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Tony in Thailand

Everyday stories about an

expat’s life in Isaan, Thailand

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In this unique blog You will find hundreds of stories about my life in Thailand, the good and bad. Not just a list of tourist destinations but stories about REALLY living here. I hope you enjoy sharing my experiences of settling into a new country and culture as much as I am living it. 

To visit my main index page click below.

To read today’s stories please scroll down.

The most comprehensive reference manual on building a house in Thailand. An e-book of 120,000 words arranged in a number of sections including the initial planning stages, a daily report on the construction process, later updates after we move in, a few summaries and a section on more general background topics such as land titles, Usufruct contracts, utility expenses and the daily cost of my building project.

What are readers saying?

I’ve just about finished reading your E-book .It was compelling and inspirational, and I have taken much guidance from it. The photos in particular brought alive and gave a more thorough explanation, than you would normally find online. I’m sure the connection to the FB group will also be invaluable going forward.

While we are beyond the design stage, the knowledge gained from your experience will be extremely helpful as we proceed with the construction phase.

A big takeaway from me is how you have managed the tropical weather, so you can enjoy spending time outside, while maintaining a cooler environment inside. I do see a number of challenges ahead, more apparent after reading your book. The front of the property is unavoidably facing due south. While the eaves will provide some protection from the mid-day sun, it will be some time before we can provide some tree cover.The outdoor living area is at the rear, courtyard style.

I just wanted to say a big thank you for making the monumental effort to document and share the journey of your project build and then subsequently updating it. My wife and I started a coffee wholesale business in Bangkok four years ago to keep me busy in my ‘retirement’ and I noted that you are a coffee lover. As a small token of our sincere appreciation, I would like to pass on some of our coffee beans, if you could send me your address and mobile number for delivery. If this interests you, please visit our website https://en.orientalcoffeeandtea.com and let me know your roast preference

 

I am loving your book – just on my second read at the moment, to make sure that I didn’t miss anything first time around (which actually it turns out I did!).  

Just a note of thanks at this point ……. I am a fairly methodical sort of bloke, but there are many issues which your book highlights which I just wouldn’t have thought about – or if I had, I may well have assumed they were “standard” building practice [U-bends, drain positioning, barge-board alignment] – if it hadn’t been for your excellent descriptions!!  I will probably still “miss” something – that’s the nature of building/design – but thanks to you, it shouldn’t be anything too mission-critical. Mike

Undoubtedly, we would not have the quality home we now have without the book, we had no idea even where to start until we found Building in Thailand eBook. We did manage to avoid most of the traps that we could have fallen into, we are extremally thankful for the authors attention to detail and common-sense approach. Chris

I have had the good fortune to have used the first edition as part of Yuri and my plans to build our home here in Surin.  To say it is a good reference book is an understatement.  The practical advice and your self deprecating style make it a great read.  The anecdotes and asides all add to its appeal as both a “how to manual” and a fascinating insight into what lies ahead for people like me who have only just commenced a similar journey. Far better armed for what’s to be encountered. Greg

The investment in this book is approximately 600 baht, and you will save vastly more than this in time, frustration and expenses.

Lots more information including a free sample chapter on this site HERE  If you want to go straight to my distributor to buy the book please click HERE.

The income from my eBook pays for the upkeep of this blog, which is otherwise commercially free unlike so many others.

NEW Daily Stories of Life in Thailand

I have several very active Facebook groups that cover some of my favourite subjects and below you will find the last five posts from each group, updated hourly. Some readers don’t want to engage with Facebook, so this is a way to still receive the many stories that appear each day in that forum without having to access the groups themselves. To see the photos and the words that go with them just click on the images on the left-hand side. 

If you want to join one of my Facebook groups they are listed here:

I have not added new content to my blog for a number of months focussing instead on my very active social media groups, where I get a lot more feedback and many more comments than I ever did in this forum. It becomes discouraging when people visit the blog and then move on without any engagement or thank you. I have several groups on Facebook that reflect my passions and these have replaced the stories I used to publish here. I post new material every day and you’ll find the same high quality photos (better actually) and descriptive words. The topics with Facebook links are as follows:

Thailand Tropical Gardens: HERE
Isaan Life and Culture: HERE
Isaan Photography: HERE
Best Wats of Isaan: HERE
Building in Thailand: HERE
My Thailand Stories: HERE
and of course my personal page Tony Eastmead: HERE

 

NEW: Search the blog:

