I have a loyal band of readers who take the effort to leave comments on this blog in response to my posts of life in Thailand. These are quite often not just a ‘good post’ comment, but a contribution in themselves. I have several virtual friends who provide me with as much enjoyment reading their comments as they seem to get from the original post! Many others read and pass through without a trace, which is a modern trait I suspect and disappointing that they can’t make an effort but that’s life.
I continue to expand the blog as a free resource because of these regulars, and a few new enthusiasts I pick up along the way, rather than for the click rate statistics of the anonymous many. This forum generates many contacts both in a virtual sense, that keeps me busy with correspondence, and the ever increasing number who drop in to see us. We have had over 80 so far in the three plus years we’ve been in Isaan and we have a wedding to attend and two separate groups spending time in the area to see us in the next two weeks, all originating from the blog.
I spent a little time yesterday going back through some of the more recent comments and pulled out ones that I especially appreciated. Some are of the ‘well done’ variety and are included to sooth my ego 🙂 but there is a good mix of more substantial subjects as well. I hope they make for an enjoyable read. Free free to leave a comment about the comments!
I have only made some basic editing and left the original words and spelling mostly unchanged. I have included a few random photos that I especially like so this now ends up being a post all about me!!!! Here we go:
Update 28 Oct 2018: I received this comment and it moved me enough to go back and include it in this post. Although the content is targeted at my situation and the people closest to me there are aspects that are broad in their context and might resonate with you. It is a fine piece of writing:
Dear Truly Tony!
By your own pretty unique way to empower and beautify the world, you are not only displaying happiness of a well-lived life. Also you are inspiring people from around the world to become the best they can be by expanding their minds, exploring new horizons, and seeing life as a blessing.
Additionally, you are telling us –subtly- never is too late to do what is right because your life is your story, so write it well, and edit often since the past is just a lesson and never a perpetual prison, and by sharing your gift with humanity your qualities can be developed limitlessly by others once your story resonated with them.
Truly Tony, you are the perfect incarnation of this quote telling the world is full of suffering but it is also full of one person like you making a difference to overcoming adversity while thriving and doing good for others.
“Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget
that if there weren’t any need for you in all your
uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here
in the first place. And never forget, no matter how
overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem
to be, that one person can make a difference in the
world. In fact, it is always because of one person
that all the changes that matter in the world come
about. So be that one person.”
Likewise Peng, even if at a different age (I’m 65), I’m getting university entrance because I believe I can help more to leave this world better that I found it.
About you and Gaun, you are the perfect couple because as said by an anonymous author, “love is much more than finding the right person; it is a matter of being the right person.” Both deserve each other.
In conclusion as expressed by Maxim Gorky, “Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you will learn at once how big and precious it is”.
And you Truly Tony has proved it is attitude not aptitude what determines our altitude.
Finally at the end of the day take your wife Gaun and your daughter Peng and get to know about this marvelous message (Caption in English and Spanish languages). It is like your story as speaker of great words and images, and a doer of wonderful deeds.
Thank you and Blessings a Thousand fold!
Transferring a dream into reality, Tony and Gaun have created their own tropical paradise. The more time goes on the more impressive their home becomes despite Tony’s candid appraisal of what works well and what he wished he’d done differently. That’s what makes it all the more impressive: Tony’s willingness to share his journey in such a way that those contemplating a similar journey are very well equipped. Making the learning curve for us much shorter and much less daunting. Thank you, Tony, thank you very much.
God bless you Tony – sincerely (or if you do not believe in a God like me then “I hope the universe bestows infinite blessings upon you)
BTW I am in my 60s (A very important fact that almost all internet posts should insist on to give the post a similar context that exists when speaking face-to-face.)
To read such a well-constructed and objective analysis of your personal experiences and observations in Thailand thrills me beyond belief. I have read so much biased and inarticulate rubbish whilst researching a possible retirement in Thailand that I had almost (but not quite) come to the conclusion that only ‘strange’ people decide to retire in Thailand. <– OK possible ‘over the top’ alert.
A question: You have found great happiness with your Thai wife and her family – clearly. What about retirement to Thailand by an Australian couple?
You see what I am thinking is that because you are with a Thai lady you get automatic access to her Thai family connections and these have been incredibly rewarding for you. These experiences are woven into the fabric of your daily life. It’s in your DNA so to speak. Do you personally know of couples that have no Thai connections making a happy life in Thailand?
Thanks again for your insights.
Thank you for your positive comment Tom.
You are spot on in that there is an element of “strange” farang in Thailand but thank goodness my blog tends to attract the “normal” expats who on the whole enjoy the country and its people, while realistically recognising the downsides of living here. Nowhere is perfect and Thailand is no exception but certainly in my case I have found the balance is weighed on the positive.
