond me. Very few people use the resort accommodation but the pools get a workout on the weekends.

Why this is all here in the middle of rural Thailand is beyond me. Very few people use the resort accommodation but the pools get a workout on the weekends.

Tara and Gaun's daughter Peng. Water make for quick friendships.

Tara and Gaun’s daughter Peng. Water make for quick friendships.

Girls....................................

Girls………………………………

Life is looking pretty good.

Life is looking pretty good.

Heading home post swim.

Heading home post swim.

Another Isaan resident cooling down. No 150 baht entry fee and the mud is free.

Another Isaan resident cooling down. No 150 baht entry fee and the mud is free.

Finishing the day with a Isaan buffet with some of the family. Food is cooked on charcoal burners with the juices running into a broth to make a tasty soup.

Finishing the day with a Isaan buffet with some of the family. Food is cooked on charcoal burners with the juices running into a broth to make a tasty soup.

Isaan Broadband

Now here is one of life’s oddities. I live in a very small rural community on the edge of a minor Isaan town and I can connect to 100 mbps fiber optic broadband for A$60.00 per month, unlimited downloads.

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In the national capital of Australia the best I could get was about 5 mbps for not much less in cost with download limits. Where did we go wrong?

July 17 – Cheap Housing but would you want to?

Are there still books around called Asia on $10.00 a day? Maybe you can but would you want to?

I was looking at rentals in Si Bun Ruang for two farang who contacted me on this subject and came across this gem. Priced from $40.00 standard to $80.00 for the super deluxe (with window) per MONTH this would seem to fit the $10.00 a day category.

Full of character and original features. An early morning coffee on your own bench (maybe the deluxe unit only) overlooking your very own parking.

Full of character and original features. An early morning coffee on your own bench (maybe the deluxe unit only) overlooking your very own parking.

The list of inclusions is extensive but unfortunately your new home doesn’t have any of them except parking! Enjoy.

This place gives the word "basic" full meaning.

This place gives the word “basic” full meaning.

July 16 – The Canals of Si Bun Ruang

I have based myself at the farm to complete my second eBook called “Living in Isaan – the Small Stories”. Gaun is busy weeding with Yuan helping while Lud prepares a field for vegetable planting. As you can see it is hard work being an international author.

A medicinal bottle of beer to help with any writer's block.

A medicinal bottle of beer to help with any writer’s block.

Meanwhile the construction of the Venetian canals of Si Bun Ruang continues.

This machine has been at work for a couple of weeks now carving a waterway through the rice paddies.

This machine has been at work for a couple of weeks now carving a waterway through the rice paddies.

The result is this decent sized canal winding through the paddies with the local temple in the background.

The result is this decent sized canal winding through the paddies with the local temple in the background.

Lud finds a mushroom for my sister-in-law Yuan. Was any comment made on its shape? Of course not.

Lud finds a mushroom for my sister-in-law Yuan. Were any comments made on its shape? Of course not.

July 21 – Gaun and the Tourists

I was writing something else yesterday and came across this photo. It is one of my favourites of Gaun at Phuket because it has a story attached to it and is a great example of what I have to put up with on a daily basis!

For some unknown reason Gaun had collected a heap of small crabs from another beach and then released them on the main beach at Nai Harn, which was the most exciting thing to happen to the tourists all day.

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Gaun was as happy as a kid in crustaceans.

July 21 – Buddhist Lent

Yesterday was the start of the three month Buddhist Lent period (or called the Rains Retreat) where monks are more likely to stay in their “home” wat rather than travel around.

Buddhist Lent starts the day after Asahna Bucha Day, a public holiday to mark Buddha’s first sermon over 2,500 years ago in a deer park in India. This is why you will often see statues of deer in temples here. I have also seen reindeer in wats too, which may be a slight misinterpretation of the original idea 🙂

My stepdaughter Peng, Gaun and sister Yuan dressed for the occasion.

My stepdaughter Peng, Gaun and sister Yuan dressed for the occasion.

Our village gathered at the local wat to donate food to the monks and receive a blessing in a very small and simple ceremony. That evening we went to Wat Pha Silawa. in the next village for a much more formal evening ceremony in one of my favourite temples of Isaan.

