I am trying to catch up with these small stories after a period non-blogging. Once I get there I might commit to a regular update every couple of weeks, if the material is there to be written about, to make sure these stories are more current to the events happening at the time.
6 Sept 2016 – Self Driving….maybe not.
Slightly off my normal Thai based posts and one for all of you about to buy a self-drive car 🙂
I thought I would test out the speech recognition software on my iPad by telling it “I am bored with breakfast” thinking it would bring up lots of useful ideas for something other than cereals and bacon and eggs! “You’re bored?” it replied “What diameter?”
Examples like this don’t give me supreme confidence to hand over the more vital aspects of life like driving to the computer just yet!
I am also not sure my self-drive car in Thailand would be programmed to keep hard left by moving into the motorbike lane on the crest of hills. Local drivers think that a blind overtake is Buddha’s way of letting them know how much he wants to take care of them or meet them sooner than planned. I have a video later in this post that examples just that so keep reading.
8 Sept 2016 – Nong Bua Lamphu
An afternoon in Nong Bua Lamphu yesterday, the larger town 30 minutes from us, provided a mixed batch of photos to share.
Naresuan or Sanphet II was the King of the Ayutthaya Kingdom from 1590 until his death in 1605. Naresuan is one of Thailand’s most revered monarchs as he was known for his campaigns to free Thailand from the Bamars (Burmese) under the Taungoo Dynasty.
It is said that a young Prince Naresuan wagered a bet with a young Burmese prince that Ayutthaya (a kingdom in pre-modern Thailand held by Burma at this time) would be freed if Naresuan’s rooster emerged victorious in the cock fight. Prince Naresuan’s rooster naturally won the bet, and the Burmese prince was humiliated in the process.
With a slightly wetter season this year the stream was flowing. A monk was here from Udon Thani and he had a few helpers collecting stones from the stream for some temple project.
The Lamphu bit of the name means a long hill and this is part of it. We drove to that statue last year but it was still a concrete frame. Money must have flowed in to complete it in the meantime.
8 Sept 2016 – A Few Photos
Just a few photos taken today with little stories attached.
The land at the front has been planted up with a crop that will be ploughed back into the ground in a month’s time to improve the nitrogen levels. Update 10 Sept – I believe the crop is Sweet yellow clover. New crops in the background. Dill, coriander, lettuce and spring onions. Some of Gaun’s flowers lining the road in the foreground.
Yuan has bought seeds for broccoli and cauliflower, which will be planted soon with a two month growing period. These are cool season crops and indicate that we are heading into what passes as our winter Dec – Feb. Daytime temperatures in the mid-20’s and nighttime can reach single figures.
When rice is harvested and stored the husks are left on. They are removed when ready to eat giving the white rice we all know. The husks used to be given away for free but now cost 5 baht a bag (A$0.20). It is used as mulch for new crops.
The rice is soaked overnight and then steamed in that basket over a pot of water heated by the little stove I showed you. When the rice is done it is laid out on the circular base in the background to cool slightly.
She and her daughter were returning from the local markets on their motorbike and somehow they managed to collide with a cow like this one. Once the bull recovered he attacked the lady and she died later that day from her injuries.
We also planted it for security. There’s a five strand barbed wire fence that runs through the centre of it, which was ugly when first built but has now completely disappeared.
She picked up a basket of young bamboo shoots from the lady we bought the land from for 200 baht or $8.00. Gaun loves sour bamboo, which is an acquired taste. I thought it was odd she bought so many but I know know that they will keep in these sealed packages for up to two years. Many gourmet meals Isaan style.
9 Sept 2016 – Outside Influences
When I first moved to a small rural village in the north east of Thailand I thought that the locals would be pretty cut off from experiences of the wider world. Not so. Leaving aside that many villagers have relationship connections with farang either directly or through a family member (current or past) there are also plenty who have worked outside Thailand. Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia and Japan are big destinations but Europe features as well for a few.
Two of the people in the attached photos are about to head to Taiwan as a result of a local agent who arranges for work as well as all the paperwork, air flights and accommodation etc. to make it happen. She gets a monthly payback once they start to earn money, most of which is sent back home.
11 Sept 2016 – Getting out of the way
In a recent post I mentioned the need for a more relaxed interpretation of road ownership here in Isaan and told you that I always keep well to the left by moving into the motorcycle lane when coming over the crest of a hill if possible.
This video gives you an example of why this flexibility is necessary when the SUV ahead of me moves quickly into the motorbike lane to make way for a pick-up on his side of the road coming the other way.
In Australia this sort of evasive action would cause a road rage incident or blowing of horns at the least and high blood pressure for the rest of the day 🙂 Here it is standard driving and not really dangerous as long as you suspend your ego and just get out of the way.
You can tell I have been here for a while by my lack of reaction. Mind you we were returning from a relaxing massage at my favourite place in Nong Bua Lamphu so that might have helped. Peng has a Thai and I have a pressure point oil massage – 2 hours for A$20.00.