Your question is an unusual one, in that in the vast majority of cases the standard relationship here is farang with Thai partner. I have heard from hundreds of people over the last five years and from memory only three (?) western women and I can’t recall a farang husband and wife combination via the blog. We did live next door to a French couple in Chiang Mai, where Gaun learnt to say “bon jour” but that’s about it. Congratulations on breaking with the norm! So, in specific response to your query – no I don’t know of couples living here without a direct Thai connection.
Having said that I see no reason why you and your wife shouldn’t have a wonderful time here. I presume you have a strong Thai background and therefore some of what I say may be ho hum but I will say it anyway. Thais are on the whole remarkably friendly and they will be doubly pleased to meet a farang couple. The only major challenge I see, over a farang/Thai relationship, is communication. Gaun is my walking translator, and as a result I have been very lazy in learning Thai or Isaan (two different languages). If I didn’t have a Thai partner then I would have had to learn the language, or more of its basics anyway, and that wouldn’t have been a bad thing. Other than that, you will face the same challenges as most single farang – the bureaucracy (more efficient than you read about), the driving, the food – all the normal changes involved in setting up in a totally new country and culture.
I have been remarkable lucky both with my wonderful wife Gaun but also, as part of an unexpected package deal, her beautiful family who took me in as one of their own from day one and have become like my own. It doesn’t always work like this and many farang report on the stresses caused by their inherited Thai family, which like everywhere is a luck of the draw outcome. So, although not marrying into a Thai family might be a drawback if you came across one like mine, it could also be a blessing. You will find that if you are willing to get involved in the community and take a genuine interest in what’s happening around you, then you will have a degree of acceptance from locals and for most of the time a nod of recognition and a smile is enough to make you feel at home.
Your main challenge, and this applies to a farang couple or a single farang with Thai partner, is connecting with like-minded farang – the “normal” crowd. There are an awful lot of what I call bar-huggers, and you find them everywhere. These are negative minded rejects from their home country that don’t necessarily represent the cream of their fellow citizens. Their major reasons for being here are cheap everything and girls that aren’t picky as long as they have some money. Your breadth of choice will depend where you base yourself. If in Chiang Mai or the coastal places it will be easier in that Chiang Mai has 30,000 expats while Si Bun Ruang maybe 20! I think living in a rural village without a Thai connection to the community would be a lot harder.
The blog has been my unexpected saviour because though it I get to correspond with people like yourself and you sound normal but also, we have had maybe seventy couples drop in to meet us at our home in Isaan over the past three years, and that gives me the opportunity to practice my grown-up English and be a little bit social. We have a few local friends discovered via the blog and regular “annual” visitors – people planning to retire here at some stage who make the yearly pilgrimage back to Isaan with their Thai partners. Changing location and starting fresh is not easy wherever you decide to do it but it might be more of a task here.
I am sure that if you see this move as an exciting new stage to your life and are open to all Thailand has to offer then you will be as happy here as anywhere else.
If you want my private email address to raise any specific questions “offline” then please let me know. If not then I wish you and your wife all the very best and nice to hear from you.
Good morning Tony and Greetings from Ban Phe. I have to tell you, your posts always ‘make my day’! Your lovely homestead and gardens are testimony to your vivid imaginations and the resulting peaceful beauty, born of yours and Gaun’s loving ideas and work, is spectacular.
I further enjoy the contrast of expat life in Thailand in Isaan, as described and shown by you, compared to our variety, down here on the coast, in Rayong province. Not that one is better or worse than the other, just that there is a fascinating difference. The rural life style you capture so convincingly in your words and pictures is an inspiration to us down here in touristy and sometimes frenetic beach country.
As much as I enjoy our coastal experience, my lovely wife Suwapat and I often seek out the slow rhythm and laid-back cadence of village life. We frequently spend time in the easy hill country just north of here. We often visit Sue’s siblings and old friends around her birth place and still their family home villages north of the Town of Klaeng. This allows us happy, albeit temporary, refreshments of the quieter beauty of South East Asian nature and to unhurried village life – more in tune with the lush nature surrounding it. Some of her family work the land, via rubber trees, bananas, all manner of vegetables, etc. – thus enabling us to at least touch the soil from which we all came long ago. All the more reason to peruse your so thoroughly enjoyable words and pictures about your “neck of the woods” – certainly the planted fields on your family’s farms along with all the surrounding flora and your obvious close connection to the earth under your feet.
On a positive note, there also are some neat benefits to our location. An expanding circle of congenial expat friends, for instance – from all corners of the globe and their, usually but not always, Thai wives and ‘significant other’ Ladies. Good people, fun to be with, socialize with, swap life’s little stories with, commiserate with when appropriate, visit each other’s homes, break bread – both Thai cuisine and Western style (in some remarkably good, but still reasonably priced, restaurants not far away). We sometimes toast to having ‘found’ our own little multi-cultural ‘village’ – non-prejudicial, tolerant to most and wide open to the good things in life, especially now, in our so-called ‘later years’.