The building at the back is where the monks were holding the ceremony. It is an old school house and will be replaced by a huge public building (Viharn) once construction has been finished.

The building at the back is where the monks were holding the ceremony. It is an old school house and will be replaced by a huge public building (Viharn) once construction has been finished.

Nothing fancy. This is how local life is here.

Nothing fancy. This is how local life is here.

Inside the school house.

Inside the school house.

Peng and me.

Peng and me.

The new temple building as seen through the trees - its best view!

The new temple building as seen through the trees – its best view!

Many ceremonies here involve a chant where you pour water into a bowl. At the end the water is then given back to land by watering a plant. Peng doing the honours here.

Many ceremonies here involve a chant where you pour water into a bowl. At the end the water is then given back to land by watering a plant. Peng doing the honours here.

Standard Thai. This is a huge effort paid for by a very small village. It will only ever be used a few time a year when completed but everyone will have earnt lots of merit by donating money to build it. I believe this is the base motivation for the endless Buddhist construction industry in Thailand.

Standard Thai. This is a huge effort paid for by a very small village. It will only ever be used a few time a year when completed but everyone will have earnt lots of merit by donating money to build it. I believe this is the base motivation for the endless Buddhist construction industry in Thailand.

This temple is being built in the next village. It is a much more original design than the one going up in our moo ban. Different function though. This is a Bot or Ubosoth/Ubosot, a monk ordination hall, while the big place in our village is a Viharn or sermon/assembly hall. Bots are sometimes closed to the public while a Viharn won't be.

This temple is being built in the next village.

It is a much more original design than the one going up in our moo ban. Different function though. This is a Bot or Ubosoth/Ubosot, a monk ordination hall, while the big place in our village is a Viharn or sermon/assembly hall. Bots are sometimes closed to the public while a Viharn won’t be.

A photo opportunity of me making a presentation of ceremonial robes to the monks at Wat Pha Silawa.

A photo opportunity of me making a presentation of ceremonial robes to the monks at Wat Pha Silawa that evening.

July 22 – A New Camera Lense

My camera spends more time with me in my travels around Isaan than my wife so I thought I would upgrade it rather than Gaun.

A friend of ours visited us recently and she had a single lense that operated both as a wide angle for landscape shots as well as a decent zoom. My research narrowed the choice down to either a Nikon 18-200mm or a Sigma 18-250mm. The Sigma had good reviews online and was $200.00 cheaper, an important factor for us pensioners!, so the Sigma is was.

For those of you in Thailand http://www.lazada.co.th/, a Thai based online store is an excellent resource. I have used them for six purchases and the whole process is easy. The payment options include credit card, bank transfer, PayPal and cash over the counter at 7/11. Their tracking system works and they deliver by courier to your door, in my case always within the specified time.

The other benefit is that if ordering from overseas all import duties are covered. You will find that if you are living here your old friend eBay will often not ship to Thailand. If they do it is very expensive and may or may not arrive (voice of experience talking here). There is also always the possibility that you get hit with import tax, which can run to 100%.

My new toy arrived this afternoon so the photos below are my first play shots with this lense. It will allow me to capture a better range of scenes for the blog and Facebook because although I have a telephoto now it is a pain to switch between the two lenses.

18mm

18mm

250mm

250mm

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You know what happens next.

250mm

Some beautiful small orchids just coming into bloom.

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How versatile is that! Can't wait to use it for real.

How versatile is that! Can’t wait to use it for real.

A couple of single shots. Gaun and Yuan were just about to head off on the bike. Their destination was opposite the police station, which explains the use of helmets.

A couple of single shots. Gaun and Yuan were just about to head off on the bike. Their destination was opposite the police station, which explains the use of helmets.

Yuan with rose.

Yuan with rose.

Heading down our street.

Heading down our street.

This photo wasn't even at 250mm. Boys and their toys!

This photo wasn’t even at 250mm. Boys and their toys!

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Far away.

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And close. No exercise required.

July 22 – A Farm Update

Life on the farm is quite central to my life here, which is why photos of it pop up regularly. Other people do food – I do rice!

