This is a bit of a unplanned post as I was going to make it a Facebook entry only. When I started to collect all the photos for the story I realised that there were a few topics covered and that a small blog post just to remind people I am still in the writing business might be the go. Also it is 38 degrees (100 degrees F) outside so staying inside with a glass of cold Aussie wine (I know – the things I have to put up with to keep the blog alive) looked like an attractive proposition.

It could be said that there is not much to do in the backwoods of Isaan in the north east of Thailand and there are some who would tell you that is the reality here. If you are looking for big tourist attractions they would be pretty spot on. However on a day to day basis if you get out and take an interest your retired life in rural Thailand can be pretty full – if you want it to be. I have a reader of the blog (that’s you Jim if you are keeping up to date) who wrote to apologise for a previous email he had written to me with a throw away line that “Retirement implies vegetation after all!” I wrote back saying I wasn’t offended 🙂 and:

I am totally happy to be classified as semi vegetable when applied to my amazingly laid back lifestyle. It does have a structure but it seems to unfold day by day.

Today we visited the farm in the morning, rode out to a local wat to view their building work progress, went into town for some shopping and a haircut, had lunch with a local American and his wife (met via the blog) after inspecting their new shop, returned home to supervise the service of our air conditioners and I am now just about to open a bottle of Australian white wine that has been chilling. A full day but in a very relaxed way and after a couple of glasses I expect the evening to be equally unstressed!

I thought I would support those words with a few photos and the stories that go with them to illustrate how the yesterday and today has been spent from my perspective – Two Days in Isaan.

Yesterday, as with most days, we have a coffee at home and then take the motorbike on a five minute ride to the family farm on the outskirts on our moo ban (village). Yuan and Lud have usually been up for many hours by the time we arrive and are getting vegetables ready to deliver to the local markets. Our second cup of coffee/pre-breakfast time is their lunchtime and food usually makes an appearance at some point during our visit.

Gaun’s efforts with her farm gardens are still paying dividends with new colours appearing as we approach the wet season.

Jackfruit anyone. A huge crop this year. Yuan doesn’t pick them so if in the area pop in and take as many as you want!

Lud washes coriander in the pond.

Not much variety growing at the moment. Coriander, chillies and dill make up a lot of the crops.

Yuan measuring out coriander. 70 baht for a kilo.

For those of you who followed the building of our boat HERE this is the dock as of yesterday. Gaun’s planting is starting to fill it all in and it is a lovely shady spot in itself.

These are last year’s paddy fields that get a turn at market vegetable crops. They will be harvest out by June and will be returned to the 2017 rice growing cycle.

A big area planted up and shade cloth to protect the crops from the heat.

This was old sugar land that has been harvested and is now being prepared for new sugar planting. Preparing the soil and planting the new crop costs 2,000 baht (A$80.00) a rai (1,600 m2).

Two tractors involved. Cutting the cane to be replanted will cost Yuan 2 baht (A$0.08) for every ten canes cut and bundled. She supplies the cane.

If you see sugar cane in fields at this time of year post-harvest then it is being saved to be cut and replanted either on the farmer’s own land or it will be sold to someone else for that purpose. Yuan is late in replanting. Most farms have their sugar already in but Yuan was hoping to get a hit of early wet season rain to kick start the new crop otherwise it has to be done by hand.

Coriander mostly with a couple beds of dill.

“Isaan Grace” – our floating morning coffee and evening drinks area. Still above water thanks to the genius of Aussie engineering or good luck – you pick!

A basket of produce off to be delivered Isaan style.

Coffee done we then went to a small forest temple that is being constructed a couple of minutes ride down the road from the farm. The head monk is currently in Bali for a week so it isn’t all prayer and meditation in the local countryside for a Buddhist abbot. It is surprising how well travelled some of these monks are both within Thailand and overseas. The monk is a lovely guy who was a classmate with Yuan and has been a monk for 30 years. He performed the blessing on our new car recently as shown below, which you can read about HERE:

A well blessed Nissan. Dit, the abbot, on the left.

Two of the new structures taking shape.

Because this is a forest wat, although you might not pick that as the temple structures are being built in an open area, a lot of timber is used in the construction and you most likely won’t see a traditional red, white and gold temple building. The area is being planted up with trees so it is work in progress.

Gives you an idea of the height of the roof to be.

Beautiful wood donated by locals.

Spot the mini-monk under the hut keeping cool. For all those Australians complaining about the unaffordability of housing Thailand has the answer 🙂 Malcolm Turnbull are you reading? 

You will see plenty of junior monks in temples this time of year. It is the Thai summer holidays and some kids spend time as a sort of apprentice in a wat. A type of structured and cheap form of holiday childcare maybe.

A good idea. Multilevel sitting areas under the trees. A book and a glass of something alcoholic and cold would go down well. Maybe just the book!