Beyond that, there is the occasional sojourn to the ‘City of Angels’ for a taste of cosmopolitan life – I never quite lost the desire for feeling the big city pulse once in a while. Happily, it is just as satisfying in small doses these days. One is, after all, no longer the youngest branch on the tree…….
Top it all off with modern day easy communications with friends and family on the other side of the planet, along with the seemingly endless and always available for the push of a button, offerings of ‘good’ music (…mostly classical, in my case) on the Internet – one is tempted to loudly proclaim ‘This is as good as it gets!’
Well, this comment turned out longer than I had planned. Perhaps, I felt the need to take stock……….
Again, Thanks and keep up the good work!
Hi Tony I have dropped in on your updates from time to time after hearing of your onward journey. Can I say what an interesting and full life you are living, retirement for too many seems to be a sofa and a remote, thankfully you have taken the less travelled path. If I can encourage you keep up with the updates… you show another side to Thailand. We have loved our previous hols at Karon and then Kamala beach but always surrounded by the typical resort environment. Someday we will try to get further north and see your part of the world, looks beautiful! Our best regards to you and your family.
Hi Tony and Guan First of all my name is Ken yes I have a thai wife her name is samran I have been watching and reading your blog on your house building and your gardens from the beginning with you two have done a fantastic job your gardens are absolutely perfect and beautiful. I have just finished reading – living with a Thai woman I really like it will done credit to you will I am married to one her name is samran a lovely lady I could not be more happier we have a house in chondean over the hill from phetchaban I live and work in Australia Perth I am a kiwi I see my wife once a year sometimes I get there twice a year it is hard but we manage she works like your wife does and I give her credit for that they are such lovely people she does all the inside work and I do all the outside work she does not like me doing the dishes tell me to go away she makes me a list for things to be fixed she has two brothers and one sister. Sister and brother in law live next door to us l get on so well with them they are such lovely people they would do anything for you l love the culture my wife looks after our land we have 32 Rai on it we growing 660 tr
trees for timber- 7 rice fields- 170 mango trees- 100 banana trees – 5 juryin trees- 5 coconut trees- 30 other trees I do not know the name so that keeps her very busy l am so proud of her she is a lovely mate partner and wife l could not ask for anything more. It will be 11 months before I see her which will be June. When I came back we would love to come and up and meet you both well going bye to you both and take care
Hello Tony, we spoke a while ago where I introduced myself and let you know I am going to marry a woman from Nong Bua Lamphu. We would love to have you and your lovely wife at our wedding planned for Friday, October 12 (early of course). As details firm up I will let you know. I’ve been to NBL several times and have wanted to contact you; perhaps this can be the time we meet.
Looking forward to meeting as we will be neighbors in the future.
Great post and that wat looks like something from a Star Trek episode where you’d be greeted by a Vulcan rather than a Thai monk. A 1km snake is much bigger than anything that has trespassed on your property. The bees know golden “honey” when they see it, and how dare you post a picture of me without my consent! Spot the odd one out? Dook Dik has the biggest LOS smile on his face, so he fits in perfectly. Your bug looks to be of the Lantern Fly species, and very colorful. Now that you have a boat to go with the rice hut there should be some good Hemingway inspired “The Old Man and the Sea, uh Garden” inspirations.
On a more serious note, Lud’s experience may also have triggered what all men fear around the world. What happens to my family if I die? In Western society, they use fear and force Life Insurance policies down our throats to the point that my dad had seven when he passed away. However, in Isaan, what does happen if a partner passes? Is the son or daughter expected to come back and help take care of the farm for much less money than they make in their city job? Do they have Life Insurance policies in Thailand that are worth thinking about? With that, I can only say for all of us, without seeing Lud’s wonderful smile, your post would be lot less cheerful .
Keep us posted on Paed’s situation, since if Hyperthyroidism, it is nothing to take lightly.
Those jams look tasty! “We’re jammin’, hope you like jammin’ too.” Bob Marley.
And Tony, “You and I are Best Friests Forever”! The Thai version of BFF. I love it!
Yuri and I just finished reading this post together. Yuri gave a running commentary on various sections, particularly the food – how typically Thai! In Oz it is, “How are you?” whereas in Thai, “Have you eaten?”
The mangoes above are Yuri’s favourite variety. She explained these are a wild variety with a very nice fragrance. She said the best time to eat them is when they are quite small – skin and all.
We’ve also been discussing the distance between Si Bun Rueang and Ban Ayong. All part of planning our next trip “home.”
Having read this together added another level. She gave her own insights that, being a farang, I would never have picked up when we looked at many of your photos. All in all a very enjoyable way to spend an hour or so.