The new rice, which was only planted a week ago is now greening up nicely. Tara Gardner I am keeping a special eye on the rice you planted. I think it is bigger than the others already 🙂

The rice at the front belongs to Yuan and Lud and it is sticky rice. The fields at the back are Paed and Tham's, Gaun's sister and husband who run the other half of the farm. It is steamed rice. A swap will be done with the finished product at some stage. You can tell the rice at the back is newly planted as it is a lighter colour.

The rice at the front belongs to Yuan and Lud and it is sticky rice.

The fields at the back are Paed and Tham’s, Gaun’s sister and husband who run the other half of the farm. It is steamed rice. A swap will be done with the finished product at some stage. You can tell the rice at the back is newly planted as it is a lighter colour.

Lettuce just about ready to head to the market. Yuan has been selling coriander but that is all gone as of today. More beds planted up yesterday.

Lettuce just about ready to head to the market. Yuan has been selling coriander but that is all gone as of today. More beds planted up yesterday.

To me this is a pretty flower and berries worth a photo. To Gaun these berries are good with fish. They are sour she tells me and I am sure that they are. Hot and sour are the two main flavours of Isaan food, which is NOTHING like your Thai takeaway!

To me this is a pretty flower and berries worth a photo.

To Gaun these berries are good with fish. They are sour she tells me and I am sure that they are. Hot and sour are the two main flavours of Isaan food, which is NOTHING like your Thai takeaway!

Gaun weeding her carpet of flowers. All cuttings taken from our garden.

Gaun weeding her carpet of flowers. All cuttings taken from our garden.

Coriander off to the market. A bag was given to us. Some of whatever is growing on the farm ends up in our fridge.

Coriander off to the market. A bag was given to us. Some of whatever is growing on the farm ends up in our fridge.

Paed had excess rice, which was only going to be ploughed into the ground rather than being planted out. Some neighbours offered to harvest them to be replanted on their farm. Good to see these shoots not go to waste.

Paed, Gaun’s older sister, had excess rice, which was only going to be ploughed into the ground rather than being planted out. Some neighbours offered to harvest them to be replanted on their farm. Good to see these rice shoots not go to waste.

July 23 – Shopping at Makro

From farm to supermarket.

Hardly world stopping news but this is another minor insight to the everyday here. Today we headed off to the next town to us a 30 minute drive to check out the new Makro supermarket that has recently opened. We are so lucky to be living a quiet rural based lifestyle but with most of the farang comforts within easy distance.

Makro’s are a Dutch owned cash and carry supermarket more aimed at small shop owners who buy in bulk. Luckily in Thailand they are open to the general public. In some other countries this isn’t the case.

We can buy most things that Makro stocks in our also newly opened Tesco Lotus supermarket in Si Bun Ruang, our home town, but Makro has greater choice. It also stocks NZ lamb, fresh salmon and cream some of the essentials of life

Part of the seafood section. Your purchase is weighed and tagged on the right. You then can fill your bag with crushed ice from a large container at the back, which is a nice touch Aussie supermarkets could but won't introduce.

Part of the seafood section. Your purchase is weighed and tagged on the right. You then can fill your bag with crushed ice from a large container at the back, which is a nice touch Aussie supermarkets could but won’t introduce.

It isn't the image you might have had of backwater Thailand is it. Mainline cheeses and Allowrie butter for you Aussies reading.

It isn’t the image you might have had of backwater Thailand is it. Mainline cheeses and Allowrie butter for you Aussies reading.

The freezer section.

The freezer section.

It is a good sized place with everything well set out and clearly priced.

It is a good sized place with everything well set out and clearly priced.

July 23 – What Does A$240.00 a month rent get you?

We arranged some rental accommodation for an American reader of my blog yesterday. Well, I did the driving and Gaun did the talking. I thought I would show you what a basic Thai style house looked like if you did decide to move here on a budget! A$240.00 a month gets you this:

Situated in the centre of Si Bun Ruang a 10 minute walk to the main street.

Situated in the centre of Si Bun Ruang a 10 minute walk to the main street.

The living area with a very small bathroom on the right behind that wall. The stairs are not designed for granny. New curtains to be installed.

The living area with a very small bathroom on the right behind that wall. The stairs are not designed for granny. New curtains to be installed.

