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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. 

Last Updated 13 February

To visit my main index page click below.

To read today’s stories please scroll down.

Building in Thailand eBook

When my wife and I bought some land in Isaan, which is a region in the north east of Thailand, and then started to build our house I wanted to record the daily events of construction life. For twenty six weeks I wrote a weekly blog update about all the aspects of the build and included as much detail as possible for others who might be thinking of going down the same path. I was surprised by the number of readers I attracted as a result of writing on this subject, many of whom followed the entire build from beginning to end. 

Based on this continued interest I thought I would revisit my original words and bring them all together under the one heading in the form of an eBook. Included in this process has been some extensive updating and expansion of many of the original posts and the addition of the many COMMENTS, which are designed to expand your knowledge and save you time or money or both!

Read more HERE and find out how to obtain the eBook.

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.

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

NEW: Search the blog:

My stories of the day – 13 February 2020

My life in rural Isaan revolves around three main topics of interest. Firstly there is the family farm situated about 1 km from where we live. I love learning about and sharing aspects of farming in a different country. Read my stories and you’ll become a virtual Isaan farmer in time! Click HERE

Secondly is our enjoyment in developing the best private tropical garden in Isaan. We also have a small but still beautiful garden at the farm. In this section I write about any aspects related to gardening in Thailand, illustrated with photos taken in our gardens and locally. Click HERE

And finally I share everyday stories as I see them relating to life in a small rural village. This could cover anything from personal events to festivals and local attractions. Anything that doesn’t fit into the other two headings ends up here. Click HERE 

Or of course read them all in which case just scroll down!

I am a keen photographer and all my photos are shot professionally and edited. The end result is far better than most blogs and social media and I will publish my favourite shots from time to time, which will almost be a fourth topic.

The stories I share here are reflected in my very active social media exposure and you will find me on Facebook as follows:

Tony Eastmead HERE 

Thailand Tropical Gardens HERE

Rural Isaan, Thailand HERE and;

Isaan Photography HERE.

Farm News:

Today’s Update:

We were at the farm this morning as there’s some work happening to fill in a small pond. On the way back I had to take these couple of photos.

For those of you with an Isaan partner you will totally relate to this scene and I don’t have to explain. For others, this is Yuan and Gaun picking newly sprouted leaves from a shrub on the side of the road, which will end up in a meal .

Isaan people have this natural ability to forage and it is part of their nature to identify free food and add it to whatever is cooking that day. I will often see a motorbike pulled over on the highway because the rider has spotted a tree or shrub that produces something edible. The outcome of these harvests is often an ingredient which is very bitter, this being one of the main flavours of most Isaan dishes along with supremely hot and sour.

Tropical Gardens News:

No Update today

Village News:

For anyone thinking of attending this year’s Nakhon Phanom fire boat festival on the Mekong river I received information from a blog reader about this year’s dates as follows:

Good afternoon Tony,
I have had very good communications with the staff of the Porpiang Hotel in Nakhon Phanom and the specific date of the main fire boats is on the 2nd October as per this extract from their email.

“Usually the festival will be held for a week. For example, last year it was held from October 8-14. But on 13th October was the most important date (End of Buddhist lent day), which there will be more than 10 fire boats floating in the river as a competition. Therefore, people from all over the country will visit the festival on 13th October the most. Because on the other days of the event, there will be only 1 fire boat floating in the river.

This year, we do not know yet how long will the festival will be held and last (usually for a week). But the fire boat competition date will be on 2nd October this year, which is the end of Buddhist lent day (regarding the Buddhist calendar).”

For those who don’t know the festival itself is described as:

The illuminated boat procession or ‘Lai Ruea Fai’ event (งานประเพณีไหลเรือไฟ) is a tradition of the Northeastern people that has been practised for centuries to mark the end of Buddhist Lent. Legend has it that the Lord Buddha spent the entire period of Buddhist Lent in Heaven and returned to Earth at the end. To pay respect and welcome the Lord Buddha, Ruea Fai or fire boats decorated with flowers, incense sticks, candles, and lanterns are launched on the Mekong River in the evening. Originally, the boats were made of bamboo or banana tree trunks and decorated with materials that could be easily found. Currently, with competitions to find the most beautiful illuminated boat processions, the boats have become more impressively constructed and decorated. The event will take place at the city hall in Nakhon Phanom and along the Mekong river on Sunthornvichit Road (thanks to for those words)

This is one of the main Isaan festivals so worth a visit but book now because all accommodation is filled well before the event. If you are going let me know as we have booked for the 1 & 2 October. You can buy me a drink.

Thailand Photography

Showcasing some of my favourite photos taken around Thailand during my time here. Last updated 2 February:

Thank you for reading and please leave a comment. It’s the only payment I ask for.


February 2020 – new stories


  1. 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.

    • 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.


  2. 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.


    • 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.


  3. 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.

    • 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.


  4. 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.


    • Tony in Thailand

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

      I will reply to you via email.


  5. 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.

    • 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.


  6. 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 🙂

    • Tony in Thailand

      Thank you Greg.

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


    • 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,


      • 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 if I can keep the momentum going.

        Thanks for the encouragement.



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