I thought that I would have a break in covering our trips away from home, the subject of three recent posts, and return to a catch-up on the Small happenings in Isaan.

2 Aug – Fiber Optic and more

The first three photos in this set are a great analogy that sums up living in Thailand for me. The first shows the village street outside our home, which is on the left behind the white wall. All very quiet rural and pretty unsophisticated.

In the first photo you will see three wires crossing the road. The top one is optic fibre cable for the new broadband I have ordered. The second photo shows it dropping down to our land and the last one all ready to be finalised once the tech guy gets here to hook it up.

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Gaun has cut two long lengths of bamboo on the farm, which will be used to lift the wire well out of the way. Maybe not Telecom standard but in Thailand it is OK if it does the job.

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Fiber optic internet , a satellite dish and a German storage hot water heater – all the basics of Thai rural living.

What an amazing mix of development. This is a community where field rats, snakes, lizards and bugs of all type are on the dinner menu and yet if you want you can have high speed fiber optic internet – up to 100 mbps.

So here I have a lifestyle where I can enjoy all the benefits of an engaging Thai rural location, cheap fresh food and wonderfully friendly people and yet connect to an internet with speeds most of Australia can only dream about. I have chosen a 30/15 mbps download/upload package for $32.00 a month unlimited. The installation cost, which included several hundred meters of fiber optic? $8.00!

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New broadband installed and the result…….I am a happy man.

The other two photos are just because. One of our small but growing turtles pops his head out to say a cautious hello, and a couple of the gorgeous lilies that are in flower at the moment.

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G’day mate.

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3 Aug – Marching Kids

The sound of drums in the village meant that part of the local primary school was on the move marching around the streets. I have no idea why this happens but it seems to be part of the education system that an impromptu parade takes place on a regular basis. The kids looked happy to be out of the classroom and the teachers seemed to be enjoying themselves too.

Girls with the more delicate instruments up front while the boys get to bang things. Same the world over.

Girls with the more delicate instruments up front while the boys get to bang things. Same the world over.

He suits the drum or is that the other way around?

He suits the drum or is that the other way around?

Happy to see a farang. I got an almost rock star number of handshakes as they passed.

Happy to see a farang. I got an almost rock star number of handshakes as they passed.

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What's the story here? Odd ones out.

What’s the story here? Odd ones out. I often see these brothers out and about when everyone else is in school. Future rice farmers and building workers in the making. Not everyone wants to be in IT.

3 Aug – Celebrating 250 Posts

I thought I would celebrate 250 posts on my blog with some of the favourite photos of my three years in Thailand. What a varied and wonderful time it has been.

Fishing on Lake Ratana just down the road from us.

Fishing on Lake Ratana just down the road from us.

Kids at large outside our gates.

Kids at large outside our gates.

Tropical colours.

Tropical colours.

A graduate having his photo taken with family in a specially planted field of flowers at Chiang Mai university.

A graduate having his photo taken with family in a specially planted field of flowers at Chiang Mai university.

A rice paddy wedding photo.

A rice paddy wedding photo.

A tea plantation on the Singha estate just outside Chiang Rai.

A tea plantation on the Singha estate just outside Chiang Rai.

My turn for a Hong Kong photo. Camera in hand as always. I really enjoyed HK. An open, clean city with unexpected treats like this garden.

My turn for a Hong Kong photo. Camera in hand as always. I really enjoyed HK. An open, clean city with unexpected treats like this garden.

Another image from Lake Ratana. You can hire these boats to take you on a tour of the houseboats that line the channels.

Another image from Lake Ratana. You can hire these boats to take you on a tour of the houseboats that line the channels.

A wonderful photo moment in Hong Kong.

A wonderful photo moment in Hong Kong.

Early morning at the family farm pre-upgrades, which have transformed this view.

Early morning at the family farm pre-upgrades, which have transformed this view.

Gaun gets to experience that ancient farang beach tradition of feeding seagulls potato chips! Photo taken close to Ulladulla on the south coast of Australia.

Gaun gets to experience that ancient farang beach tradition of feeding seagulls potato chips! Photo taken close to Ulladulla on the south coast of Australia.

My lovely sister-in-law Sam. Photo taken at the wonderful little guesthouse called Mut Mee on the banks of the Mekong River in Nong Khai. — with Samantha Koren.

My lovely sister-in-law Sam. Photo taken at the wonderful little guesthouse called Mut Mee on the banks of the Mekong River in Nong Khai. 

Hills towards Mae Salong at the back of Chiang Rai in the north.