Two small screened bedrooms upstairs and this open area. A small balcony at the front.

Two small screened bedrooms upstairs and this open area. A small balcony at the front.

Not too much in the way of insulation from noise or heat.

Not too much in the way of insulation from noise or heat.

A shower and air con is to be added if rented to a farang plus some furniture. You would have to make your own Thai kitchen, probably outside at the back. It could be turned into a small but workable home. Great location and at $60 a week - not bad. You can see why people retire here.

A shower and air con is to be added if rented to a farang plus some furniture.

You would have to make your own Thai kitchen, probably outside at the back. It could be turned into a small but workable home. Great location and at $60 a week – not bad. You can see why people retire here.

The wonderful Friday markets are held at the end of the street in the far distance. A neat enough frontage.

The wonderful Friday markets are held at the end of the street in the far distance. A neat enough frontage.

July 24 – A Homework Story

This is a story about kids and homework that would fit with any country in the world.

Peng my stepdaughter had an assignment to describe and photograph the making of fried banana, a yummy desert nibblie you can find in season at every market in Thailand. From the first photo you would think that Peng was hard at work making it all happen wouldn’t you? Well the real story will never appear in the school version. Read on.

Have you ever been in the situation where you ended up doing more homework than your children? It happens in Isaan too. What Peng's teacher will see. Peng busy slicing the peeled and freshly picked bananas.

Have you ever been in the situation where you ended up doing more homework than your children? It happens in Isaan too. What Peng’s teacher will see – Peng busy slicing the peeled and freshly picked bananas.

In reality......Peng hasn't yet arrived at the farm and Lud is cutting the bananas.

In reality……Peng hasn’t yet arrived at the farm and Lud is cutting the bananas.

BTW I thought you would be equally excited as my family were that mushrooms were discovered this morning!

BTW I thought you would be equally excited as my family were that mushrooms were discovered this morning!

Peng makes an appearance collected from the family home by Yuan.

Peng makes an appearance collected from the family home by Yuan.

Meanwhile Paed, Gaun's older sister, was busy peeling the green bananas. Peng still not here.

Meanwhile Paed, Gaun’s older sister, was busy peeling the green bananas. Peng still not here.

Yuan now helping.

Yuan now helping.

The sliced bananas are fried in oil over this little stove fueled by wood or charcoal.

The sliced bananas are fried in oil over this little stove fueled by wood or charcoal.

Peng finally doing something? As you can see this is actually just a photo moment aimed at a camera being operated by Gaun off to the left.

Peng finally doing something? As you can see this is actually just a photo moment aimed at a camera being operated by Gaun off to the left.

The real cook.

The real cook.

Here you can see the support group behind the action. Photos being taken for the project. It was lovely to see the whole family swing into action to help out taking time out of their busy schedules. Mind you everyone will help eat the end result so it isn't all hard work.

Here you can see the support group behind the action.

Photos being taken by Gaun in the background for the project. It was lovely to see the whole family swing into action to help out taking time out of their busy schedules.
Mind you everyone will help eat the end result so it isn’t all hard work.

July 24 – Another Rental Opportunity – be quick

Just a quickie with another example of what you can rent here. I am looking for a house for another American reader of the blog, having already found a place for a guy from the US a couple of days ago. This one has been offered and I have sent him the details.

The driveway leading up to the house running through sugar crops.

The driveway leading up to the house running through sugar crops.

At 3,000 baht a month or about A$35.00 a week it is looking pretty good. A beautiful location set in farming land but only a couple minutes’ drive to Si Bun Ruang town. Spend a little bit of money on it to smarten it up and you’d have a bargain.

The front courtyard. All in concrete, which is a change from the usual mud.

The front courtyard. All in concrete, which is a change from the usual mud.

Looking from the house to the driveway.

Looking from the house to the driveway.

The lounge room with door opening to a front terrace. All windows barred and screened.

The lounge room with door opening to a front terrace. All windows barred and screened.

A sort of kitchen area with a small Thai bathroom behind that would need a western toilet and shower installed to make it more useable.

A sort of kitchen area with a small Thai bathroom behind that would need a western toilet and shower installed to make it more useable.

Two more rooms attached to the house at the back in an undercover area.

