More small stories of everyday life in Isaan, Thailand this post covering September and some of October 2017:

19 Sept 2017 – Sunset

A beautiful sunny day today giving us hope that the end of the rainy season is about to happen. Here in the north we slip into cool nights and days in the mid 20’s from November to February and the farm produces seasonal crops such as broccoli and cauliflowers. Yummy with a white cheese sauce – very Thai  

I was at the farm this evening enjoying a rum and coke or two and captured some lovely photos of the dramatic sunsets we get this time of year.

Earlier in the day this photo below shows Gaun and Peng walking back from the family home to our place. There was something especially joyful in the moment with those big Thai smiles. Mind you we had just finished lunch at the farm with some friends from Udon and in Gaun’s case a few beers had been consumed 

21 Sept 2017 – Driving in Thailand

Driving in Thailand is one of those hot topics on expat forums and the sort of thing that is often raised in conversations whenever farang get together. The statistic that Thailand is the second most dangerous country in the world to be on the road is sometimes quoted (not necessarily true as I will prove) and examples of situations seen here that defy the traffic laws in western countries are exchanged. So what is it actually like to drive here? Find out by reading my post HERE

Gaun learning to drive in our new pick-up.

A rural backroad leading to Chiang Dao, just outside Chiang Mai. A must to visit.

Some roads are a challenge. This one to the coffee plantation at Doi Chaang, between Chiang Rai and Mai.

A happy farang and his new toy.

Passing slow moving traffic.

My first Thai car. It was a challenge and not the best in the wet season.

 21 Sept 2017 – More Flowers

Gaun completely replanted areas of the farm earlier in the year using cuttings taken from older plants and our garden. Her efforts have just now started to pay off in an incredible display of colour at the entrance to the farm.

She has now turned her attention to clearing out a small forest area on her own land so that some beautiful Tamarind trees can be properly displayed. It is a lovely shaded spot and I am thinking on adding a small sala (covered seating platform) to the area as yet another sit and read book option on the farm.

Other than being with me Gaun is never happier than getting her hands dirty in the garden 🙂

This display slows traffic in the road that runs past the farm.

Beautiful trees. If this wasn’t family land, and Gaun’s land in particular, these trees would have been cut down by now. Not in our lifetime.

Looking the other way towards the farmhouse.

Gaun adding to all the rubbish growth she has cleared so far.

This is land to the right of the farmhouse in July 2016 when some friends visited us. Tara if you are reading that’s the small shrub you planted in front of Gaun.

And the same view today.

24 Sept 2017 – New Forest Wat

We called into the small forest wat being built down the road from the farm today. The abbot passed our home early this morning and admired Gaun’s hedges, which she was trimming. Later that morning a village elder turned up to collect the trimmings to take and replant at the temple.

This is currently a slightly chaotic building site but the monk in charge (Dit) is working towards a big opening ceremony on 29 Oct so there is progress being made.

Keep down this road and you end up at the farm and eventually our home. For some reason the monk has decided to build a moat around this part of the temple grounds. The hedge trimmings from our place are going onto that wall.

The Buddha building. Very small and simple. Dit is working hard to develop a garden setting and I am sure Gaun has had an influence there as the monks walk past the farm and our house to collect food every morning.

Gaun bring a contribution of flower cuttings taken from the farm.

This is a temple of the Thai forest tradition so is mainly built from timber and what beautiful wood it is.


A new toilet block being constructed way out in the fields. Getting it ready for the opening ceremony. Because temples are set-up for a big influx of people once in a while they usually have excellent toilet facilities if you ever get caught short!

Not a bad spot for a small monk’s hut.

Gaz if you are reading this one is for you.

We passed two snakes on the way out on the motorbike.

A small one and this one, which was a decent size – maybe two metres. Most snakes you see are harmless to humans and keen to get out of your way. With all the digging to form the moat guys like this have been disturbed.

Since identified as Radiated racer – copperhead racer and “This snake is aggressive when threatened and is large enough to inflict some damage with its bite. A recent study has found that it produces some venom, quite similar to the venom of cobras. However, it only produces a small amount of venom and does not have venom-injecting fangs, so effects in humans are limited to redness and mild swelling at worst.” When threatened being the key words here. This one was dead keen to get out of the way.

