Tony in Thailand

Writing more stories about everyday expat life in rural Isan

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. 

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.

Blog stories

YouTube Videos

You will find many expats writing blogs about life in the coastal centres and places like Chiang Mai. For the many westerners with a connection via their Thai partner to Isan, a large region in the northeast, this is not very helpful. There are some excellent resources that focus on Isan life in the bigger urban centres but almost none that describe life outside the cities. I give you a unique glimpse into what village living for an expat actually looks like day to day.

None of my stories are spectacular and will never be found in the search results of tourists looking for adventure. However, most of the readers who follow this blog, and there are some who have become ‘virtual’ friends over the years, are people who have a much more committed and personal connection to Thailand and have moved well beyond elephant riding, zip-lining and bar hopping. If you are one of those you have come to the right place.

…..these little stories will give you a connection to village life and broaden your understanding what a life in rural Thailand might look like if that ever happens for you. Even if you are not planning on moving here this blog will give you an insider’s view of Isan like no other. Dive in for a insider’s view of Thai life.

An Unexpected Life in Thailand

My name is Tony and up to mid-2013 I was living in Canberra, Australia and had been for 45 years.

Towards the end of 2012 I decided to take time out from a very stressful period in my life and have a couple of weeks holiday in Phuket, Thailand a country I had previously never visited.

After the conservatism of Canberra, Phuket by constrast was such good fun. Constant activity and new sights, bright colours, wonderful cheap food, great massage, friendly people and pretty country away from the tourist traps.

Returning to the boredom of Canberra suburbia, a government job with zero satisfaction and a future that had lost any purpose led me to totally re-think my life’s direction. The result of that assessment was a complete reboot involving selling up everything, taking 12 months leave without pay from my job and heading off for an adventure in Thailand like I have never had before.

I arrived back in Phuket 12 June 2013 to spend a few weeks ‘holiday’ there before heading off to explore some of the rest of Thailand. Not being an adventurous type I asked a Thai lady to join me on my extended trip to help smooth the way once I left the farang comfort zone of Phuket. It is something my darling wife Gaun continues to do six years later!

I rented a house in Chiang Rai where in September 2013 I was offered a voluntary redundancy from my job. After many sleepless nights I decided to accept the redundancy and also to retire permanently to Thailand, which I officially did on 1 November 2013. We moved to Chiang Mai, in December, where we lived for 12 months during which time we bought land in Isan and moved there permanently to build and live in late 2014.

Isan is not for everyone but for me it was as if I had come home. My enthusiasm for the simple lifestyle we lead, the people, events and attractions we come across is what makes this blog unique and ongoing even after six years of writing and hundreds of stories.


What’s been happening recently?

NEW – THE LATEST STORY ADDED Monday, 23 September

THE LATEST VIDEO Sunday, 22 September

Site Update 15 Sept:  Regulars may be pleased to see a few new stories starting to fill up the September reading list. I was inspired to restart writing by a friend in America who wrote a lovely email to encourage me to keep on sharing my small mostly intimate insights on life here. For those quality group of people who have taken an interest in the blog over an extended period, I would miss hearing from you in emails or comments so the blog will continue for as long as I can find photographs with stories attached.

My photo of the day – 24 October 2019

You can’t get a better jackfruit photo than that. Wallpaper stuff for jackfruit fans 🙂

September 2019

An Achievement Worth Sharing

  • Published 24 Sep 2019
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isan

I had one of those Facebook memory photos pop up today, which showed my stepdaughter Peng a few months after her major operation two years ago. That memory took me back to 2013 when I first met Peng during a brief visit to Isan and the path we have travelled as a family since then.

For regular readers I don’t have to tell you how incredibly proud I am of this young lady and her positive attitude to life that has taken her from a likely wheelchair outcome to being an independent and mobile university student in Chiang Mai.

A Garden Forest Walk

  • Published 22 Sep 2019
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Tropical Gardens

We bought the block of land next to us in late 2017 and started work in January 2018 to turn it from a blank canvas into a tropical oasis inspired by the Jim Thompson House gardens in Bangkok. When I designed the land, I had several themes in mind for different parts of the garden and this post shows the progress we have made in one corner, which we wanted as a small forest or pa/pha in Thai.