Two more rooms attached to the house at the back in an undercover area.

The view to the right of the house.

The view to the right of the house.

July 24 – Back on the Farm again!

I am only posting yet more photos from the farm because I want to show you how quickly plants get established here. Gaun is busy weeding and then planting up the entire length of the farm as it borders the road.

The original roadside at the back of the photo, which shows what Gaun has to deal with. Plants taken from cuttings today at the front. New coriander planting from seed on the farm on the right.

The original roadside at the back of the photo, which shows what Gaun has to deal with. Plants taken from cuttings today at the front. New coriander planting from seed on the farm on the right.

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Six weeks later.

Looking the other way showing some pretty limp new plants. Will they survive? I will let you know. Tag photoAdd locationEdit

Looking the other way showing some pretty limp new plants. Will they survive?

Gaun is already halfway to that second power pole, which is the entry to the other half of the family farm. I thought these flowers at the front were definite goners but not so.

Gaun is already halfway to that second power pole, which is the entry to the other half of the family farm. I thought these flowers at the front were definite goners but not so.

And the road is looking a lot better.

And the road is looking a lot better.

The tractor was busy pumping water from the pond into the paddy fields. Although it looks level all the paddies cascade to the trees at the back and the water flows from one to the other. The tractor gets its own sun protection.

The tractor was busy pumping water from the pond into the paddy fields. Although it looks level all the paddies cascade to the trees at the back and the water flows from one to the other. The tractor gets its own sun protection.

Playing with my new camera lense. This photo is taken towards the back of the farm looking to the main farmhouse in the distance. Just perfect weather here. Low 30's and beautiful days like this building to thunderstorms in the evening.

Playing with my new camera lense. This photo is taken towards the back of the farm looking to the main farmhouse in the distance. Just perfect weather here. Low 30’s and beautiful days like this building to thunderstorms in the evening.

July 25 – A New Driveway

We spent most of today out at the farm. I am not sure why I built a house in the village!

I am spending a little money each month to improve the farm with enthusiastic support from Gaun, Yuan and Lud. Today I decided to gravel the driveway from the front road to the farmhouse. Two truckloads totalling 9 cubic metres at a cost of 4,950 baht or around A$200.00 and the place was transformed.

Gaun arrives back from a harvest expedition with eggplant (the full sized version) for lunch.

Gaun with eggplants (the full sized version) for lunch.

Load number one with 6 cubic metres arrives.

Load number one with 6 cubic metres arrives.

Yes. This is one of the rare photos of me doing something. Bookmark it.

Yes. This is one of the rare photos of me doing something. Bookmark it.

Gaun arrives with beer for me (she isn't drinking for the three months of Buddhist Lent along with a lot of other Thais) and flowers to plant out the front.

Gaun arrives with beer for me (she isn’t drinking for the first month of Buddhist Lent along with a lot of other Thais some of whom will go the full three months) and flowers to plant out the front.

The driveway crew. Khaw (which means "white" in Thai), the brother of Apple whose wedding you can read about here http://tonyinthailand.com/apples-wedding/ and a relation of Gaun, Yuan and Gaun.

The driveway crew. Khaw (which means “white” in Thai), the brother of Apple whose wedding you can read about HERE and a relation of Gaun, Yuan and Gaun.

Gaun busy planting out those flowers along the front road.

Gaun busy planting out those flowers along the front road.

The end result.

The end result.

All the local farmers slow down and give the project a thumbs up. This will be the neatest farm in Isaan and thanks to Gaun the most colourful.

All the local farmers slow down and give the project a thumbs up. This will be the neatest farm in Isaan and thanks to Gaun the most colourful.

July 28 – A Buddhist Holy Day

The three months of Buddhist Lent is a time when people become more enthusiastic about their obligations to the temple. This is particularly true on Buddhist holy days, which relate to the phases on the moon and are marked on any Thai calendar with a small red Buddha.

Yesterday was such a day and in the evening we joined many other locals at our chosen wat, which is a forest temple (all these temple will have a Pha or Pa in front of their name e.g. Wat Pha Silawa) about 10 minutes down the road from us.

Most of the forest wats have very simple meeting halls made from timber and set above the ground like this one.