Thank you Tony, as always your Post Cards from Thailand are a delight to read.
Sitting here on Saturday morning immersing myself in another wonderful postcard from Isaan, after a fairly tumultuous week down here in OZ. More than a little envious mate, in fact as green as Guan’s garden with envy. Still, at the end of August only 122 weeks to go…
What really struck me reading this post was how much I miss the pace of village life and how it makes the days so enjoyable – we were in Yuri’s village this time last year for a week. I didn’t want to leave. Part of the reason I’m so envious I guess. Also full credit to the author whose writing paints such great pictures. That poor guy whose FB post you copied above just doesn’t get it.
Yuri heard me playing the Lum YouTube clip and was straight in here looking over my shoulder – she became a little bit homesick after watching some of the clip. I can see a trip to our favourite Thai restaurant is on the cards as a result.
I am well over the awkward stage now at family gatherings. and bring more confidence into my humble role in this wonderful family. Our common interest, “football” was an epiphany! I look forward to the next match with the lads along with some cold Leo’s!
Not sure this is correct. But I’m told there are 1000 words in any language that are used 90% of the time for basic communication. Makes sense and is less daunting than learning Thai sentence structure, reading and writing and the like. So, this is the new project, I’m learning 3 words per day. It will take some time and I’m making up flip cards to help – I’ll report back as to its effectiveness and my ability to put it in practice.
All the best to you and Guan. Your home and gardens are simply spectacular! You are clearly a terrific guy.
All the best,
Lovely update – thanks. I’ve been trying for a while to understand the layout of the new extended plot in relation to the original house/garden/road – and the latest crop of fotos have put it all nicely into perspective. [Clearly, I don’t have enough to worry about!]
Great to see everything filling out and taking shape ….. For a man who professes profound antipathy to concrete and steel, you just can’t stop thinking up creative new ways to reacquaint yourself with the process. Aversion Therapy?
So far however, I make it a score-draw …. Concrete & Steel 2 – Wood & Brick 2, … with plenty of time left to play!
I imagine your neighbours in the village are now every bit as fascinated with the goings-on at Chez Eastmead as you are with their sociable and laid-back lifestyle. Suspect you are now THE “local character” having displaced the farang who doesn’t shower often enough [who you wrote about in an earlier episode].
Keep ’em coming Tony,
Mushrooms bring out the Hobbit in all of us. Great tasting, sautéed in butter, or on a pizza. However, in the rainy season in Northern California, inexperienced mushroom pickers, sometimes pick the deadly “Death Cap”, which ends with needing a liver transplant. So, I leave my mushroom hunting to going to the Asian markets. I found it interesting that in the dry season in Northern Thailand, they burn the forest underbrush to get to the precious/expensive “Hed Thob” mushrooms. Air pollution be damned, that’s good money! I love the hand made wrapped gifts, very colorful and artistic. Great and insightful write up on the monk’s ordination. Although, Duk Dik didn’t seem too interested. Maybe too much Thai whiskey in his water bowl. Tell him, I know the feeling! You are right about Dit’s smile. He should be on the cover of a Visit Thailand brochure. However, I do want to say, seeing the homemade Isaan Steamer made from that tin container has me nervous about what might leach from those metals over time over intense heat, since that is not its intended purpose. On a final note, your taste in beers is non-existent. I know a quality beer is a luxury, but every time you post a photo of a Chang beer, I want to say “there’s more to life”. I’m sorry, but living in So Cal, we have some of the world’s greatest craft beers and I will never drink the swill from our major US breweries again. Below is a link to some microbreweries in Thailand, and maybe you can sample some of them for a little different change. But, then again, when in Thailand, do as the Thais, and put ice in your wine and beer to beat the heat.
I’m just up to Chp 7 of “Becoming the Truth”, and making notes as I go, so it’s slow reading for now.
On another note. I never read the reply you gave to the “Suck it Up Tony” post, and just came across it in your more recent post on July 16. Anyway, I saw you rebutted the individual with my reply to you about your happiness. I just want you to know that all your readers have your back Tony, and they too would gladly rebuff anyone’s negative comments towards you and your posts.
Cheers, and great write up mate,
Tony, You have excelled once again, Mushrooms and monks ……Two revered topics….Mushrooms because I love to cook and eat them and Monks and Wats ..people and places of serenity . Thank you once again a big heartfelt thanks for sharing your ‘stuff’ with us ….Love to make you one of my favorite dishes i make , A mushroom risotto , hopefully incorporating those lovely forest varieties … one of these days….
Your blog is a treasure. You bring color and vibrancy thorough the artistic eyes of a creative mind to the rustic beauty and simple life of Isaan. Its a pleasure to read your blog.