If you are a resident of Thailand join this excellent Facebook group called the Snakes of Hua Hin. They are super helpful and are happy to answer questions from everywhere, not just Hua Hin HERE

27 Sept 2017 – Cow on Road

In my last post Edition 1 on the topic of driving in Thailand I wrote “Driving through my home village I am well aware of young kids, chickens, dogs, motorbikes, farm vehicles and buffalo all of which can unexpectedly make an appearance onto the small sois (roads).”

That SAME afternoon in our village this happened, which supports my recommendation to drive cha cha (slowly slowly). The calf came close to wiping out a bicycle being ridden by an elder.

An even greater disaster was averted as I had just stopped at the local noodle shop to buy some beer and you can hear the bottles falling over as I quickly slowed. I am happy to report none were broken 

5 Oct 2017 – End of Lent

Temples everywhere in Thailand are starting to celebrate the end of the three month Buddhist Lent period. We were up early this morning to go to the small wat just down the road from the family farm. A very local occasion with villagers to feed the six monks currently in residence.

Gaun with offerings to the temple. We have had several days of rain but this morning cleared to a partly sunny day.

This is the abbot’s mother handing over flowers for the ceremony.

Monks waiting to be fed.

And more. These are monks following the Thai forest tradition and they only eat once a day. Only liquids after noon.

Sticky rice literally by the bucket full.

Masses of food as always. All the food is offered to the monks starting with the most senior and working down to the junior. They pick and choose what they want. What remains is then shared with the villagers.

Gaun adding sticky rice to each of the monk’s bowls.

This is Dit, the lovely abbot of this wat.

“Pouring water onto the ground (as many times as one feels to do) is a way to share one’s merit and goodwill, to send out positive thoughts, positive energy, loving, and kindness to all beings. It is a practice that embodies the way of Bodhisattvas, to always be kind and merciful. Pouring water is a way of embodying the ideas of giving and of letting go. When the bottle is turned over, the water flows out on its own – there is nothing more one has to do. This is letting go. The water is also a symbol of giving on many levels, and it carries the essence of one’s giving with it, into the earth and to other beings.”

As the ladies got dressed up for the occasion a photo shoot was required afterwards. Gaun on the left and her younger sister Yuan.

Farms girls never looked so good.

7 Oct 2017 – Street Party

A street party today for a one of my favourite local wats called Wiset Mongkhon to celebrate the end of Buddhist Lent and also to start the dedication process for the temple, which is in the final stages of completion.

Normally the villagers would follow a large music truck around the streets but because this is the month of the king’s cremation loud music has been banned and a Lum (Isaan percussion) band was approved for this occasion. A good time was still had by all.

My photos reflect the wonderful opportunity these events provide to capture faces and moments rather than just record the party itself.

The builders have been working flat out to get the temple finished for this ceremony but still have a little more to do. Great temple.

The official dedication happens tomorrow. All set up.

Nine of these orbs will be buried around the temple, eight outside and this one inside.

A group of locals started the afternoon with a dance for the king.

Selfies are a universal addiction here. You have to remember that many of the monks you will see are only spending a short period as a monk before returning to a “normal” life.

The Lum band at the back of the dancers heading out of the wat grounds.

Just one of those moments caught on “film”.

Graceful and beautiful.

A sunny day for a change after a week or more of rain do the umbrellas were out in force.

And hats.

All being captured for the Buddhist website.

Our friend Jenny is visiting for a few days from Brisbane. She timed it right to join in the party.

The official uniform became more casual as the afternoon went on.

Yuan with friend.

Jenny and Gaun.

Never feel shy about taking a photo of Thais. They love the attention and have all the right poses immediately to hand.

More hats.

The girl on the right wanted her photo taken and we are now friends on Facebook! Lovely.

More selfies.

Lud, me, Yuan and a friend. The longer I live here the more people I know at these sort of events. I was even welcomed over the loudspeakers when we arrived. Give me this over Chiang Mai or Phuket any day.

11 Oct 2017 – Roadtrip Highlights

We have just got back from a three day drive in the northeast of Thailand with a friend of ours from Brisbane. I have thrown together a few of my favourite photos from the trip to illustrate the variety of sights that are there to be found if you look hard enough in this non-touristy part of the country.

The backroads are lush this time of year. I try to keep off the main roads as much as possible when on a trip.