34 Comments

  1. Chris Ball

    Hi Tony. Just found your fantastic website. Not sure if this is the right place to give you my background.
    So much useful information for an ex British serviceman, migrated to Australia in 1982 with my late wife and two daughters. I became a widower in 2014 following a fatal car accident that my wife was in. I also retired that year at the age of 68 and now receive an OZ age partial pension and a UK pension. As you probably know that there is no agreement between Australia and the UK in regard to pensions so I do not get the full amount. Three years ago, I needed company and could not stand living on my own on a farm block. I met a fantastic Thai lady that lived near me and we married in Australia two years ago. She qualifies for an OZ pension in 2023, thanks to the Government changes! We now live in Queensland on the Sunshine Coast in our own house. My wife owns land in Issan and is thinking of building a house there. After reading your ‘Australians – Beware’ articles, I am even more confused which way to go. Sell our house in Qld, rent it out, move to Thailand permanently or return every so often to keep MyGov happy. I’ll certainly need advise from the experts.
    Anyway, enough of me. Keep up the great site. Hopefully when we get back to Thailand, we’ll catch up.
    Just one comment on your site layout. The grey background makes the text very difficult to read. I may be me of course. Regards, Chris.

    Reply
  2. Phil google translate is your new friend

    Tony
    Hosszú ideje hallottam tőled, ezért ide szoktam küldeni a szokásos alkalmazások helyett. Weboldal kezdete óta sokat érett, és jó látni, hogy sok követője van.
    Lehet nyílt napot tartani, hogy mindenki látogasson el hozzátok.

    Hamarosan beszélünk

    Reply
  3. Apichai

    Sorry I’m not on facebook or other social media so can only reply here.

    What I’m discussing below is stuff ordered for personal use and not bulk shipments.

    Regarding your rant about imports. By law, customs duty is charged on anything over 1,000 baht ( with exceptions). The cost price is calculated including the shipping . So if the price was 800 and shipping is 250, then that tips the scale and you will be charged customs duty on the value of 1050. Generally it’s 10% of the price + vat but this doesn’t apply to wine etc. The problem is that when it comes in, you have to be registered as an importer, which most of us aren’t. So we have to apply for that. Although it’s not that difficult, it still takes a couple of days and the courier company can do it for you.

    Goods arriving in Thailand by air get 2 days free storage after which there is a charge of 850 baht + daily storage costs. This is the point where the costs start ballooning out of control.

    My general experience is that a lot depends on the courier company. For eg, DHL tends to call you and give you an estimate of costs and if you ok it, they will get it out and deliver to you ( using their own import system).

    But UPS will want to go by the book and if you get it through them, you end up paying more for the storage and other charges than the actual duty, not including the hassle of sending them ID copies etc

    So is there any easy option ? Yes in fact, there is . Lazada

    If you order stuff from Lazada, they have their own courier system which brings your stuff into Thailand. They will consolidate thousands of small orders like yours into one shipment and so are able to clear customs – most times without any additional cost to you. Shopping charges are also reasonable.

    Once in Thailand, they arrange the delivery to your door. Have bought a lot of stuff from Lazada and haven’t had any problems so far.

    Any drawbacks ? Yes there is . You might not find your branded item on Lazada. If you are ok with Chinese no name leaf blower, you might try ordering one and see how that works out.

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      Thank you very much for that insightful comment. Much appreciated.

      Reply
  4. Allan Pettit

    Hi Tony. We have exchanged messages before and your insights are quite helpful. My question now is about your building book vs pre-constructed buildings . My fiancée has been slowly building a house over the past five years. In basic terms it’s more like a barn, with a paved foundation, finished out ceilings, a kitchen, shower and toilet. Separate living area, bedroom, and religious Buddha prayer room. No air conditioning or hot water for shower but that is forthcoming. She has done a nice job sprucing it up outside with a garden and trees. But I’m wondering if new construction is the way to go or try to make her current home more livable for a westerner like me. I think substantial upgrades to the kitchen will need to be made, as well as other relatively minor improvements. I think the house has potential. But the house is literally 30 yards from her parents. So there’s that. And the parents house will someday become big sisters house. I will happy to contribute to your educational and informational efforts if you think your book might be helpful. Please advise. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      That’s a hard one Allan. If money is plentiful then despite the stresses, designing and building a farang standard house from scratch with all the conveniences and lots of insulation is probably the way to go. If you are on a budget, as most of us are, then some sensible upgrades to your fiancée’s house might do the job for you at a greatly reduced cost. Maybe cool is a priority then look at roof extensions to keep the sun off the walls, extensive planting on the west side of the house and quality insulation on top of the ceilings with some decent air conditioning. Having seen the standards set by the Thai houses and resorts I have seen, upgrades to bathrooms and kitchen would be required, as you already note (for the kitchen). Being that close to family can be a plus or minus depending on the relationships. We are very close to Gaun’s family home, but they never intrude on our space. In fact sometimes I wish they would a little more as they are a delightful bunch. My book is essential reading for someone looking to build in Thailand, but of lesser value if you are renovating or upgrading. It might still have some benefits, says he looking for a sale 🙂 but realistically not a must-have.