I was in Ubon Ratchathani last year where they celebrate Buddhist Lent festival with a gorgeous candle festival. The amazing details of the figures by these master crafts people, the artistic renditions that bring the floats to life, the immense concentration it must take, is itself an uplifting spiritual experience.
I am in the process of settling next month in Ban Gan, in Fang Deang sub-district. If I am reading the maps correctly I think I will be about an hour drive from you. I would like to visit you and your lovely family once I have settled down, if that works for you.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Hi Tony. I love reading your stories. I visited Bangkok for holiday last year and somehow, I fall in love with Thai beautiful culture. I start watching lakorns, read about Buddhism, and finally found your blog. Thank you for sharing your life!
Firstly, for those of you that come across Tony’s newsletter, I think it is one of the best most well balanced reports you can find. I always enjoy it immensely! Thank you and please keep it up.
To Tom and others, I would like to comment on my life in Chiang Mai (CM), with my lovely girlfriend Wipawee.
I am a 68 year young guy from Perth WA where I was a builder, and been coming here to CM, for about three years now. To put things in context, I have a physical problem, my left side is pretty stuffed, due to a largely un-diagnosed ‘brain’ problem, to the point where I cannot use my left hand much at all and wear a calliper on my left boot. (Why I mention this will become clear in a minute), but, I can see, talk, walk and have fun! Every day is a bonus.
On my first visit to CM for a month three years ago, I investigated a lot, for expats to do and what CM has to offer as a place for retirement, as well as the cost of living. The primary reason for choosing CM was there is a large expat community and the climate is pretty good, plus the fact you can have a comfortable life style here that you certainly couldn’t have in Aus on a pension. I joined the CM Expat Club and attended a few meetings. There seemed to be quite a few ‘farang’ married couples there. Sadly I found the general feeling was very cliquey; as this is not my style, I did not go frequently, about 4 times in three years I think.
During the visit, I was very fortunate to meet the lovely lady Wipawee and her beautiful daughter Kat. For the month they took me all round CM visiting many of the great places.
Just as an aside, Wipawee has survived breast cancer, it was her sheer determination to look after Kat, who she has brought up by herself that gave her the mental strength to overcome it. She is one hell of a lady.
Slowly our relationship developed, but all too soon it was time to leave, but promised to return after three months working on my house in the south of France preparing it for sale. It was also time for Kat to resume her studies in China.
I had met the close family and friends and most were very accepting of me, even though Wipawee is 23 years younger than me. We had built a great relationship on fun, respect and caring for each other. I was very fortunate to find a lady who would make sure she massaged my left arm and leg every night to try to ‘wake’ the muscles up, no matter how tired she was. She was given a lot of advice by her friends and older aunts as to how it should be done. Thrown in for good measure, she is a fantastic cook.
Yes, there is a perception among the Thais, that if you are ‘farang’ you have plenty of money. I let it be known up front I don’t. I am willing to help where I can, but I am not a cash cow, nor will I be taken advantage of. I have very simple principles that I have taught my 4 lovely Aussie kids, ‘help others where you can and always use please and thank you and show respect’. If there is no please or thank you, don’t expect anything to be done. A stubborn ‘old fart’ with a strict South African upbringing, maybe, but that’s how I choose to live!
I soon found that this was at odds with the Thai way, as there doesn’t seem to be the use of please much at all. The family thought I was a bit strange, because I always said please when asked if I wanted to eat something and thank you when it was given to me.
The Thai villages are a very close-knit community and everyone wants to know everything about everything. Many of the females have asked Wipawee why a pretty young woman like her would be bothered with the ‘old farang’, who is not rich and has a stuffed-up body. I thought her answer pretty well sums up our relationship. ‘Because he is kind and has a good heart! He has helped pay Kat’s fees, which is more than her father has done.’ Can he ‘do homework’? Their way of asking if I’m up for hanky panky. Oh yes! It keeps us young. As we live together, I am regarded as Wipawee’s husband even though we are not married. Maybe one day! I have a few friends who were very happy, got married, built a new house and things went south from there.
On my return, Wipawee and I got a condo near CM, airport, some 23 Km from her house in San Patong. Initially I had ideas of attending a few of the outside activities offered by the Expat Club, but found there was so much to be done around Wipawee’s house, I could spend my time better helping there. I set about installing piping for a new washing machine and changing the squat pan in the bathroom for a flushing toilet. There was not one murmur of thanks from Wipawee’s mother, who owns the house. It is as if it is expected of you. I let Wipawee know that this is not how I operate and she apologised for her mother. (Remember, a bit of effort required doing it with one hand).
Anyway, all too soon it was time to leave because of the one month visa plus extension was expiring again. I promised to return again. Why wouldn’t you when you have found simple happiness in a fun relationship with a woman that takes great care of you!