The hills towards Mae Salong at the back of Chiang Rai in the north.

Gaun's younger sister Yaun and older sister (number 2 of the 7 kids) Yurt. A wonderful cook who makes me spring rolls one hour after arriving in the village from Udon Thani.

Gaun’s younger sister Yaun and older sister (number 2 of the 7 kids) Yurt. A wonderful cook who makes me spring rolls one hour after arriving in the village from Udon Thani.

A happy shopping Gaun. Taken in Pattaya when we were there choosing windows for the house - true!

A happy shopping Gaun. Taken in Pattaya when we were there choosing windows for the house – true!

Nautical Gaun on our friend's houseboat in Hong Kong harbour.

Nautical Gaun on our friend’s houseboat in Hong Kong harbour.

Sticky rice baskets. Carried by everyone in Isaan. You never know when you will be hit by hunger.

Sticky rice baskets. Carried by everyone in Isaan. You never know when you will be hit by hunger.

Happy to be close to having a home again. Photo taken from the kitchen area towards the door to the master bedroom.

Happy to be close to having a home again. Photo taken from the kitchen area towards the door to the master bedroom.

Gaun catches her first Aussie sea fish from my brother and sister in law's boat off Sydney harbour.

Gaun catches her first Aussie sea fish from my brother and sister in law’s boat off Sydney harbour.

Who would have thought. An Isaan farm girl fishing from a catamaran on Sydney harbour with the bridge and opera house in the background.

Who would have thought. An Isaan farm girl fishing from a catamaran on Sydney harbour with the bridge and opera house in the background.

3 Aug – A Isaan Toast

In the absence of a bottle of Moet to celebrate my blogging milestone I thought a Mojito cocktail would do the job. It is the ideal end of a tropical day drink and slips down very easily as does the second one. For those Aussies reading hold onto this thought for another couple of months.

Everything I need to relax after a hard day of blogging.

Everything I need to relax after a hard day of blogging.

Tony’s Recipe:

  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • I juice of a fresh Thai lime
  • (mix sugar and juice together in glass)
  • A couple of sprigs of fresh mint – leave on stalks
  • (use a pestle or something similar to lightly crush the mint leaves without destroying them. Only to release the flavour)
  • Add a shot of Sang Som – Thai rum or whatever your fancy is
  • Lots of ice and then fill with soda water, if you don’t like it too sweet, or lemonade or lime/lemonade mixer if like me you enjoy a sweeter drink.

Top with a sprig of mint.

Perfect.

Perfect.

Take to chair, sit and consume slowly. Best while watching a tropical sunset 🙂

8 Aug – School Dance Competition

We were invited to a school display of dancing with an ASEAN theme at Nong Bua Lamphu, the capital of the province with the same name. 17 local schools were participating in the competition and the result was a colourful display of those wonderful costumes that Thais seem to throw together so easily for any event.

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The school hall with judges at the front.

A mix of ASEAN costumes - Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), and Vietnam.

A mix of ASEAN costumes – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), and Vietnam.

And flags.

And flags.

My vote went to this group from our very own home town of Si Bun Ruang.

My vote went to this group from our very own home town of Si Bun Ruang.

Go SBR.

Go SBR.

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So much effort has gone into this presentation you wonder where the schoolwork fits in.

So much effort has gone into this presentation you wonder where the schoolwork fits in.

9 Aug – Butterflies

These small bird sized butterflies made an appearance today and were very pleased to find some flowers in bloom.

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10 Aug – Roadworks

I am somewhat disappointed to share the next couple of photos. I was sure that the Thai philosophy of letting people work things out would ensure at least one car or motorbike ended up in the new village canal on this sharp turn to the right (leiyw khwa in Thai pronounced more like “leo kwa” or “leo sigh” for turn left). You can see the potential for an wet landing in the photo below. The road comes out from behind that wall on the left.

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The road dog-legs around a temple, and it looks as if someone has borrowed an old robe from one of the monks to add warning to the bamboo railings.

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All good in Thai terms. Safety first.

11 Aug – Flowers for Mother’s Day

It’s the Thai Queen’s birthday and Mother’s day tomorrow (the King’s birthday is combined with Father’s Day). What this means is that lots of offerings will be made involving these small flower garlands, which is lucky because the shrub that produces them is in bloom at the family home.

Gaun and Lud patiently picking these tiny white flowers.

Gaun and Lud patiently picking these tiny white flowers.

Yuan in bankrobber gear.

Yuan in bankrobber gear.

A Thai smile. Lud in this case.

A Thai smile. Lud in this case.