      Cheers Tony

      Reply
  5. Robert

    hi Tony. like your blog.
    i may be moving the the sakon nakhon region. i am a sheet metal and air-conditioning contractor in canada. can you give me a brief summary of the use of ac and sheet metal work architectural or other wise in sakon nakhon region.

    Regards, Robert

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      Thanks Robert. No I can’t supply you with any additional information. I don’t live in Sakhon Nakhon and other than building a house here, I have no experience in air conditioning or sheet metal work. There is a Sakhon Nakon Facebook group and they might be helpful in answering your questions. You will find them HERE

      Cheers.

      Reply
  6. Stanley

    G’day!
    I was concerned when your website disappeared. I thought maybe the dreaded malady got you.
    Your one of the few people I follow in Thailand, because you give good insight into life there as a Foreigner.
    Especially one from the Land down Under.
    Who knows if travelling anywhere in the world will go back to the normal?
    If and when this Pandemic subsides, what will be required of foreign travellers?
    Vaccinations, health certificates, special visa’s, travel insurance to cover you if possible for the Covid-19 virus, cost of airfares?
    Who knows?
    Still hope to see you in person, one day.
    If normal ever returns.
    May you and Family, stay safe and well.

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      Thank you, Stanley. No, alive and well as is all the family. Thailand is one of the safest countries to be in during this period.

      I will try to get back to updating the blog. It has been on-hold for a while. I have a lot of call on my time with social media and I refuse to spend my life in front of the computer, which is what I did when I was employed. The blog has suffered as a result.

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      All the very best to you.

      Tony

      Reply
  7. Stephen Davies

    Good to see you have the site back up Tony, I do enjoy a visit here to catch up now and again.

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      Thanks. Good to be back. I will get some new stories posted soon.

      Thanks for noticing and commenting.

      Cheers.

      Reply
      • Steve Davies

        I look forward to the new posts. I find this a much more leisurely way to look at photos and topics rather than the madness of Facebook.

        Reply
        • Greg Carroll

          Hi Steve,
          Agree completely with you. Catching up with Tony’s blog over a good coffee on a Saturday morning was part of my routine for several years. A very enjoyable read, both in terms of preparing for life as an expat in Thailand (since achieved) and Tony’s conversational writing style that engaged one much more than farcebook ever can due to the madness you so accurately describe it as. No offence Tony, but your in-person writing was always something I looked forward to.

          Reply
  8. John Sandvik

    I bought your book and have just started to read it.
    So many good things that so many forget when they make a home in the land of smile.
    “Small” things like insulation, a very important issue that will pay off so much.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      Terrific to hear John. Thanks for giving me some feedback. I really appreciate it.

      Good luck with your build. If you make a list of must-do’s from the book it really does help.

      Let me know how you go and if I can help drop me a line here and I will pick it up.

      Tony

      Reply
      • John Sandvik

        Yes a list is a good thing 🙂
        Learning from others is a very good thing, I have learnt being humble in Thailand.
        Nice and easy, not big spending, living life – not racing through it.

        Reply
  9. Edward Chase

    Not a comment on your excellent blogs but a question. About Yaba. Spent several months in Tha Sa-At small village 16 kilometres from Kam ta Kla. Soon worked out that yaba was being sold from house. In Feb. 2019 visited a police station where sister’s grandson was being held “too much whiskey and yaba he go crazy ” This last visit Dec-February my lady (70 years old) said that the two year old girl we were caring for was her sisters granddaughter and the father got 30 years lail for transporting yaba. Official figures of Tons of this drug being seized are easily obtained. Only recently realised that lady from previous relationship would ask me to take her to doctor for a variety of disorders and would always come away with same small red pills. Checked label on one sealy bag ‘ anti depressant’ google image search showed different shape size and colour for the drug named on label. Sorry for the rant but this is an insidious narcotic, easy to produce major problem in most of asia, increasingly in USA and forecast to oust ecstasy as party drug of choice. Notably large seizures in Australia also.