12 Sept 2016 – Real Birds
Excitement this morning as a couple of Si Bun Ruang birds decided that today was bath time and joined my two friends from Australia. It is the first time I have seen the birdbath being used. You can tell that I am not living a big life in retirement.
As we head into six months of almost total dry I expect the birdbath to get a bit more of a workout. There are only very boring birds here in case you thought that tropical meant we had flocks of parrots and other exotics. Sparrows and other equally drab birds are the norm.
16 Sept 2016 – Wolf’s Den
I discovered another decent eating place in Udon Thani thanks to a contact on Facebook. We spent the day in Udon yesterday visiting some friends, one of whom is just completing a house build and the other who had settled on a block of land yesterday in the same soi and will build next year.
Wolf’s Den is owned by an architect and you can see that from the modern and “funky” (is that still a word?) decor. It is a combined bar/restaurant with a mainly farang menu but catering to Thai customers. Beers are expensive (90 baht for a small Singha) but the food is reasonably priced for this standard of place. It was so refreshing to be able to have a meal in a place that wasn’t either set up as a sports bar or the standard messy Thai.
Very easy to find as it is opposite the main police station in Udon, which has the immigration office directly behind it.
16 Sept 2016 – More Ghosts
I wrote a post recently (Isaan – the Small Stories 20) about the temple ceremony where food was offered to deceased relatives (Gaun calls them ghosts).
Today was the second phase of this process. A 6:00 am start to offer food to the monks and then back again at 10:00 to feed the ghosts. The process today is slightly different from the first time as additional food is blessed at the wat and then taken out to the surrounding farms to be given to any ghosts that may not be inclined to come all the way into the village to collect their feast.
I will tell you where it was purchased in a post shortly. It was made into a lined sarang by the dressmaker in our village at a cost of A$16.00, which Gaun shakes her head about as being expensive.
16 Sept 2016 – Friday Street Market Day
We headed out to the farm in-between wat ceremonies as today is Friday and it is local street market day for Yuan. She has been womaning 🙂 a stall there the last few weeks and because of her reputation as a good farmer she clears the produce by the end of the day.
She and Lud are up at 2:00 am to harvest the vegetables and then wash and prepare them for sale. They make about 1,500 baht or A$60.00 for the day, which may not sound much by our standards for a 17 hour day but where unskilled wages sit around 300 baht a day – not so bad.
The Thai lottery is drawn twice a month on the 1st and the 16th. Yuna’s investment of 279 baht returned her 5,000 baht this afternoon. Here she is showing her ticket to a neighbour. The beers are on Yuan and Lud – not today as it is a Buddhist holy day and we’re off to the temple tonight – but I can wait until tomorrow.
16 Sept 2016 – Passiondelivery
A friend of mine in Si Bun Ruang put me onto this website for the delivery of quality imported and local foodstuffs. Some of it is way outside my price range, but then I didn’t eat a lot of Wagyu steak in Australia and at A$140.00 a kilo it isn’t high on my menu list here either.
There are items that I would consider a luxury but do’able for special occasions even on a retired income. Living in the sticks means that even if you have the money finding a source is next to impossible. What this site does is at least give us country folk a choice. For a very rough exchange rate from Thai baht to Australian dollars x4 and divide by 100. For example 100 baht x4 = 400 and divide by 100 =$4.
My friend has used the service and says it is excellent. Mind you he is working in a high paying job and I’m not. I pass this on for those of you retired here to add to your Thai resource list.
18 Sept 2016 – Thai Time
I nearly got caught out planning my day according to Thai time this week so I thought I would share something most people don’t realise about telling the time in Thailand.
In most situations Thais use the same clock as we do be it 12 or 24 hours. However you may also come across another version, which might have you waiting a long time for someone to arrive for an appointment!
We recently had a ceremony at the temple, that I covered in a previous post, where the ghosts (deceased ancestors) were provided with a meal by relatives after a blessing by the monks. The day was split into two parts. First the monks were fed at 6:00 am and then the next part was to happen at 4 o’clock (according to Gaun).
Having got the early bit out of the way I was happy to cruise through the rest of the day until the afternoon ceremony at 4:00. Not so. At a bit after 9:00 am Gaun told me that I needed to get changed again as “Paed wait you”. Paed is her older sister and the other main family representative at this ceremony. Yuan who would normally be involved as well was tied up at the farm preparing produce for sale at the Friday street market, also covered in a recent post. It was then I realised that we were on Thai time and I needed to be back at the wat at 10:00 am. How does this work?
Thai time is totally different to ours. In Thailand the clock is split into four parts being (1) midnight – 5 am, (2) 6 am to 11 am, (3) noon – 5 pm and (4) 6 pm to 11 pm.
Based on Thai time 10:00 am can either be called “sip mohng chao” being 10 (sip) o’clock (mohng) in the morning (chao), which is telling the time based on our western clock or “see mohng chao”, which is 4 (see) o’clock in the morning. Each quarter of the Thai clock has different ways of describing the time, which I won’t bore you with by describing them individually. However in this example the second morning quarter being 6 – 11 am starts with the normal 6 am number being “hok” mohng chao” or 6 (hok) mohng (o’clock) chao (morning) but after that the hours start at number one. So 7 am is “neung mohng chao” or one o’clock morning and 11 o’clock is five o’clock morning Thai time! The same oddities apply to the other three six hour blocks.