Most of the forest wats have very simple meeting halls made from timber and set above the ground like this one.

This is one of my favourite wats in Isaan. The abbott is lovely and the place is kept immaculate, which is so unusual here.

This is one of my favourite wats in Isaan. The abbott is lovely and the place is kept immaculate, which is so unusual here.

The hall with the monks at the front. Very simple layout.

The hall with the monks at the front. Very simple layout.

The founder of the temple is now represented by one of those super lifelike wax statues. The abbott is the first real person on the left. Six monks.

The founder of the temple is now represented by one of those super lifelike wax statues. The abbott is the first real person on the left. Six monks.

Peng always joins us for the evening sessions. All dressed up here.

Peng always joins us for the evening sessions. All dressed up here.

An Unusual Isaan Wedding

I had a reader of the blog write to me recently with some questions about the protocol of an Isaan wedding. The question came through a post I had written called “A Thai Shotgun Marriage” HERE. It reminded my what an unusual day it was for me as it challenged many of my concepts of marriage as a westerner.

The young bride Thoy, a neighbour of ours and a friend of Peng, was 14 when she went to her mum to ask why it felt like something was kicking inside her stomach. You know the answer to that question. The father was a 19 year old local with a bad reputation who wouldn’t take responsibility even if the family accepted him.

A friend of Thoy then stepped in to say that he loved her and was willing to marry her and take on the baby. He was also 14! The two families got together and it was all agreed and a wedding day set (quickly). Because we are known to the family we were invited and the photos give a glimpse into the ceremony.

I felt for the young couple. Although this was a wedding ceremony it was restricted to family and close friends only. Normally it would be a community occasion and the bride and groom would be all dressed up in Thai formal dress.

I felt for the young couple. Although this was a wedding ceremony it was restricted to family and close friends only. Normally it would be a community occasion and the bride and groom would be all dressed up in Thai formal dress.

Now before anyone goes all farang have a look at the outcome for all concerned. Thoy has husband, the baby has father and more importantly has two families who now take responsibility for him. Raising kids here is a family group affair. Although hardly perfect it is a workable solution.

What would be the alternative in Australia? Maybe one or all of the following: police involvement, ostracisation by the family, counselling for mum, a child with no family connections and community outrage at the whole situation.

I can tell you that in Thoy’s case mum and dad seem to be getting along fine. The baby is now walking and is loved and included by both families and will grow up with the same opportunities and no hang-ups from his start in life.

Rather than react with shock and horror I think this is a lovely good news story with a positive ending to a shaky beginning.

Thoy. She was a bridesmaid at my wedding to Gaun.

Thoy. She was a bridesmaid at my wedding to Gaun.

The ceremony at the end of the marriage where people donate money and tie white good luck string onto the wrists of the bride and groom.

The ceremony at the end of the marriage where people donate money and tie white good luck string onto the wrists of the bride and groom.

This is as passionate as a Thai wedding gets.

This is as passionate as a Thai wedding gets.

The bride and groom hand out small gifts to the main players in the wedding party.

The bride and groom hand out small gifts to the main players in the wedding party.

UPDATE September 2016: Today Gaun was able to get some photos of mum and a very bouncing baby son. How delightful to be able to share a happy outcome to a far from ideal original situation. They don’t look too traumatised by their experience do they?

And today. The little fella is called Phum, which is taken from the name of her husband's province, Chaiyaphum, west of Khon Kaen. Funnily we are visiting Chaiyaphum this weekend to take part in the house blessing ceremony of an English guy Terry and his wife Ning, who are blog readers.

And today. The little fella is called Phum, which is taken from the name of her husband’s province, Chaiyaphum, west of Khon Kaen.

Funnily we are visiting Chaiyaphum this weekend to take part in the house blessing ceremony of an English guy Terry and his wife Ning, who are blog readers.

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Update 4 Mar 2017: Didn’t last 🙁 Probably not that surprising.

July 28 – A Present for the Birds

Well as far as small stories go this rates up there. We had a couple of friends visit us recently and they kindly donated a birdbath to the garden from the one and only good quality garden centre in Udon Thani. We collected it using the family pick-up on Tuesday and the big installation happened this afternoon.