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      Hi Edward. Yes, a lot of yaba around if you ever watch Thai TV news. It has never intruded into my life here as my wife’s family are decent, hard perking people on the whole. When we ride out to the farm, which we do many mornings, we pass a small house that is newly built. I watched the construction and it then being lived in. Very shortly after the young guy moved in the drug police turned up. Evidently the place had been financed from yaba sales. The guy must have got advance notice because he skipped before the raid and the house has stood empty ever since (12 months now).

      Personally I get such a buzz of enjoyment from my Isaan life that I just don’t see the point in paying money to achieve ‘happiness’.

      Tony

      Reply
  10. Justin Littlewood

    Hi Tony

    I follow your blog with interest and are just starting my thailand journey.

    I have also bought you book

    I have something i would like to post you carried from Australia could you email me your details please

    Reply
  11. Jim Busby

    Dee Doh is Duk Dik’s arch rival. Not really, he’s still just a puppy. Dirt is “dirt cheap” there. 15 years ago, I ordered 6 cubic meters of top soil, and with delivery to my house; $200USD. Thanks for the insight into the strength of Isan women, which you seem to continually showcase in each of your stories. Gravity fed drip irrigation is the way to go as long as you don’t put too much distance between the tower and the last tree. Great to see Yuan found a source the 2019 seeds. The plastic is great to prevent weeds early on. Huckleberry Gaun fishing for breakfast, very Isan. Did you space your pavers for shorter Isan women’s strides, or was it done to your stride length? Nice outdoor shower area. If it’s hot outside here, I spray off with the hose and get back to work. Another multi-talented Isan woman in Jan. Looks like the shop is coming along nicely. Nice photos to end the stories.

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      Duk Dik was always officially Bear, Tham and Puk’s dog but because he had a connection with mama because pre-stroke she always spent the days at home, he followed her to Yuan and Lud’s farm when mama was based there. Dee Doh was picked up by Yuan’s son Game, who promptly went to Bangkok, leaving maintenance to his parents in true modern style. Duk Dik them swapped loyalty and moved to the second farm to be with his true owners. Wow, over 6,000 baht for a truckload of soil! We moved 200 for our original land which would have cost in American terms more than half the cost of building our house! Jan’s store is coming along nicely and I will post an update on Facebook shortly.

      Cheers.

      Reply
  12. Suzanne Ryan

    I’m also thrilled to see you back online Tony. I kept checked for new additions to your site and felt somewhat anxious not seeing anything new. I had concerns that there had been ill health or worse.

    I absolutely love your photos / stories. I’ve been visiting Thailand for the past 45 years, I’ve worked as a tour guide there and lived in some amazing places. I was fortunate enough to be back in Sydney when the tsunami hit my island workplace / home in the Andaman Sea. I lost work colleagues and visiting guests at our island resort. I guess it wasn’t my time.

    I particularly love the photos of the amazing garden that your lovely wife has created. She’s definitely a “keeper”.

    I look forward to more stories and photos and once again so very relieved to see you are well and back at it.

    Regards
    Suzanne

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      Very kind of you to notice my return to the blogging scene Suzanne. My urge to write comes and goes. It has been a pleasure to re-connect to longtime and enthusiastic readers and I hope the current burst continues to interest you.

      Gosh, you have seen some changes over that period – some for the better and many not maybe. Pi Pi Island would have actually looked like it did in the movie back then! You were lucky indeed to miss that terrible event. Like the current fires in Australia it can be the worst of times that brings out the best in people.

      The garden is a particular joy to me. Firstly it is such a demonstration of Gaun’s love of gardening and endless hard work. To walk the garden is to connect with that lovely energy. Secondly I would find it hard to live here if my base wasn’t a cool, green and peaceful environment. It is the total opposite of what lies outside the gates, which although I enjoy the vibrancy that makes it Thailand, I couldn’t live actually ‘in’ it. Gaun is definitely a keeper. Nearly seven years together and life without her would be unthinkable.

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment Suzanne.

      Tony

      Reply
  13. Stanley

    Thank you Tony for your reply.
    Like others have commentated, good to see you back on your blog and that you are well and ready to go, ever onwards.
    I don’t know if I could be able to drop in for a visit in February.
    I will be in a nearby province and most of my time in Thailand is already planned.
    If not this time, some time in the future?
    I can’t spend more than six weeks as an age pensioner overseas, because our Australian Government reduces our pension by up to AUD$46 per fortnight, as at current time and even more changes, after six months, 12 months and if you live permanently overseas.
    I have commented before about losing concessions on utilities if you own your own home back in Australia and as you have also previously posted, the Australian Tax Office also gets into the act for long term stays overseas or permanently living overseas. Our Australian Government is always moving the goal posts!
    Your blog and people who comment here, has opened our eyes to some of the difficulties us Aussies may face, in retirement or living overseas, not to mention Thai Visa changes, etc.