I returned three months later and in order to stay longer, applied for a six-month student visa to learn to speak, read and write Thai. Bloody hell talk about a brain challenge! 44 consonants, 15 vowels that can be up to 28 in combination, appearing in front of, after, on top of or below the consonants. Basically, five tones. Great care required here, the same word can mean a girl is beautiful, a slightly different tone, she is stupid!! No face slaps yet. When you get into complex grammar, the brain gets completely fried, disappearing vowels and an ending sound that can be one of 19 consonants! Add to that no spaces between words and not punctuation as we know it.
But it is all good fun and found a great language school in CM in Pantip Plaza. The teachers at Manna Language School were really great, exhibiting great patience with a group of struggling ‘farang’ and Chinese students. I think I was the oldest by at least 15 years! They did all the paperwork for the visa. One thing we need to watch, is the visa rules change often. There is no use in getting upset, because they have a system, you just have to suck it up.
When you arrive in a new country, I think you are obliged to learn about the culture and respect their values and ways. In a relationship, it can at times be difficult because of cultural clashes, but have never found anything insurmountable. Would I recommend the life here to anyone? Certainly, if you are as lucky as me, to find a dedicated partner, it can be very fulfilling and you’ll both be happy. Your happiness is a choice you make.
My apologies Tony, I am not meaning to impinge on your great newsletter, but thought I’d share my Thai experience with those that may be interested. Chop out what you wish.
Another wonderful post Tony! Exploding Rockets and phallic symbols seem to go together in a mysterious way. BTW, your application into the LGBT community is approved and you are now a welcome member. It is so funny to have this carnal like festival amongst the more conservative Thai people, but then that is what makes our world so enjoyable. I am glad to see you got your camera repaired, and it’s funny, a friend of mine who repaired cameras here in CA, with his accumulated wealth, has recently retired to Hawaii $$$! I think the most wonderful photos of this recent post are of Gaun and Peng. You didn’t just capture their outward beauty, but the internal beauty of both and your affection for them. You are living the dream many of us aspire too.
P.S., Tell Peng that T shirt does not match her personality.
Wow Tony, what an amazing blog!
Discovered it by accident tonight and like a great book have not been able to put it down for the last 2 hours
Thank you for taking so much time in recent years to share your life and your experiences in Thailand
I have had many holidays in Thailand but never learned so much about the real Thailand until I read your blog
Keep up the great work!
Great article. I drive around 40,000km each year in Thailand. I have driven pretty much all over the country on all types of roads. Sometimes, I find myself driving in the middle of rice fields, but that’s a totally separate story and no, it has nothing to do with being drunk or drugged.
Your observations are pretty much spot on. There is an unofficial give way rule in Thailand, “might is right” which basically means that the bigger you are (your car) the more right of way you have. This is why motorcyclists will sometimes stop for cars, even when they have the obvious right of way.
On the subject of motorcycles, they are a lot of fun to ride here, but they are also up to 80% of Thailand’s road fatalities, so if you ride, take care. As a driver, you really do need to keep your eyes scanning everywhere, all the time as the majority of riders will do things that you are unlikely to ever experience back in your home country.
The lack of speed advisory signs on corners can be a problem for big bikes if you end up coming into corners too fast. I find it better to slow down earlier and be safe on the bends.
One very troubling aspect to driving in Thailand is so many drivers taking the “racing line” through corners. I have yet to find out why they do it, but it can make overtaking very difficult when you are on a multi-lane highway that is a constant series of bends. The car in front will be swerving across every lane (including the motorcycle/emergency lane) and in a lot of cases will not even know that someone is coming up behind them. Be prepared to give them a short beep of the horn to let them know you are there and they should straighten up and stay in a lane to let you past.
The bigger problem is when it is a single lane each way with no centre median strip. Drivers will often swerve onto the wrong side of the road which can present you with a nasty surprise when you can’t see them coming at you. It’s not so bad if you are in a big SUV or pickup, but when you are on a motorcycle it can present a bigger challenge to tighten your line to give them room.
Another thing that I have noticed is that many drivers do not seem to be able to move from the right lane to the left lane on a right-hand bend or to move from the left lane to the right on a left hand bend. Cornering safely and properly appears to be a problem for a lot of drivers so watch out on bends.
Road junctions (intersections) are the high-risk areas for accidents. One common thing that I have seen after studying a lot of CCTV footage of accidents is cars and motorcycles coming out from side streets that appear to have totally misjudged their ability to accelerate and the speed of approaching vehicles which promptly run into them.
There is a really good UK website, https://nosurprise.org.uk/ that has a lot of useful suggestions to improve how you ride/drive to reduce the chances of being involved in an accident. The basic premise is that many accidents are the result of something unexpected happening, ie. a surprise. If you learn to recognise where things may “jump out” and surprise you, then you will already have planned how to counter it and avoid the problem.