Wat Pa Sup Anan

  • Published 21 Sep 2019
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Wat/temple

For a change of schedule we headed out to the farm this afternoon instead of our normal morning coffee run. It’s the variety of my retired life that makes it all so exciting 🙂

After dropping Gaun off at the farmhouse, I continued on to view the progress that has been made on Wat Pa Sap Anan, a small forest temple being constructed 1 km further on.

Plant Identification using Google Photos

  • Published 20 Sep 2019
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Information

I came across this very useful aspect to Google Photos, if you use that app, I thought was worth passing on for garden enthusiasts but I guess it can be used more generally as well.

One Morning in an Isan Village

  • Published 20 Sep 2019
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isan

It is the ad hoc nature of life here that gives me so much pleasure. Today was a great example with an unexpected visit to a neighbouring farm and a couple of other topics I hope you find interesting.

Isan Village Living – Edition 22

  • Published 17 Sep 2019
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isan

This is the third of my way overdue catchup series with some stories from last year extracted from my Facebook page. I will give you a break from these older stores and publish a post on Thai etiquette shortly which will be based on how it works in everyday life living here not tourist beach resort etiquette.

Isan Village Living – Edition 21

  • Published 16 Sep 2019
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isan

This is the second of my way overdue catchup series with some stories from last year extracted from my Facebook page.

Isan Village Living – Edition 20

  • Published 15 Sep 2019
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isan

This is a way overdue catchup with some stories from last year extracted from my Facebook page. I have not included stories that were only relevant to the time they were written but you may find some items here where updated posts have been made in the meantime, but I don’t think that’s a problem. Enjoy.

Sart Day – Honouring Ancestors

  • Published 13 Sep 2019
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Ceremonies

‘The word Sart, derived from the Pali language, means season and in particular autumn or fall. Sart Thai day is also referred to as Memorial Day. Sart Thai is a time to remember dead relatives with prayers, Buddhist rituals, and merit making on their behalf’. This is my story of our morning in the village to celebrate this event.

Isan Village Living – August 2019

  • Published 12 Sep 2019
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Living in Isan

I would like to post big topics that attract hundreds of readers to the blog. The tourist sites of Thailand for example, the best beaches or exciting new eating places. The reality is that my stories are all based around my everyday happenings and none of the more glamorous aspects to life in Thailand seem to appear in my days. Oh well, here’s what has been making an appearance – enjoy. 

August 2019

Isan Farm News

  • Published 28 Aug 2019
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Places and Attractions

The family farm is an important part of my life here even though I am only an observer. I take a genuine interest in the cycle of farming activities, which form the basis of work life for Gaun’s sisters Yuan and Bear and their partners Lud and Tham.

Eating and Fishing

  • Published 28 Aug 2019
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Places and Attractions

Sometimes a trip to one place can lead to what my wife Gaun calls a ‘holiday’, meaning time out of the everyday where we take off for an explore, even if in this case in a very minor way. Our ‘holidays’ usually end up with some new photos that I can share on the blog, adding the picture of a real life outside the big tourist destinations.

Noob Coffee Roasters, Loei

  • Published 8 Aug 2019
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Places and Attractions

I love my freshly made coffee every morning, which I brew with ground Thai beans, in this case from a roaster in a neighbouring province to us called Loei. This is an insight into this unique Isan business.

Dying in Thailand

  • Published 3 August 2019
  • Place: Si Bun Ruang
  • Topic: Information

    This is a topic we would all probably prefer not to think about. However, there are some unique aspects to the subject if you are an expat in Thailand and if you care about your partner you should be aware of what happens when you die here and how you can make the process as easy as possible for those left behind. There may also be serious complications for your stay in Thailand if your partner dies before you.

    Previous Stories 2019

    July Stories

    March Stories

    June Stories

    February Stories

    May Stories

    January Stories

    April Stories

    Pinned Stories

    Historical Photos of Thailand

    Living with a Thai Woman

    A tropical garden in Thailand

    How to get a yellow house book

    Building a House in Thailand eBook

    Driving in Thailand

    Isan Music - Update 27 May

    Mandatory Health Insurance for Thai expats

    Buying Western Food

    My Stories since 2013

    My Posts to 1 - 50

    My Posts 151 - 200

    My Posts 301 - 350

    My Posts 51 - 100

    My Posts 201 - 250

    My Posts 351 - current

    My Posts 101 - 150

    My Posts 251 - 300