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      No problems Stanley. Another time. We’ll still be here.

      The attack by ‘our’ elected representatives on the people who can least afford it for no reason I can fathom is a complete mystery and gets me worked up every time I focus on it. Having qualified for a pension what difference does it make where you spend it? Why wouldn’t you encourage older citizens to take their high demand for support services elsewhere? I don’t know if any other country in the world places the same restrictions on their citizens as Australia. As for treating people like myself as a foreign national for tax purposes…..don’t get me started. The government seems to be at war with the very people it is supposed to serve. If I could trade in my passport for a New Zealand one where government seems to have respect for it’s citizens I would in a shot.

      Cheers Stanley.

      Tony

      Reply
  14. Adrian Martin

    Hi Tony!

    Seems I timed this well, as I’ve only just caught up with things and we’re both back on line.

    I had a second stent fitted, and I’m on my final week of a cardiac rehab course which the hospital runs.

    Some weeks before Christmas I decided to move out of the Gold Coast suburban place I was in, and started collecting cartons, prior to packing. Amazing what a single guy can accumulate, especially as I left most of my gear behind me in Chiang Mai, and had quite a heap sitting in a friend’s garage here.

    I wasn’t having any luck in locating a place near the beach, and out of the blue, a guy sent me a message, letting me know that at my ripe old age, I had Buckley’s chance of anyone wanting a pensioner as a flatmate, but just happened to have a place if I was interested.

    It turned out to be a pleasant brick home, typical Aussie with a large back yard, large native trees full of birds, a few km out of town, and a bus stop by the front door.

    So December was slightly hectic, with me carting boxes of books, kitchen gear, clothes, books, etc downstairs and packing them into an already cluttered garage, ready for moving.

    As you might have read or seen on TV, it was a rather hot time of the year. Luckily the bushfires were mostly in the south and we just copped some smoke, some desert dust. It wasn’t until last week that we had tropical downpours of 50 to 100mm of rain, interspersed by hailstones smashing up cars and glasshouses.

    The move was quick and efficient, with everything loaded into a van, 10 or so km down the highways, and unloaded.

    Now I’m set up, with a good speed internet connection, and 5 minutes by bus to a modern shopping centre, a few more minutes to connect to the MRT. Nor quite the rural ideal I wanted, but near enough!

    All the best mate.

    Adrian

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      Great to hear from you Adrian. I was wondering how you were going.

      I will reply to you via email.

      Tony

      Reply
  15. Stanley

    G’day! So happy to see you back and posting new stories and photos.
    I have been checking your website every week and wondering where you had disappeared to.
    I will be in Isan in a few weeks time and I have corresponded with you before.
    Hoping to meet with you in person one day, when I finally make a decision on retirement in Thailand.
    Your experience on many facets of life in Thailand has greatly helped me in the past.
    Looking forward to you becoming more active here, online.
    Keep up your good work. It is highly appreciated.
    Godly blessings to you and family in the New Year.

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      Such a nice comment Stanley. It is people like you that have got me back into the blogging game. Thank you. As I mentioned in my introduction it is about the quality not quantity of readers. My topics are very specialised and will never attract the beachside crowd.

      You would be most welcome if in the area Stanley. As you probably already know we are in Nong Bua Lamphu province in the north of Isaan. The gardens are beautiful and the beer cold!

      All the very best.

      Tony

      Reply
  16. Greg Carroll

    A real pleasure to read this morning over coffee Tony. Particularly enjoyed reading about the house build. Wonder why…
    I’ll show it to Yuri this afternoon. Off to work now 🙁 Oh well only a month to go – resigned yesterday 🙂

    Reply
    • Tony in Thailand

      Thank you Greg.

      Congratulations on the resignation. It must have been a big moment. No going back.

      Tony

      Reply
    • Jonathan

      Hi Tony,

      Great to see your blog active again. I’ve been checking back from time to time to check if you had posted anything and was starting to wonder if you were OK.

      I love reading your blogs and appreciate your general outlook on life and Thailand.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

      Reply
      • Tony in Thailand

        Much appreciated Jonathon. Nothing wrong – just an off blogging period. There should now be new stories appearing regularly on the home page tonyinthailand.com if I can keep the momentum going.

        Thanks for the encouragement.

        Tony

        Reply

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