Hi Tony and Gaun, I’m just browsing through this great group of photos. Such a nice layout and use of the plot of land you have. I used to have a large garden years ago, it was a on a plot 2,400sqm. We raised 3 children there, planted trees and garden, sheds, basketball court, a spa, double garage and two split level rooms, 6x6mtrs each, all built by yours truly. You do get a great sense of achievement and great pleasure in creating a home, but it’s the garden for me that I miss the most. It’s lovely to see your garden growing and developing and in a short time will look like it’s been there for years. The benefit of Thailand’s weather of course plays a huge part in showcasing it’s fantastic tropical flowers. Well done to both of you as a team for not only sharing your day to day life with us but showing us how to as a family.
Another great post, a very big thank you from me as through your posts, and now in my 2nd year of living in Isaan they have helped me so much in understanding life and the customs in our little Moo Ban at Thongtanee, through your writings this has made life so much easier, it makes me so angry at times to read and hear other farangs moan and bitch because they are unwilling to accept the local customs and traditions and not mix with the local people. There is a saying which I have always followed and that is “When in Roman do as the Romans do” which has never let me down yet!
I am an American and have been living about 7 months in Thailand and 5 months in the USA for the past 5 years. I received much valuable information from Don’s Life in Thailand, Don being an American who, unfortunately, passed away a few years ago. Your website reminds me of his, very good information to help citizens of your nation with interest in Thailand and generally with a very positive outlook.
This year I live in Nong Bua Lamphu, which has been my favorite area so far, since the people are so friendly, the cost of living is low, and traffic is very light compared to larger cities. As you well know, we have Makro, Tesco Lotus, Global House, and other outlets that make living here very comfortable, should we want Western food and amenities. Proximity to Udon allows us to be close to a major city and international airport, while still enjoying a relaxed, small town atmosphere.
Again, thanks for the information you provide, and I hope you continue to enjoy life here in Isan.
Hi Tony, very, very nice. Gaun should be a professor of Landscape & Gardens at Udon Uni. I like your tip on the rustic sink & the bamboo, I will find somewhere to use it. We start our build in September so we are only putting in a few trees until we can see the builders leave and get some decent topsoil. But as an enthusiastic Head Gardeners Assistant, I am keen to get going.
Thanks again for your posting.
Has Guan ever thought about doing landscaping professionally? She should, just like you should write another book…
Love the theme being based on Jim Thompson’s garden. BTW Yuri’s brother works for Jim’s son in Chiang Mai and BKK…small world. When you go to Chiang Mai to buy the pots, look for Jim Thompson’s art gallery
Please tell Guan she continues to inspire with her vision and sheer hard work. Looking forward to the day Yuri and I can be in it, it, walk through it etc, and draw on some of Guan’s ideas & inspirations.
How’s Peng doing? Time for an update…
Did you get some coffee from Tong?
Noticed it was still cold there yesterday – 15 degrees in Surin. Funnily enough Brisvegas was only 20 yesterday. No complaints though.
Dear Tony and Gaun – you are both legends! Thoroughly enjoyed reading about your new land purchase and the mammoth task of getting it to look like a tropical paradise (which I am sure you will) Gaun is in her element once again so I think presently not so much time each day at the farm and sala until this project is finished. Looking forward to progressive updates mate. Cheers Ian
Having read your eBook twice already I am now starting on the specifics which have become a vital ingredient to my own build in a few months’ time. Your update has arrived in the nick of time so that I may fine-tune some of those areas. I was particularly keen to absorb the comments of Robert in respect to rendering and thank you both for elaborating on this aspect.
My own preliminary plans and analysis now numbers in excess of 100 pages and is still growing as I learn about the intricacies of building a home in Thailand. I am most grateful to you, Tony, and your commenting readership for the frankness you have given in sharing your experiences, warts & all. Your work has become my foundation stone & I am most grateful. Sure I will make some mistakes in judgement and/or knowledge but they will be enormously reduced thanks to your efforts.
Mike was spot on when he wrote:” most of us are very reticent to point out those little imperfections to anyone else. You however are remarkably candid, which is enormously helpful to rest of us who have yet to go through the process. Many thanks!”
Thanks for the honest update on your building project book, which I would recommend to all expats, even those with no current plans to build. Although my house was finished when I read your book, it’s been a great reference to me in add-ons such as the wall, outdoor plumbing, well water, electrical issues, gardening, and others. Regarding the fluorescent tubes, they sell a type A LED replacement that snaps in place, other types require a new fixture. I can recommend the Dulux acrylic filler 1040 for wall cracks. I installed magnetic door stops for those self-closing doors, an easy fix. And perhaps an angled plumbing fitting at the wall could easily center that shower head, just a thought, not sure about the aesthetics…
Your writing style is so easy going but I suspect its hard work on your part, so thanks again for your wonderful blog.