A new bridge “built” by Gaun’s nephew. Gaun bravely trying it out. She survived and stayed dry.

After breakfast we headed into Si Bun Ruang town for a haircut (A$2.40) and some shopping. Tesco Lotus for wine as it was after 11 am (you can only buy alcohol from the major supermarket chains 11:00 am – 2:00 pm) and 5:00 pm – midnight). Next were some supplies from a new pharmacy that has recently opened owned by the neighbours across the road from our house. She’s a nurse at the local hospital so I suspect they hope to pick up referred business that way.

My recommended computer shop on the right and the new pharmacy on the left. This will be added to my list of recommended businesses in Si Bun Ruang HERE.

We booked a service for our now two year old air conditioners (A$40.00 each including regassing – cheap by Aussie standards but I don’t know if I was ripped off by local rates) and called into see a reader of the blog whose wife has just opened a lingerie shop in the main street (no hardship visiting any lingerie shop from my point of view).

A small shop but very clean and well laid out, which is unusual.

A chat lead to an invitation to lunch before we headed back home to meet the air con service team. It is funny here compared to what I am used to in Australia. If you want something done that involves labour in Thailand you are often asked when you want it done, not told when the service is available. We called into the shop at 1:00 pm and they offered to drop around to the house at 3:00 that day. If you want your car serviced here you just turn up. You don’t bother to book it in.

Day 2

Today Yuan and Lud wanted a new pressure pump for the family home and asked if I could drive them to Nong Bua Lamphu to buy one. Also Yuan had picked up a turtle on the road yesterday evening so the first stop was at a wat with a lake to set him free.

I love this temple. Wat Pha Silawa – a forest temple 15 minutes from us, which you can find on Google Maps HERE including my review and some of my photos.

Gaun and a small turtle who must have been wondering what (!) was going on. 

This treed path circles the wat’s pond and is used in the evening by monks and visitors at the end of the evening chanting session starting 7:00 pm. It is a walking meditation and you circle the pond for an hour – if you want.

Freeing the turtle gains Buddhist merit points. Yuan is here making a wai (a high hands in front of face gesture) in respect before the release.

Setting free by Gaun. Stay off the streets mate.

I got the idea for my raft from this example in the temple’s lake. Mine is better because it comes with cocktails in the evening.

Monk accommodation from before. Pretty basic.

And today. This temple has heaps of money and has all the mod cons.This is the abbot’s “hut” with air con.

You can always tell the money washing around in a wat by the quality of their water tanks. I can’t afford these stainless steel ones so there you go.

I am not criticising this wat. It is a delightful place, the monks and nuns keep it absolutely spotless and they are a friendly and welcoming group. The abbot is a super nice bloke and is hugely respected both locally and he has a broadening influence, which explains their cash rich situation.

A quick hello to Buddha before we got back on the road. On Thai roads every bit helps.

My new toy is still at that early stage when it is a pleasure to find an excuse to drive somewhere. I am very happy with it.

The pump shop in Nong Bua Lamphu.

I will add the details for this place to my post on Nong Bua HERE for anyone interested. It is the best shop to buy just about anything relating to farm/garden equipment.

A narrow shopfront but it is very deep. They have a mass of stock.

A better range than Global House or Thai Watsadu and the two guys that own the place know what they are talking about (well their advice has always worked for us).

Swedish cordless hedgeclippers. With 200 metres of hedges at our place one of these will be on the shopping list once our current Global House Chinese one packs it in.

A pump selected we headed home stopping off on the way to buy a pack of those soft brooms you see everywhere in Thailand for sweeping tiled floors. A pack of 10 for 360 baht or about A$1.50 each. Throw away your western brooms and adopt the local standard. You won’t look back.

Essential for inside the home and out.

What is this?

These cloth hammocks are in every general store in Thailand. What I didn’t know is that they are handmade probably at the back of the store as was the case here.

The strips of cloth are rolled up and then tied together to form the netting of the hammock. Yuan bought one for the farm – 70 baht (A$2.80).

I guess what I have shared l in this post is nothing special or touristy interesting. However for me it is little everyday activities like these that mean I don’t just sit at home and wonder what to do with the day.

To continue with the theme next week we have a house blessing ceremony to attend for Gaun’s elder brother who is building on his part of the family farm. Gaun’s nephew Game has been conscripted into the army for two years and there’s a blessing ceremony for him the next day. Also we have been invited to have dinner with a local Aussie friend and his wife (NZ ribeye and red wine – more hard times ahead), there’s a trip to Khon Kaen for a medical review for my stepdaughter (a two hour drive south east), a meeting for lunch with two couples in Udon Thani, friends made as a result of the blog, plus there’s a neighbour’s wedding to attend. You can read about her first wedding HERE. Who said retirement was boring?

Thanks for reading.