A neighbour called Nit Noy (who also does a killer Thai massage) ordered the entire crop, which had the family picking for a couple of hours this morning. The cost of labour here means that the return for time is measured differently than in western countries. As these flowers get 50 baht (A$2.00) a kilo the combined efforts of Yuan, Gaun, Lud and a brief appearance by mama produced a return of $4.00! The results from a presentation point of view are outstanding.

This is what all the fuss is about. The flowers plus their stems are picked. The stalks are then threaded together to form the garland, which you can see in a later photo.

This is what all the fuss is about. The flowers plus their stems are picked. The stalks are then threaded together to form the garland, which you can see in a later photo.

What the photos can only hint at is the involvement offered by such a simple event like this. I arrived at the family house and a kettle was brought out for coffee and some crisp Thai donuts shared, which had been bought at the markets early this morning.

Mama decided she was tired and was happy to watch the rest of the collection from a stool. Much the same as me!

Mama decided she was tired and was happy to watch the rest of the collection from a stool. Much the same as me!

Someone else enjoying the lush wet season. The "eyes" are just colouring on the top of the body to fool predators.

Someone else enjoying the lush wet season. The “eyes” are just colouring on the top of the body to fool predators.

This is the scruffy family dog called Dook Dik.

This is the scruffy family dog called Dook Dik.

Neighbours stopped to make comment. The family were all chat and laughter in what would otherwise be a pretty mind numbing job. Gaun’s older sister turned up from the farm on the way to the market with sweet corn. She was stopped on her way out by neighbours who wanted to buy some.

Gaun's older sister Paed off to market with sweet corn. She gets more on that bike than some do in a pick-up!

Gaun’s older sister Paed off to market with sweet corn. She gets more on that bike than some do in a pick-up!

She was stopped on the way out and sales made even before she got out the driveway.

She was stopped on the way out and sales made even before she got out the driveway.

2 kilos have now been transported to the farm where Nit Noy will do her magic.

2 kilos have now been transported to the farm where Nit Noy will do her magic.

The garlands on the right are made from jasmine buds, which sell for around 600 - 800 a kilo, somewhat different to the garlands on the left. They will be sold for double the "normal" ones at 100 baht each or A$4.00.

The garlands on the right are made from jasmine buds, which sell for around 600 – 800 a kilo, somewhat different to the garlands on the left. They will be sold for double the “normal” ones at 100 baht each or A$4.00.

Nit Noy came over to the farm so I could capture some photos. It all made for a fun time.

Nit Noy at work. The stalks are threaded onto a thin wire before being pulled through onto a plastic ribbon. Fiddly work that would drive me crazy(ier) very quickly.

Nit Noy at work. The stalks are threaded onto a thin wire before being pulled through onto a plastic ribbon. Fiddly work that would drive me crazy(ier) very quickly.

Lovely detail in the finished product. To be sold at the Si Bun Ruang Friday local markets tomorrow.

Lovely detail in the finished product. To be sold at the Si Bun Ruang Friday local markets tomorrow.

11 Aug – Gaun’s Farm Garden

Now the first photo may not look much but it is a minor miracle. The next door farm has taken note of Gaun’s work at creating a garden in the middle of the isaan countryside and has started one of their own using cuttings taken from Gaun’s collection. As a group Isaan farmers are only interested in growing to eat or sell so this quite a change. I wonder if others will follow.

This is just outside Nit Noy's farmhouse. It has a way to go but it's a start.

This is just outside Nit Noy’s farmhouse. It has a way to go but it’s a start.

Meanwhile Gaun’s farm garden continues to bloom and grow.

A magnificent display of colours. This is Gaun's efforts of course.

A magnificent display of colours. This is Gaun’s efforts of course.

The entrance to the family farm is starting to take shape.

The entrance to the family farm is starting to take shape.

Gaun has planted down the side of the road up to that next power pole, which is at the entrance to the other half of the farm. Nit Noy's farmhouse in the background. The land on the left, which looks to be covered in weeds has actually been seeded by Yaun and Lud with a plant that will be ploughed back into the soil to improve its quality by adding nitrogen (I think).

Gaun has planted down the side of the road up to that next power pole, which is at the entrance to the other half of the farm. Nit Noy’s farmhouse in the background.

The land on the left, which looks to be covered in weeds has actually been seeded by Yaun and Lud with a plant that will be ploughed back into the soil to improve its quality by adding nitrogen (I think). Green fertiliser in farming terms (thanks Google).

Another photo that may not seem much but these are seeds being scattered that Gaun collected from plants when we lived in Chiang Rai, nearly three years ago. They have finally found a home. Gaun is a true gardener.