Hello Tony, interestingly enough I was just in Nong Bua Lamphu last week visiting my fiancé’s family. As a gesture of gratitude for accepting me to their home, I went to the local home improvement center (Global House) and purchased two (2) 13,000 BTU/Hr Toshiba wall mounted AC units and had them installed. During installation I accompanied workers into the attic and was shocked not to see ANY thermal insulation barriers!! I guess I know what my next project is when I visit in the near future. As I mentioned, I have a Thai finance and plan to retire in Thailand within the next 8 or so years. We thought we would build on property in Nong Bua Lamphu that her family owns, but my generally inactive allergies were raging during the visit (never been around rice pollen before and those 5 days I had no relief and very little sleep). So the retirement home has moved south towards Jomtiem where I have no issues. With that said, I was scouring the internet and found your website! I will soon order your book as we plan to build a home somewhere in Thailand (preferably close to a beach). Your website has a lot of relevant information that will save someone like me time, money, and frustration, so I look forward to getting the book soon.
Hello Tony, yours just has to be the coolest blog on our favorite subject – Life in Thailand. Certainly, when compared to most other, usually negative and sometimes god-awful commentary on other sites. I am an eternal optimist myself and I appreciate your sunny outlook on life and the folks around us.
My wife of seven years, Suwapat (Sue) and I built a house in Ban Phe, Rayong Province, a small seaside town on the mainland opposite Koh Samed Island.
After some decades of service in the US Military and Civil Service, I retired in 2015 and we now live in the ‘Yin Yang House’, as we have christened our place – on account of the harmony I sought and found with Sue and Thailand.
Sue’s Mom Tel (english spelling?) and her grand-niece Anda (five years old) share our home. Tel is a ‘salt-of-the-earth’ wonderful Lady, who loves to plant and grow things in the garden. Little Anda is the sunshine of our lives, even on cloudy days.
I briefly came across your blog while Googling for Wat Kham Chanodt, the forest temple East of Udon Thani. Sue had felt the need to go there and pray for Good Luck and Fortune to bless our impending six month visit with my older son Hans and the grand-kids in Kennebunkport, Maine, USA.
Since returning from Kham Chanodt last week, I have spent some serous time in your blog. Your writing and your pictures about all manner of subjects are superbly entertaining and enjoyable. Not only that, but you also cleared up some long over-due misconceptions on my side and made me smarter on a number of Thai customs and traditions.
Sometime after we return from the US next February, I would like to re-visit Udon Thani and the Me Khong Shore, including the various recommendations in your blog.
If I were to bring a case of ‘Lao Dark Beer’ or other adult beverage to your liking, do you suppose we all could meet to tip the old elbow and swap a few stories, perhaps break bread in a favorite restaurant of yours (my treat, please)?
Likewise, if you find your way down to the Eastern Coast of Thailand, Sue and I would like to invite you to stay with us for a while. We have two comfortable guest rooms for our friends (not for rent) to come and visit. Koh Samed and its larger cousin, Koh Chang (two and one half hours drive and a ferry ride from Ban Phe) await your pleasure.
Tony, perusing your kind words, I suspect a man likely to appreciate good conversation and, perhaps, an insight or two along the way.
Four years ago I began to capture my life’s story in words and random recollections – an enterprise I enjoy more and more these days. Not to be published but merely to help me understand……
What say you?
Cheers and best regards to Gaun, Peng and the rest of your family.
Great stories and comments, I, myself am living in Sakeao area to a wonderful Thai lady ,I found that being patient towards her family is crucial in understanding the way they (Thais) go about their daily life. In short I would have loved to have met my beloved wife 20 yrs ago, as for the Thai language I found that if you are trying to speak with them learn important words ,you’ll get there, great fun trying, everyone has a ,all the best treat your ladies like princesses that they are ,you will live long and prosper
I’d like to share with you and your readers a frequent humorous conversation that my Thai wife often used when speaking English here in Australia, before preparing a meal she would ask me if I wanted to eat “kitchen”, what she meant to ask was “would I like to eat chicken”! This always lead to heaps of laughter from both of us :-).
I have not developed my Thai speaking ability beyond a few basic words/phrases and have experienced in Thailand the best translation is offered by teenage school children, when they are attending school in a Thai city environment.
Thanks for another interesting blog.
Thank you for another great blog, as always it is interesting and full of excellent pictures, pictures which almost convince you that you are in Thailand witnessing the topic firsthand. Your publication rate is currently outstripping my reading rate, however keep them coming and I promise to try and catch up :-).
Wishing you, Gaun, Peng and your extended Thai family good health, wealth and happiness.
Re-reading these comments gives me a renewed confidence in the basic goodness of most people. We are all just trying to do the best we can in the circumstances given us. A huge thank you to all of you who have contributed. Each one of you have made my day at the time.
Very warm regards.