Thank you Gina and Tara. A wonderful addition to the garden. The birds of Isaan thank you too.

The defining moment. Will it be level?

The defining moment. Will it be level?

Two Aussie birds have made this home already.

That looks pretty good. Two Aussie birds have made this home already.

Flowers around the base? The jury is out at this time.

Flowers around the base? The jury is out at this time. September update – of course flowers. Gaun had it all organised pretty soon after this photo was taken.

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A more recent photo.

A more recent photo with the bougainvillea starting to flower getting ready for the cooler weather.

July 31 – The New Patio

Another very small story rating up there with the birdbath, which actually generated some interest on Facebook. I have been wanting to make a new patio under pergola we had built as part of our extensions last year. This area will turn into a green cavern once the climbers cover it, something that should become a reality in the next six months.

It has lovely views over the garden and I can see it being another popular spot for a cold drink in the evenings.

We put grass down almost as soon as we moved in late March 2015 to quickly cover up the clay and to hold the soil in place as there is a slope from the house to the lower garden at this point.

We put grass down almost as soon as we moved in late March 2015 to quickly cover up the clay and to hold the soil in place as there is a slope from the house to the lower garden at this point.

Looking the other way. You can see the full width pergola with climbing plants already making progress.

Looking the other way. You can see the full width pergola with climbing plants already making progress.

You can now call me a towelhead without any racial comeback. Gaun seems to perspire equally all over her body while I just pour from my head. A small towel wrapped around with plastic bands at the back is a very unattractive but effective solution. Here I am working to take up the grass. It was only a small area but in the heat it almost killed me.

You can now call me a towelhead without any racial comeback.

Gaun seems to perspire equally all over her body while I just pour from my head. A small towel wrapped around with plastic bands at the back is a very unattractive but effective solution. Here I am working to take up the grass. It was only a small area but in the heat it almost killed me.

I have become one of the most spoiled men on earth. Gaun who treats me like the most fragile object she has ever come across, has here moved an umbrella to give me shade, brought out a chair and table, an ice bucket and cold drinks. She did offer to move a fan as well. Thanks to her efforts I survived the day.

I have become one of the most spoiled men on earth.

Gaun who treats me like the most fragile object she has ever come across has here moved an umbrella to give me shade, brought out a chair and table, an ice bucket and cold drinks. She did offer to move a fan as well. Thanks to her efforts I survived the day.

40 pavers ready to go down. Bought from Udon Thani for 90 baht $A3.60 each.

40 pavers ready to go down. Bought from Udon Thani for 90 baht $A3.60 each.

Today. Towelhead is back. We have just got back from a trip to the farm to collect sand using Yuan and Lud's pick-up.

We have just got back from a trip to the farm to collect sand using Yuan and Lud’s pick-up.

Happy builders.

Happy builders.

Here I am using a level to try to get the water to run away from the house a concept foreign to most Thai construction. For a country that has such massive rainfall in season the Thais are absolutely useless at directing the flow of water. Roads get waterlogged and concrete is either poured so it is dead flat or so that the water pools in exactly the place you didn't want it. Peng in the background providing the same level of assistance as any teenager worldwide

Here I am using a level to try to get the water to run away from the house a concept foreign to most Thai construction.

For a country that has such massive rainfall in season the Thais are absolutely useless at directing the flow of water. Roads get waterlogged and concrete is either poured so it is dead flat or so that the water pools in exactly the place you didn’t want it. Peng in the background providing the same level of assistance as any teenager worldwide

And the end result this afternoon. We will be buying some new furniture shortly.

And the end result this afternoon. We will be buying some new furniture shortly.

Once the pergola is covered this will be like a lush green cavern.

Once the pergola is covered this will be a shady and cool spot to relax.

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The same view in the evening with lights on.

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New chairs have been bought to replace the plastic ones.

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The koi pond at night with the garden lit up behind.

And a final more recent photo showing that the coverage is making progress.

And a final more recent photo showing that the pergola is starting to fill in.

Having caught up my Small Stories of Isaan to be only a month and a bit behind I will give it a rest for a couple of posts and come back with those posts about our trip to Nan that I promised in Isaan – the Small Stories 17 HERE.

Thanks for reading.