So there you have it. My 4 o’clock appointment at the wat was actually 10:00 am. So if your Thai partner tells you that she will see you at three o’clock it could be for morning coffee (9:00 am) or early afternoon drinks (3 pm) or an early morning (3 am) assignation 🙂
If you are interested in reading more there is an excellent article on this subject HERE.
19 Sept 2016 – Thai Immigration Hijacked!
Thailand is not always light and sunshine. I am trying to complete a 90 report of my address online, something I have had no problems with in the past although it is a process designed by someone living in the 70’s. It must take a special talent to design a website that operates in such a clunky way in 2016. A ten year old kid could do a better job.
Opening the Thai Immigration Department’s website is fine and then either by clicking on the 90 report tab or just all by itself the page is hijacked by a website with Arabic text (I think). It doesn’t give one great confidence in the system does it!
I can see a trip to Udon Thani immigration coming up to make the report in person. It only takes 5 minutes once there but it’s an hour’s drive each way.
19 Sept 2016 – Thunderstorm
Finally we got some really good rain today, the best since we moved in March 2015. Minor flooding in the village but great for the rice crops. As you look around the garden remember that it is only 18 months old. Before then it was a totally empty building site.
21 Sept 2016 – More Names
My knowledge of the vegetables and fruit of Thailand “grows” the longer I live here. I now have three more names to add to my list.
I had no idea what was being grown then. But with the flowers now starting to bloom and with the help of my stepdaughter and her Thai to English computer skills I can report this is cowslip.
Not my description:
“In the kitchen I love to cook them in a clear soup with mince pork, because in clear soup you can still taste their original flavor which is very aromatic and a bit sweet. Other people use them for deep fry or have them with the shrimp in a salad. As far as I know them, I have not seen this flower being eaten raw.
For the mineral they contain fibers, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin A, B, C and niacin.”
“Polynesian healers have used noni fruits for thousands of years to help treat a variety of health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, aches, pains, burns, arthritis, inflammation, tumours, the effects of aging, and parasitic, viral, and bacterial infections. Ancient healing manuscripts cite the fruit as a primary ingredient in natural healing formulations. Today, fruit preparations are sold as juice, in dried “fruit-leather” form, and as a dry extract in capsules.”
No.3: Dragon Fruit
21 Sept 2016 – Online 90 Day Reporting Update
And some good news on the online 90 day address reporting situation. After a number of days Thai Immigration has recaptured their website from the Arabs, a problem I reporting in a recent post, and they are back in business. I was able to submit my report in just a few minutes using the method I wrote about HERE in excruciating detail for any residents.
Normally they approve within a day but it’s a manual process and today being a Monday plus I presume they have had a rush of reports after being offline for so long that mine is still pending. Patience and persistence are sometimes the secret to eventual success in Thailand (but not always read on….)
An update to the update! The online approval never did make it through and I ended up having to drive into Immigration at Udon Thani to make my report. The next one is due on my birthday so maybe I will get an early present courtesy of Thai Immigration.
23 Sept 2016 – Paying the Electricity Bill
A couple of interesting comparisons between Thailand and Australia in respect to the process of paying the electricity bill and the costs.
In the village the bill is hand delivered each month and the guy is happy to sit down and have a chat. Very relaxed, personal and small town. You can ask what other people are being charged no problems 🙂
The kWh units consumed are halfway down on the right – 585 in this case. The cost for the month 2,359 baht or about A$90.00. We have been having some rain so Gaun hasn’t had to water every day, which saves on the cost of running the bore and pressure pumps. We run an air con in the bedroom every night and have been in the living areas a little bit during the afternoons. I have a 90 litre storage hot water system and we run a large pond filtration pump.
The BIG difference is that ActewAGL charge A$0.80 a day for supply charges! None here in Thailand. Not a huge issue but every little bit helps when on a more limited retired budget. Just out of interest, or not, the electricity is the only utility bill we have here. No rates, water, sewerage, council or anything else. Big savings when compared with living in urban Australia.
23 Sept 2016 – Teacher Retirement
Three teachers retired today at my stepdaughter’s school and the whole place came to a stop to farewell them. If you are a teacher in another country best to skip this post otherwise you’ll be as jealous as hell when comparing this ceremony to your upcoming retirement lunch with a card and gift voucher.
Whether this is the best use of school resources losing a whole teaching day plus goodness knows how much time with the pre-work is debatable but each to their own. Education is so overrated!
A video of the dancing can be found HERE.
Many children have them, especially the girls. At 35,000 baht plus or A$1,300 (over a couple of years mind you) they are cheap by our standards but when a farm worker or unskilled building labour earns 10,000 a month it is a fair commitment. Teachers will earn 40,000 a month here.
Thanks for reading.