Another photo that may not seem much but these are seeds being scattered that Gaun collected from plants when we lived in Chiang Rai, nearly three years ago. They have finally found a home. Gaun is a true gardener.

Always happy to be spreading colour. One of my old marmalade jars came in handy for these seeds. We farang have our uses.

Always happy to be spreading colour. One of my old marmalade jars came in handy for these seeds. We farang have our uses.

And yet more farmland being turned into flower beds. Those little shrubs on the right are baby versions of the shrubs that produce the white flowers I wrote about in the previous post.

And yet more farmland being turned into flower beds. Those little shrubs on the right are baby versions of the shrubs that produce the white flowers I wrote about in the previous post.

And a sneak preview of the outcome. This photo taken late October. Gaun's seeds are doing just fine.

And a sneak preview of the outcome taken at the same place in late October. Gaun’s seeds are doing just fine.

12 Aug – A Dog with an Attitude

I spotted this cool dude as we were driving into town and had to follow the pick-up until it stopped. What a great image.

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12 Aug – Mother’s Day

A mix of photos to share with you on the Thai Queen’s birthday, which is also Mother’s Day here. The main exercise for the day was the making of small leis by Gaun, Yuan and Peng (the latter in-between Facebook messaging) for mama to be given to her tonight. Even I had a go and can confirm that this is not going to be a new career path for me. A few other little stories made an appearance during the day.

On a related topic to the Queen's birthday. I wanted to show you the flags flying at the farm to illustrate an aspect of Thailand you can look out for when you visit.  These are royal flags and you'll see them everywhere you go. The main royal family members have individual flags based on the colour of their birth DAY. For example the king was born on a Monday, and that day's colour is yellow. The Queen born on a Friday = blue and so on. Small flags cost 20 baht and the larger ones shown here 50 baht (A$2.00) each.

On a related topic to the Queen’s birthday. I wanted to show you the flags flying at the farm to illustrate an aspect of Thailand you can look out for when you visit.

These are royal flags and you’ll see them everywhere you go. The main royal family members have individual flags based on the colour of their birth DAY. For example the king was born on a Monday, and that day’s colour is yellow. The Queen born on a Friday = blue and so on. Small flags cost 20 baht and the larger ones shown here 50 baht (A$2.00) each.

Everything being set up at the farm to make the leis. Gaun's new flower bed in the background.

Everything being set up at the farm to make the leis. Gaun’s new flower bed in the background.

Yuan in action. I wrote about this process yesterday so won't repeat it here.

Yuan in action. I wrote about this process yesterday so won’t repeat it here.

Remember the land Gaun was digging up yesterday? Well it has been transformed into a flower bed by today. These cuttings are amazing. Having been ripped out of the ground and replanted they continue to flower and look perfectly happy. This will be a field of colour in a few of weeks.  New rice in the background with sugar cane in the distance.

Remember the land Gaun was digging up yesterday? Well it has been transformed into a flower bed by today. 

These cuttings are amazing. Having been ripped out of the ground and replanted they continue to flower and look perfectly happy. This will be a field of colour in a few of weeks. New rice in the background with sugar cane in the distance.

Gaun and Peng model the latest in Mother's Day leis.

Gaun and Peng model the latest in Mother’s Day leis.

I wanted to visit the wat (temple) that is being established just down the road from the farm. It is curently having electricity installed and the power line is being attached to tree trunks along side the track here. The power is up and running already. It just is the power line is lying on the ground! The funny thing is that all these people are villagers and not one Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) person in sight. I don't know how that works. I doubt that any meter will be part of this package.

I wanted to visit the wat (temple) that is being established just down the road from the farm. 

It is curently having electricity installed and the power line is being attached to tree trunks along side the track here. The power is up and running already. It just is the power line is lying on the ground! The funny thing is that all these people are villagers and not one Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) person in sight. I don’t know how that works. I doubt that any meter will be part of this package.

This is Dit, a friend of Gaun and Yuan. He's the head monk at the wat.

This is Dit, a friend of Gaun and Yuan. He’s the head monk at the wat.

Peng after making an offering to the temple for Mother's Day. This is a very small and simple wat in the Pha or Buddhist forest tradition.

Peng after making an offering to the temple for Mother’s Day. This is a very small and simple wat in the Pha or Buddhist forest tradition.

Yuan and Gaun with the completed leis at the end of the day's session.

Yuan and Gaun with the completed leis at the end of the day’s session.

Lots more stories to come so keep an eye out for them.

Thanks for reading.