Normal sort of Isaan sights. Farm transport with family.

Gaun and Jenny had made these flower garlands on the farm the previous day.

This is where they ended up given to Buddha on the outskirts of Loei.

We were lucky with the weather on our first day. This photo looking over the province of Loei.

The Mekong River very full as it is the end of the wet season here. Thailand on the right and Laos on the left.

Our lovely Mekong riverside resort night one. Gaun and our friend Jenny.

Sunset on the Mekong.

Our resort was about 40 km from the Chiang Khan night markets so we went there that evening. They are set in street of renovated wooden houses bordering the Mekong..

Day two had us exploring a couple of wats. This is one of those incredible lifelike wax statues.

Wild monkeys in this wat.

A wet day as we waited to climb up to the impressive Wat Pa Phu Kon, a must if in the area.

A privately funded donation to the Thai people and one of the best wats in the country in my opinion.

Just the most beautiful reclining Buddha carved from Italian marble.

A photo to show you the size of this Buddha. I almost expect him to wake up at any moment.

Inspecting the Mekong from our guesthouse in Nong Khai.

Mut Mee Guesthouse – always a pleasure to stay there.

Today it was Sala Kaew Ku a park full of these huge statues.

Wat Noen Panao Wanaram – the best temple in Nong Khai in my opinion.

Mini-monks on sweeping duty in the temple grounds.

12 Oct 2017 – Farm Party

Our friend Jenny, who is visiting us from Brisbane via Chiang Mai, is leaving tomorrow so that called for a fish BBQ party with the family at the farm this evening.

It was a triple celebration as Peng both had her braces removed today and has been cleared to return to school next term commencing on the 24th having recovered sufficiently from her operation to cope with normal life again. Brilliant news.

Fresh fish cooking on the BBQ. Peng is only there for show. She is contributing as much to the cooking effort as I am!

Yuan, Peng, Jenny and Gaun.

I occasionally pop up in a photo.

Happy days.

13 Oct 2017 – Out in the countryside

With a few hours to spare before we took our friend Jenny to catch a flight back to Chiang Mai we headed out into the countryside for a look-see. As always there were some small happenings ideal to illustrate local life and provide free entertainment  

First stop on the mystery tour was a hidden wooden temple currently under construction.

This was that same building view when we visited with Yuan and Lud six weeks ago.

Freestyle timber.

Jenny was lucky to come across a very early rice harvest. 

This is a sticky rice and this particular type isn’t widely planted because it needs harvesting now at the end of the wet season. If the rice is damp it will need to be dried before long term storage. Most rice will start being harvested early next month when the farmers hope it will be dry. The rice is feed into the machine on the left and the stalks get discarded (used for mulch) and the rice goes into that bag being held by the guy in green.

Making rattan mats by hand. The reeds are cut, split, dried, coloured and then woven.

The two ladies can turn out three two metre mats in a day.

Another wooden wat. One of my favourites.

How un-Thai to have this sort of quality and detail. We met the guy who built this and other pieces around the temple.

The washing-up station.

Gaun adding money to the tree on the left. We have been invited to this wat’s end of Buddhist Lent celebration tomorrow with 50 monks in attendance, which I will cover in the Edition 3.

The main hall being decorated with plants and fruit.

The abbot’s house on the right. Setting up for the party. Free food, drinks and ice cream tomorrow if in the area!

Gaun got these four girls to sit for a photo shoot. Never a difficult task in Thailand.

Monks dieing new robes. They are white to start and then boiled in jackfruit tree chips, which gives it this colour – see next photo.
Monks can only wear robes coloured naturally, which explains why there are many different tones of orange you see depending on the available natural source of dye.

Jackfruit wood chips.

Gaun calls these bees but maybe they are wasps. They are very aggressive whatever you call them. Say well away. A very different hive from traditional bees.

A charcoal business on the side of the road. Wood is sealed in those clay mounds and slowly dried. The end result is still widely used for cooking. A sack of charcoal sells for around 100 baht (A$4.00).

Teenagers cleaning their bikes in the village pond causeway. Guy showing off to girlfriend – a worldwide phenomenon.

Home in time for lunch from the local noodle shop. Four large meals for 120 baht (A$5.00) ready in ten minutes.

Thanks for reading and spending time with us in Isaan.